IMJ Comic Book Reviews™

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Superior Spider-Man #27Superior Spider-Man #27
Goblin Nation Part One
Writer: Dan Slott
Artists: Giuseppe Camuncoli,  John Dell
Colorist: Antonio Fabela
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
20 pages, $3.99

The beginning of the end is here. With Marvel’s announcement a few weeks ago that Peter Parker will be returning as Spider-Man, this new story arc will set the stage for the end of Spidey-Ock.

Anybody who knows me will attest I’m a huge Spider-Man fan. He’s the character who sparked my interest in comics not once– but twice. So as you can imagine, the idea of Doctor Octopus inhabiting Peter Parker’s body and mind and pretending to be Spider-Man really irked me. I don’t think the idea of a villain stepping in the shoes of his arch-nemesis and finding out what it’s like to be a hero is a bad idea, I really don’t, but the execution is never great.

My biggest problem with this comic (besides the obvious gripes), is how the concept quickly became stale. Now with the news of Peter Parker’s return, I’m asking myself: Why bother even finishing Doc Ock’s short run as Spider-Man… And more importantly, what was the point? He’s only been Spider-Man for a year and we’re already getting Peter Parker back in April. I know why Marvel agreed to the change ($$$) and why we’re getting Peter Parker back (the new Amazing Spider-Man movie is about to see release), but I just wish all involved would stop thinking so short-term– relying on lame gimmicks. Why can’t they just start telling good stories again?

OK… I just needed to get all that off my chest. Superior Spider-Man #27 sets up a huge battle between Green Goblin and SpOck. A small recap page would’ve been nice, since some things have obviously changed since I last read the book. Now if you’re going, “Why are you reviewing this comic if you don’t know what’s going on?”, let me just recite the IMJ Nation Comic Book Mantra™: “Every comic should be new-reader friendly– since you never know when an issue could be someone’s very first comic book.” Thankfully writer Dan Slott does mention so previous events, so I’m not left completely in the dark.

But here’s my biggest problem with SSM #27: I really don’t care what’s going on. Why? Because we already know what’s about to happen in a few issues. (See rant above.) Why should I invest in Peter’s attempts to regain control of his mind if I already know that he eventually will regain control? But even with the eventual ending already spoiled, I expect to be entertained and invested in the current story, but Slott’s writing fails to bring any interesting quirks. It’s all rote and it’s all crap.

The only enjoyment I did get out this comic? Seeing Spider-Man getting beaten up by the villains… And that’s something I never thought I’d say about a Spider-Man comic book, but I guess there’s a first for everything.

The art by Giuseppe Camuncoli is decent– even though it seems a bit rushed here. (If you compare his artwork on Hellblazer to his artwork on this title, you’ll see what I mean.) It could be John Dell’s inks that are making Camuncoli’s pencils look like this, I don’t know. It’s by no means bottom of the barrel garbage, but it’s lacking a bit of energy for me.

Which sums up my feelings for this comic: Color me unimpressed. I’m looking forward to having Peter Parker back where he belongs. Now if we could only get Dan Slott back on She-Hulk (and far, far away from Spidey), Spider-Man might actually start being amazing again. – Aaron Evans

1.5 Star Rating

The Fuse #1The Fuse #1
The Russian Shift
Writer: Anthony Johnston
Artist: Justin Greenwood
Colorist: Shari Chankhamma
Letterer: Ed Brisson
26 pages, $2.99 (Digital) $3.50 (Comic)

Hmpf. The IMJ Comic Book Reviews™ column is finally back, and I get the unfortunate displeasure of picking a title that bores me completely.

The Fuse #1 is a crime drama in space. I shouldn’t be shocked I’m not a huge fan, since I don’t like most cop shows. I thought the space and mystery aspects mentioned in the solicitation would provide enough variance from most police procedural shows/comics to keep me interested. This, however, is not the case… Leaving me with a burning desire to flee the scene of this crime as quickly as possible.

The next big problem: The murders carry no real sense of  the emotional weight needed to make the reader care. There is no urgency– just the usual need for the two officers to solve the case. I understand detectives try not to get emotionally involved in their cases, but it feels like the characters are just running through the motions here… And everything feels forced.

Writer Anthony Johnston does do a decent job in creating different characters– even if they all seem to fall under the same generic character tropes you would expect from a murder mystery. These three main characters feel so familiar it’s criminal. However, if there is one thing I actually care about in this funny book, it’s the relationship between the two main detectives Dietrich and Klementina. It may be young, but their relationship is the one thing worth reading in The Fuse #1 (even if it’s not enough to warrant buying the next issue.)

The art also did nothing for me. Justin Greenwood has a unique style– smooth, distinct outlines with varying degrees of sketchiness. His character designs are diverse, allowing the reader to easily distinguish who is who, but then the look of individual characters aggravatingly changes from page to page. The worst examples involve an older woman named Klem. I guess she’s supposed to be a bit on the masculine side, but there are multiple pages where I actually think she’s a man. (Even if that is the point, I don’t like it). Also, there’s a panel where it looks like Klem’s advanced age has caught up with her– as she can barely stand, leaning on the wall for support. Then the way she moves through the rest of the sequence doesn’t warrant my thought as truth. As for the rest of the creative team– Shari Chankhamma provides adequate colours and Ed Brisson continues with his usual high standard of lettering.

With IMJ’s Comic Book Reviews taking a break over the holidays, I thought my best bet to come back with a bang would be to pick a new Image title. Better luck next week. – Nick Furi

1.5 Star Rating

Batgirl #28Batgirl #28
Silver
Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Fernando Pasarin,
Jonathan Glapion

Colorist: Blond
Letterer: Dezi Sienty
20 pages, $2.99

A new villain is hunting the vampire bats in Gotham City. Who is he… And why is he stalking Batgirl?

The comic does a nice job of introducing the delusional villain named Silver (Mr. Uchida). I didn’t understand his crazy talk at first… But as the story progresses, I come to understand exactly what kind of crazy he is. He believes he’s hunting vampires, and Batman is Public Enemy Number 1… With Batgirl and Nightwing also on his target list by association.

Batgirl looks sleek and sexy in this comic. The early panels feature her stalking some second-rate bad guys in a dark alley, but before she can get to them someone much quicker and more kick-ass has already beat the crap out of them. We come to find the perpetrator is Strix, the undead assassin working for the Court of Owls, and she needs Batgirl’s help. I love the action sequences in this portion of the book– as well as later on, when Strix and Barbara Gordan team-up to take on Silver and his right-hand woman/servant Miss Targa.

There are also some cleverly illustrated tricks in the beginning, after the initial encounter with Strix. Sometimes you believe you’re seeing through the eyes of Silver, the psychopath… Or are you? It is all a bit confusing, but I enjoy the narrative because Batgirl is also thrown for the same loop I am. I had to re-read a few panels and look very closely  at times, but overall the book is quite fun.

Final Thought: I want to know what the hell is going to happen since the comic ends on a tense cliffhanger– so I’ll be buying the next issue for sure. – Erin Escobar

3.5 Star Rating

Superior Foes of Spider-Man #8The Superior Foes of Spider-Man #8
Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: Steve Lieber
Colorist: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
20 Pages, $2.99

As an entertaining comic, Superior Foes of Spider-Man does have quite a bit going on. That said, it’s all a bit “been there, done that”– feeling like a current issue of the Hawkeye series in both look and tone. (This familiarity doesn’t hurt the comic in any way, but it does make it feel less original.)

Let’s start with the good: Having not enjoyed almost anything Nick Spencer‘s written in the last year and a half, I found this script to be very enjoyable and, at times, outright funny. (It does help that I like a few of the characters showcased a little more than I should.) Boomerang (the main protagonist) and The Shocker are both villains I grew up with–  and the duo recently starred in one of my favorite comics from the last decade, Jeff Parker’s Thunderbolts. Seeing them presented as sort of bumbling goofs/losers– aspiring to be something better– adds a new dimension to both characters. I’ve seen these more humorous takes quickly swept under the continuity rug like they never happened (see Warren Ellis’ Nextwave) but Spencer’s approach is an opportunity to add another layer of personality.

The best part of this comic (of many) are Boomerang’s stream of consciousness dreams–  which roughly make up about 20% of the story. They also make a lot of sense metaphorically and there are quite a few in-jokes to be enjoyed by regular Marvel readers. (I’m also a sucker for jokes revolving around pop culture, when done correctly.)

Foes 8

Now for the kinda bad: Unfortunately, Spencer falls prey to something I’ve railed against time and time again in reviews… This comic is written primarily for people who’ve been reading the whole series. I’m not talking about the plot per se (since there’s usually a “catch up” page at the beginning of every Marvel comic), but Spencer intentionally never introducing his characters to potential new readers. There were the villains I recognized from years of reading comics– but there were also a couple I either didn’t recognize (or had forgotten their names).

Why is this a problem? Boomerang spends the last 6 pages out on a date with a woman whose name is never mentioned anywhere in the issue. Her name might have been spoken somewhere else in the comic when she wasn’t on panel, but I still have no idea who she is. That’s just lazy writing and a bit inexcusable– especially if she’s a potential love interest for the main character. Is it too much to ask nowadays to make comics just a little bit new-reader friendly? Ya, I don’t think it is either.

Superior Foes of Spider-Man #8 came with more than I was expecting from a title with the words “Spider-Man” in it. I quickly figured out why I found this comic to be so entertaining: The current abortion of Spider-Man is nowhere to be found in these pages. I never thought I’d have more fun reading a comic about Spidey’s Villains than Spidey himself– but there you have it. Add to that I actually enjoyed a book written by Nick Spencer again and, well… These are strange times indeed for me. – Jose Melendez

4 Star Rating

She-Hulk #1She-Hulk #1
Motion
Writer: Charles Soule
Artist: Javier Pulido
Colorist: Muntsa Vicente
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
20 Pages, $2.99

Even though I don’t usually pick up much of what he’s currently writing, there’s always a guilty pleasure in reading a comic penned by Charles Soule.

Not that I have a particular crush on the guy’s craft or anything, but simply because I’m waiting for the unavoidable day when I will open one of his books and only see twenty empty white pages. Good god, the man is scribing seven titles a month— while running a law practice as an attorney!*** He can’t possibly keep up this pace!

For all the crazy workload the guy has to churn out every month, he delivers one hell of a funny and refreshing comic with She-Hulk #1. A tad quirky, this book works wonders in a plain, unforced way. The plot simply revolves around a common lawyer (sure, a very strong green one), but still– it’s just everyday life. Soule succeeds in depicting a relatable, caring but pertinacious woman… And puts her in daily situations which turn comical thanks to the unusual might and charming spunk of our leading lady. The humour actually works because it isn’t made up of heavy gags and childish jokes. It’s funny because it’s subtle.

It’s important to insist on the especially well-crafted characterization. Each character seems to breathe and think on his/her own. The drawback of such well-thought (but still massive) characterization is the plot slightly suffers. The story is indeed small in scope and frankly, quite predictable. This doesn’t spoil the enjoyable nature of the comic though… Just don’t expect any grand epic scheme to begin here. Again, the focus is solely on the daily life of a hero-slash-attorney who’s trying to make the best out of every bad situation. Another flaw here might be the wordy script, but this is honestly no disservice. Soule’s well-rounded style serves the reading experience by making the narrative even more immersive and relevant.

Javier Pulido’s cartoony drawings are very effective and perfectly compliment the story’s tone. His art has a definitive European vibe. (Tony Stark looks like he came straight out of a Blake and Mortimer album.) Unfortunately, Pulido’s drawn facial expressions are a weak point… Making Jennifer Walters’ (She Hulk) features very ugly at times. This is not nitpicking: His faces can be truly unsettling and terrible to look at.

Soule seems to have a very clear plan for She-Hulk. I tremendously enjoy his “everyday life” approach of this book. Just as Seinfeld revolutionized TV by being a “show about nothing”, it seems comics such as Hawkeye (and, to some extent, even DC’s Harley Quinn) are doing the same thing. She-Hulk seems to follow the same track– albeit with the twist of emphasizing Jennifer’s civilian work and career. If Soule keeps this precise focus, this comic could really be exciting and original (and even better than even Dan Slott’s old She-Hulk run that explored some similar ideas). We don’t witness enough “heroes at work” stories– and done well, this comic could really be fun and even thought-provoking.

Count me in! – Simon J. O’Connor

***The view depicted on the final page of She-Hulk #1 is the exact same view Soule enjoys from his law office every day. Nice Easter Egg!

4 Star Rating

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2 Responses to IMJ Comic Book Reviews™

  1. Morlock50 says:

    So Erin, has Gail Simone finally gotten her groove back?

    • Erin Escobar says:

      Morlock50 yes, Gail Simone told a good story here. I enjoyed the twists and turns, plus the intriguing details about Batgirl’s recent past and how the players in the current story are all related to the bigger arc of the story. The art played a role in the story too, it was a nice collaboration. I genuinely enjoyed all of it. The story was as dynamic as the art.

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