Saturday, November 13, 2010
It’s late, but it counts! It’s this week’s Comic Book Review Power Rankings! I’ve got to be up early for a comic book convention (Iowa-Con in Altoona, IA) and we’ve got a hardcore fight for the Book of the Week, so let’s not waste anymore time, alright? Hit the jump to see this week’s reviews!
For the uninitiated, the Comic Book Review Power Rankings is a countdown from worst-to-best of my weekly comic book haul. Before reading the issues, I preRank them based on the creative team, previous issues, solicitations, and gut instinct. The final Ranking number is based upon how the issues actually turned out. I attempt to keep everything as spoiler free as possible, but keep in mind that there may be the occasional minor spoiler that I overlook. As always, I can be reached via responses to this thread or at email@example.com.
Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Lee Garbett, Pere Perez, Alejandro Sicat, Walden Wong, and Guy Major
Letters by Jared K. Fletcher
Cover by Andy Kubert
• In the conclusion to Return of Bruce Wayne, the time-displaced Batman is chased by Darkseid’s “trap” to the end of the universe, which sets forth an unnecessarily complicated plot that sets up Batman’s return in Batman and Robin #16.
• Grant Morrison really runs wild with some of his ideas here, doesn’t he? The problem is that his ideas are never fully developed, causing the specifics of the plot to fall apart as it rushes through to a conclusion. With another issue, he could tighten things up quite a bit and put together a successful end to the story.
• Also, call me a purist, but “killer ideas” (no, seriously, the villain is an idea that can kill) and neurotic robots packaging all of history before the end of time doesn’t exactly work well with a street-level hero like Batman.
• I know I’m going to get yelled at for this, but most of the dialogue in this issue is just gibberish. There is enough that works to make the story readable, but when you really get down to it, the writing in this issue is mostly nonsense.
• And before anyone flips out, yes, I “get it.” I get what Morrison is going for. I even get the meta-fictional symbolism of it all. That doesn’t change the fact that it wasn’t well-written.
• The saving grace, or as much of a saving grace is possible with this issue, is the art from Lee Garbett and Pere Perez, who bring the same level of quality to this issue that they did to their run on Batgirl.
• Most of the heavy-hitters of the DC Universe show up in this issue and they all look great thanks to superb designs with strong expressions. This issue shows that both main artists are capable of taking on any book DC throws at them (and I hope they throw them something soon!).
• Interestingly enough, the weirder the story gets, the better the art looks. Garbett and Perez do a solid job of creating interesting and exciting visuals to go with the storytelling mush.
Verdict: Byrne It. I really hate to Rank a book this low and give out this harsh of a verdict when the art is so strong, but in the end, the abysmal writing simply overwhelms it. Morrison goes off on a wild tangent here, but simply outpaces himself, delivering underdeveloped ideas wrapped in shoddy dialogue. With more time and stronger focus, I think the concepts here could actually work and work extremely well—which is the same argument I had for Final Crisis (though, in his defense here, he doesn’t include any unnecessary plot elements like he did in Final Crisis, which prevented him from tightening up the story). This issue is about ideas that kill and, unfortunately, that is exactly what happened to this issue.
Written by John Jackson Miller
Art by Federico Dallocchio and Michael Atiyeh
Letters by Michael Heisler
Cover by Joe Quinones
• Following the massive amount of destruction wrought last issue, young Jedi Kerra Holt struggles to rally local leader and former Jedi Gorlan Palladane against the Sith Lord controlling his planet, only to be caught in a much more sinister battle.
• In the big picture, I really like this issue. There is some great complexity in the war at large and I think there is a lot of potential for Kerra, but the thin plot does it no favors.
• The resolve of Kerra and Sith Lord Dalman’s arrogance make them great characters, but they are tremendously one-note. Every character beyond them is a dull cookie-cutter archetype.
• I went through multiple readings of this issue before reviewing it because I wanted to find more that I could grip onto. I want to like it because it has so much potential, but John Jackson Miller just isn’t bringing enough to the table.
• The art in this issue is frighteningly uneven, with some of the worst consistency issues that you’ll see in any comic this week.
• Some pages are full of detail and look fantastic, but the vast majority are so lacking in detail and depth that they look completely unfinished.
• While there are definitely issues with Federico Dallacchio’s linework, Michael Atiyeh’s colors are to blame as well. His coloring is too flat and dull, giving everything a tremendously lifeless look.
Verdict: Byrne It. With Star Wars: Legacy all but ended (we still have the upcoming miniseries), I was really hoping that this series could fill that space on my pull list, but I think that I’m done. There is so much potential in the characters and concepts here, but it ultimately misses the mark on too many occasions to be considered a success. I might be persuaded to give this series one more shot, but if I get another issue like this, I’m moving on.
Written by Peter Tomasi
Art by Fernando Pasarin, Cam Smity, Randy Mayor, and Gabe Eltaeb
Letters by Steve Wands
Cover by Rodolfo Migliari
• In this week’s Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors, lead character Guy Gardner and his band of compatriots stop off in Daxam to look for Sodam Yat, who is taking his own strange journey.
• This issue is very strange in terms of its plotting. We get a lot of information, but it feels like a story between stories—a strange transition issue that will definitely read better in trade than as a single issue.
• I find Sodam Yat’s “cult” to be really interesting and a cool use of the Daxamites, but this seems really out of character for Sodam.
• Despite some strong interplay between Guy Gardner and Bleez, I really wasn’t impressed with how Peter Tomasi handles the characters here. These are his marquee stars that he has done some amazing work with, but there isn’t a lot of fitting personality in the dialogue. It’s surprisingly shallow.
• I’m having a hard time taking the villain of this story seriously because he is still so abstract. I don’t want the mysteries spoiled, but I need more than we are getting in this issue. Again, this could be because of the transitional tone of this issue, but I feel like I’m left hanging here.
• The best and worst of this issue is how full the panels are—thee is a great amount of detail, but the art also has a tendency to get too busy at time, making it hard to place exactly what you should be looking at.
• There are also notable design inconsistencies in the character’s facial features, especially Arisia’s shifting nose and cheekbones.
• I do really like how Fernando Pasarin backs up to use larger panels when the Lanterns use their Power Rings. This emphasizes the power of the rings in comparison to the wielders. It’s a simple technique with very cool results.
Verdict: Check It. This issue squeaks by with a Check It verdict, but just barely. If you take a giant step back and start to see the forest from the trees, this issue has a lot going for it as the story begins to transition into its next phase. When you get down to the issue itself though, there are plotting and pacing issues that are hard to get past, especially with surprisingly weak dialogue and an inconsistent art effort. It’s enjoyable enough, but the issues aren’t easy to overlook.
Written by Matt Fraction
Art by Pasqual Ferry and Matt Hollingsworth
Letters by John Workman
Cover by Pasqual Ferry and Matt Hollingsworth
• In this week’s Thor, the titular Thunder God tracks down the reincarnated Loki, while the threat of the World-Eaters gets even more serious than before.
• I really like the fun and playful take on the young reincarnated Loki. It’s nice to see the mischief and chaos coming to the forefront rather than the sadistic and evil. It’s fun to see him hustling people on the street.
• The threat of the World-Eaters needs more emphasis. With the majority of the characters blowing it off and Matt Fraction still dealing with them in a mostly abstract manner, it’s hard to see them as credible. However, given the way this issue ends, I think that will change next issue.
• I really dig how Fraction bookends the issue with the more unpredictable World-Eaters bits, using the majority of the issue to focus on the more predictable Thor/Loki relationship. That’s an interesting way to plot out the issue.
• Fraction is doing a great job of dealing with the big picture, but he needs to ground the story a bit more. I want to see more meat to all aspects of this story.
• While I did enjoy the art, I know that Pasqual Ferry can do much, much better work than we are seeing here.
• His designs are fantastic, especially with the creepy troll dudes. The problem is that he isn’t putting enough depth on the characters, making the awesome designs look flat and lifeless.
• There is a lot of craziness going on in the backgrounds of the panels and it would be interesting to see if these came from Ferry’s lines or if it is something that was added by colorist Matt Hollingsworth.
Verdict: Check It. This is another squeaker. It seems like every time Fraction and Ferry take a step forward, they have to take another step back. The biggest problem lies in the fact that Fraction’s head seems to be in the clouds on this story. The big picture is well-developed, but its time to raise the stakes by closing the story in a bit. Now that we have Loki back and the threat of the World-Eaters is closer to Earth, we might just get that. I certainly hope so as I’d love to see what this creative team is capable of once they really get going.
Written by Gail Simone
Art by Alvin Lee, Adriana Melo, Jack Purcell, JP Mayer, and Nei Ruffino
Letters by Swands
Cover by Alina Urusov
• In the conclusion to this short Birds of Prey arc, Huntress and Zinda track Black Canary to Bangkok, where White Canary is forcing Dinah into a battle to the death with Lady Shiva.
• Unless you are really into the battle with White Canary, it’s a little hard to get fully invested in this story. Since she hasn’t been built up all that well (too much mystery for her own good and too little payoff when her identity was revealed), a lot of readers may be frustrated.
• That being said, this issue is a great exploration of the relationship between the Birds, especially the strong bond between Huntress and Black Canary. That bond runs deep and this issue taps into that really well.
• Where Gail Simone really shines is how fantastically complex Huntress is here. Simone always writes her well, but this is the best the character has been written since Ivory Madison’s brilliant Huntress: Year One (if you’ve never read that, you absolutely need to as soon as possible).
• In terms of art, the normally capable Alvin Lee and Adriana Melo don’t exactly put their best feet forward. It’s not bad per se, but its not what these artists are capable of.
• It doesn’t help that Lee and Melo’s styles clash here, making the jumps between artists very jarring and very disruptive to the flow of the story.
• I’m not sure which artist drew the middle section of this story (the feast), but those are some of the weirdest lips I have ever seen.
• On the flipside, the action sequences in this issue are spectacular. I love the energy and impact once things start picking up. Seeing Huntress and Shiva duke it out in such a spectacular fashion goes a long way to making up for some of the artistic shortcomings.
Verdict: Buy It. I was really on the fence about assigning this book this strong of a verdict given some of the flaws in the art and some issues with the development of the plot, but the strength of Gail Simone’s Huntress and the fun action sequences won out. The entire White Canary epic has been weaker than could be expected based upon Simone’s recent output on Secret Six and her fantastic history with this series, so I’m hoping this series can turn a corner back towards Must Read territory after this issue.
Written by Tim Seeley
Art by Tim Seeley, Victor Olazaba, and Val Staples
Letters by Simon Bowland
Cover by Salva Espin and Guru eFX
• The unlikely duo of Eric O’Grady and Hank Pym find themselves in an unlikely team-up this week when AIM sets its sights on yet another benevolent invention of Pym’s that could be turned into a super-weapon of mass destruction.
• This issue is a ton of fun and that success rests solely on the fact that Tim Seeley has a fantastic understanding of both Ant-Man and Wasp and puts them in a Silver Age-y plot that plays with the differences between the two.
• I’m glad to see that Seeley doesn’t shy away from references to the awesome Irredeemable Ant-Man series by Robert Kirkman and Phil Hester. Black Fox bringing Ant-Man’s Wii back to him was priceless.
• Despite only having a handful of pages, the Avengers Academy kids—especially Veil and Finesse—have a great appearance in this issue. Seeley’s sense of humor is just priceless.
• The art, also from Seeley, is strong and clean with great designs. He seems perfectly at home with these characters.
• I’m interested in the layout choices that Seeley makes. The majority of this issue follows a strict grid system, with only a few places where this breaks down into overlapping panels. I’m not seeing any story reason behind these. Since they are distracting, I’m curious about why this choice was made.
• The only character I didn’t dig as much is Seeley’s Pym. He’s dull and lifeless, which does fit the character a bit, but I think it goes a bit to far, making the character painfully stiff compared to the others.
Verdict: Buy It. Comic book readers are constantly complaining about comics not being fun anymore, but then often overlook comics like this issue that are precisely that. Seeley’s playful tone and great character work make this a highly enjoyable issue that has a decidedly different feel than any other book that Marvel is currently publishing. Its old-school superheroics with a new-school attitude presented through fine craftsmanship. While not quite jumping into Must Read territory, I still highly recommend it.
Written by Paul Cornell
Art by Jimmy Broxton and Guy Major
Letters by Swands
Cover by Yanick Paquette, Michael Lacombe, and Nathan Fairbairn
• In another done-in-one story for Knight and Squire, we see a bit of their sleepy hometown before the duo takes on a secret society of villainous Morris Men.
• Did you like the first issue of Knight and Squire? Then you’ll love this issue. Did you hate the first issue? Then you’ll probably hate this issue even more. There is going to be very little middle ground with this series.
• Paul Cornell does absolutely nothing to hide how British this issue, which makes it incredibly refreshing and unique. Everything from the language to the plot points to even the plot structure sets it apart from the vast majority of American books. I love that.
• The interplay between Knight and Squire is just fantastic. Cornell picks up the breadcrumbs left to him by Grant Morrison and runs with the concepts. The sheer amount of personality in every page of this book is just unreal.
• What’s more impressive is how well Cornell builds the world around the characters without being forceful. There is nothing unnatural about how the issue rolls out. It’s just brilliant storytelling.
• Artist Jimmy Broxton has a great amount of chemistry with Cornell as the art works perfectly in synch with the tone and pacing of the script. I really hope we see more from this creative duo after this series has finished.
• The over-the-top designs are a lot of fun, especially when we see Knight’s “Castle” (his Batcave). There is a great throwback to the 1966 Batman TV show that I’m digging quite a bit.
• There isn’t a ton of action, but the joy and light tone of the art keeps things fresh despite this. It’s really impossible to get bored looking at these pages.
Verdict: Must Read. It pains me to rank this book at #6 when it’s definitely of a Book of the Week caliber. That just shows how strong this week really was for comics. There aren’t many major flaws with the craftsmanship or the entertainment value of this comic. The lack of action may put some readers off, but the real stumbling block, and the main reason this didn’t rank higher, is accessibility. This is definitely a niche comic for a niche audience, meaning that the average reader of the Rankings may not be able to get full invested into the comic. On one hand, I applaud Cornell and company for not even flinching with this book, but on the other hand, I do have to note how easily they dismiss a large potential audience that would love to jump onto the K&S bandwagon from Morrison’s work. Still, if this is your thing, you’ll freakin’ love this book and you’ll wish it were an ongoing series (I know I do).
Written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Art by Miguel Sepulveda and Jay David Ramos
Letters by Joe Caramagna
Cover by Aleksi Briclot
• In the “conclusion” to a multi-year, multi-title space epic that started way back in 2006 with the original Annihilation, Thanos shows his true genius while two of my favorite characters appear to make the ultimate sacrifice.
• It is almost impossible to talk about this comic without spoiling anything, so I’m going to walk on eggshells. That may mean a less-than-satisfying review and, for that, I apologize.
• This is a great end to a great story. The pacing in the final moments towards the shocking ending is simply superb. Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning take years worth of buildup and let it boil over in an ending that is as simple as it is clever.
• This issue features, quite possibly, the best ever representation of Thanos that I’ve ever read. Everything we know about Thanos is on full display here—his cunning, his power, his passion, and his neuroses. This is a mad god set loose in a mad universe with brilliant results.
• The end is a huge shocker; I did not see it coming at all, but that doesn’t take away from its effectiveness. DnA absolutely pull the rug out from readers on this one while still setting it up for future stories.
• I really wish that Jay David Ramos would go back and recolor issues #1 through 5 of this series, because it took him until now to color Miguel Sepulveda’s art in a way that doesn’t detract from the great details, huge impact, and strong designs. Sepulveda is as strong as ever, but it took until now for Ramos to really step itu p.
• This issue looks completely epic. From Galactus in the mdst of a space battle to the statue of the fallen heroes, everything in this issue is huge. It’s amazing how much gravitas that Sepulveda can bring to this story.
Verdict: Must Read. For patient fans that have followed Marvel’s cosmic books from page one of the epic Annihilation miniseries way back in 2006 until now, this is the perfect ending to one of the most complex and satisfying epics that Marvel has ever produced. Although Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning jumped in after that initial miniseries, they piloted these characters through twist and turn through hundreds of pages spanning multiple titles and then BAM, they slap the readers in the fact with a shock ending that reaches all the way back to those opening pages of Annihilation. It’s heartbreaking and powerful; even if I’m totally not okay with the fact that we readers are left with our jaws on the floor wondering what happened to two of our favorite heroes (including my personal favorite Marvel character). There are still issues with the art that have plagued this miniseries from day one and there is a lot that is glossed over to reach the shocks, but this is still an amazing comic that absolutely needs to be part of your collection.
Written by Bryan Q. Miller
Art by Dustin Nguyen, Derek Fridolfs, and Guy Major
Letters by Sal Cipriano
Covers by Dustin Nguyen
• In Dustin Nguyen’s debut as regular artist, Batgirl tries to save a man on campus from mysterious attackers, only to find herself framed for murder.
• This issue has personality up the wazoo—as usual. Every line is full of personality, especially the sequence between Stephanie and her mom. This series has been known for its entertaining charm, but this scene shows it still has a lot of heart too.
• Given how complex and convoluted most of the Bat-franchise has been, I’m glad to see that this issue is so clean and straightforward in its storytelling. It’s very refreshing.
• Kudos to Bryan Q. Miller for continuing to develop Stephanie’s life outside of being a hero. You really cannot deny the effect of a strong supporting cast and a well-developed secret identity. For a character with as rich a back-story as Stephanie, this is all the more important.
• Dustin Nguyen’s debut follows suit with his recent work on other Bat-related titles in terms of quality in all aspects of his art.
• The opening pages featuring Nguyen’s “Lil’ Gotham” characters were a lot of fun. We really need to see more of these designs elsewhere.
• Nguyen’s art is incredibly clean and expressive, which makes it a good fit for this series. It’s nice to see him take on a slightly lighter fare than we’ve seen him on lately.
• I love the range that Nguyen shows between his water-color-y cover to the Lil’ Gotham opening to the style used on the interior—all different styles, all with the same impressive results.
Verdict: Must Read. I really hate to see Lee Garbett leaving this title because he had amazing chemistry with writer Bryan Q. Miller and the two did such an impressive job of bringing the adventures of Stephanie Brown to life, but it’s hard to be upset when his replacement is the always-impressive Dustin Nguyen. Nguyen and Miller make an excellent team here and continue the winning ways for this insanely charming and addictive series. Another month, another big win for Batgirl—the best superhero book that you probably aren’t reading.
Written by Harrison Wilcox
Art by Ryan Stegman, Michael Babinski, and Guru eFX
Letters by Ed Dukeshire
Cover by Ed McGuiness and Morry Hollowell
• In the debut of She-Hulks, the titular heroines (Savage and…umm…Regular?) track down members of the villainous Intelligencia as they start new lives in New York City.
• This issue is over-the-top, a tad ridiculous at times, and amazingly entertaining. If you are looking for a fun superhero yarn that features lots of punching and great personality, you must own this book.
• While I’m not sure how she was presented in other comics, I was really impressed with Harrison Wilcox’s take on Lyra, the Savage She-Hulk, is really charming. She’s incredibly charming with a fun naïveté that balances well against her thirst for action. I’m instantly reminded of early Spider-Man stories or, for a more contemporary example, the brilliance of the Jaime Reyes Blue Beetle series.
• I really dig the fact that Wilcox seems to be having a blast writing this book. Between the Mean Girls-esque high school scenes to the hilariously excessive villains and everything in between, Wilcox brings the fun.
• Not surprisingly, Ryan Stegman steals the show. I knew that he would, but I didn’t expect the art to be this great. This is leaps and bounds ahead of anything Stegman has produced previously. This is a career making issue.
• In his recent Incredible Hulk back-up stories, I commented on how much improvement Stegman has shown in his expressions. He continues that trend here, reaching ludicrous levels of awesome. I’m talking Amanda Conner-level facial expressions (regular readers of the Rankings will understand how strong of a compliment that is).
• I can honestly say that I never thought I would compliment the way an artist draws the way bikini models are thrown about by an explosion or how great a Zac Efron look-a-like is drawn, but this issue forces me to.
• I’ve been focusing a lot on page layouts lately and the importance of using the tried-and-true conventional grid. This issue is a prime example of how this classic is still incredibly viable. This issue features amazing storytelling based upon standard grids and only breaks them once or twice. This gives those moments a tremendous amount of impact and movement. Kudos to Stegman for thoughtful storytelling in this regard.
Verdict: Must Read. I can honestly say that I never thought a She-Hulk comic could make such a strong case for being purchased, let alone for being Book of the Week. While this issue does fall just short—and I’m taking millimeters here—it is certainly worth of the honor. Harrison Wilcox puts together an insanely entertaining storyline featuring some of the most intriguing characters of the week, but it is the work of Ryan Stegman that launches this book to another level I’ve been singing the praises of Stegman for years, but his work here is above and beyond anything I’ve seen from him before. In a few years when he is headlining the next Bendis-written mega-event, you can look back at this issue as the reason he was tapped for that project. This is a superstar making performance and a comic you seriously cannot do without.
Written by Fabian Nicieza
Art by Marcus To, Ray McCarthy, and Guy Major
Letters by Sal Cipriano
Cover by Marcus To, Ray McCarthy, and Brian Buccellato
• In a densely packed issue, we learn the whereabouts of Cassandra Cain, see the return of Lynx, and Red Robin’s first encounter with Bruce Wayne after his return has been revealed.
• It is so great to see Cassandra Cain back and in action, especially in a heroic fashion. I also love the foreshadowing for what I’m assuming will be her debut as Hong Kong’s Bat-themed hero in a future issue of Batman Incorporated.
• There are few scenes in a superhero comic that can be as powerful as the interaction between Tim Drake and Bruce Wayne. We saw it in Identity Crisis, we saw it in a brilliant Father’s Day issue of Robin, and we see it again here. You get Bruce’s acknowledgment of Tim’s skills and their similarities, but more importantly you get the brilliantly developed father-and-son relationship.
• The interaction between Lynx and Red Robin is great and comes together naturally. There are shades of the Catwoman/Batman relationship, which will surprise absolutely no one, but with fun character-specific twists. I really look forward to seeing how this plays out and I hope that Fabian Nicieza plays it against Tim’s other love interests that are all always in a state of flux—Stephanie, Wonder Girl, Zoanne, and, most recently, Tam Fox.
• There is no denying after this issue that no one writes Tim Drake better than Nicieza. He’s complex, bold, and undeniably teenaged with a perfectly formed outlook. It’s absolute gold.
• I really can’t think of anything bad to say about the art from Marcus To, Ray McCarthy, and Guy Major. Those guys friggin’ nailed it.
• The scene with Lynx is so good, in fact, that it could’ve been done without any narration or dialogue whatsoever. This is a prime example of how body language and facial expressions are just as important to telling a good story as words.
• In terms of sheer fanboy excitement, how awesome was the opening splash featuring Cassandra Cain kicking all sorts of ass?
Verdict: Must Read. There are a lot of books this week that pulled in Must Read verdicts, but no comic fought harder for the Book of the Week ranking than this week’s Red Robin. This is a near flawless issue that delivers on an obnoxiously large number of levels. Every time I think about this comic, I find new things to love about it. The fact that this issue isn’t #1 has absolutely nothing to do with any of its own flaws and it should be noted that it was just barely nosed out of the top spot by another incredibly impressive comic. Even as I write this, I’m second guessing my choice to put this book at #2. It’s that good—nay! It’s that great!
Lead Written by Dan Slott
Lead Art by Humberto Ramos, Carlos Cuevas, and Edgar Delgado
Backup Written by Paul Tobin
Backup Art by Clayton Henry and Chris Sotomayor
Letters by Joe Caramagna
Cover by Humberto Ramos
• With the 101-issue epic Brand New Day experiment now over, Big Time starts for Spider-Man in this week’s issue, which features a team-up with the Avengers to fight Doctor Octopus, a search for a new home, and a surprising return from one of Spider-Man’s most memorable villains.
• This issue is simply epic in so many ways. There is so much packed into the lead story that, as a reviewer, I’m not even sure where to begin (note that, as of this writing, I’m planning a special Top 10 Tuesday for next week just to focus on all the awesomeness).
• Dan Slott’s ability to write so many characters with so much personality is central to this issue’s success. There are literally dozens of characters popping in and all of them are written perfectly.
• I’m also impressed at how naturally the new status quo is developed through Peter looking for a new apartment. We get to see where all of the players are and how they are interacting. It’s a great move.
• Furthermore, kudos to Slott for making this such a great jumping on point for new readers. Everything you need to know is neatly displayed here in a manner that is as welcome and inviting to new readers as it is rewarding to longtime fans.
• I know that his distinctively outrageous style is pretty polarizing, but I love the work of Humberto Ramos and this issue is a great example of why he is one of my favorite artists.
• There is a brilliant and undeniable energy from Ramos that brings so much life to this issue, both in the action-packed opening pages to the extended “talking heads” sequences that follow. Just as Slott brings so much personality to the large cast of characters, Ramos brings life to their actions.
• Almost all of the pages in this issue are densely packed with lots of movement and a large number of panels, save four pages. The book opens on a splash page, followed by a spread, and the story ends with a splash. These are the only full pages in the entire issue—which makes the final splash (revealing the returning villain) all the more impactful. How is that for thoughtful storytelling?
• As a bonus, we get a great backup that re-introduces readers to Arana of the Young Allies, now taking the moniker of Spider-Girl, as she saves Spider-Man in the midst of the Doc Ock fight from the main story.
• This is a great kickstart for the upcoming Spider-Girl ongoing series from writer Paul Tobin that gives you everything you need to know about the character, plus a nice bit of validation from her namesake.
• The use of faux-Tweets in lieu of narration boxes was a fun twist, especially given how much the comic book industry has taken to Twitter. The fans and creators are crazy about it—so why not the characters?
• Clayton Henry’s art in the back-up is clean and consistent with solid designs and strong storytelling. There is nothing flashy about it, but it’s extremely effective. After an oversized story by Humberto Ramos, the simple and straightforward is a welcome approach.
Verdict: Must Read. Having dropped Amazing Spider-Man a few months back and only marginally following it through other reviewers, I was completely floored by how much Dan Slott and company pack it not his incredible debut issue for the new status quo. This issue hits all the right notes in terms of craftsmanship and entertainment value in a way that should appease disillusioned Spider-Man readers while still exciting those who’ve been following Spider-Man for the last 101 Brand New Day issues (and beyond). When you add in a superb backup, this is a great jumping on point with and incredible amount of new twists and turns that shows just how exciting the future can be for Spider-Man. It’s a hard fought week, but this issue could not be denied the Book of the Week honor when it is packed to the gutters with awesome. It’s a book that will stick with and having you jacked up for more.