Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly Marvel Comics Review - Part 1

The Amazing Spider-Man 607

by Joe Kelly and Mike McCone

For both of the major two publishers, there have been a ton of “cheesecake” shots, for the covers of comics and on the insides. This cover of Black Cat in a Spider... costume(?) is totally in keeping with her character, and that type of sexy picture is okay by me. Felicia is flirtatious by nature. It does serve to highlight that the vast majority of images are still cheesecake, and I hope that the artists and editors can kick the teenager-hormone type of depictions at some point. In a recent interview, J.H. Williams III responded to this idea in an interview with Newsarama about drawing Batwoman in a ‘cheesecakey’ way: “Characters should be treated the same as if they were physical people. Otherwise you cheapen them and weaken them and then you can no longer believe in them and then they eventually disappear.” If only we could spread that word to half the rest of the comic book artists.

Okay, enough of that soapbox. We open on a scene of Peter getting entangled with the Black Cat again, only since the Mephisto memory wipe, we do not have the classic memory of Black Cat unmasking the Spider to see Peter and getting disgusted and disappointed. Instead, they make out in the dark, with her promising not to look in the first place. It’s nowhere near as good as the original situation, and another reminder of the constant problems of the Mephisto do-over scenario. Try as they might to work around it, it is still causing problems with the better parts of stories that we wish could be remembered and referenced. Whatever positives that might have come out of that storyline, they weren’t enough.

Okay, enough of THAT soapbox! Getting past all my hang-ups, this particular issue isn’t that bad. It is slightly disturbing to see Peter involved in a sexual way with so many women at the same time, and it actually is starting to detract from his story. Remember when Quesada was mentioning that the classic attraction with Peter parker was that he was a single guy with a ton of problems? With all the ladies giving him so much attention, any other problems have really been taking a backseat. I can’t relate to him at all anymore.

Okay, let me try to get back on track and mention that the art is good, but we still have McCone giving us a head too big for the body on too many pages. The Diablo story winds down, and the new Kraven tracks him down to bring him into the larger conspiracy against Spider-Man.

The old problem is coming back: there are so many plot threads due to the multiple writers in the Spidey Brain Trust, there isn’t enough room to keep them all in focus. When was the last time we saw Aunt May, his reason for the Mephisto deal? This issue by itself was an okay read, but for storytelling purposes, they would do well to focus on some of the pre-existing plotlines.

Secret Warriors 8

by Brian Bendis, Jonathan Hickman, and Alessandro Vitti

This title has quickly become interlinked with Thunderbolts, so it picks up right after Thunderbolts 135, and continues in Thunderbolts 136. Osborn shoots Nick Fury in the head, and of course it turns out to be a Life Model Decoy, but with Phobos hidden in the torso. The Secret Warriors grab him up, embarrassing Osborn, who then tells Ares that the kid is toast, no matter that Ares is the kid’s dad. The depiction suffers because Vitti does his own inking, and the lines are too long, making the faces more of a caricature than an imposing presence. The color tricks just don’t cut it to make up for that, anywhere in the comic.

This issue was part of the whole Black Widow really serving Osborn storyline, which was never adequately explained for how the Widow could reach the real Fury when Osborn was her original fake-Fury contact, and any communication frequency given to her would have been given to her by Osborn. While I can think of ways around that, the writer has the responsibility to make that sort of thing clear, or it causes a break in the story. Both art and story could use some improvement here, although the scene with Ares letting them go was cool.

Thor 603

by J. Michael Straczynski and Marko Djurdjevic

Sif is safe (say that three times fast), and now Thor has to find a place for her to live on Earth. It results in a little humorous situation, and it is telling that Straczynski is able to weave a tale that focuses on god-like beings, but can still give us some good laughs at the same time.

Loki is helping Doctor Doom to experiment and potentially uncover the secret to immortality, which William sees. A small mistake in that they don’t actually identify William’s name for the reader in the comic at all, which is a rookie problem that happens more often when writers tend to work in trade paperback mode: the necessary identifications that should be in each stand-alone issue are ignored, since the aim is written more for someone to be reading six-to-twelve issues in a single sitting.

Things look grim for William, and I actually hope he survives. There is a chance, because Balder just showed up! This particular story will conclude in a giant-size issue, Thor: Defining Moments. With the rate that Marvel is choosing to do this, heaven help anyone trying to collect single back-issues ten or twenty years from now. “Why does the story in 604 have nothing to do with 603?” Collecting back-issues will be more of a research-intensive exercise than ever before at this rate.

Still, Djurdjevic is great on the art, and the story reads well.

Thunderbolts 136

by Andy Diggle, Pop Mahn, and Carlos Rodriguez

Everyone is predictable here, as Ant-Man turns coward and runs away, and Paladin shows his conscience, saving Black Widow and Songbird. Mr. X makes short work of both Paladin and Headsman, but the Ghost gets the drop on him in a cool way. Oh, and Scourge is a cyborg. The Ghost has a plan to cover their tracks and stay on the team, but their motivations are a little strange and ill-defined.

I like the art, it’s a little different than I’m used to seeing, sometimes with interesting inking choices. It’s also a little strange that somebody just left their keys in an M-RAP for the Widow to hijack, but that’s a small nit. The older Thunderbolts finally show up and start planning how to redeem the reputation of their team name, while Scourge is revealed to be Nuke in disguise, and Osborn shows that he has the real Yelena Belova, Black Widow II, in stasis.

It’s a fun read with quite a bit of action and revelations. It’s not all that shocking, but it is fairly good overall, and with less confusion than other titles, and fewer conceptual problems than the Spider-Man title has right now. Still, this title does have something of an identity problem reminiscent of DC’s Outsiders and Teen Titans these days. The roster has been changed so much and flipped upside-down, it is losing any core idea to hold it together, simply becoming a backdrop for the Dark Reign meta-story, but without additional redeeming characteristics of its own.

There is more potential here, with Ant-Man’s cowardly humor, the Ghost’s paranoia, the potential for Osborn to crack, etc. None of it is really being developed as well as it could be, even though the individual issues read well. It’s as if they are in a hectic race to move from point A to point B, but they are losing character development as they go. It needs to slow down and give us more about the individuals.

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