I'm not sure how it happened, but even though I went into this comic with no expectations, this book was not at all what I was expecting. Although it's written by Roger Langridge, I found it to be very different from most of the work he's been doing of late. Perhaps that's due to this being an adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs' novel, perhaps it's simply Langridge trying something new. Regardless of the motivation behind the change, it makes for an interesting read.
The book opens in medias res, showing our protagonist being beaten and interrogated by a number of strange and monstrous green creatures. It's clear that this interrogation has been going on for a long time and, more interestingly, that although John Carter understands the creatures, they don't understand him. This makes for a bit of a confusing introduction, but it works quite well, because the reader and John learn about the world they find themselves in at the same time. It's a clever way to give the reader an immediate connection to the book's lead. It's soon revealed that John is being interrogated on Mars, having somehow arrived there while taking refuge in a cavern while escaping from a group of aggressive prospectors back on Earth. This doesn't really explain what happened, but it's also clear that that isn't really an important part of the narrative.
The Martians soon decide to let John Carter explore their city on their own (although always accompanied by an enormous Martian dog named Woola). This decision is a little confusing, because there isn't much reason given for it, aside from a vague implication that he could be useful at some undefined later point. Regardless, John and the reader continue to explore the exotic terrain of Mars, discovering many sights and slowly learning the Martian language. Tiring of his captivity, John Carter tries to escape one day, only to find himself fighting off two wild Space Apes. He manages to subdue the creatures and is lauded for his combat prowess by his Martian captors. From there, his captors' scavenger subsistence is revealed and the titular Princess of Mars appears.
The story is certainly interesting and kept me turning the page, but it does have some minor pacing issues. The narrative can sometimes jump from one thing to the next without much in the way of warning or explanation, making it a little challenging to understand what or why something is happening. The issue also reads a bit too much like an introduction, feeling a little overburdened by exposition to bring everyone up to speed on what's happening. It takes away from the story, making things sometimes feel unnatural, as if they are happening solely for the needs of the narrative, with little to no thought given to character impulses or motivations.
That being said, there's still a lot of good to be found here. The story's pace is slower than I was expecting, but it gives us some time to soak up the exotic characters and locales. While I enjoyed most of Langridge's writing, it's truly Filipe Andrade's art that makes this book special. His style is beautiful and does a wonderful job of evoking mood and emotion. His renditions of John Carter are fantastic, but his work on Mars and the Martians are what really impressed me. The setting clearly has some elements of ancient Rome, but it still feels like a distinct and real civilization. I thought all of the character models were quite stunning, but I was particularly happy with Woola, the giant Martian dog, who perfectly combines the alien and the familiar. I hope we'll be seeing more of that critter.
Verdict - Check It. There's a lot of great stuff going on here, marred slightly by some jarring story moments. It's hard to judge the series knowing that so much is yet to come, but I think that there is enough good in this issue to warrant picking up the next one. Give it a look.
sometimes giving the impression that pieces are being moved from one place to the next because they have to be for the subsequent parts of this story to make sense. It's a little frustrating to feel as if parts of the book are happening
I come into this book as an Ultimate Spider-Man newbie. I've heard the hype about how good this series has been and how a number of people got back into comics with it, but I've never had the pleasure of reading any of it myself. However, if what's come before is anything like what we find in this issue that opens the next chapter in the Ultimate Spider-saga, I think I understand what all the hype is about.
The book begins "Eleven Months Ago", opening on Norman Osborne explaining to his new employee, Doctor Markus, that his job will be to recreated the Spider Serum that created the original Spider-Man. This sequence is really interesting and does a great job of introducing some key plot elements to new readers - rather important in a new number one. It also introduces the spider that will be providing the powers to our new Spider-Man. Surprisingly, Sara Pichelli takes no time to flex her artistic muscles, giving some fantastic and intense art in what is essentially a bunch of exposition. It's some amazing work that really sets the tone of the rest of the issue.
After a quick and enjoyable sequence involving
The remainder of the issue involves Miles going to visit his uncle Aaron, who appears to be the black sheep of the family, being involved in some not-quite-legal things. It is clear that Miles' parents don't much like him spending time with Aaron, but despite that fact, he is obviously a good man who cares for his nephew. Their conversation introduces the idea of "making your own way" and doing the most with what life gives you, which I assume will be a big theme for this series.
Miles then finds some of the items that
The whole comic reads incredibly well. Bendis is offering some great writing that is approachable for readers of all ages, both new and old. The introduction of all the characters and some of the themes feels quite natural and the whole package left me wanting more, which is a good thing. As I mentioned throughout the review, Pichelli's art is stunning. She owns every single panel she does in this book. I really can't rave enough about how great her work is. Everyone has a distinct look. Everything feels real and important. I can't wait to see more of her work, because it's already phenomenal.
My main gripe with this book is that there simply isn't enough. Just as I was getting into it, the story came to a sudden end. And while there's something to be said for hooking the reader for the next issue, the fact remains that this book cost $3.99 and only had 20 pages of comics within - not an amazing value. I recognize that there weren't any ads in the book, which was kind of nice, but I have a really hard time supporting that price point. It's simply too much money for too little content.
Verdict - Check It. This book would get a much higher rating if it wasn't for the price to page ratio. To be honest, even though I had a great time reading this comic, I'm not going to buy any of the following issues. As great as it is, it's not worth 4 dollars for only 20 pages of comic. I don't usually encourage trade-waiting, but that's what I'm going to be doing here, because it doesn't make sense to buy this series on an issue-by-issue basis. I think Marvel really needs to think a little harder about their pricing, because I find this current situation to be too much.
What about you, dear readers? How did you find the week? Did you read any of these openers? Were there other books that you were particularly enamoured with? Don't hesitate to share your thought below!