Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Weekly Crisis Comic Book Reviews for 11/18/09

Just a short set of reviews for you for tonight's edition of the Weekly Crisis Comic Book Reviews, featuring a quick shot review for Adventure Comics and a full fledged review for Amazing Spider-Man.  If you can't tell I started writing my reviews alphabetically and just ran out of time, so, instead of holding off on them until I had more done, decided to post them for you.  I'll update this tomorrow with the rest of the reviews.  For now, enjoy the first two reviews of this weeks comics!

Written by Geoff Johns and Michael Shoemaker
Art by Jerry Ordway and Clayton Henry

+ The Super "fanboy"-Prime meta commentary by Johns seems to be approaching near-Frank Millerian All Star Batman levels of absurdity.  I'm not sure if this is a good or bad thing, so put a plus next to it.
+ The Legion back-up finally showed some promise (didn't care for the Sun Boy and Polar Boy centric ones) with some great character work with the White Witch and Blok and how their relationship compares to Wildfire's and Dawnstar's.
- Superboy-Prime needs to die or someone has to step in, tap Johns on the shoulder, shake their head and tell him it's time to stop.
- The Legion has to die. Wait, don't close that window yet!  Let me explain.  The Legion works and I like it, but having three seperate Legions active at the same time is madness.  I couldn't figure out what was going on with the Final Crisis comic books that Brainiac had until I realized this was a different Legion than the one that had been showing up in Adventure Comics up until now.  The art didn't do many favours in distinguishing the minute differences in the various Legions either, but that's no excuse.  It was streamlined until Johns decided he wanted a Silver Age Legion.  But, being Mr Continuity, he needed to "fix everything" and now we have three Legions and ridiculous pre-Crisis-like nonsense with multiple iterations of characters confusing people.
- Did I mention how much I hate Superboy-Prime and the entire meta commentary on the people paying for the books he appears in? How he is nothing like an Ambush Bug or other meta/parody character?  No?  Well, I do.
- For all the Blackest Night and Superboy-Prime returns hype and ring promotion attached to this issue (I recall hearing it labelled as Blackest Night #4.5 at one point or another and to order heavily), nothing happens.  Prime rages about having to wait a month to find out what happens in Adventure Comics #5, rages on the internet about how he can't get spoilers, Black Lantern Alexander Luthor informs us that the internet is the source of great rage in our universe and, in short, anyone that uses it needs their heart ripped out (okay, maybe it doesn't outright say that, but that's the general picture).  I don't even really understand how Luthor crossed over into our world or what purpose killing Prime in another universe serves in reviving Nekron other than to have a tie-in in Adventure Comics.

Verdict - Avoid It.  Things were going so smoothly for Adventure Comics with some nice, if not the meatiest, stories following Superboy and Legion related offerings.  Shame Blackest Night rolled up and brought Prime into the mix.

Written by Mark Waid & Joe Kelly
Art by Paul Azaceta & J.K. Niimura

Amazing Spider-Man #612 is the first part of The Gauntlet storyline and deals with the electric punching bag Electro.  What was odd about the use of Electro or, maybe, the labelling of this issue as The Gauntlet is that the people responsible for the so-called Gauntlet, Sasha and Ana Kravinoff, the wife and daughter of Karven the Hunter, do not appear in the issue and have absolutely no connection to Electro or his current shenanigans. So, how is it a part of their gauntlet for Spider-Man if they have nothing to do with it?

Oddities of the premise aside, the issue started out quite strong by showing a nice frame of reference for Electro's current state of mind and how his powers have been working of late (as in not so great). 

However, from there it just goes south as the story tries to draw parallels to current affairs with bail out packages and other economic woes by having the government give the DB a bail out package.  Just the DB.  No other newspaper received a stimulus package.  Electro decides he's had enough and draws parallels to his origin, how the electric company screwed him of any benefits after his accident that gave him his powers and this somehow leads to Electro becoming a YouTube sensation leading the crusade against the DB and public spending.  I could not make this up if I tried. The people go so crazy for his gospel that they start attacing Spider-Man by issue's end.  I think I would have preferred a rubberized webbing boxing gloves fight that these Electro match-ups usually turn into compared to this and I hate those Electro fights.

But wait, there's more!  On the Peter Parker side of things, we get a groan inducing scene with his psycho roommate, Michelle, that reveals he did not actually get black out drunk over seeing his ex-girlfriend at Aunt May's wedding.  No, Peter doesn't drink and have sex with strange women.  Apparently, she swapped out his drinks with gingerale and Peter just thinks he got drunk and had sex with a complete stranger.  I really don't know what is worse. I'm not even going to touch the two page long letters page that tries to explain away Chameleon Peter Parker not having sex on the kitchen floor with Michelle.  That was just painful to read.

"Kirk, surely something good came out of this issue?", you ask.  To this I say, don't call me Shirley and that, yes, yes there was.  The Electro bits at the start were quite good and, contrary to my tone, the rest of the issue wasn't terrible - it was just average. A decent Spider-Man story you can pick up and read.  Few will outright hate it, but I doubt anyone will call it an instant classic.

However, the real joy of this issue comes in the surprise (to me at least) back-up tale by Joe Kelly and J.K. Niimura. You may remember these two names from our I Kill Giants giveaway for our Two Years Later giveaway or any of our various I Kill Giants reviews.  As soon as I turned the page and saw the artwork, I nearly did a double take as I wondered if there was a mix up at the printers.

But, to my ever increasing surprise, it turned out it was actually a Black Cat and Spider-Man back-up story and a good one at that.  I had issues with the previous Black Cat appearances in Amazing Spider-Man and her 'Brand New Day' persona that flew in the face of other recent characterizations, but this back-up story had none of that and read like a very good Black Cat/Spider-Man tale with some refreshing and wonderful artwork to tell the story.  It's only a short little tale, but has some great word play between Spider-Man and Black Cat and played off the dual nature of his Peter Parker and Spider-Man lives.  I'm not sure how it relates to the Gauntlet story or if it is even supposed to, but I loved it and it turned a decidedly average issue into a great one for me, simply on the strength of these two talents.

Verdict - Check It.  I'm not sure how many people would be willing to buy a book simply for a short back-up story, so I'll leave it as a Check It, but I, personally, would buy it simply for more Joe Kelly and J.K. Nimura Spider-Man.  A pleasant surprise that caught me off guard and really made the issue for me whereas the Gauntlet story went south quickly.

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Anonymous said...

Yeah, I thought Waid's Electro story was otherwise okay, but that Peter/Michele scene really took me out of the story and came across as transparent damage control on Marvel's part. And it still doesn't change the fact that they slept together, and thus Michele's behavior, and as a result, it makes her actions even WORSE. Also, with regards to the back-up story, it seemed like Kelly in a few scenes seemed to suggest that Felicia may have re-learned Peter is Spider-Man after all and that Peter doesn't know it, especailly the one involving Mary Jane.


brandon said...

I purchased Adventure Comics (mostly for the ring) and I was lost. I wasnt sure if the entire issue was satire or if it was trying to be overly dramatic. If it was a joke then that ship has sailed. If it was forced drama I think it may have missed the mark. Definitely avoidable.

Primewax said...

Adventure Comics this week was probably the most enjoyable Superboy Prime appearance ever. That's not saying much.

Jer said...

The Legion works and I like it, but having three seperate Legions active at the same time is madness.

It's not the concept that's the problem - it's the execution. The concept doesn't have to die, but writers who can't script for multiple universes should back away and let other people do it. If you can't keep a small number of parallel universe superhero teams straight why are you writing DC comics?

How he is nothing like an Ambush Bug or other meta/parody character?

Foul blasphemer. Ambush Bug is a vehicle for taking humorous jabs at establishment figures and sacred cows of the comic book industry. Superboy Prime is a vehicle for venting anger at powerless comic book fans and message board posters. The first is a recipe for humor - poking at sacred cows and "powerful" figures is one of the standard methods of generating comedy. The second is just giving the middle finger to fans and will only be found as funny by the handful of people who fans have some modicum of power over (namely comic book writers and editors who have to worry about fans in the aggregate buying their stuff).

IOW - Ambush Bug is usually funny and even when he isn't he's still potentially funny to a wide audience. Superboy Prime isn't even potentially funny to a wide audience. I'm sure Johns's friends in the comic book industry all think his Superboy Prime stuff is hysterical, but they should take a step back and realize that it's the kind of stuff that you pass around among yourselves, not the kind of thing that people outside your clique are going to find funny.

Kirk Warren said...

@Jer - That's what I was saying about Prime - he's nothing like other characters that take potshots at the comic book industry. He's just there as an insult to the people that actually drive the industry and buy the product.

Chris said...

I'm with you on the Kraven's family thing, I was looking forward to finally seeing what they were up to and the summary page even gets you all set up for it and then they are nowhere to be found! I was actually ok with the whole bailout thing because people are insane when it comes to that kind of thing and I could honestly see people siding with a super-villain over it, I mean, try going to one of those town hall meetings, some of those people are far more evil/insane than most comic book villains! I thought the art in the backup story was aweful, could not tell who was who (they don't even look like people) Black Cat's costume wasn't right and you could not tell who was saying what half the time.

Flip The Page said...

Superboy prime was actually pretty entertaining. once you look at him as deliberately awful and go for the interest in it being a satirical character in a serious situation the issue become worthwhile.

smkedtky said...

ADVENTURE COMICS: Aside from all of the fourth wall breaking I found this issue to be decent considering the subject matter. My biggest problem was: Does Superboy-Prime still have powers as of the issue's start or no? Everyone is afraid of him but he needs a ride to the comic store.

The LEGION back-up was the best one so far.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: So Peter wasn't drunk and still acted like he was (including slurring and casual sex). He's didn't get drunk, he's just an @$$hole. The only thing that bothers me more than people that complain about minor things, like Peter drinking too much one time, is that Marvel so ham-fistedly tries to make it so that it didn't happen..

might as well have Mephisto make it so it didn't happen for all the thought that they put into it.

As for the back-up...the art was, to me, awful and took me out of the story. It was hard to follow and I could hardly tell who was who and who was speaking from page to page.

The letters page was the cherry on top.

Dear Marvel Editorial....The stories happened already. Stop pandering to the people who take things too seriously and if you feel you made a mistake with the story then don't do it next time. Most people won't even remember Peter being drunk after a while (I know this because everyone is saying that it is the first time Peter got drunk. In fact, he fought HOBGOBLIN while he was drunk in an old issue of WEB OF SPIDER-MAN).

This issue was a perfect example of the worst of what Marvel does. Not a terrible story but the half-assed attempt to appease everyone with a terrible plot point.

I apologize for going on so long but this issue bugged the hell out of me.

Daryll B. said...

-I get the feeling that DC and Johns are trying to turn Superboy Prime into a Deadpool type analouge for the "breaking the 4th wall / comic industry in-jokes". The problem is NO ONE LIKES THE CHARACTER. This was a freaking cash grab and I glad I not touching it for that reason...

-I am a proud Legionnaire fan and avoiding Adventure Comics hurts me, but I can read the Great Darkness, Eye for an Eye, and More Things Change over and over and over until I get a good Legion book again.

-I can't wait til you guys go over Spider-Man The List...I know this will spark some interesting conversation...Call it a hunch...

Klep said...

I want to like ASM, I really do. Marvel is making it really really hard. It wasn't that long ago that Spiderman was my favorite Marvel character, and now I'm not even sure he's in the top 5. Pulling crap like this isn't going to help matters.

JonesHawkeye said...

RE: I recall hearing it labelled as Blackest Night #4.5 at one point or another and to order heavily.

Glad to see that I'm not the only one that remembers this. Where on Earth did we see this? I could have sworn it was a Didio answer on his Newsarama Ten Questions column.

But in last weeks column, I had a question asked concerning this issue's promotion and Didio acted like I was completely insane, that he had never stated that and that this book was never promoted that way.

Primewax said...

@JonesHawkeye - I read your question on Didio's column and thought the same thing. I remember hearing that Adventure Comics #4 was one of the most important tie-ins, and that retailers should make sure they had plenty on-hand. Then in his response to you, it was as if it was nothing.

Personally, I hope it was nothing, because if AC #4 is the direction Blackest Night is destined for, its gonna die hard.

Matt Ampersand said...

If I am not mistaken, it was Rich Johnston over at Bleeding Cool that called it Blackest Night 4.5

Matt Ampersand said...

Ahh, here it is.

"While the solicitations indicate it’s all about the return of Superboy Prime to the DC Universe, internally DC are referring to the title as Blackest Night 5 1/2 – as much a part of the central Blackest Night storyline as Superman Beyond 3D was to Final Crisis – or more."

Daryll B. said...

Ah so Matt this is "Countdown will be the spine of the DC Universe" 2.0 in other words?

LOL I really can understand these promotional statements by the big 2...They NEVER deliver!

Zdenko said...

The Electro story was more frustrating than enoyable, but the art was horrible in both the main story and the backup. Where are the quality artists, isn't ASM a flagship title? :/

Flip The Page said...

ya know i'm fairly sure the claims of adventure comics 4 being a crucial blackest night plot point were in jest. though ya never know geoff johns might make superboy prime the REAL big bad somehow

JonesHawkeye said...

Matt Ampersand, you rock! Thank you so much for finding that quote for me. Now it makes sense why Didio had no clue what I was talking about.

Yolm said...

Superboy-Prime just lost most of his powers, he just seems to have retained of refound a degree of super-strength.

He was just going like Superman he slowed gained his superpowers.

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