Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly Marvel Comics Review – Part One

The Amazing Spider-Man 562

by Bob Gale and Mike McCone

I’ll say this about the current treatment of this title: they keep hope alive by constantly rotating the creative teams, so you always want to try it out and see how it is, even if the last issue or six have been lousy. Mike McCone gets to do the art, so we are treated to some nice scenes. Then, they rub our faces in all the things they messed up.

Betty Brant makes a reference to the Civil War, and we get a panel that represents the conflict, which only serves to remind us: how did Peter ever get the Scarlet Spider outfit, if Tony Stark didn’t know who he was? Why and how would Peter and MJ have moved into Stark Tower, let alone Aunt May (!), if nobody ever knew Peter’s secret identity, per the retroactive agreement with Mephisto? Every time these guys remind us of what they have sort-of retroactively changed, we get a feeling that we are chumps for buying a continuing story.

Next we cut to what has become an all-too common cliché, that of the villains hanging out in their own bar, dressed up in their villain outfits, no less. Does anyone think gatherings like this could occur in a major city with the Initiative the way it is now? Any super-human sensor would pick the place out like a supernova in otherwise-empty space. Or are we to believe some techno genius gave a two-bit con artist a cloaking device (so advanced it could foil Tony Stark and Mr. Fantastic) just so he could sit in his Underoos and have a cold beer with a bunch of crooks he never teams up with for anything?

The cool thing about McCone’s art is that he draws the fake Spidey in such a way that you can just guess who it is, although they did give it away too easy by making an unnecessary reference in the recap box at the beginning of the issue. The impact would have been a little greater if they had left that part out. All in all, this issue is as good as any of them have been, which still isn’t saying a whole heckuva lot.

New Exiles 7

by Chris Claremont and Tom Grummett

If you can stomach having Claremont have yet another different character talk out loud about the long odds of the fight, you can read this title. It doesn’t matter if it’s one guy against five goons, or a small team against Galactus, you can “bet” Claremont will have someone talk about “the odds.”

I would like to say that this issue is better than others, and for the most part it is. However, Claremont cannot resist heaping cosmic consequences on top of his pie. Instead of a regular mission, Pryde has discovered that all of reality is unraveling, so of course every mission simply MUST succeed now, or the fate of the omniverse is at stake. He would have done better by leaving things alone.

Alternate universe planet-side, Sage cannot stop a Havok from detonating, which costs the planet several lives. Three pages later… she takes Havok out with a mental blast, and stops him from detonating. It is impossible for me to describe how lousy this is. It is quite possibly the most embarrassing scene I have read in years. Do editors not even read the comic anymore before it goes to print? How many decades has Claremont been writing? Is everybody on the staff just phoning it in these days? Somebody give me a break!

New Universal: Shockfront 2

by Warren Ellis and Steve Kurth

Warren Ellis has taken Marvel’s previous attempt at a new universe and managed to weave one good story, insulated from the rest of the Marvel universe (for now). Long-time fans will recognize tributes to a ton of older concepts from the New Universe line of comics. I was skeptical when the series was first announced. Why take a stab at what was for the most part an obvious failure? But Ellis usually impresses me, and he holds my interest here too. The art is good, and Brandon Peterson does the cover, one of the few people who can do his art by drawing or by computer, and still have it come out excellent either way.

Against my expectations, I would actually recommend this title. Definitely worth getting the trade.

The Twelve 6

by J. Michael Straczynski and Chris Weston

Okay, technically this is a limited series, but I put it in with the regular monthly titles because there is potential for one or more of these characters to continue in a regular series, and Marvel may try to capitalize on this intriguing group of heroes. It will be interesting to see if any of them become embroiled with the rest of the Marvel Universe, or if things continue to stay in kind of their own “neighborhood” in Marvel, technically part of the universe, but not having any major interaction with the rest of the hero population.

All of the characters get a little screen time, and we get a good sense that each one of them is adjusting to the modern world, but having problems in doing so. Rockman is on the cover, and does receive the spotlight (in a roundabout way), with a little twist and what some people might consider a surprising decision by the colonel. The art is just as good as the story, which makes this a compelling read.

Tpull is Travis Pullen. He started reading comics at 5 years old, and he can't seem to stop.