Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly Marvel Comics Review

The Amazing Spider-Man 583

by Mark Waid and Barry Kitson

I have mixed feelings about this week’s cover. I understand they are doing a riff off of Mary Jane’s “you hit the jackpot, Tiger!” However, cougar also happens to be a term for an older woman who pursues a man at least ten years her senior. Any other issue it might not be such a problem, but Marvel decided to add a special back-up story with President-Elect Obama in it, so it’s a little strange to see the double-meaning in the cover and realize this may be a collector’s item for the back-up story.

The main story itself is good, with a humorous battle with a stereotypical no-name villain that highlights how idiotic some bad guys are. Betty Brant is escorting Peter around town, thinking that he is setting up logistics for her surprise birthday party. We find out later that some of Betty’s recent actions have temporarily alienated her from her regular crop of friends; it is worth re-reading to gain a new understanding for some of her interactions (for example, Aunt May choosing to walk home alone takes on a new meaning). The prospect of Jameson Sr. meeting up with Aunt May is an interesting idea, and I look forward to those awkward moments in the future!

The back-up story is what is making all the rage these days, written by Zeb Wells and illustrated by Todd Nauck. It’s a simple story with a slightly out-of-character Chameleon trying to take Obama’s place. All of the re-printings are coming out with Obama on the cover, so that will get rid of one of my quibbles. Quesada and company just wanted to give a shout out to the President-Elect after hearing he was a comics fan, and the flurry of interest is due in large part to the fascination with Obama himself. Whatever else comes out of things, it’s nice to see a lot of people interested in and rooting for a new president.

Not all is golden with this decision, though. Allegedly, Marvel decided to throw in this back-up story only a week or so before the issue went to press. However, they didn’t really try to give comic store owners any heads-up. As a result, most comic shops sold out in a few hours and then spent the rest of the day fielding calls, having to tell everyone that they didn’t have the comic. Now, the reprints mean that they will get some more in, but there are a ton of potential customers who will simply give up because the very place that is supposed to have the one and only thing they are looking for… doesn’t have it.

If Marvel had simply issued a notice to store owners via any one of a handful of methods, the owners would have stocked up on the issue ahead of time, instead of just ordering the normal number of copies they request each month, thinking this was another normal issue of Spider-Man. Considering the biographical comic of Obama sold well, I can guarantee you that orders would have been bulked up considerably, saving Marvel some reprint costs, and guaranteeing some extra income for store owners, rather than costing them time fielding thousands of phone calls across the country that only hurt the comic industry. It is opportunities like this that comic companies make mistakes on repeatedly, blowing chances to introduce comics to some new readers. As much as Marvel might like the press they got on the issue, and as much as some store owners like to sell out of an issue and have no problem ordering reprints, it would have been much better to have all of those copies on hand at a more opportune time, and Marvel had the ability to do something about it, if anyone had bothered to think ahead.

Captain Britain and MI:13 9

by Paul Cornell and Leonard Kirk

It’s a tale of betrayal, as Captain Midlands is revealed as the stinker who led everybody into Plokta’s trap. The art is lacking, in part because they spend entire pages with nothing but a white background, while in others, they attempt to imitate some old doctor Strange dimensional weirdness, but the colors are too bright, and there is no inventiveness or Escher-like majesty to the art, it is merely lines and spheres with no sense of dimension to it.

The one interesting part of the comic is Captain Britain running away from Meggan, not realizing that she just might be real. Next issue starts a vampire tale, allowing the creative team to focus on one of the main reasons they brought Blade onto the team. The series still seems to be lacking a definite direction, and could use something to focus it better.

Civil War: House of M 5

by Christos N. Gage and Andrea DiVito

This is the final battle royale, and Carol Danvers comes out of hiding to help Magneto at a crucial moment. In one of the more interesting aspects of this dimension, it was this vision of herself that convinced Ms. Marvel that she should try to become the best she could possibly be. The ending is bittersweet, as Magneto is convinced that regular humans will be out-bred and extinct before too many more generations, something that doesn’t sit well with Ms. Marvel. The final scenes show the state of the world after Magneto’s victory, and how the petty villains lord it over the humans, how the major mutant powers lord it over the humans, etc. the more things change, the more they stay the same, eh?

Excellent mini-series, well worth buying the trade if you have skipped the monthly addiction. It works as a stand-alone tale, even if you never read the initial House of M story.

X-Infernus 2

by C.B. Cebulski and Giuseppe Camuncoli

Things happen fast, as Illyana takes on some of the junior members of the X-Men and succeeds in retrieving her Soulsword. Her absence from Limbo has allowed Witchfire to take over. Can Illyana withstand Witchfire, given the possible power changes, given her altered appearance? And which side will the X-Men be on, since Pixie’s main goal is to get a little shard of her own soul back from Illyana, while Colossus is raging about saving his little sister? For some unknown reason, Cyclops and Beast do not accompany the rest of the group to Limbo, and I wanted to see more of Armor too. Still, the series is holding my interest, with nice covers by David Finch. Be nice if they could get him to do something more than group poses all the time, though.

X-Men and Spider-Man 3

by Christos Gage and Mario Alberti

Linkages continue to be made, as this untold tale brings the X-Men to meet Ben Reilly, the Spidey-clone. As much as the clone saga was detested, Marvel has managed to make lemonade out of lemons in this case, and the story is good. Mister Sinister is directed to Carnage for some choice genetic material, and we find out that Professor Warren, who was behind cloning Spider-Man, had some communications with Mr. Sinister.

We end with a nice scene that has Mr. Sinister claiming to his test-tube subject that one day it might be “mutantkind’s only hope for survival.” Next issue, look for a different incarnation of the X-Men to meet the real Spidey further down the timeline. Will they wrap this up in the present day and make it relevant to the current mutant problem? I’ll be there either way, this has been a great read, considering how close I came to leaving it untouched on the rack.
Tpull is Travis Pullen. He started reading comics at 5 years old, and he can't seem to stop.