Thursday, June 13, 2013

Review: Avenging Spider-Man: The Good, The Green and The Ugly

This trade collects five issues of what is essentially Marvel's current version of the old Marvel Team-Up, which paired Spider-Man with a different co-star each issue, now given a title that makes sense only in that it's meant to suggest an association with Marvel's most popular branding device at the moment, "Avengers."

After all, Spider-Man does nothing in the way of avenging in these issues, which are quite light-hearted adventures that play up the character's fun and funny side, and, of the three Marvel heroes he teams up with in the three stories within, one of them doesn't even have any association with The Avengers.

The first of the stories collected is an all-Immonen one-issue She-Hulk team-up, a Spidey/Shulkie comic from the creative team behind 2010 Top Shelf graphic novel Moving Pictures, which was about a pair of people making tough choices during World War II, while the Nazis were pillaging the art of the continent.

Oddly enough, this one is also set in and around a museum!

I find that one of the best ways to judge whether a Spider-Man comic is any good or not is whether it manages to make me laugh at all, and this made me laugh:
(The art really sells that joke; not sure if it's the speedlines or the figure work that do the heavy lifting, or simply the combination of the two, but that's a joke that would very easily not be very funny if drawn differently).

In this story, She-Hulk's team-up with Spidey lasts a lot longer than she would have liked, as the wall-crawler tags along to a museum function she has to attend for work. There some cultists attempt to steal some ancient Egytpian maguffin, and the cat goddess Bast arises.

It's full of the same sharp wit Kathryn Immonen's scripts usually are, and the super-short length (just 20 pages) keeps her sometimes overly wild plotting (see Hellcat, Herald, X-Men: Pixie Strikes Back for examples) in a nicely constructed, easily digestible package. It's great fun to see Stuart Immonen—a great, and greatly undervalued artist—drawing something light and fun like this, rather than the sorts of epic angst-fests we've seen him doing for Marvel lately (Fear Itself, Bendis-written Avengers comics).

That's followed by a slightly flabbier two-parter teaming Spidey with another super-strong superheroine, Marvel's current Captain Marvel Carol Danvers. This one's written by Kelly Sue DeConnick, penciled by Terry Dodson and inked by Rachel Dodson, making for another extraordinarily high-caliber art team for what is essentially something of a trifle of a comic.

In this one, Danvers offers Peter Parker a free flight to Boston to visit his aunt, in Danvers' own personal airplane, but the pair get pulled into superhero action against a spunky, jet-packing 99-percenter and an overzealous independent security contractor in a mechanized suit of super-armor. It's incredibly predictable—I've seen this almost exact same twist used in half the page-count by Grant Morrison in the late '90s—but DeConnick writes fun banter, and the art is super-slick.

I hadn't noticed previously, when I'd seen the cover image online before, but Danvers is actually wagging her index finger at whoever is shooting at her and Spidey on the cover. From a distance—the distance at which the image is visible as a little jpeg on a computer monitor, for example—it looked more like she was holding up her first two fingers.

The image makes a lot more sense now, although it's still kinda weird; it's such a frozen image, confined to a particular split-second—we can see where the bullets hit and are arcing away from her invulnerable skin—that allowing for motion in it like that seems pretty off.

The final story is another two-parter, featuring Deadpool, who must be "the Ugly" being referred to in the title). It's written by Kevin Schinick (whose name I'm not familiar with) and drawn by Aaron Kuder. It's a pretty Deadpool story, which means it's kind of in your face and annoying, but it has some pretty decent moments.

The first half features Deadpool in Spider-Man's subconsciousness, trying to guide him through his dreams in order to rescue him from a villain purportedly attacking him through his dreams. And then there's a reveal in the second issue, in which the incredibly unlikely (anywhere other than a story featuring Deadpool, anyway) villain: The Hypno-Hustler.

I really liked Kuder's style, which reminded me quite a bit of Frank Quitely's and Chris Burnham's in many panels (mostly in character design and in the way he draws his lines), and he has a pretty swell version of the Green Goblin (who appears in hallucinatory form only). Take away that guy's pupils, and he looks pretty damn horrifying, doesn't he?

So in The Good, The Green and The Ugly we get stories that are pretty great, pretty good and pretty decent, all of which adds up to not bad at all.

1 comment:

Akilles said...

You can always pretend that her hand was in a "regular" time bubble.
You don`t buy that? Fine.

Also, I`m going to read the series at some point anyway, so you don`t have to review the trades.

Okay, I`m kidding...Obviously...