Amazing Spider-Man #615 (Marvel Comics) I’m not a regular reader of ASM, but this particular issue is written by Fred Van Lente, drawn by the great Javier Pulido and didn’t look like it would be too hard a place to jump back into the Spider-Man soap opera.
I’m glad I did; it was a lot of fun.
This is apparently part of “The Gauntlet,” an effort by the Spider-office to re-introduce Spidey’s classic rogues gallery after having taken a while off to introduce new characters.
In this issue, it’s The Sandman, and Van Lente offers a pretty interesting take, easing the reader into a well-executed revelation at the end of the first scene. After some updates on the ongoing plot-lines I’m unfamiliar with, Spidey goes looking for The Sandman, they fight, and there’s a cliffhanger ending that implies are hero might finally be down for the count.
In other words, classic superhero comics—but done quite well. Pulido’s work is just this side of stunning; every panel is a treat. To put it as succinctly as possible, it’s exactly what Marvel comics should look like.
Oh, and Van Lente and Pulido give Spidey a scarf, knit-cap, ear muffs and leg warmers to wear over his costume. He can’t afford the fancy heated costumes that Batman and his crew run around in during the winter months, apparently.
Justice League of America #40 (DC Comics) It’s the second half of writer James Robinson and pencil artist Mark Bagley’s first story arc on the title, and over-sized Blackest Night tie-in entitled “Reunion.”
It’s also a special, all women-in-peril issue. With the male heroes Plastic Man and Red Tornado take out of commission last issue, Robinson’s free to write 28-pages of zombie male superheroes trash-talking and trying to tear the costumes off our female heroines. It’s Vibe vs. Vixen! Steel vs. Gypsy! Zatara vs. Zatanna! And Dr Light I vs. Dr. Light II!
Unsurprisingly, it’s that last match-up that is the skeeviest, as the undead zombie rapist supervillain Dr. Light spends most of the comic attempting to rape the heroine Dr. Light, managing to get her about half-way out of her costume. It’s not until he threatens her children (“Don’t worry about your kids though…After I’m done with you, I’ll come up with some fun games to entertain them”) that she’s able to dig down and find the strength to use her light powers to their full extent, vanquishing all of the League’s foes. A side-effect of her burst of light-power is, of course, that she burns the rest of her costume off entirely.
So yeah, this is one of those “Jesus God, who is this supposed to be for, exactly?!” sorts of DC comics, the sort where the zombie rapist supervillain will talk for pages about how his victim is really asking for it, but prints “&@%$” in place of the word “bitch” over and over because, well, this is an all-ages comic, right?
The best I can say about this comic book is that Mark Bagley and Rob Hunter do a pretty great job on art, marking the first time I can remember since this particular volume of JLoA’s inception that two consecutive issues of it were pleasing to the eye.
Silver Streak Comics #24 (Image Comics) Twenty-two months after the first issue, Erik Larsen and company return for the next issue of "the Next Issue Project," in which modern creators pick up the half-forgotten characters from a defunct Golden Age title and put together an anthology posing as the next issue of said title.
Image shaved the page count and the price off their Fantastic Comis issue, but the size and shape remain Golden-Age proportioned, and the interior design remains the same.
This ish is obviously a quicker read, and feels a bit less exciting, lacking the number of characters and creators as the previous issue (as well as the aura of curiosity that surrounds any such brand-new endeavor). But it’s still interesting creators doing stories with interesting characters who, for one reason or another, never achieved Captain America, Namor, Dr. Fate or Hawkman level fame.
It kicks off with a Daredevil story by Erik Larsen which has all the gravity, weight and importance of a marshmallow, but I still really dug because a) I love Daredevil (as you may have noticed) and b) I love Erik Larsen’s artwork, especially when it’s as loose as it is here (And I’ve unfortunately never really been able to get into his Savage Dragon, despite a handful of tries over the years).
Next us is a Silver Streak story by Paul Grist, in which the scarlet and yellow clad speedster without a bit of silver anywhere on him helps save one of his favorite cowboy program’s stars…live on television! (Damn, Grist does good superhero work).
Rounding out the book is a funny (but depressing-funny) one-page strip by Joe Keatinge featuring Kelly The Cop, Michael T. Gilbert’s reinvention of the greatest Golden Age villain Claw as an anachronistic monster trying to make it through the day in a 21st century he doesn’t really belong in (Props for the word “acidtini”) and a Captain Battle story by Steve Horton and Alan Weiss which features nice art but is otherwise so straightforward I went back and reread it immediately to see if I was missing something.
If you’ve got $4 to burn and a love of these crazy old characters, it’s well worth a read, but it’s hardly mandatory reading for those that don’t already have vast reserves of good will for the likes of Silver Streak and The Claw.
Superman/Batman #67 (DC) Despite liking the idea of Bizarro and Man-Bat filling in as a monster version of the World’s Finest team, I wasn’t that impressed with the previous issue of this two-part Blackest Night tie-in, and was planning on skipping its conclusion.
But then my shop was shorted the two books I was looking forward to this week, and then I made the mistake of flipping through this issue, where I noted the little curly tips artist Scott Kolins draws on Bizzaro’s S-shield and a panel of Solomon Grundy ripping out Morrison and Mahnke’s Frankenstein’s heart and, well, I’m not made of stone!
Like the first issue, this is a pretty quick and inconsequential issue (Like JLoA, this is probably a “black skies” tie-in to Blackest Night), but it sure does have a lot of DC’s fun, monster characters experiencing conflict. The Man-Bat portions are odd in that they seem to have little to do with the rest of the events—they’re more a means to qualifying this story to be included in this particular title—but I enjoyed Kolins’ homage to Alan Moore’s “Burn.” panel, and the climax of Bizarro and Grundy’s fight.
I’m not sure what’s taking Hal Jordan and Barry Allen so long finishing off these Black Lanterns; Bizarro knows how to get the job done in the space of a few panels.
Thunderbolts #139 (Marvel) Oh dear.
So, um, this is EDILW-favorite writer Jeff Parker’s second issue of Thunderbolts, in which a rag tag band of supervillains I’ve mostly never heard of serve as Norman Osborn’s minor league, black ops Dark Avengers team. Following up on the first story arc from Parker’s canceled Agents of Atlas series, Osborn decides to sic ‘em on the Agents, so The Grizzly (in a lamer, more “realistic” costume than the bad-ass furry suit he used to wear), and in this issue the two teams fight.
It’s…God, it’s hard to look at. The artist is Miguel Sepulveda, and, to put it mildly, I do not care for his work one bit. Computers…computers must have had something to do with it. Everyone looks like Greg Land renditions, and there are several scenes where the figures are standing in front of and, in one panel, on what look like grainy photos of trees taken through some sort of night-vision filters. The textures are all strange, particular Venus’ hair and cloak.
I don’t even like thinking about this art long enough to type this much about it. I suppose someone somewhere likes this stuff—God knows Marvel publishes a lot of art in this style—but I am not that someone.
Reading this after reading this week’s ASM, it’s hard to believe the same publisher is even responsible for both books. Parker’s one of my favorite writers, and I once thought I’d follow him into hell, but now that I’ve seen what hell looks like, I don’t think I can follow him any further into it after all.
Let me know if the Agents survive or not, guys.