Saturday, March 18, 2006

COMICS: Quick Comic Reviews!

All Marvel comics, all the time! Honestly, I do have fairly diverse comic tastes, but for some reason I'm in a spandex-craving mood lately. Here's a few reviews of recent comix:

Image hosting by PhotobucketAmazing Spider-Man #529. After the colossal mess that was "The Other" crossover, this issue doesn't look so bad. The big deal, of course, is that Spider-Man gets a new high-tech costume this issue courtesy of his bestest friend Iron Man. While obviously the costume is a passing phase, and nowhere near as iconic as the old red-and-blues or even that underrated '80s black costume, it's an interesting development. Writer J.M. Straczynski's run the past five years or so has been all over the map for me; he's written some great stories and also some of the worst Spider-Man stories ever. What I like about this issue is the interesting mentor/student relationship Spidey's forged with Iron Man, not at all what I might have expected out of Spider-Man's membership in the Avengers. While that whole idea's been mixed in execution, at the very least it's offered some new dynamics for the Spider-Man mythos to chew on. Mostly set-up for the upcoming "Civil War" crossover (yep, another one), this issue isn't a classic, but it's promising enough. Grade: B-

Ultimate Spider-Man #91. This book of tales of an "alternate" teenage Spider-Man went through a bad patch a year or so ago with the anticlimatic "Hobgoblin" storyline, but it's back near its peak as of late. This issue kicks off a four-part story introducing "Ultimate Deadpool," but it's mostly an issue about Peter Parker's relationship with the X-Men's Kitty Pryde. Peter's new girlfriend is one of the things that's energized the book, and is a lot of fun (and not feasible in the "real" Marvel universe due to the characters' age difference, but here they're both about 16). Writer Brian Bendis clearly enjoys playing off the idea of Peter dating a fellow superhero, and the banter and wit recapture a lot of what "Ultimate Spider-Man" so much fun in the first place. Still the best ongoing "Spider-Man" title, despite some meandering in the plots. Grade: A-

Image hosting by PhotobucketMs. Marvel #1. It's like 1979 all over again lately, as all the old superheroines from that era are making comebacks. Joining Spider-Woman and She-Hulk in new books is Ms. Marvel, who's always been a good character in search of a decent comic book. This first issue is a solid launch... female superheroes have always walked the line between sex objects and actual heroic characters, and Ms Marvel's stripper-meets-Mardi Gras costume doesn't help matters. Yet writer Brian Reed's got a nice hook, presenting Ms. Marvel as a "B-list" hero who desperately wants to live up to her potential. This issue is mostly set-up along those lines (Ms. Marvel hires a publicist!) but it's got some good crackling dialogue, a nice sense of characterization and eases up on the cheesecake. Plus, slimy aliens The Brood invade! There's a good idea here and it'll be interesting to see if this survives the "curse of the solo female character" comic book – after all, Ms. Marvel's original series back in the day only lasted 25 issues or so. Can Ms. Marvel battle reader indifference? Grade: B

Daredevil #82. OK, so you're a blind superhero whose identity has been revealed and you're going to jail. Just another day in the life of Daredevil. New writer Ed Brubaker kicks off his run here, left in the rather interesting storyline that Brian Bendis, writer for the last five years, wrapped up with. It's an excellent start to a book that had begun to feel a little drawn-out and plodding under Bendis, as good as his work had been. Brubaker and artist Michael Lark bring a claustrophobic dread to this issue, as Matt "Daredevil" Murdock settles into prison life with dozens of men who'd like to kill him. It's "Oz" meets "Batman," and Brubaker's work is wordier, denser and somehow a bit more fulfilling than Bendis' recent scripts - I didn't flip through this issue in three minutes, in other words. He's helped by the fine dark and detailed art of Lark. Where do you go from here, with your main character in jail? Don't know, but I'm keeping "Daredevil" at the top of my reading pile to find out. Grade: A-

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