again this week, we had trouble getting a look at DC's books
ahead of time. So you'll find at the end of this column recommendations
"sight unseen," that is, some releases we're willing
to gamble on and the reasons for that wager. For now, that's
where the DC books go. Better luck next week.
Recommendation of the Week:
Amazing Spider-Man #511
writer: J. Michael Straczynski
artists: Mike Deodato and Joe Pimentel
though this issue falls in the middle of a story arc, it's
still one of the best reads you're likely to have this week.
Not only does it justify its "shocking" cover, within the
first couple of pages, it gets you up to speed without laboriously
summarizing what had gone before. At least, much less laboriously
than the praise in this paragraph.
what the cover might have you thinking, Gwen Stacy has not
returned to this universe, or the Ultimate one. But her
ghost does still haunt Peter (and by extension Mary Jane),
enough to wring a good moment or two of soul-searching out
of a Spider-Man story every couple of years. Straczynski,
however, has taken it a step further.
Gwen and Peter had a missing period just before her death,
when Gwen traveled to Paris. (Hey - it's just like Smallville!)
In that time, a secret arose, one that Peter himself didn't
really know about until just a couple of issues ago.
one makes that secret clear, and it torments Peter emotionally
and physically. You see, that secret is twins - twins that
have grown up way too fast and seek revenge on the man they
think is their father.
might think that such a plot twist sullies that innocent
Silver Age relationship, but JMS also makes it clear that
that innocence remains. There's still a secret or two to
be revealed, but now is an excellent time to jump on while
there's a bit of mystery left.
my speculation point toward The Jackal. Preferably, a plan
that he put into motion before the first or second of his
deaths. Right now, this arc looks like a loose take on the
infamous Clone Saga, but this time around, they know where
they're going, and it's not just being played for shock
value. If the revelation of Gwen having been pregnant turns
out to be true - and the last panel of this issue would
seem to prove it - then this gives a subtext to the whole
relationship. Or at least the Romita years of Amazing
then, that Romita's son has left the book for the nonce.
However, having Deodato on the title should give you another
reason to buy it. One of the most solid artists out there,
he lends a muscular style to the book. It's not better than
Romita, Jr, but it is different, and it's a little shot
in the arm for what has been a consistently great read for
years, but could use the attention.
marks the second week in a row that we recommend a book
which had its day a while ago. Don't forget titles like
Amazing Spider-Man, that have managed to be good,
and often great, for a long time.
Incredible Hulk #76: Bruce Jones finishes up his long
paranoid take on Hulk with a bang-up confrontation that
offers a couple of things you may never have seen before.
The Leader has jumped up a notch on the disgusting scale,
but as it all comes together, it's a scheme that makes perfect
sense. This writer's farewell isn't as elegiac as when Peter
David left the book, but it still offers a good launching
pad for whoever will follow. I'm not sure I buy into all
of the characterizations, but then, that just means that
people will be debating it for a while.
Knights 4 #9: Some of this issue is exactly what critics
feared it would be ahead of time: a sitcom, too clever for
its own good. Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa betrays his reputation
as a snarky off-Broadway playwright, especially with his
portrayal of The Watcher as a bored smart-ass. But once
he gets past that, this settles into a tiny human drama
that is really very moving. Even Namor almost redeems his
#26: This issue marks the last for the most experimental,
and hence often unlikeable, of the X titles. But it was
always at least interesting. Milligan and Allred explored
the hazards of fame among mutants and created a team of
characters that often fell far short of the heroes we were
used to seeing. Naturally, this book couldn't last. Say
goodbye to it by checking out this standalone issue that
wraps everything up, but I hope not for ever.
#7: A new story arc begins with this issue. If you're
not already buying this excellent revival, start now. Even
if you think you don't like Conan - Kurt Busiek will convince
#38: Gail Simone continues her short run to wrap-up
this version of the venerable series. Once again, she proves
herself one of the best writers around, making odd and,
yes, lame characters suddenly seem cool. Look behind the
latest issue to get the previous two that Simone wrote.
Elektra #1: This time scheduled early enough so the
trade paperback will leisurely make its way into stores
in time for the movie. Never mind that - just remember that
so far, the Ultimate universe has not disappointed.
3 #1: More madness from Grant Morrison, involving animals
with weapons. One thing you've got to admit about Morrison:
he always strives to make your head hurt in a good way.
and write to us and let us know what you think, or talk
about it on the