Monday, March 27, 2006
New Comic Reviews:
New Avengers, Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, X-Factor, Ex Machina
This is not Spider-Man.
That may be Peter Parker underneath that mask, but this hideous red and gold thing is not our Spidey. Did Marvel learn nothing from DC's ill-planned Superman costume change of the mid-90's? Don't mess with our icons, please.
Also, this makes three New Avengers with the red and gold color scheme:
NEW AVENGERS #17
The above panel is by new New Avengers artist Mike Deodato, who's done good (not great, good) work on Amazing Spider-Man for the past few years.
The Problem with New Avengers is that it's a Brian Bendis book, and that means mediocre. Not horrible, sometimes funny, always corny, bafflingly plotted, and deux ex machina? You bet!
This is a good group he's assembled: Captain America, Iron Man, Spider-Man, the ubiquitous Wolverine, the totally unnecessary Sentry, Spider-Woman, Luke Cage (once known as Power-Man, now known as generic tough black guy #59 in the Marvel Universe):I can assure, you, he pities the fool.
Which wallet is Luke Cage's? The one that says BAD MOTHERFUCKER.
Anyway: this is a good group he's got, but he doesn't seem to know what to do with them. He's got Spider-Man, Marvel's franchise player, riding the bench in all the big battles (it's like Phil benching Kobe! Kwame Brown ain't gonna get you to the Finals, pal). And really, through 17 issues there haven't been that many battles of note.
In 17, we meet up with this dude: Now, for those of you who slogged through House of M, you'll remember that when all the mutants were de-powered all that excess energy was released into space. Well, apparently it's returned and it's name is MIK...AL.
So just as we might learn something about the nature of the beast, before we can get any clues as to its motivation: Ms. Marvel (Mizz? Yes, we have one of those now. Makes me miss the days when they were all just suffixed 'girl') comes charging in and manages to muck things up good and proper.
Like I said, this is a Brain Bendis book.You said it, sister.
New Avengers #17: C-
FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOOD SPIDER-MAN #6
We also have an Iron Spidey sighting over here; and another look at his new powers: those controversial claws. Or stingers or whatever they are. Spider-Man in his classic form was apparently a little too cuddly for Marvel. Every character, I guess, should be another Wolverine, even one that has a good couple decades on him.Art chores this issue have been given over to Roger Cruz, and he has a kinetic, Manga-esque style that fills in well for Mike Weiringo. The story is fun, about a Mexican wrestler (and me and my friends like Mexican Wrestlers) who must challenge Spidey 'Mascara Contra Mascara', with the loser unmasked in front of the world. There's also a B-plot running through the whole series about Peter Parker's old high-school nemesis Flash Thompson's return (apparently he was in a coma, and also apparently he and Peter were friends. Sorry people, I just got here).
Nothing is wrong with the issue, but it left me a little flat.I like El Muerto, and his backstory. I liked the art in general, though again there was just something missing. The story is intriguing: how much control does Peter really have over his new powers, and how will El Muerto save himself (from, hey...is that Doctor Doom?) without revealing Peter's secret identity? I'm sure PAD's got an ace up his sleeve. Pardon me, though, if the answer's not keeping me up at night.
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #6: B
With Ryan Sook now only designated cover artist, Dennis Calero takes over full-time art duties (penciller and inker). And he is much improved over his first few stop-gap efforts in the series. I could quibble about a few things:What is she, a leper? Or a dalmation-human hybrid?
But those are minor things. Issue 5 is great, a stand alone issue in which Syrin (last seen beaten and left for dead) is kidnapped by a psychotic mutant who has lost his powers in the Decimation. We see the toll that the loss is taking on your average everyday mutants, and that they even blame the X-People a bit for not stopping it.This is Pulp Fiction as an X-Book (complete with ball gags, but no Gimp), and Peter David is clearly having as much fun torturing his female lead as Tarantino did with Uma in the Kill Bills. Syrin is hard as nails, essential to a group featuring so many characters filled with self-doubt:
"Ric? Just so you know...I wasn't afraid. Not of him. Not for my life. I wasn't afraid."
This continues to be Marvel's best book.
X-Factor #6: A
EX MACHINA #17
Ex Machina is brilliant, a breath of fresh air every issue. You can count on Brian K. Vaughn to spin every storyline into something new and politically daring. This is definitely the book to give your snooty cousin who hates superheroes. It's 2003, and the US is on the verge of war with Iraq. From his bunker, Saddam Hussein watches footage of Mitchell Hundred, aka The Great Machine; superhero turned mayor of New York City; and ponders whether or not President Bush will send America's greatest weapon after him.
SOLDIER:I don't think they'll send him here, sir. After the "Great Machine" stopped the second plane on 11 September, they gave him a cushy political position.
SADDAM: Patronage in exchange for half-assed military victories? Maybe this bastard and I aren't so different, huh?
Back home, Mayor Hundred isn't any more certain of his future than Saddam is. There's a huge peace rally planned downtown and his free-spirit aide, Journal, has quit to join in; rather than stay and become a political liability.The writing is sharp. It's a rare ability to be able to work political commentary naturally into the flow of dialogue without being preachy or obvious, but Vaughn manages a nice balance. And Tony Harris continues to amaze as penciller. He draws directly from photos of live models, which adds to the realism of both image and story. My only problem with this issue is that it seems so short. It's a quick read, and that makes you wonder whether you should spend your 3 bucks now, or wait until it's in trade paperback.
Ex Machina #17: A-