Sunday, July 25, 2010

Weekly Crisis Comic Book Reviews for 07/21/10

Comic-Con has kept me pretty busy and delayed the reviews a few days.  Hopefully you're still eager to see what I thought of the books I bought this week, so hit the jump for my reviews in this edition of the Weekly Crisis Comic Book Reviews.



AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #638
Written by Stan Lee & Joe Quesada
Art by Marcos Martin, Paolo Manuel Rivera & Joe Quesada

So this is it, huh?  Joe Quesada's big explanation for what Mary Jane whispered to Mephisto during One More Day and the telling of how Peter and MJ broke up and they are calling it One Moment in Time or OMIT for short.  After reading this issue, I want to omit it from my memory.

Let's start with the the OMD explanations - there are none.  Mary Jane's big chat with Mephisto that was left to reader's imaginations and many speculated would include some backdoor method of reversing everything?  Doesn't exist.  It consists of Mary Jane telling Mephisto Peter won't go along with it, but she'll make him understand, so just go ahead and magic away their life together.  It was a two page sequence - the first being a reprint of material from OMD and the second a close up with dialogue between Mary Jane and Mephisto.  It added nothing to the sequence and leaves me perplexed as to why it was included here or left out of One More Day in the first place.  

Believe it or not, this is actually the same character.

From there, the story branches out into a mix between present day, where Peter and Mary Jane are having a chat and going over how they broke up, and the past, showing exactly what happened on their wedding day.  You'd think this would be pretty straight forward and just get down to the nitty gritty of the reasons they broke up, but no, Joe Quesada isn't happy just destroying Spider-Man's marriage.  He also has to crap all over previous creators' work by mixing in pages from Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21 (that's the marriage issue if you're drawing a blank on why it's significant) and then altering them to fit his needs.  

Retconning older works aren't necessarily bad.  Ed Brubaker did amazing things with Bucky and Captain America's early WWII days.  But it added to and built upon the framework that was already there.  Brubaker and Matt Fraction did a similar job with Iron Fist and expanding his origins.  Geoff Johns did the exact same thing with Green Lantern.  Retcons aren't inherently bad things.  However, when the retcon consists of such blatant disregard for other's works and are executed in such overt manners, it's hard to even call it a retcon.  This is just butchering a character's past. 

What Quesada did is literally insert reprinted material, with classic colouring and unaltered, into the script.  Whenever he felt like making a change, he had Paolo Rivera, who is an excellent artist and wasted on this project, draw these new pages.  Rivera's style fit the retro look, but coupled with the old fashioned colouring and art of the unaltered annual pages, it is just too drastic a shift and looks ridiculous.  

Peter misses his wedding day because a fat guy fell on him.

It also leads to the reader wondering what just happened as the same scene can result in someone looking completely different, such as one of Electro's henchmen, who is the focus of this tale.  This henchmen is huge and muscle bound with an uzi in a distinct military fatigue coloured vest and pants.  One page he's a blonde, clean shaven and with a crewcut, the next he's overweight and with balding dark hair and stubble. 

Later, they add more scenes showing doubt in Peter without context from the annual to help prove a point.  They add more scenes of him crying over Gwen Stacey's photo.  Mary Jane is shown at a party with hot male models and super stars fawning over her and her other model friends trying to pursuade her not to get married coupled with MJ showing more and more doubt about getting married.  Finally, they show the wedding day and Peter not showing up and have Flash and Harry  inadvertently tell MJ about how Peter was doubting himself the night before.  These are all jarring shifts in the annual's story and retconned in to make the marriage issue go away.  Add the art differences and they are just plain out of place.  I'm not even sure why they didn't recolour or redraw some of these pages if they felt they added a great deal to the story.  

Getting back to the marriage and why they didn't get married, remember that henchman from earlier?  The one that changes hair colour and body build?  The red bird from One More Day shows up when this goon is placed in the cop car and opens the doors for him.  This goon tracks down the cop that arrested him and is going to kill him.  Spider-Man happens onto the scene and stops the attempted kill on the rooftop.  The guy throws a cinderblock at Spider-Man, who is on a water tower at this point while the man is on the rooftop, and begins running away.  The dazed and confused Spider-Man, who couldn't dodge the cinderblock despite having a spider sense (let's not talk logistics of a normal man throwing a cinderblock fast enough or high or hard enough to even hit and harm Spidey) chases the man down, but they both slip and fall off the roof.  Spidey misses his webline and then decides to cushion the man's fall (couple stories, nothing Spidey hasn't survived before).  He passes out with the fat man on top of him and misses his wedding.  I shouldn't have to tell you how bad an explanation this is.

The many faces of Peter Parker.

The last thing I want to discuss is Joe Quesada's art.  He handled the present day art for this story and it was definitely not his best work.  It is a talking heads sequence between Peter and Mary Jane that had me wondering if the Chameleon had taken Peter's place again based on how many times his face changed shape.  It was baffling to see how different someone could look in so few panels.  One even looked like Joe Quesada, possibly based on a self reference photo.

Verdict - Avoid It.  Peter misses his wedding because a fat guy fell on him.  I repeat, Peter misses his wedding because a fat guy fell on him and he couldn't get up.  This is why they don't get married.  This was the great story that justifies the Brand New Day continuity and had to be told.  Additionally, they butchered a classic story to tell this abomination of a comic. 


BATMAN BEYOND #2
Written by Adam Beechen
Art by John Stanisci

+ Was another solid issue from Beechen and Stanisci.  The writing is solid and the art really suits the style and tone of Batman Beyond without being a straight up copy of the animated series' look.
+ Story is progressing slowly, but still progressing. I don't feel like we're wasting time or spinning our wheels.  
+ Enjoying the Hush plot more than I thought I would. We're finding out what happened between him and Bruce in their "final" battle and the build up is working for me.
+ New Catwoman is an interesting character and I liked all the pages she was in, particularly the banter between her and Terry.  
- I don't see why she needs to be Catwoman.  She doesn't even look like a Catwoman.  Beechen seems to realize this and plays with the name in the dialogue as Terry continues to try and banter her origin or connection to Catwoman out of her, which I liked.  That doesn't change the fact we're adding more and more Bruce villains into the mix when Batman Beyond always managed to stay away from those pitfalls that other future universes fell into.

Verdict - Check It.  It's a fun read and captures the essence of the Batman Beyond universe quite well.  Beechen has a real grasp of Terry's character and the action and dialogue between him and the new Catwoman shows this.  If you've any interest in Batman Beyond, you won't go wrong with this comic. 


HEROIC AGE: PRINCE OF POWER #3
Written by Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente
Art by Reilly Brown

+ I love the Thor/Amadeus Cho dynamic.  It's easy to see Cho rubs Thor the wrong way and every exchange of dialogue between the two is hilarious.
+ Reilly Brown is really coming into his own as an artist. He's expressive, timely and can do action well.  He's not a top tier artist (yet), but he's easily one of my favourites and one of the few that can be this good and keep a monthly schedule, which means a lot to me.
+ Delphyne Gorgon got a lot of face time this issue and it looks like she's going to be taking a mroe active role now that she's out of her cell (and with her death scrunchy on!).  I'm hoping she and Cho get back together as I like the two characters and it would ensure she keeps getting more and more appearances.
- Thor is taken for granted for some of the jokes with him and Cho.  I'm happy with the jokes and reactions from Thor, but it is definitely noticeable and I can see some people having a problem with it.  I approach it more from the point of view that Cho is an athiest and does not believe or respect Thor's entire heritage and the Norse mythology he is built upon.  He does not hide his intelligence nor this contempt for Thor's origins and I view it as this just rubbing Thor the wrong way and leading to these types of jokes that some may view as out of character.  Your milage may vary.

Verdict - Buy It.  I really enjoy this comic.  It started a bit slow with the first issue, but has really ramped up to Incredible Hercules level of quality and is a book I look forward to every month now.  This was another strong issue with laughs, action and some great character moments.  Everything I want and expect from this creative team and title.


THUNDERBOLTS #146
Written by Jeff Parker
Art by Kev Walker

+ Despite not really knowing where they are going with the current storyline (one minute they are fighting strange monsters displaced from Asgard, the next its Terregin Mist radiated monsters with no rhyme or reason, just out there fighting), I'm enjoying the character work and team building.  This is an interesting cast of characters and watching Luke Cage hold it all together has been fun reading.
+ Everyone gets a moment this issue, but Crossbones, Ghost and Juggernaut seem to be getting the lion's share of dialogue and action. I'd love to see more of the original T-bolts, but these characters are perfect fits for the team and I'm hoping we see more of them in the future.
+ The art. I hear some vocal complaints about the art of Kev Walker, but I personally really like the style and tone of it.  There are some odd looks here and there, particularly Moonstone's face, but it's very unique and he's great at telling a story with his art and the action sequences look great.
- Lack of original Thunderbolts action.  Fixer literally walks in at the top of a page, hands out some safety gear and then leaves at the bottom of the same page, never to be seen in the comic again.  Mach V has a larger role on the mission, but is quickly taken out and seems to be controlled by Ghost now.  Songbird is left back at The Raft to orientate some prisoners. Moonstone is the only classic one getting any face time and she's not really the same character she used to be anymore, so not someone I'm overly interested in seeing that often.  I like the new guys and all, but don't tease me with the classics and string me along! 
- The story hasn't really gone anywhere.  We set up the team, tested their loyalties and had Cage put them in their place for the first two issues.  They had some fights with the Asgard monsters last issue that carried over into this one and it showed off how badly the teamwork for these Thunderbolts is, but we then went straight into the exact same story again this issue with more random monster fighting and everyone doing their own thing as Cage tries to keep them in line.  Where are we going with this?  Are these monsters and strange events related?  Where is Parker going with this story?  I'm not sure at this point and that's a concern, though a minor one seeing as we're only three issues in.

Verdict - Check It. Parker is doing some excellent character work with the new Thunderbolts team, but the inclusion of the old cast seems more for nostolgia's sake than story based at this time with their limited roles and page time.  Story lacks a little direction, but the focus is on how the team works (or I guess we should say doesn't work) together, so this is forgiveable.  Definitely worth checking out to see if you'll like this new iteration of the Thunderbolts and a book I'm still enjoying quite a bit.


Related Posts


27 comments:

Chris said...

Nice ASM review, my thoughts exactly. I really can not believe that this is what they came up with after all of this time. At least the cover is nice....

Akylle said...

ASM clearly established the cinderblock as a top tier villian. He needs his own ongoing or at least a mini.

Kirk Warren said...

@Akylle - He could team up with The Wall.

GuiGuiBob said...

they clearly established a contrived way out of BND, Mephisto will somehow get involved with spidey again thus rendering their contract void and magic, we'll have another brand new day... YAY

Radlum said...

I liked the art in ASM; mixing the classic artwork with Rivera's style made for a pretty interesting view of what went differently thanks to pigeon-Mephisto, but the writing was so dumb it hurts. It's not Ultimatum-bad, no, it's worse because it's just stupid, Peter missed his wedding because of a random fat merc

twobitspecialist said...

I'm not going to bother with ASM.

I think it's too soon to worry about the direction in Thunderbolts. The book right now is more about character interaction than the missions themselves. I mean, it's a new team. They are not about to do something major when they are still quarreling with each other or trying to make a break for it.

Besides, after next issue, they are going straight for Shadowland, so we'll see.

Kevin said...

Man I am glad I did not pick up OMIT. It looks horrible as Quesada still doesn't want to admit the way he decided to break up Peter and MJ was bad and did not go over well with fans at all.

I wish that Beechen would have chosen some other Batman villain because having Hush as the villain just makes the story feel like he is going with the flavor of the month as we have Hush appearing all over the Battitles. I would have actually preferred it if he would have chosen one of the villains from Terry's rogues gallery.

But he does a good with capturing Bruce and Terry's voices and I liked the new Catwoman Beyond. Though I wish the art would be stronger as it was to inconsistent when it came to Stanisci drawing characters without masks.

DanMan2814 said...

Part of me now wants to read ASM. Of course, that's the same part of me that loves to watch Manos, the Hands of Fate.

Ryan K Lindsay said...

Manos, yeah, there's gotta be room for Manos so I guess the same must go for comics. Every now and then we've gotta enjoy the bad stuff.

Wez said...

I thought MJs deal with Mephisto was that she would remember everything that had happened while Peters 'memories' would be adjusted.
This results in MJs longing and being awkward around Peter because she knows that if they got back together Mephisto would come back, restore Peters memories and kill Aunt May.
Begin Peter vs Mephisto story arc.
Who wants me to write for Marvel?

Anonymous said...

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