Avenging Spider-Man #16
Writer: Chris Yost
Artists: Paco Medina, Juan Vlasco
Colorist: Dave Curiel
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
20 pages, $3.99
The two comics I chose to review this week both star/guest-star the “newish” Doc Ock Spider-Man. I did so because I was curious to see how other writers would handle the character and if he would be as despicable as the one found in Superior Spider-Man. I had a taste of how another writer handles the character when I checked out Avenging Spider-Man #15.1 a few weeks ago. Since I did not review any of the previous comics with Spidey-Ock I’ll quickly run down what I thought of them:
Amazing Spider-Man #699 & #700 – Some of the worst comics I have ever read. That is not hyperbole.
Avenging Spider-Man #15.1 – I liked it. I should note that Dan Slott did NOT write this issue.
Superior Spider-Man #1 – All around terrible. Hideous art, disgusting writing. That is not hyperbole either.
One of the most important things I bring up about older comics is the fact how EVERY ISSUE used to be written as if it were SOMEONE’S first issue. That was an editorial rule. I truly believe that’s why so many YOUNG people got into comics. They were more welcoming to new readers, while still satisfying to long-time readers. It was a delicate balance for sure, but it also took a lot of effort from both writers and editors to make it happen.
The Number One complaint I have about Marvel’s new #1s is they are mostly written for existing readers— and that isn’t how you cultivate NEW readers. The Marvel NOW! books I have given positive reviews to also follow the above mentioned rule. Avenging Spider-Man #16 also adheres to the rule and is a better comic for it. It may even be the best Spider-Man story I have read since he guest-starred in Heroes For Hire a couple of years ago.
Let’s get this out-of-the-way first: It’s time to call this comic what it really is: Marvel Team-Up. It WAS called Avenging Spider-Man because Spidey was teaming up with his fellow Avengers… But he hasn’t done that for the last 2 issues. Before some knucklehead says, “But Wolverine is in this issue and he’s an Avenger”… No. Spidey is teaming up with the X-Men, not just Wolverine. Having issue after issue with Spider-Man teaming up with members of the worst team of this millennium was just a bad idea and has already gotten stale. Having Spidey– even Spidey-Ock– team up with the X-Men (the whole team mind you)? So much better.
Since this is Spidey-Ock’s (who I will just refer to as “Spock” from now on) first run in with the X-Men– there is plenty of exposition dialogue written in a somewhat clever but believable way. Spock has these new lenses in his mask which are like computer screens and display information. As Spock looks at each X-Men member, info boxes pop up which include the character’s name and their mutant power. In addition, Spock is pulling information from Peter’s memory about each one– which gives more information to the reader. This is a very accessible issue.
But is the comic book any good? Well… Yes, it is.
In the last two issues of Avenging Spider-Man (including this one) Spock is NOT portrayed as the perverted, piece of shit found in Dan Slott’s fan-fiction (also known as Superior Spider-Man.) Avenging writer Chris Yost brings A LOT more balance to the character. Ya, Spock is still pretentious– but he also performs heroic acts. It really is unbelievable how much more likeable the character is in Avenging Spider-Man. Because of this, we’re treated to a really fun team-up story. Yost writes his fair share of jokes, but they are actually FUNNY. You won’t find any of this humor in Amazing/Superior Spider-Man. Iceman even has some great sarcastic lines. It really did feel like an old Marvel Comic.
There are a few more good character moments that I don’t have the space or time to get into… And I don’t want to “spoil” the whole issue. Still, there are a few things I do want to mention. Spock throws down with Wolverine– and this alone is almost worth reading the issue. There is also a moment where Peter Parker’s personality comes out and takes Spock by surprise. It was subtle but it is there– and Yost didn’t even need to use Slott’s awful “ghost” gimmick. Lastly, there’s the ending. It could be considered a cliffhanger and not one I am particularly thrilled with… But that’s something else I like about Avenging Spider-Man. Every issue I’ve read has been self-contained– which helps out a lot as far as accessibility goes.
If you are someone who wants to read a good Spidey story in current continuity, I would say pick this comic up. If you are someone who has a kid who likes Spidey but you don’t like the dark, disgusting, rapey stuff going on in Slott’s book, pick this up. Don’t let the T+ rating on the cover fool you. This is as All-Ages as any “regular” Marvel Comic gets nowadays. (I’m guessing the T+ rating is there because Marvel Zombies think All-Ages comics are ONLY for kids.) That kinda bothers me… But whatever.
My only complaint about this comic? Like most $3.99 comics, I don’t think it’s worth the price. There’s no reason why this should be $3.99. Not one. It’s ridiculous but, hey, that’s Marvel. Greedy shits.
Anyhoo, there you go. Avenging Spider-Man is a much more enjoyable read than Amazing/Superior Spider-Man… A fun team-up story with lots of action and humor. Paco Medina’s art is dynamic and clean (though I know not everyone cares for it.) I do have another thought as to why this title is as good as it is… But I’ll save that for my Daredevil review below, since it relates to that comic as well.
– Jose Melendez
The Black Beetle #1
No Way Out
Writer: Francesco Francavilla
Artist/Colorist: Francesco Francavilla
Letterer: Nate Piekos
32 pages, $3.99
I didn’t read The Black Beetle’s Zero Issue, but I heard a lot of good things about it… So I figured I would hop on board with #1. The comic comes from Dark Horse. Since they’re losing Star Wars soon, I’m sure they would love another good selling series. Hopefully this is that title. This comic is a pulp book, no doubt about it. That’s what it’s trying to be and creator Francesco Francavilla does a wonderful job with it.
Noir comics can sometimes take themselves too seriously, but that isn’t the case here.
First off, Francavilla is simply doing The Black Beetle right. This is a creator-owned series, and it’s a genre that fits the writer/artist perfectly. There’s a reason Jonathan Hickman writes Hard Sci-Fi or Ed Brubaker does Crime/Noir or Robert Kirkman writes strong Character Studies: It’s what they excel at. All these creators work in genres that allow them to make the best comics they are capable of making.
It’s the same with The Black Beetle. Francesco created the character, he’s drawing and writing the book… And he’s even doing his own color work. (He always does his own colors.) Because his art style is so specific– nothing fits it better than the Pulp backdrop. Francavilla takes the genre and runs with it… And he creates a great character in a cool city– all while stuck in the Prohibition Era.
I truly respect when a comic creator wants to make something that’s theirs– and theirs alone. If this book flops, no one else need take the blame… But if it does well, there is only one person to receive the praise. I’m so glad to see Dark Horse allowing a creator to have a series like this. Not to mention, The Black Beetle’s tone compliments several other series at the publisher.
Secondly, there’s NO story decompression here. This comic covers more ground in the first 3 pages than 50 issues of Bendis’ Avengers. What a refreshing change from most comics: We meet the main character, the bad guys– then something happens that affects them all and a mystery is born. Cue the Black Beetle hunting down clues to solve the mystery. I always appreciate a comic with a fast-moving story.
The book is also a totally modern take on Silver Age comics. The story’s pace and the dialog just give it that kind of feel. Francavilla’s layout choices also make entire pages really cool to look at– the design is extraordinary. Who knew someone could make pages so beautiful and still move the story forward so well? This creator possesses an amazing gift.
Finally– ANYBODY can read this book! The Black Beetle #1 is not going to offend anybody– there’s nothing inside that puts the book on some “gritty” edge. Sure, there’s comic book action and a little violence, but nothing harmful to an 8-year-old boy or girl looking for a cool read. I enjoyed this comic with my six-year-old daughter and she liked it a lot. She did keep wondering if Batman was going to show up though. This probably has to do with how closely Francavilla’s Colt City feels like Gotham from the Batman Animated Series (which is also a perfect setting for a pulp story.)
Because the last page was perfectly accomplished in every way– from the angles, to the classic prose, to the situation… This book gets bumped from 4 ½ stars to a perfect score. – Tom Devine
Demon Knights #16
The Gathering Storm
Writer: Robert Venditti
Artist: Bernard Chang
Colorist: Marcelo Maiolo
Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher
20 pages, $2.99
I’ve been a huge fan and supporter of Demon Knights since it began. While it wasn’t groundbreaking or amazing, the comic was a solid, well-written, well-drawn book– something hard to find with the rest of DC’s New 52 comics.
This is the first issue without “founding” writer Paul Cornell however– and the difference is telling. That’s not to say there aren’t some good ideas presented in the book. It starts off with all the Demon Knights’ women being rounded up for another quest. I like that, especially since there are more women than men in this comic… But they haven’t been highlighted as much as Jason Blood/Etrigan. The story has Cain The King Vampire marching towards Themyscira.
Since I don’t see this as the start of a crossover with I, Vampire– I wonder if writer Robert Venditti couldn’t come up with a decent idea or if DC Editorial just wants more connections between DK and other DC comics. Either way, it’s a bad idea. One of the best elements of Demon Knights was its isolation from other DC books– giving the comic more leeway to explore different stories and ideas other DC titles just can’t.
If the book suffered from just that one problem, it would have still been in 3 Star territory. But Venditti tells the story in massive info dumps (to explain the 30 year gap between the last story and this one)– which drops my rating considerably. There was little action or clear motivation. You could see the writer pulling the strings on his story the whole time.
I feel bad giving Demon Knight a 2 star rating– especially since the rest of the creative team did a good job. But as much as I pushed Demon Knights when Cornell was shepherding the comic, I’m going to suggest current readers drop it until the next arc or another writer change. – W.D. Prescott
Writer: Mike Wolfer
Artist: Fernando Furukawa
Colorist: Digikore Studios
Letterer: Kurt Hathaway
21 pages, $3.99
Yay, I got the Gore Cover!
The weather was cruddy, so I almost stayed home on the couch and popped for Comixology versions of this and my other pick this week… But on a whim I picked up the old man and the progeny and we headed down to the local comic book store, which had just had a facelift. (Empire Comics in New Albany, IN, btw.)
I don’t get to Empire all that often, and it had been totally rearranged on me– so I wasn’t having much luck finding what I wanted. I asked the friendly blonde chick behind the counter to help me, and help me, she did. (I have a few great ideas for what my next reviews will cover!)
She didn’t have much to say about Stitched in particular, but I am going ahead and boring you with this exposition because there’s a point I’m making here: Girls like gore. This girl does, that girl did. She spent the entire time talking about Ferals and Crossed as much as anything else. It was great to hear all her recommendations & compare notes. (For what it’s worth, when I told her I reviewed Vampirella Strikes two weeks ago, she summed it up the same way I did: “Boring!”)
So yeah, I got the gore cover and was happy about it.
Now, on to Stitched. I’m jumping in at Issue #11 of a series I know nothing about, except that I vaguely know it has a connection to the conflicts in Afghanistan. Well, my friends, Stitched (this issue, anyway) is comics done right. The story stands alone, yet manages to cut back and forth between a roving slut-thief subplot and a world-weary archaeologist looking to pick up a barrel of “Texas Tea” the likes of which woulda sent Ole Jed Clampett running home to devour the souls of Ellie Mae and Jethro in a hot minute.
Can we talk about the art for a second? Here’s the thing about Stitched, whether you’re a girl or a boy: The art ain’t for sissies. If you’re going to draw a detailed rendering of a man being ripped in half and his guts hanging out on the cover, then I expect something decent on the insides (pun intended) when I’m flipping the pages. Stitched gave me not only story, but it gave me good art as well.
I hesitate to say much about the story/art combo overall, but I found myself chuckling at one scene that perfectly captured a phobia of mine I have fostered since I was a wee lass. One page was so well-plotted in terms of dialogue/art that I recapped the previous pages aloud for Mister Tash just so he could appreciate the humor of the moment with me. Yes, I was that guy (even if I am a girl). 😉
I liked everything about this comic. I look forward to reading more Stitched. No question. More beautiful gore, please. I’m hooked. – Red Tash
Savage Wolverine #1
Savage Part 1
Writer/Artist: Frank Cho
Colorist: Jason Keith
Letterer: VC’s Corey Petit
21 pages, $3.99
This is a book I wasn’t particularly looking forward to reading or reviewing. My first thought when I first heard about it was, “A new Wolverine book? That’s going to suck!”
In an ideal world, one shouldn’t go into a review thinking like that– a reviewer should be objective and unbiased. Well, this reviewer certainly isn’t ideal and it’s simply unrealistic to think a person isn’t going into something with no bias… The reality is, you’re usually either willing to like a book or you’re looking to hate a book. But like the trooper I am, I decided to forge ahead and give this new title a try.
And you know what? I didn’t hate it.
In fact, I quite liked it. I know this admission will surprise a few people. I’ve made it clear in a number of columns and posts on this site that I have a number of problems with Marvel Comics– with how they do business and how they treat creators and their families. I won’t rehash those opinions here… You can use the Search the Cool™ function on IMJ’s sidebar to track down my old columns to see what I think of Marvel and how they operate. However, right now… This comic is what I’m writing about.
With Savage Wolverine #1, Frank Cho has been allowed to do what he does best– draw voluptuous women, dinosaurs and fight scenes. If this was all that was in this comic, it probably would sell about 20k copies… But stick Wolverine in it and release it as a new ongoing series and it’ll sell 100k. That’s just how the comic market works.
The plot for this book is staggeringly simple: Wolverine and Shanna the She-Devil get trapped on a jungle island in the Savage Land by some mysterious unknown force and are pursued by tribesmen and/or dinosaurs while trying to find a safe way off the island. That’s it. Stuff seems to happen for no real reason and without any explanation– but that’s fine… Because the story zips along at a good pace. For example, Wolverine just falls out of the sky and lands on the island. Why is he there? Who cares? Just read the damn story!
Frank Cho’s writing is brisk and refreshing. Savage Wolverine reads a lot like a 80s comic. There isn’t any of that shitty David Mamet-style back and forth inane dialogue that hack writers like Bendis overuse. Wolverine has an internal monologue during his solo scenes which helps to explain what he’s experiencing. This is done through the use of narration boxes (in lieu of thought bubbles, I suppose) and the technique really worked for me. If I had one criticism of Cho’s writing, it would be how some of Wolverine’s dialogue doesn’t ring true. For example, “Mama Logan didn’t raise no fool.” That just doesn’t sound like something a Canadian would say. However, that’s a relatively minor criticism and hopefully something Cho can address moving forward.
The art is going to sell this book to a lot of people. I am a big fan of Frank Cho, all the way back to his Liberty Meadows days. He definitely doesn’t disappoint with Savage Wolverine. His Wolverine looks right: He’s lean and mean and not over-muscled like a lot of artists draw him. Cho is renowned for drawing voluptuous women, and he doesn’t disappoint here. His Shanna the She-Devil looks great– big boobs and a big ass as you’d expect from Cho… But still looking like a real (incredibly fit) woman. There are also lots of dinosaurs (which he obviously loves drawing) and some well-choreographed fight scenes. In particular, one with Wolverine fighting a bunch of natives. It’s quite kinetic and includes a couple of nice quips from Logan– which lightens the mood during the dismemberments.
The colouring is a bit day-glo for the first 3 pages, but after that a more muted palette is used– which suits the art a lot more. Overall, Savage Wolverine is a well-produced book. I found it to be a fairly quick read, but a satisfying one. I would have given it Four Stars if it had been a $2.99 comic, but the extra dollar knocks a point off the score.
Hmmm… A current Marvel comic I didn’t hate. I must check if I’m feeling ok.
Savage Wolverine #1
Savage Part 1
Writer/Artist: Frank Cho
Colorist: Jason Keith
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
20 pages, $3.99
I’m not the biggest Wolverine fan. I’ve always enjoyed what he adds to the X-Men, but I was never so enamored with the character to pick up his solo monthly title. With this Marvel NOW! retooling, I’m even less inclined to pick it up.
I’ve always enjoyed Frank Cho’s art, and he doesn’t disappoint here. But I’m not sure what his trying to do with this comic. For one, while it’s called Savage Wolverine– it seems like it should’ve been called Shanna, The She-Devil. All Wolverine did was chop up Neanderthals with his claws– everything else was about Shanna and her experiences. You can also tell that Cho wanted to draw Shanna, since it’s apparent he’s paid more attention to the details surrounding her part of the story. It’s also kind of funny that nearly every time she was on the page, Cho tried to get a pose that covered the little clothing she already wears.
That’s all there really is to talk about. For $4.00 and 20 pages of story, all you get is a comic that feels like a poor mash-up of Dinosaur Island and the violent scenes from Kill Bill. – W.D. Prescott
Ame-Comi Girls #4
Writers: Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti
Artist: Michael Bowden
Colorist: Randy Mayor
Letterer: Wes Abbott
40 pages, $3.99
DC Comics has been slackin’ on its pimpin’ as of late– and they really need to step up their game. It’s hard to find something you want to review at DC, because they only have a couple decent books left. Given that, when they do something a little different– you better take notice.
This Ame-Comi Girls series first came out months ago as digital only, and it has just now made its way to print. DC put together the 3 Digital Power Girl chapters for this issue– and we get a fun, enjoyable comic.
Ame-comi Girls is a different take on familiar DC heroes, and tries to make them more like Manga characters– even with their own American version of fan service. I don’t know if the comic delivered in what it was trying to do, but at least DC is still occasionally attempting something different. (I promise to set these reservations aside for the rest of the review and just talk about how Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti’s story worked as a regular comic.)
I didn’t pick up the first 3 Ame-Comi comics but I knew I had to have this one. Gray and Palmiotti have been firing on all cylinders for the last 5 years. The last time they wrote Power Girl, the comic became an instant classic. (And yes, I know half– maybe more– of the magic came from Amanda Conner on art duties… But that doesn’t diminish Palmiotti and Gray’s contributions in the least.) We don’t get Conner’s talent for this issue but I feel she’s here in spirit. And that isn’t a snide way to say issue artist Michael Bowden did a bad job or anything. He produces some good, fun art– perfect for a fluffy superhero story.
Fluffy. That’s right. That’s what I wanted… I wanted the fun Power Girl– not the world is about to end Power Girl. This issue does a great job of capturing the essence of the fun woman. She’s a strong, independent alien superhero, but more akin to Michelle Obama than Clark Kent. She runs her own company and still beats the villain. This story took enough from the old Power Girl series to make it very enjoyable for me.
This comic accomplishes a lot in one issue– primarily because it was originally 3 stories digitally… So we get 3 mini stories. I wasn’t near as pissed about the $3.99 price because of so many pages, but I still don’t like paying Four Dollars for a comic. The 3 stories flow together nicely and I was never lost– even though I didn’t read the previous 3 issues.
Not a bad job, by any means– especially for a book that wasn’t created as one seamless story. – Tom Devine
Bionic Man vs Bionic Woman #1
Writer: Keith Champagne
Artist: Jose Luis
Colorist: Inlight Studio
Letterer: Marshall Dillon
20 pages, $3.99
I grew up with the Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman. This comic ain’t that.
The Mister chose the cover, and he went with the one featuring the mid-air “Tron suit” fistfight with broken glass flying everywhere. Lots of emotion, lots of action, spandex tearing everywhere. Looks promising!
BMvBW begins with promise as well. A dark Hulk/Thing heart-eating monster is tossing waitresses into the sky like college boys toss empty beer cans into trash cans. The art is competent & the color palette is beautiful, if predictable. Still, there’s a story being told on these pages.
Then we meet Steve Austin and it’s full-stop. Lord a-mighty, I’m pretty sure you couldn’t find a character more stiff if you pitted him against the 70s-era trophy toy complete with Kung Fu grip. As far as he knows, a heart-eating cannibal is on the loose, and all Austin cares about is if he’s being spoken to properly. Sound like a diva to you? Don’t get excited—if there’s a personality in there, it doesn’t show up in this issue. Something of a split personality does, though. One minute proclaiming he’s no Sherlock Holmes, the next displaying his powers of deduction– the scoff-worthy Austin heads off in search of a “serial killer” and we’re left wondering if he gives a Bionic poop about the entire affair. Why should we care?
Flip the page and there’s the “why.” Bionic titties. With more ink than a Sharpie factory and sporting a brunette wig, Jaime Sommers is working the pole and the pole likes it. The Bionic Woman is on an undercover investigation of the evil doers du jour and it ain’t long before she’s flying stripper-heels-first through the air to knock a brother out. She even manages a one-liner or two as she takes the bad guys down.
Don’t get too excited, though– we flash back to Austin where he’s humorlessly propositioning a woman and then threatening to kill her. Stop me before I swoon all over myself. By the time the “Kung Fu grip” joke is made, I have written BMvBW off as a loss. The cyborg heart-eating monster leaking radiation is a refreshing surprise at the end of the issue, but I shouldn’t have to endure an annoying protagonist before I’m rewarded with intrigue. Just intrigue me, already.
Did you notice that twice in this review I advised you not to get excited? That’s reflective of the pacing in this issue. Argh-worthy. I look forward to seeing Sommers kick Austin’s ass. – Red Tash
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Chris Samnee
Colorist: Javier Rodriguez
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
20 pages, $2.99
Daredevil #22 pretty much plays out as “A Day in the Life of Matt Murdock.” It opens with Matt at a grocery store– where he explains to the reader how, as a blind person, he deals with cash in his wallet. He talks about the problems with physical American cash, how he can tell which denomination each bill is, that there are phone apps available he can use and how store clerks can sometimes take advantage of the fact he’s blind when giving him change for a purchase.
As the story continues, we see how Murdock handles cash machines and where/how he gets his meals when he’s low on money. After his meal, he takes a walk down the street where he comes across Spider-Man yelling, “Daredevil!” at him in an attempt to get his attention… And then the two begin to fight. So yes, just another day for Matt Murdock.
I found the minutia surrounding Murdock’s day-to-day personal life interesting. Mark Waid writes it in a way that– though it may seem boring as I explain it to you– is anything but. It’s character moments like this that I believe a lot of today’s comics are missing. Everything that I mentioned above only takes up 3 pages at the beginning of the comic but they still say a lot. It lets the reader slowly get into the comic and Murdock’s world before getting to what is almost all action the rest of the way.
Spider-Man has his reasons for why he’s duking it out with Daredevil, but like any good “heroes fighting” story, they both find a common foe to eventually focus on. When I say “duking it out,” I don’t mean they are beating on each other. It’s more like someone might fight with a brother or friend. Nothing malicious is really intended. Spider-Man is just trying to subdue Daredevil for his own purposes. Again, this only goes on for a few pages but it is another enjoyable scene. A lot of the credit for this fun goes to Chris Samnee— whose art is utterly fantastic. Not that Waid’s writing takes a back seat at all, but Samnee’s sequential line work through this issue is just as perfect as it can get. The flow, the character’s mannerisms– and all the detail make for a very, very exceptionally visual comic. Javier Rodriguez’s colors compliment Samnee’s art in the best possible way too. The presentation reminds me of classic Marvel Comics… A time before almost everything they published seemed to resemble rubbish.
The rest of the issue deals with DD and Spidey trying to take down Stilt Man– who has made some modification to his suit. Those modifications just so happen to use Doctor Octopus’s tentacle-tech. It’s a coincidence that leads to some cool action moments and humorous dialogue. Though the story is very lighthearted, it does end on a dark, serious note. I won’t spoil that here, but I’ll be happy to talk about it in the comments below.
So how is “Spock” handled in this issue? Like Avenging Spider-Man, quite well. The whole “fish out of water” angle suits the character and makes for some good/great moments. I almost can’t believe that it’s the same character appearing in Amazing/Superior Spider-Man. The difference is truly night and day. I believe a lot of this has to do with the absence of any “Peter Parker” moments. It’s just Spock in the costume learning to deal with being Spider-Man. The character becomes borderline grotesque when readers get to see his more personal moments– and that’s a huge problem. Luckily, we have none of that in the two comics Spidey starred in this week.
There were also commonalities shared between Daredevil #22 and Avenging Spider-Man #16. Spock yells the phrase, “The die is cast!” in both comics– which is something a corny villain would say. Don’t really know what that’s all about, but it does bring up some “behind the scenes” stuff I will mention in a bit. Spock yells out the words in both issues but oddly, Stilt Man uses the SAME phrase as well while robbing someone. I thought this would lead to a comment by either DD or Spidey… But there was no mention of it. There has to be some purpose for two characters to use the same phrase… Right? Mark Waid is not a lazy writer, so it must have been deliberate. This leads me to the whole “behind the scenes” thing.
With Spock acting very similar in both these issues– and saying the exact same corny line, it makes me think the editing in these two titles is tighter than usual for a Marvel comic. At least, that’s what it felt like. Looking at the credits for DD, Ellie Pyle is listed as the Assistant Editor and Steve Wacker is named as Editor. But in Avenging, Ellie Pyle is listed as Editor while Wacker is listed as Senior Editor. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that I think partial credit for me enjoying these issues should go to Pyle. She’s the main editor on Avenging– and since DD felt more in tone with that book (and not Superior)– I think Pyle is doing more on Daredevil than she’s being credited for.
Amazing/Superior Spider-Man is all Slott and Wacker’s doing. Their taint is all over that thing. Though Pyle is listed as Assistant Editor on that, I don’t know how much she actually does there. Spock appearing in other Marvel books is much more tolerable… And, at times, even amusing. Pyle is in an editorial position on two of these books. I do not think this is a coincidence. This is just something I thought might be worth mentioning– since I tend to (rightfully) give Editors at the Big 2 a hard time.
Overall, I enjoyed Daredevil #22 a great deal. I like Waid’s more Happy-Go-Lucky Murdock. The dialogue is spot-on, there is some good humor and I love Chris Samnee’s art. It is just a fun read. It’s also “almost” a self-contained issue and is new reader friendly. Like Avenging, this book is Rated T+. Again, I have no idea why. It’s an All-Ages issue.
I would be more than comfortable recommending this to anyone from 6 years of age to 60… Making this, quite possibly, the best Marvel comic I’ve read in a very long time. – Jose Melendez
Todd, The Ugliest Kid On Earth #1
Story: M.K. Perker, Ken Kristensen
Writer: Ken Kristensen
Artist: M.K. Perker
Colorist: Cernal Soleyen
Letterer: M.K. Perker
22 pages, $2.99
Todd The Ugliest Kid On Earth #1 is a book I had picked for one of my Previews columns a little while ago. I liked the art from the catalog– which made me want to check it out. So when this week’s choices for review came up, this was an easy pick for me.
Here’s the comic’s central conceit: Todd is a young boy who is forced to always wear a bag on his head because he’s so ugly. We never actually get to see his face in Issue #1, we only have the other characters’ word that he is actually ugly. He comes from a weird– yet strangely typical– American family. Todd is irrepressibly upbeat throughout the entire story. Even though he gets treated like crap by everybody and rotten things always happen to him… He never loses his sunny personality– which is why I can’t help but like Todd.
The other character I can’t help liking is the Nelson Muntz-type bully, Mike. Despite his relentlessly awful treatment of Todd, he’s just a funny little bugger. I’d like to have seen more of Todd’s family and just how messed up they are– but I presume we’ll see more of their backstory in future issues. The only really weak character was Police Chief Hargrave. He’s obviously meant to be an insane authority figure but I just felt his craziness was a bit too obvious and would have worked better if it was a bit more toned down.
Image is advertising this comic as “a collision of comedy, sex and violence”. I didn’t see any sex in this first issue, but there certainly was comedy and violence. There was even some comedy violence– including one particularly gruesome (yet hilarious) frog murder.
Ken Kristensen’s writing is generally very good. There is a twisted vein of black humour running through the book– which should please some of the denizens of the IMJ. (Jon Runyan in particular.) There was just one sequence– a transition from Todd’s school to the police station– which I thought was clunky and left me a bit befuddled for a moment. Other than that, the story was fun and engaging– and left me looking forward to the next issue.
I can see the artwork of M.K. Perker being a bit divisive, but I absolutely loved it. Perker’s style (and the colours used by Cernal Soleyen) reminded me of French Comics Artist Francois Boucq— with a dash of Doonesbury’s Gary Trudeau and a hint of Jack Kirby. All the characters have an exaggerated, slightly grotesque look… Especially the kids, who all have heads that are a little too big for their bodies. The comic’s pacing is generally effective and the panel layouts are clear and move the characters through each scene fairly well. There are some nice comedic touches to the characters expressions at times– especially with Todd. I wouldn’t have thought a character with a bag on his head could portray his emotions so amusingly.
In addition to the surface humour, Kristensen and Perker also deal with issues such as the subjectivity of beauty and ugliness. The so-called “Ugliest Kid On Earth” has the most beautiful personality, while the ones judging who is ugly (primarily Todds’ parents and the serial murderer called “Maniac Killer”), have the most messed-up personalities. There also seems to be an underlying mocking of the “stranger danger” hysteria gripping much of the English-speaking world these days.
I have no problem recommending this comic book. It might not appeal to every typical superhero fanboy type… But to anyone who likes something different with a good dose of black humour– Todd, The Ugliest Kid On Earth should fit the bill quite nicely. – Locusmortis
Li’l Depressed Boy #15
It’s Not A Lie, It’s A Secret
Writer: S. Steven Struble
Artist: Sina Grace
Colorist: S. Steven Struble
Letterer: S. Steven Struble
30 pages, $3.99
Right off the bat, you should know this comic doesn’t technically contain 30 pages of story. I needed to count all the pages in this issue because the whole book is a love letter to the character– and the fans of the character… The kind of stuff you simply don’t see in comics anymore.
I’ve seen Li’l Depressed Boy in my Previews catalog for a while– and always wanted to check it out. There never seemed to be a good jump on point, so I made myself pick it up this month. This was probably a bad idea– because now I want every issue of this series.
Sure, I never really felt drawn into the story. But it was the last part of a story arc, so it’s not meant to do that. It’s the payoff the whole arc was leading up to. But I was still drawn into the characters, which created a desire to read the past issues to get the depth this story seems to allude to. While the title may infer an emo kind of story, it is anything but. Awkward? Certainly. But it is also honest and relatable. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t had a similar time in their lives– especially when it comes to burgeoning relationships and how life changes as a result of them.
If you are a fan of Mike Mignola’s style of storytelling, you should be reading this book. Everything is told in the art. Sure, there are word balloons… But if you removed them, the salient points in the story are still clear. When I read comics like L’il Depressed Boy, I get upset with so many other more seasoned creators who can’t seem to accomplish this in their marquee titles.
But the story isn’t the only thing here. There’s added content– a backup story and a poem in this issue… Exploring the character and themes surrounding LDB. The letter page reveals a community of fans that don’t just love the comic, but embraces it. And there’s also a photo collage at the end– complete with sketches and photos of the creators’ recent Con Tour promoting the book. It sounds kind of dull describing it to you, but as you read it in sequence after reading the story– you experience a love of for the project and the art form you just don’t see in other comics. In most books it’s all very business as usual, even in other indie titles.
This comic book is loved and you can feel it in the story… L’il Depressed Boy excels because of that and the talent of its creators. – W.D. Prescott