Parker: Spider-Man #51
writer: Zeb Wells
artists: Francisco Herrera and Wayne Faucher
the bad news: Kevin Smith's debut on this title has been delayed
due to Hollywood obligations. (Actually, that's not really
good news: Zeb Wells is one heck of a fun writer, with a skewed
perspective on the wallcrawler that so far has batted a thousand.
the bad news again (for me, anyway): Mark Buckingham apparently
has left the building for fabled pastures, to be replaced
by an Humberto Ramos wannabe. It's a style I can barely tolerate,
but Ramos makes it work. Herrera, however, has all the distortion
without the strong composition. Guys, heads are not hourglasses.
And Peter Parker does not have Groucho Marx's eyebrows. And
why does everybody look like they're wearing rubber masks?
And…oh, never mind.
to Wells: focusing on The Shocker (article optional) and Hydro-Man,
the story examines the real reasons behind becoming a supervillain,
and what happens when one realizes he can't remember them.
Wells proves the adage that there are no bad characters. Except
a great story (or at least the beginning of one) that almost
redeems the art.
writer: J. Michael Straczynski
artist: Brent Anderson
manages a rare feat in every issue of this book. Just when
you think you have it all figured out, an unexpected and yet
totally logical twist pops up ahead.
this issue, JMS sets up mysteries and excitement for the future.
Most (but not all) of The Specials have gone into hiding.
One, the erstwhile Darkraven, decides to run for president,
while his half-brother John, the Poet, works on a project
that could (drumroll please) save humankind or destroy it.
for that lie in a question that JMS has kept us too busy to
think about for a while: just what exactly was the
fireball that gave these people their powers in the first
left with a pseudo-cliffhanger involving who killed Kennedy,
which feels a little clichéd. Yet because it involves the
real downside of being able to talk to the dead (John Edward
never seems to have this problem), the situation has a freshness
to it, aided by Anderson's sure artwork.
else, this book should have you rabid for Anderson's Astro
writer: Peter David
artists: Ed Benes and Alex Lei
in Leesburg would do well to leave town now that two
Supergirls are on the job. In a strange parallel to Buffy
The Vampire Slayer, both have located at the local high
school, one as an art teacher and one as a student. But the
girl who believes herself to be from Krypton is having a hard
time fitting in, as she can't seem to use her powers in a
way that will either not attract attention or have devastating
years of Superman using x-ray vision, and not once did he
ever interfere with a pacemaker's function. It's a tragic
consequence, and a nice startling "real world" one as well.
Peter David gives us a few more clues to who Kara really is.
Unfortunately, it involves villains that could have come right
out of Jack Kirby's later years in the way they think and
speak; sure, they're evil, but they're more concepts than
and Lei deliver another great art job, though a real high
school administration would probably send Kara home with the
length and tightness of her skirts. But if cheesecake is what
it's going to take to vault this book up a few notches on
the sale list, I'll regretfully deal with it.
wife still reading this column?
writer: Brian Michael Bendis
artists: Mark Bagley, Art Thibert and Rodney Ramos
I was fooled.
issues back, The Green Goblin's hallucinations led me to believe
that Ultimate Venom would have something to do with Norman
Osborn's experiments. The truth lies further in Peter Parker's
past, and in Bendis' hands will likely have a more tragic
resonance than we could have imagined.
this book hums when dealing with Peter more than Spider-Man.
All the scenes between he and Aunt May have a good air of
reality, dealing with long-gone tragedies that never really
quite go away.
difference between the Ultimate and original recipe Spider-Men
is that Bendis' version does remember his parents. And in
going over his memories, he stumbles across an Eddie Brock
very different from the version we know. Though the cover
features Venom, we don't get there yet. And in Bendis' hands,
we don't mind the wait.
writer: Mark Millar
artists: Ben Lai and Ray Lai
this issue qualifies as a "Marvel Must Have," which makes
sense: it really serves to get readers up to speed on the
mutant rights issues that drive Ultimate War, the flagship
of the next Must Have reprint. And only in comics criticism
can we utter the phrase "mutant rights issues" with a straight
jumps around in history, showing us the crumbling of a dream
- Xavier and Lensherr united in their efforts to save mutantkind.
Interestingly, he shows us the aftermath of certain key events,
but with clearly subjective interpretations.
may yet to be shown us, but what we have at least does explain
the huge philosophical differences between the two men, and
the layers of betrayal that they both believe the other has
built. How it gets to the point of the climax hinted at in
Ultimate War #1 remains to be seen, as does the real
reasons behind Pietro and Wanda's defections.
in for Andy Kubert, the Lai brothers do a competent job, but
with a different feel than this book usually has. If anything,
it makes this issue look like a refugee from Wildstorm.
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