Superior Spider-Man #1
Hero or Menace?
Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Ryan Stegman
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Colorist: Edgar Delgado
23 Pages, $3.99
“Will you do some reviews for IMJ?” they asked. “Sure,” I answered.
“Would you review Superior Spider-Man #1?” they asked.
“Oh god,” I said.
That’s essentially how I got here– reading this piece of ass disguised as a comic.
Anyway, on with the review: To start off, Otto-Peter visits the grave of Otto Octavius to say goodbye to his old life and hello to his new life– as Spider-Man. Then he battles the new Sinister Six for the next 7 (or so) pages. This part of the story is actually not bad. It’s a fairly standard scene that could be from any Spider-Man comic– except you have Doc Ock’s sneering narration (instead of Peter Parker’s everyman attitude) ringing in your ears.
So far, not so bad until Page 11– when any confidence Superior Spider-Man #1 might actually turn out not to be dreadful goes tumbling downhill like a runaway train with marshmallows for brakes. What causes this sudden turnaround? Otto-Peter takes a call from Mary Jane— making sure to put on his best “I’m going to rape you!” smile as he agrees to go on a date with her. Cut to Otto-Peter and MJ at a restaurant. The first thing telling you he’s a complete asshole? He’s wearing a big-ass bluetooth headpiece during the date. Panel 3 of Page 12 superbly confirms Otto-Peter’s asshole qualifications. The entire scene is played from Otto-Peter’s point-of-view– showing only a close-up of MJ’s breasts. Classy, Marvel. Classy.
MJ has a rare moment of perception in the midst of the dinner date– when Otto-Peter reveals he’s listening in on the Sinister Six’s machinations via his headset. MJ realizes Spider-Man should be going after the crooks rather than sitting and drinking champagne with her. This, in writing terms, is an “obvious moment of foreshadowing”… And it is so unsubtle that it’s obvious Slott will rely on this moment at some point in the future. Sadly, other than that brief instant, MJ is portrayed as a mere piece of meat… While Otto-Peter behaves like an even slimier version of David Spade’s “Russell” character from Rules of Engagement whenever he talks to her.
The last third (or turd– if you will) of the comic brings a second confrontation with the Sinister Six. This time, Spidey-Ock beats up on the Six– using his scientific knowledge and gadgetry to deal with them. This presumably is a demonstration of Spidey-Ock’s superiority over the old Spider-Man. After capturing Shocker, Beetle, Overdrive and Speed Demon… Spidey-Ock corners Boomerang, and the weakened villain promptly surrenders. Instead of webbing him up and calling the cops like the old Peter Parker would do, Spidey-Ock wails on Boomerang in a blood-crazed frenzy– featuring plenty of blood-spattered face and eye close-ups on the second to last page. Looks like Spidey is going to turn into a killer! Oh noes! Say it ain’t so, Dan!
Turning to the last page (or hitting the scroll-down button in my case)– a clear bluish-white hand stops Spidey-Ock from committing the coup-de-grace on the poor, defenceless Boomerang. My first thought was, “What the fuck is Iceman doing here?!?”… Then it becomes apparent the figure that looks like Iceman is actually Peter Parker’s Ghost. When I realised this, I burst out laughing. I laughed so hard I thought I was going to fall off my chair at the mind-numbing stupidity of the scene. Spider-Man is being haunted by Peter’s Ghost! Bwah-ha-ha!!! Ghost-Petey vows Spidey-Ock will not kill and somehow he “WILL FIND A WAY BACK.”
To end this travesty, we get the internet-baiting Next Issue Box screaming, “Peter Parker and Mary Jane…TOGETHER AGAIN?!”. Cue another month of “Will Ock rape Mary-Jane?” threads on message boards– with writer Dan Slott and editor Steve Wacker popping up to stoke the fires of outrage ever higher by trolling far and wide. This storyline would have deserved maybe one issue of a Marvel What If? comic… But because of Marvel’s current penchant for generating cheap heat– rather than telling good stories– this will be the status quo for Spider-Man for the near future. That every issue will become a tease of, “Will this be the month Ock finally rapes Mary Jane?”, is completely reprehensible… But this is apparently what Marvel’s most popular super-hero is being reduced to.
Focusing on the art: I wasn’t familiar with Ryan Stegman— but I heard he’s Marvel’s hot new artist. After reading Superior Spider-Man #1, I can’t for the life of me figure out why. After all, I’ve seen him being described as world-class. If I were being charitable, Stegman’s art could be described as serviceable– but uninspiring. His panel arrangements are mostly boring and repetitive– and the whole thing all looks a bit rushed. The backgrounds are so sparing, it’s like the ghost of Marvel old-timer Vinnie Colletta worked on this comic.
I thought Slott already jumped the shark in Issue #700 of Amazing Spider-Man, but he just jumped back over the man-eater again with this first issue of Superior Spider-Man. Will Slott jump the shark a third time with the next issue? Hah! What do you think? 😉
I’ll give this comic 1 star out of five for at least giving me a belly laugh on the last page– even if it wasn’t the reaction the “writer” was trying to elicit.
The End Times of Bram & Ben #1
Writer: James Asmus, Jim Festante
Artist: Rem Broo
Colorist: Overdrive Studio
33 pages, $2.99
On the back of this comic book, Jesus Christ (in his best Uncle Sam impersonation) says, “I WANT YOU for the Rapture at the End of Days!”… And it’s a damn funny picture too. Since I don’t make a habit of checking the back covers of my comics, I didn’t see this illustration until I was finished reading the book. Though maybe I should start– since Image never has ads on the back of their comics. What I’m getting at: I had no idea this book would be about the Rapture or Christianity. I have no idea what I thought it was about, but I wasn’t thinking religion.
I was raised in an Irish Catholic family– so it’s not like Christianity is foreign to me or anything… It’s just I never go out of my way to read anything about the subject. And I don’t know why some of my favorite comics deal with Christianity either (Punk Rock Jesus and Preacher). Since it’s such a heavy topic, I tend to stay away.
This comic had a lot going for it though. First off, my nephew’s name is Bram, so that’s almost a must pick up right there. (Has there ever been another time when you’ve seen the name Bram in the title of a comic?) Also, the cover is really cool– there’s a lot going on but it has a great design. Thirdly, it’s a Number One from Image, and they are the one publisher in comics I’m 100% behind. So, like most Image #1’s– I picked it up.
The book is about two twenty-something slacker roommates living life in the middle of the Rapture… Except they weren’t raptured. Along with all the rest of the sinners (cool kids), they’re left on Earth to live their days without any nagging from overbearing Christians… And Bram & Ben go about this in emotionally different ways. One thing’s for sure, the creators are having a lot of fun– and they aren’t afraid to offend people. I like that.
End Times takes the Rapture and makes it funny. The plot is strong and the story moves forward fast (both nice to see). Some comics that tend to be comedic never really have an interesting plot– making them something you want to continue to read. This book doesn’t suffer from that. The art is cartoony in a Chew Rob Guillory way. I wouldn’t put Bram & Ben artist Rem Broo on the same level as Rob, but the art is consistent throughout– and Broo’s storytelling is top-notch. Unfortunately, the colors are very generic– which is too bad. This issue has so much attitude in the writing and art, the colors really left something to be desired.
This comic has God, The Devil, Angels, Heaven, Hell and a Rapture– but it’s not like any Sunday Mass I’ve ever been to. This book takes a Bible story and does one of my favorite things– pokes fun at it. The End Times of Bram and Ben could have had a shorter title and it could have better colors– but that’s no reason not to pick up a good comic. End Times is both crude and offensive, and I can’t wait to read more! – Tom Devine
The End Times of Bram & Ben #1
Writer: James Asmus, Jim Festante
Artist: Rem Broo
Colorist: Overdrive Studio
33 pages, $2.99
If it wasn’t for the coloring, this probably would have easily been a 1 Star comic book.
It doesn’t have fantastic art, but I enjoyed it. It feels like there’s either an Anime or Manga influence to the entire affair– and that seemed different enough to keep me going to the end. But once I got there, a part of me wished I had stopped.
I understand some cool projects have come out of Kickstarter, but this is far from the first Kickstarter-born comic that I know (or have heard of) not being worth the money donated. If you’re a fan of overly cliché frat comedies concerning the Rapture, maybe it is worth it.
But if anyone found this funny, I hope they aren’t over the age of 17.
I would say this comic is still pushing it though, since it came out just after the Mayan Apocalypse… And there has been enough End Times humor on the internet, TV, comics and movies to make all the material in this book seem old hat. Any new ideas presented are poorly done and not funny. One example occurs at the beginning– where we get panels showing people getting “raptured” around the world. But when the Heavenly Hosts get to Turkey— a nation largely populated by Muslims– nothing happens. Now, I get the joke the creators are attempting here, but would it have been so hard to add Israel or India to the joke? It certainly would make the tone funnier and less insulting. (And this thought is coming from a guy that hates political correctness.)
It’s a shame too, because Overdrive Studio did fantastic work on the coloring. Without the coloring, The End Times of Bram and Ben would have been a pointless read beyond Page Two. I hope if anything comes out of this comic, the person (or people) behind Overdrive get some recognition. Other than that, there really isn’t much worth talking about here. – W.D. Prescott
Oreimo Volume 1 & 2
Writer: Tsukasa Fushimi
Artist: Sakura Ikeda
Character Design: Hiro Kanzuki
Letterer: Susan Daigle-Leach
Translation: Michael Gombos
166 Pages, $10.99
Since I’ve cut down on what I buy from the Big 2 (Marvel and DC) in the last year or two– I’ve been able to buy more Manga. This fact brings me to Oreimo, a relatively new manga translated and published by Dark Horse. The series originated in Japan as a series of Light Novels (the western equivalent of Young Adult Novels) from writer Tsukasa Fushimi. The manga adaptation is also by Fushimi, with art by Sakura Ikeda. The manga is published in Japan in Dengeki G’s magazine by Ascii Mediawork— not one of the main traditional manga houses like Kodansha, Shuesha or Shogakukan… Which may explain some of the issues I had with the book.
Oreimo is a contraction of the original Japanese title– which translates as My Little Sister Can’t Be This Cute. Kyosuke Kosaka, a 17-year-old high school boy, is the main character. The little sister of the title is his younger sibling, 14-year-old Kirino. Kyosuke and Kirino have relatively little contact with each other until (in Volume 1) he discovers an eroge game belonging to his sister and confronts her with it. Kirino confesses her complete addiction to anime and eroge games. (To explain, eroge games are a kind of Japanese dating simulation game with erotic content, mostly purchased by adult males– so it would be quite perverted for a teen girl to be addicted to them). She reveals a huge hidden stash of games and DVDs which she’s paid for through modeling for teen magazines. Kirino not only gets Kyosuke to cover for her, she inveigles him into playing the games too. He’s not that interested but she has him easily wrapped around her little finger.
Quite quickly, Kyosuke gets drawn into a hitherto unknown subculture of Maid Cafes, Doujinshi Conventions and other Otaku activities. Volume 1 finishes with their father discovering one of the eroge games that Kirino forgetfully left in the family room. The first half of Volume 2 is taken up with the confrontation between Kirino and her stern father… Which then turns into a confrontation between the father and Kyousuke after he sticks up for his little sister. I was taken aback a little to see Kyousuke get punched in the face by his father. I guess the attitude toward corporal punishment in Japan must be quite different to how it is in the West. Anyhoo, eventually the father relents and Kirino doesn’t have to come clean about her stash of pervy games.
The second half of Oreimo Volume 2 concerns a trio of Kirino’s snooty school friends visiting her house… And her endeavours not to have her older brother meet them and embarrass her. Of course, that’s exactly what happens. The only occasion for a proper laugh (in the whole book) comes when Kyousuke and Kirino bump into each other outside her room– and she gets knocked to the floor flipping up her skirt and exposing her panties. Her friends rush out and think Kyousuke’s making advances on his little sister (apparently the “little sister complex” is a thing in Japan). Cue misunderstandings all around. Other than that, the only real comic relief is Kyousuke and Kirino’s Mom– who has a habit of bursting into his room and catching Kyousuke playing an eroge game or reading a dirty mag… Then running out while sniggering at him. Not a hell of a lot else happens in Volume 2– with a lot of it seeming to mark time. This volume is certainly quite a lot slower than Volume 1.
I’ve got a couple of problems with this book: First, the series doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be– whether it’s a wacky comedy, a slice of life drama or a look into Otaku culture.
The thing is– Oreimo is not funny enough to be a wacky comedy, it’s not serious enough to be a slice of life and other manga handle the Otaku scene much better. Oreimo is neither one thing or the other– and it feels like it’s already spinning its wheels with only the second volume. Fushimi seems as if he’s trying to adapt his novel to the manga format far too faithfully– and isn’t really aware of how a comic needs to be paced. If this story had been published by one of the traditional manga magazines, an editor would have helped shape this story better– making it funnier, punchier and more emotional.
The second problem is Kyousuke: He’s so bland and vanilla that it’s hard to sympathise with him. If he had a character trait– or even a flaw, such as being a hapless letch like Hatsushiba in Gacha Gacha: The New Revolution— then maybe I’d feel like I could root for him.
The final problem I have is with how the girls are drawn. Artist Ikeda is very good (in fact the style is a lot like Gacha Gacha’s Hiroyuki Tamakoshi) but whereas Tamakoshi draws his girls as 17-18 year olds… Ikeda is dealing with 14-15 year olds, but drawing them like 12-year-olds. This, along with the aforementioned “little sister complex” thing, makes the regular panty-flash shots feel quite seedy and a bit vulgar. Also, all the girls are drawn with heads that are too big for their bodies and enormous eyes, and I really do mean huge eyes— even for manga!
I’m contemplating whether to drop this series (or not) and can’t give it a great recommendation. If you want wacky hijinks comedy, then Gacha Gacha or Love Hina does it better. If you want slice of life manga, then something like Suzuka does it better. Genshiken is much better for those who desire manga involving Otaku culture. In every one of these categories, there are better books you could be getting. Oreimo isn’t awful– it just deserves its middling rating. – Locusmortis
Creator: J.M. Ringuet
24 pages, $2.99
I think I curse Image Comics every time I decide to come back to their books. I always hear stories about all the good things coming from the Publisher, and when I do come back– I’m disappointed by their new series.
That said, Repossessed has an interesting concept: Possession by demons is so rampant, exorcists can now create a business and make money plying their skills. This comic follows a team of some of the best exorcists out there– with a lot of hard-boiled themes and a dash of horror. Groovy, right?
Uh, not really.
The key problem here seems to arise from one creator doing everything. It’s kind of funny, since a lot of us IMJ Reviewers espouse “the fewer, the better” idea when it comes to creators on comics. And there are many great examples of single-creator comics like Punk Rock Jesus and House of Fun. But there are always exceptions as well. As a writer myself, I know all too well how much better I write when I have other eyes looking at my writing. Comic book art is often a community effort too. Whether it be at the germ of an idea or the production of the piece, artists of all kinds often need and want input on their work.
I haven’t come across that many solo acts in comics– the least I’ve seen is two creators on one book. And I think that’s maybe as low as the medium should go. As I read Repossessed, I realized nothing completely gelled. Everything felt distracted: The story meandered, the art felt rushed and poorly (if ever) planned out. There was nothing to interest me after the first scene of the story. I think if one other person had helped out sole creator J.M. Ringuet— added a different perspective or some constructive criticism– then there would have been potential for this comic to be interesting and fun. – W.D. Prescott
Sweet Tooth #40
Home Sweet Home
Writer/Artist: Jeff Lemire
Colors: Jose Villarrubia
Letters: Carlos M. Mangual
40 pages $4.99
Well it’s finally here– the end of Sweet Tooth… The comic book series that feels more like a long, strange, desolate Poem than a Comic Book. As I finished this last issue, the barren feeling that comes from experiencing this series lingered on well after. Though the book doesn’t end on a sad note (it’s actually quite a happy, heartwarming ending), my mood was dismal. This series, as a whole, has always possessed a very particular tone. It rarely strayed from it either– and it really made Sweet Tooth different.
Everything from the unique premise and plot to the final conflict at the climax of the series had held a tone of distant emptiness… Some real depressing shit. Because of this, I’ve never stopped reading the book. I like having a variety of comics to read– and no other series was taking the Depressing Kids with Antlers spot.
Seriously though, Jeff Lemire should be very proud keeping up with a monthly comic– especially since he did all the writing and drawing… While also writing, like, FOUR superhero comics for DC. Most artists can’t draw 12 issues a year– and they don’t write the damn things either. Yet Lemire pumped out this coming of age tale in a dystopian future for the last 3 years like the World Time Clock– rarely being late. The only fill-in artist was his buddy Matt Kindt (writer and artist of MindMGMT).
This last issue is truly THE LAST ISSUE. Nothing more could be said as the whole story is complete, and Lemire has tied up all spare plot threads. I really like that he did that. A lot of times– after long Vertigo runs– writers leave us with tons of unanswered questions. In Sweet Tooth’s final issue, we get 40 pages explaining how Gus (the lead character of the series) continues his life after everything that’s happened to him. We also see how the world continues to work and how the hybrid people live in happiness.
By the end, it’s very clear the bad guys of this comic are the humans– and the good guys are the Hybrids. It’s a sad ending for Humanity… But as I look at the current state of the world and just how horrible humans can be to each other and the planet– it’s a fitting ending for us.
Maybe this is just a story about a kid with antlers running from the bad guys… And with a little help along the way he wins in the end. But then again, maybe it isn’t... Maybe Sweet Tooth is a deeper look at humanity and the human spirit– a look at what we deserve and what could be. Lemire deals with tons of emotions throughout the series, and you can feel each one come back during this final story. It took me a long time to get through this last comic– not just because it was 40 pages, but because I took breaks in-between panels just reminiscing about things that have happened throughout the series. It was nice.
I definitely wouldn’t call this book “fun”, but it is on the short list of completed comic book series that have truly touched me. – Tom Devine
Star Wars #1
In the Shadow of Yavin Part 1
Writer: Brian Wood
Artist: Carlos D’anda
Colorist: Gabe Eltaeb
Letterer: Michael Heisler
22 pages, $2.99
It has been a long time since a comic series held the title Star Wars– without some adjunct phrase added at the end. Whether purposeful or not, this book will be seen as the flagship title for the Dark Horse Star Wars comic line for the limited time they still have left with the franchise rights. Because of this, there are some smart choices made here: The first being this story takes place shortly after the events of Star Wars: A New Hope. The book also focuses on the main characters of the original movie– and very few others. With so many eras and characters woven into the mythos, the stories within the Star Wars Universe can seem daunting to any reader or fan. But these two decisions allow any Star Wars fan (film, comic or otherwise) to jump into Dark Horse’s extended universe.
There are some problems, though. Some may call them continuity issues– but In the Shadow of Yavin Part 1 just didn’t have the feel of a Star Wars story to me.
The period of Star Wars history that includes the original trilogy has numerous comics and novels that give Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa, Han Solo and Chewbacca a fullness of character. If you were to pick up one of these books (or comics), the characters would act like the ones from the movies. Brian Wood’s interpretation of the universe just doesn’t feel right.
If the names were different and there were no expectations coming from the film franchise– I think this would’ve been a great book. I enjoyed the art, the coloring… And the story is well written. But it’s not a Star Wars story. Brian Wood writes great science fiction. But Star Wars is a science fantasy. It’s a subtle difference on paper, but a huge one in execution. I couldn’t believe either the Empire or the Rebellion were thinking of the cost of war and attrition as much as they did in this story. Moments/ideas like this ground Wood’s tale too much in reality and takes away from the fantastical elements that spawned the universe.
I liked it. Like I said, it was a decent Brian Wood sci-fi story. But as a former die-hard Star Wars fan, it didn’t live up to the expectations I had for a true extension of the Star Wars mythos. -W.D. Prescott