Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Weekly Haul: February 10

Amazing Spider-Man #620 (Marvel Comics) And so ends another Dan Slott/Marcos Martin Spider-Man story arc (this time with Javier Pulido splitting up art duties with Martin), and, for the third time in a row, I don’t have much of anything to say about it. It’s gorgeous looking again, Slott’s scripting is solid and everything you’d want out of a Spider-Man comic, even if it’s not reinventing the media or likely to change the life of the reader in anyway.

If this were the regular creative team and ASM were a monthly, I’m sure this would be on my pull-list. As an almost-but-not-quite-weekly with rotating creative teams though, this creative team is more a matter of stars aligning occasionally, and I’m always glad to see them do so.

Batman and Robin #8 (DC Comics) Part two of Grant Morrison and Cameron Stewart’s three-part “Blackest Knight” story arc, a pretty nice demonstration that Morrison + A Great Artist + Superheroes = Good Reading. Given the title of this storyline and what most of the characters have been up to lately, the book moves in a very unexpected direction, and man is it great to be surprised by a superhero comic in 2010. Pity about another little screw-up with dialogue bubble attribution on page 11, after the same type of mistake in the previous issue.

By the way, this issue contains a four-issue preview of some First Wave comic or another, featuring artwork by Rags Morales, and, I may be biased on account of loving Rags Morales so deeply, but it looks really, really nice. It’s in black and white, and given how good it looks, it seems like coloring it would be a damn shame.

Super Friends #24 (DC) This is a perfect example of a comic you can judge completely by its cover. Regular cover artist J. Bone even does the interiors this issue, and it’s the story of pretty much every DC mad scientist you can think of (and probably a bunch you didn’t even know existed, or forgot existed) vs. the Super Friends.

Specifically, a hotel on Oolong Island is hosting a conference for the group W.O.R.M.S. (The World Organization for Research in Mad Science). Host Lex Luthor has gathered them all here for a mad science contest, in which the will unveil their most deadly inventions.

I only read this title sporadically (usually depending on who’s drawing it, what the premise for the issue is and what the cover looks like), but of those I’ve read, this is by far my favorite, and not just because writer Sholly Fisch gives so much play to favorite characters like Mr. Mind and Dr. Sivana. Almost every single panel includes a gag or reference of some kind, be it a little elbow in the ribs to some obscure bit of DC continuity or character name-drop, or a fairly opaque pop culture reference (like Professor Bravo introducing his plastic robots to Green Lantern).

I know this is a kid’s comic, but I swear I actually laughed out loud once while reading it—the last panel on page 13-to-first panel of page 14 transition—and I think if you have any love of the sillier side of the DC Universe (or the more neglected corners of their extensive character catalog) you’ll dig this issue.

And if you happen to be a fan of Bone’s artwork, be sure to check out Blog@ tomorrow morning.

Uncanny X-Men: First Class #8 (Marvel) This is my first issue of this comic, and I think the reason I picked it up despite not having read the last seven issues or even really liking the X-Men all that much is probably pretty clear from Cameron Stewart’s cover: This is a comic book about irritating Irish stereotype superhero Banshee fighting a pack of leprechauns.

The story inside isn’t quite as exciting or silly as the one the cover suggest, unfortunately. This is probably something that all dedicated, reading-since-Claremont X-Men fans already know, but apparently leprechauns aren’t really all that big a deal or even at all unusual in the Marvel Universe. They just sort of live and work side by side with the human staff at Cassidy Keep, Banshee’s ancestral home in Ireland. Here, a leprechaun is as plain and prosaic a thing as, I don’t know, a Wakandian or an Atlantean or Latverian…a humdrum population that exists in the Marvel Universe.

That fact doesn’t take all that much away from the story, mind you, it was just somewhat disappointing to me to see leprechauns running around and no one reacting like, “Holy shit! There are leprechauns everywhere!” (The closest anyone comes to even remarking upon out-of-ordinariness of leprechauns is Wolverine commenting “This is the dumbest fight I’ve ever been in,” while being swarmed with tiny little mind-controlled fairy folk.

Writer Scott Gray (Yeah, I know says Jeff Parker, but it’s really Scott Gray) has Banshee and his plainclothes pals Wolverine, Colossus and Nightcrawler accompany him to Cassidy Keep, where his leprechaun tutor was just found dead of an apparent suicide. They investigate it mystery novel/police procedural style, and, during the climactic drawing room scene, the murderer summons a mess of fairies for a big fight scene, since this is a superhero comic.

It’s pretty good genre comics writing, and Blanco’s art is pretty great (and a fair bit greater than many of the artwork you’ll see in many of Marvel’s more popular and “important” books, to be honest).

It’s just not as awesome as the cover. Also, Banshee and the other foreign-born X-Men don’t talk in their crazy phonetic accents that Claremont used to give them, and while they may be an improvement, it sure makes reading their dialogue out loud a lot less fun.


LurkerWithout said...

I glanced at that Superfriends cover in the shop and I've got one question. Who's the dog-head dude?

Jacob T. Levy said...

I don't remember leprechauns ever appearing in X-Men before.

"a hotel on Oolong Island is hosting a conference for the group W.O.R.M.S. (The World Organization for Research in Mad Science)"

that passage made my day, so I'm clearly going to have to buy the book.

caleb said...

Fox, of Fox, Vulture and Shark fame.

Anthony Strand said...

Jacob - Leprechauns appeared in a very early Claremont storyline when they went to Banshee's castle. If I remember right, a leprechaun was the first-ever person to address Wolverine as "Logan." I'd say around #103 or 104.

Jacob T. Levy said...

I'll be darned. I must have read that issue in the Classics reprint series, but I have no memory of it.

John Foley said...

I like that issue of X-Men because Colossus actually kicked a little ass in it; as opposed to him usual punching bag self.

Mory said...

Only half of this Spider-Man issue was drawn by Marcos Martin. That kind of hurts your argument that only Martin-drawn Spider-Man comics are worth reading.

Caleb said...

Only half of this Spider-Man issue was drawn by Marcos Martin.

I did misread the credits of this issue, which were imposed upon a wire-rigging in the background art of a splash page, and so the sentence where I mention the creative team probably could be more clear. I'll take a look at fixing it.

That kind of hurts your argument that only Martin-drawn Spider-Man comics are worth reading.

I didn't argue that. At least, not this week, and I don't remember doing so in the past. (There's a whole lot of Spider-Man comics reviewed on this site). I did say that I'd read ASM if it had this creative team and was a monthly.

Mory said...

I apologize for misrepresenting you. What I meant was that you're only putting Martin up on that pedestal, when there are plenty of just-as-talented artists also regularly contributing to Amazing Spider-Man, who are just as worthy of being bought.

caleb said...

Oh, no worries. There are certainly plenty of talented artists in the ASM creative pool (Martin and JRJR are my favorites), I'm just super, super-picky these days, and generally only pick it up when it's a writer I really like AND an artist I really like (and maybe a storyline or character interaction I'm interested in), and that only happens every once in a great while (well, "great while" being relative, given that it comes out so often now).