Tag Archives: spider-man

Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 6/2/16

Sometimes, the staff at Graphic Policy read more comics than we’re able to get reviewed. When that happens you’ll see a weekly feature compiling short reviews from the staff of the comics, or graphic novels, we just didn’t get a chance to write a full review for. These are Graphic Policy’s Mini Reviews.


Alex

johnnyred4Johnny Red #4 (Titan)** I love this series; it’s a fantastic WWII era story about a British fighter ace fighting for Russia (but do the Russian brass really want him there?) that tugs on my fondness for war comics, my respect for those who fought in the war, and my love of high quality stories. That this just happens to be one of my top two comics released this week, is just a happy accident. While this isn’t an ideal point for new readers to jump on – what with it being right in the middle of the series – it’s worth hunting the back issues down. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Surviving Megalopolis #2 (Dark Horse) I was surprised by this series. It has a slight flavour of Irredeemable but with enough of an original twist to the “Justice League’s gone bad” that it should pique your interest, because it’s well worth reading. Overall: 8.75 Recommendation: Buy

Cry Havoc #1 (Image) I finally got around to reading a couple of the last week or two’s comics, and this was fantastic. I should have read this when it came out, because the mix of the supernatural, an awesome lead character (or two) and some brilliant art make this a must read. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

europa 3Batman: Europa #2, #3 & #4 (DC)* I found the differences in the art style issue to issue jarring – at first. Then I realized that whether intentional or not (and I think it was) it absolutely makes sense given the nature of the story. I devoured the three remaining issues that I hadn’t picked up in less than an hour. Truly great stuff. Overall: 8.75 Recommendation: Buy

Amazing Forest #1 & #2 (IDW) Are a pair of fantastic anthology comics. You don’t need to read the first to enjoy the second, but both issues have some brilliant short comic stories within them that are – at times – out of this world, but are all fantastically entertaining. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Doc Savage: The Spider’s Web #3 (Dynamite) Meh. It’s okay, but just doesn’t do it for me. Overall: 6 Recommendation: Read, maybe?

The Precinct #3 (Dynamite) I wasn’t that impressed with the last issue, but this one was a lot better. It definitely drew my interest much better, and felt like a much more complete installment in this story. Plus, the steam punk aspects are fantastically understated. This comic would be just as good without them, but why would you want that? Overall: 8 Recommendation: Read

Cage Hero #4 (Dynamite) While I have enjoyed the issues so far, I’ve enjoyed them as I would the Sharknado movies; Cage Hero is good because it knows exactly what it is, and it celebrates it with every cheesy bit of dialogue, every been-there-read-that scene. The thing is, it does those things almost well enough to be worth buying, but does fall a lttle short. Overall: 7 Recommendation: Buy

 

Mr H

Spider-Man_1_CoverSpider-Man #1 (Marvel Comics)* Whooo Miles is finally here in the Prime Universe! This issue was great. I didn’t enjoy an issue like this from Bendis since his first story arc on Ultimate Spider-Man. Miles is having trouble balancing hero life and school responsibilities. What makes the issue though is when he swings into action. Spidey takes it right to Blackheart and even wields Captain America’s shield! Just a whole lot of fun and it ends with a great cliffhanger. Bendis and Pichelli have another win. I already can’t wait for the next issue. Overall: 9 

 

Patrick

Vision #4 (Marvel) * – This is the best book about robots that needlessly stars robots. There’s really nothing about the book so far that would prevent an editor from taking out the fact that it stars androids and replacing them with a racial or religious minority family and telling the same story. If the point of the story was to humanize the Vision, why is it being injected with this daytime soap plot? I was so glad they acknowledged the Vision had previously been married to the Scarlet Witch because the whole book began to feel like it took place in a pocket universe. Tom King is amazing and I keep reading to see what he’ll do. Gabriel Hernandez Walta is a tremendous talent and I’ll often by a book just because I enjoy his dark tones and the way he captures human emotion. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy this book. The characters just haven’t meshed with the story yet. Overall: 7 Recommendation: Read

PaperGirls_05-1Paper Girls #5 (Image)– It saddens me to only be writing a shortened review but I don’t want to spend the time being negative about one of my favorite writers in a luscious and gorgeous book. The issue mostly resolves its own tangential distraction this issue and writes two characters who we didn’t really know super well in the first place. I have re-read every issue since it came out and I still have to go back and figure out the names of the four central characters. I like that this issue ends with them literally somewhere else (as it’s beginning to feel like they have just been bouncing back and forth between the same locations accomplishing nothing). The story… I like to start with a summary of what’s happened. You can usually tell how good a book is by how much the summary changes from review to review. I’d be writing the same summary if I did a full review.  Overall: 7 Recomendation: Read

Detective Comics #49 (DC)*– The best part of Jim Gordon-Batman is still just watching him roll with the punches and really do his best. Bruce Wayne-Batman is always treated like a dark god that somehow stands toe-to-toe with everyone from Darkseid to street-pushers. Jim Gordon’s Batman wakes up the whole neighborhood with a blimp spotlight trying to conduct an investigation and fails to get anyone turn it off before just breaking it. I also like some of the darker imagery (for a mainstream DC comic) which helps me balance out the idea that all Batman and his team are doing is watching statues. Seriously, someone’s probably being assaulted in the alleyway adjacent to one of the statues, Batman. Can you think big-picture for a second? Overall: 5.5 Recommendation: Pass

Spider-Man #1 (Marvel)* – This book follows Miles Morales integration into the mainstream universe following the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths (right? I didn’t read Secret Wars, I already had the trade for the original Crisis so I just read that). Honestly, Miles Morales is far more like Peter Parker than Peter Parker has been for a very long time which helps me to understand why this issue ended with me thinking, “Oh, yeah… it’s that red-and-blue rip-off Spider-Man! Oh, red-suit Venom!” Bendis’s best work comes when he is not writing every book with the Marvel logo printed on it (so, essentially everything from before ten years ago), however Sara Pichelli and Justin Ponsor own Miles Morales as far as I’m concerned. There’s something about Pichelli’s angles that make the formerly ultimate Spider-Man so dynamic. I’ve seen static shots of Spider-Man web-slinging for years, but Pichelli’s renditions always make me stop and admire her work. Overall: 6.5 Recommedation: Read

Uncanny X-Men #3 (Marvel)– I miss this book when it was drawn by Rob Liefeld. I miss this book when it was drawn by Mike Allred. I miss this when it was written by Rick Remender. Am I making my point? I struggle with subtly. My point is that it’s sacrilege to have the Uncanny X-Men title be a clone of one of its own spin-off. (I also struggle with perspective.) Overall: 6 Recommendation: Pass

 

Paul

vision 4Vision #4 (Marvel) * Still, in my opinion, the best All New All Different title that I’m reading. Vision still has no idea what his wife has been up to and what she’s hiding; and Virgina comes face to face with her blackmailer and the meeting does not end well. I could feel for her in this issue, and her situation; feeling helpless and things spinning out of control, thanks to King’s writing and complemented beautifully by Walta’s dark tones in the art. I look forward to this title every month and you should be too. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy 

Uncanny Avengers #5 (Marvel)* Well here’s a surprise…I didn’t hate it! Rogue, Deadpool, Human Torch and (briefly) Cable are on the hunt for the Red Skull, or more accurately, Professor X’s brain in Red Skull’s head. They do some good cop/bad cop and get a lead on where to find him. The trio (no Cable) break into where they are told they will find Skull and instead find none other then Gambit. He and Rogue have a brief litte reunion and Red Skull slips right past the team…literally. This isn’t a bad stand alone issue coming off the end of the debut story arc. The action was good and I’m sure the search for Red Skull will be explored in more depth as the series goes on.  Overall: 6.75 Recommendation: Read 

 

Ryan C

Providence #7 (Avatar Press) *: The best book on the stands by a country effing mile keeps getting better as hapless protagonist Robert Black finds himself thrown into the Lovecraftian underbelly of America’s physical and psychological horror-show and constructs the most bizarrely effective means for rationalizing his experiences, and coming out the other side more cheerful and optimistic, that I’ve ever witnessed. Thrown in themes of class division, loneliness and isolation, and the terrible burden of keeping secrets and this is “Pickman’s Model” as you’ve never seen it before. Alan Moore’s most compelling “major work” in decades combined with Jacen Burrows’ flat-out breathtaking art makes me feel genuine pity for the folks out there who aren’t reading this. Much as I love any number of current comics series, the simple fact is that right now there is “Providence” — and there is everything else.  Overall: 10. Recommendation: Buy

unfollow 4Unfollow #4 (DC/Vertigo) *: Rob Williams’ fiendishly clever social-darwinism-disguised-as-charity premise goes from “gettign warmer” to “heating up” with this issue, and I can only imagine what “boiling” is going to be like. Somebody we’ve gotten to “know” a bit dies in this issue, and it appears we’re going to get a murder mystery added to the mix here, as well. On art, Mike Dowling seems to be stepping out of his self-imposed Frank Quitely shadow and developing his own, more organic style, so that’s good to see, as well.  Overall: 7.5. Recommendation: Buy

The Sheriff Of Babylon #3 (DC/Vertigo) *: Another strong and compelling series of wrinkles is added to our layer-cake of corruption and rat-fuckery in Occupied Iraq — and speaking of fucking it turns out that two of our protagonists are doing just that — but while Mitch Gerads’ art continues to impress with its grittiness and authenticity, the script by “ex-” CIA operative Tom King (yeah, lots of folks quit the CIA and go into low-paying freelance writing) is taking on a more blatant neo-colonialist tone that seems very much of a piece with the right-wing themes on display in the author’s other high-profile works such as “Grayson” and “The Omega Men.” King hasn’t earned the right to be compared to Ditko, but both are examples of people in comics whose work I admire despite finding their politics anywhere from questionable to downright nauseating. If there’s any doubt in your mind as to where King stands, I’ve seen him say that he’s “proud” of the work he did in Iraq. I’m sure his “former” bosses are proud of the work he’s doing, supposedly of his own volition, to spread their worldview in our entertainment media. Troubling material to say the least, but I can’t deny its quality.  Overall: 7. Recommendation: Buy, but know the writer is probably supplementing his income with a check from Langley.

Swamp Thing #2 (DC)*: Len Wein and Kelly Jones’ “back-to-basics” take on the character continues to showcase both the best and worst aspects of 1970s horror comics — the best being Wein’s deliriously OTT purple prose and Jones’ heartfelt stylistic homage to the art of Bernie Wrightson, the worst being the lame-ass, easily-resolved plot (that could, I suppose, work as a one-or two-parter in a monthly ongoing, but feels downright bizarre in a six-issue mini-series) and the shoe-horning in of guest stars for no apparent reason. The Phantom Stranger I could see, sure — but what possible point does plugging Shade from “Starman” into this story serve? Nice little epilogue/cliffhanger at the end, though, and I’m still loving the ride for the most part. Overall: 7. Recommendation: Buy.

 

Shean

Shaft: Imitation of Life#1 (Dynamite Ent.): The adventures of John Shaft continues in this new miniseries as we catchup with him right before he becomes a successful private investigator. All it took was one case of a mobster’s missing daughter to propel his business. As he enjoys the fruit of his success, David Walker proves that it has not changed the man, as he takes on another missing person’s case , finding trouble at every turn. Altogether, a strong first issue to an already entertaining series. Overall:9.4 Recommendation: Buy


Well, there you have it, folks. The reviews we didn’t quite get a chance to write.

Please note that with some of the above comics, Graphic Policy was provided FREE copies for review. Where we purchased the comics, you’ll see an asterisk (*). If you don’t see that, you can infer the comic was a review copy. In cases where we were provided a review copy and we also purchased the comic you’ll see two asterisks (**).

Around the Tubes

Captain Marvel #2 CoverThe weekend is almost here! We’re going to be reading lots of comics ourselves. What’s everyone else doing?

While you count the hours down, here’s some news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.

Around the Tubes

ICv2 – Ultra Pro Acquires Ruby Mine, Inc. – Cool.

Newsarama – Report: Hasbro And Mattel In Merger Talks – Well that’s interesting.

The Beat – Report: Marvel CEO Isaac Perlmutter once fished a paper clip out of a trash basket – Well this is interesting.

The Wall Street Journal – A Graphic Novel Looks at War in Iraq – Awesome to see some mainstream coverage.

GamePolitics – The Political Machine 2016 released – Bring it.

 

Around the Tubes Reviews

Talking Comics – A-Force #2

CBR – Captain Marvel #2

Talking Comics – Grumpy Cat Vol. 1

Talking Comics – Papercuts and Inkstains #1

Comic Attack – Spider-Man #1

Talking Comics – Spider-Man #1

Spectacular Spider-Man Swings Into the Marvel Shop With an All-New Marvel Select Figure!

The Marvel Shop has teamed up with Diamond Select Toys for many past exclusive Marvel Select figures, but this is the one everyone has been waiting for! Starting January 12, Marvel Shop customers can pre-order a new, exclusive 7-inch action figure of the Spectacular Spider-Man, in his classic comic-book costume, with multiple interchangeable parts!

Arguably the Marvel Universe’s most famous citizen, Spider-Man is a perennial favorite for toy collectors, with everyone seeking out the perfect Spider-Man figure for their toy display. This all-new Marvel Select figure of the wall-crawler wears his world-famous red-and-blue tights, stands exactly 7 inches tall and features 16 points of articulation, allowing him to strike a variety of crouching, web-shooting and web-swinging poses.

And did we mention interchangeable parts? In addition to his basic pair of open hands, Spider-Man comes with three bonus sets – fists, grabbing hands and web-shooting hands. He also comes with an interchangeable Peter Parker head, a camera accessory that hangs on his shoulder, and a bunched-up Spider-Man mask that he can hold in his grabbing hand! All of this comes packaged in slimmed-down, display-ready Marvel Select packaging, with side-panel artwork for shelf reference.

Pre-orders will open on January 12, 2016, exclusively at marvelshop.com, and then further pre-orders will open on February 1 at disneystore.com and disneystore.eu. The figures will ship to customers and to Disney Store locations on or before February 29, 2016.

SpecSpidey_FrontWhite

Around the Tubes

Tetris_BoxshotIt was new comic book day yesterday. What’d folks get? What’d you enjoy? What was a stinker? Sound off in the comments!

Up first though, here’s some news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.

Around the Tubes

Comics Alliance – In Defense Of T-Shirt Superman: Why ‘Action Comics’ And ‘Superman’ Are Seriously Great Right Now – Thoughts? Agree? Disagree?

The Beat – Coca Cola and Marvel are teaming up for the Super Bowl – Not too surprising.

Kotaku – Peek Inside the New Graphic Novel That Tells The Origin Story Of Tetris – This sounds cool.

Humanosphere – Graphic novel depicts life as an aid worker in Iraq – Again, awesome to see this.

The Guardian – African Avengers: the comic book creators shaking up superhero genre – Lots of comics to check out!

 

Around the Tubes Reviews

Talking Comics – Batman: Europa #1-4

Talking Comics – Bizarro TPB

Talking Comics – Kennel Block Blues #1

Talking Comics – Mirror #1

Comic Vine – Nailbiter #20

Talking Comics – Paper Girls Vol. 1

Comic Vine – Spider-Man #1

Newsarama – Spider-Man #1\

Comic Vine – Star Wars: Obi-Wan and Anakin #2

Comic Vine – Uncanny Avengers #5

Comic Vine – Unfollow #4

Talking Comics – Voracious #1

Review: Spider-Man #1

Spider-Man_1_CoverThis is it, with Spider-Man #1 Miles Morales is officially part of the 616 (or whatever the new Marvel Universe is called) and gets the spotlight. And along with him is some of his cast-mates like Ganke and his parents. We don’t know what’s happened in the past eight months, but things seem to be mashed together well, as if this has been the way it always is.

The comic is fascinating in that it does Peter Parker Spider-Man than the current comics featuring Peter Parker. Miles is in school attempting to balance school and his responsibilities as a hero. He’s not quite doing well with either position.

Writer Brian Michael Bendis has basically hit a reset button with this character and is giving us the best Spider-Man comic of the bunch so far.

Joining Bendis is artist Sara Pichelli, yes the team that made Ultimate Spider-Man so fun. Pichelli’s art is absolutely fantastic and she’s just beyond perfect to kick off the series. I loved her work in her previous run with Miles, and having her here is just awesome. She does an amazing job of mixing action and the quieter moment of Miles in his non superhero life.

The comic feels like what’s come before, but just in a different universe. That’s good and bad in that it feels familiar and is just as fun, it’s bad in that we don’t know Miles’ history/origin/etc. There’s some questions to be resolved, and hopefully we get some of it. And hopefully the comic keeps it up, because it’ll be fun as we find it all out.

Story: Brian Michael Bendis Art: Sara Pichelli
Story: 8.4 Art: 8.9 Overall: 8.6 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

JR4_Cover B by Keith BurnsWednesdays are new comic book day! Each week hundreds of comics are released, and that can be pretty daunting to go over and choose what to buy. That’s where we come in!

We’re bringing back something we haven’t done for a while, what the team thinks. Our contributors are choosing up to five books each week and why they’re choosing the books.

Find out what folks think below, and what comics you should be looking out for this Wednesday.

Mr. H

Top Pick: Spider-Man #1 (Marvel Comics) – Finally Miles Morales in his own stand alone book in the Prime Universe! Very excited for this one. With Peter Parker as his mentor will the old Parker luck rub off on our hero? Or will he reach new heights? Maybe an internship at Parker Industries awaits? Come and see Web heads!

Action Comics #49 (DC Comics) – Did Clark survive his Kryptonite overdose? Can he stand up to Vandal Savage? Find out here…

Green Lantern #49 (DC Comics) – The race to 50 is on.. is Hal ready for the coming of Parallax?

We are Robin #8 (DC Comics) – More like we are Joker this month. Let’s see how the social media treats a gang of villains rather than the fledgling heroes. One question needs to be asked “Why so serious?”

 

Ashley

Top Pick: The Wicked + The Divine Vol. 3 (Image Comics) – Initially thought to be a low arc due to the use of guest artists, the “Commercial Suicide” arc ended up being a brilliant and heartbreaking arc that focused more on the other characters we don’t get to see as much of in the bigger scheme of WicDiv. Exploring issues of fate, misogyny, pop stardom, cultural appropriation, and death, this experimental arc demonstrated WicDiv’s staying power.

Batgirl #48 (DC Comics) – There’s only two things I know about this issue. One, Black Canary is back in town and teaming up with Babs. Two, BABS TARR FINALLY GOT TO DRAW A LUCHA BATGIRL. Kalisto is US Champion, Lucha Underground is back, and there is an actual Luchador Batgirl costume now. What a time to be alive.

Captain Marvel #2 (Marvel) – Exhale everyone, Carol is just as lively and hardheaded as ever in the hands of Butters and Fazekas. Not to mention those abs by Anka. While it hasn’t made me cry yet, the series has me intrigued with its new use of Alpha Flight and the mystery reveal of the skeleton crew from the last issue. It’ll be interesting to see just what is in store for Carol at this “desk job.”

Pretty Deadly #8 (Image Comics) – I have a special place in my heart for the Deconnick/Ríos/Bellaire supernatural western, but this arc has been breathtaking both in story and art. Now, we finally get to meet the Reaper of War and maybe figure out just what his deal is.

Rocket Raccoon and Groot #2 (Marvel) – The first run at the Rocket Raccoon comic was an absolutely uproarious affair that made it one of my favorite Marvel titles. Skottie Young and Filipe Andrade seem to be taking a slightly different route this time with Rocket not knowing who he is after his death in Secret Wars, but the humor still seems to be there.

 

Alex

Top Pick: Johnny Red #4 (Titan Comics) – I love this series, and I’ve been counting down the days to each issues release. It is a fantastic World War II era story that highlights the struggles faced in Russia around that time, coupled with some truly stunning visual techniques.

Howard The Duck #4 (Marvel) – If not for Old Man Logan, this would be the only Marvel book I’d be reading, and that’s thanks in a large part to writer Chip Zdarsky’s occasional digs at Marvel’s reboots and events over the past year or so. I’ve been told that this series doesn’t hold up quite as well as Steve Gerber’s first volume, but if you don’t have that basis for comparison (and I don’t, yet) then the current run on Howard The Duck will be highly enjoyable.

Klaus #3 (BOOM! Studios) – Talking about visually stunning, Klaus is fantastic. It may be billed as an origin story for Santa (and it is), but this comic is so much more than that. There’s a warmth here that you really must experience.

Swamp Thing #2 (DC Comics) – When I was initially getting this list ready, it never occurred to me that Swamp Thing #2 would be one of my top five picks this week. But then I saw the comic listed on Previews website a coming out and I got unreasonably excited to read it after I remembered the slower paced, modern feeling with almost classical twist of the first issue. Who’da known?

X-O Manowar #44 (Valiant) – I wasn’t, honestly, all that impressed with the last issue of this series. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t as good as it has been lately. Hopefully it was a slower start to the new arc and not something indicative of a trend. This issue will go a long way to assuaging my fears, so I’m eager to get a chance to read it.

 

Madison

Top Pick: Pretty Deadly #8 (Image) – Pretty Deadly is one of my forever favorites. Emma Ríos’s art is otherworldly, and I’m excited to see where the story goes as they continue to develop the new arc.

Batgirl #48 (DC Comics) – This week’s Batgirl looks especially promising–it has both the return of Black Canary and one of the cutest covers possibly ever.

Paper Girls #5 (Image Comics) – Paper Girls might take an issue or two to really get into–the action starts quickly and doesn’t stop when four girls are attacked on their paper route. However, as with most Brian K. Vaughan stories, it’s worth seeing through.

Shutter #18 (Image Comics) – Shutter is a great subversion of the adventure genre, but the real draw for me was the art. If you haven’t read Shutter, you might recognize Leila Del Duca from the recent and absolutely gorgeous Morrigan-centric issue of The Wicked + The Divine.

 

Paul

Top Pick: A-Force #2 (Marvel) – A-Force is assembling and I’m excited to see them together again.  True, it won’t be no holds barred like it was in Secret Wars, but it looks like it’s going to be a fun ride; and I’m really enjoying seeing things from Singularity’s point of view; she wants her friends back and is doing what she can to find them, even with a big bad energy monster on her tail.  To paraphrase Iron Man, she’s bringing the party to them!

Scarlet Witch #3 (Marvel) – I’m not all in on this title going into the third issue.  Yes, I love Wanda.  She is one of my favourite characters.  The debut issue was alright, and issue two was less than that.  So why is this on my pick of the week list?  I’m holding out hope this title picks up, and I do have a soft spot for Wanda.  There are some good ideas here, and I hope it gets a little more interesting.

Uncanny Avengers #5 (Marvel) – It’s no secret to many how I feel about this title.  So why is it on my list?  Gambit is on the cover.  That is the only reason I’m looking forward to it this week.  I’m curious to see what role he’ll play with the team and with Rogue.

The Vision #4 (Marvel) – Still the surprise hit, for me, from the All New All Different launch.  Vision just wanted to live a life with a wife and kids, what could possibly go wrong?  The reader is given very grim hints that plenty goes wrong.  Not to mention Vision’s own wife and kids have things happen to them, which they keep from him, that show us that they are a lot more like us then people would think.  It’s a great read that I highly recommend.

 

Javier

Top Pick: Sheriff of Babylon #3 (DC Comics/Vertigo) – Tom King has had the Midas Touch, as anything he writes turns into liquid comic book gold.  This militaristic detective story is a solid read.

Bad Moon Rising #5 (451 Media) – The end is near. Only two issues left in the series. It’s Werewolves versus full automatics and Silver Bullets. I got five to one odds on the Biker Werewolves.

Paper Girls #5 (Image Comics) – I’m just waiting for one of the Paper Girls to be like, “I want my two dollars!!” They deserve a little more, after all that they’ve been through so far.

Unfollow #4 (DC Comics/Vertigo) – Bruce Lee’s Game of Death meets Social Media as the Chosen gather together to thin the herd. Or will they rise above their human faults?

The Walking Dead #151 (Image Comics) – Who cares that  I am front running on the Zombie genre.  A real war is coming as General Rick builds his army.

 

Brett

Top Pick: Johnny Red #4 (Titan Comics) – This seriously has gotten better and better with each issue and has been filled with action and a lot of touching interaction of the characters. Garth Ennis is knocking it out of the park with this series focused on an English pilot leading a Russian squad in WWII. The story is good, and the art is even more amazing. Some of the two page spreads are just jaw dropping.

Last Man: The Chase (First Second) – Such a fun graphic novel series. I’m excited to see more and more as the world is expanded upon and we learn what’s going on. It’s a hell of a mystery so far with small clues that make you scratch your head.

Nailbiter #20 (Image Comics) – One of my favorite series. This arc has some of the cast in Georgia trying to catch a serial killer who may have ties to Buckaroo. Just a fun comic about serial killers.

Princeless: Raven Pirate Princess #5 (Action Lab Entertainment) – Somehow this spinoff series has surpassed the original it came out of. Raven is one of my favorite new characters of the past few years and the fun flows off the page. Every issue has delivered.

Tomboy #3 (Action Lab: Danger Zone)Princeless for adults? This series has a teenage girl turned vigilante. The first two issues blew me away and I can’t wait to read the third. This is one that was one of my favorite debuts of 2015.

Spider-Man #1 Swings Into Comic Shops This Wednesday!

This Wednesday, Miles Morales comes to the Marvel Universe, and he’s here to stay! But before Spider-Man #1 comes to comic shops everywhere and digital devices, Marvel has released a new look inside the highly anticipated first issue! Strap in as Miles Morales co-creators Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli present the next chapter in the young hero’s life!

Sure, he’s been doing the superhero thing for a while now, but following the events of Secret Wars, Miles finds himself a full-fledged resident of the Marvel Universe. Swinging alongside Captain America, Thor and Iron Man as a member of the Avengers and patrolling the Big Apple’s rooftops as NYC’s own Spider-Man! But it’s not all fun and games. A lot has transpired in the eight months since Secret Wars and an entire new universe awaits – friend and foe alike. Is he ready to face the new Marvel Universe? Better yet – is the Marvel Universe ready for Miles Morales?

SPIDER-MAN #1 (DEC150723)
Written by BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS
Art & Cover by SARA PICHELLI
Hip-Hop Variant by ADI GRANOV (DEC150724)
Variant Covers by MICHAEL CHO (DEC150725), SKOTTIE YOUNG (DEC150726), and MARK BAGLEY (DEC150727)
Blank Variant Also Available
On-Sale – 2/03/16

Spider-Man_1_Cover

Investigating Alias #22-23

Alias23CoverInvestigating Alias is a weekly issue by issue look at the source material that inspired the popular and critically acclaimed Jessica Jones Netflix show.

In this installment of Investigating Alias, I will be covering Alias #22-23(2003) written by Brian Michael Bendis, drawn by Michael Gaydos, and colored by Matt Hollingsworth.

In Alias #22-23, writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Michael Gaydos channel their inner Stan Lee and Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby respectively and give us the “Secret Origin of Jessica Jones”. Bendis’ plot manages to put Jessica Jones adjacent to many of the major events of the Silver Age Marvel Universe as she turns into Marvel’s equivalent of Forrest Gump, but she can fly and has a penchant for dropping f-bombs. However, he and Gaydos also lay the foundation for many things in her future, like her problems controlling her powers, issues with superheroes in general, and her lack of fear in publicly calling out horrible people. (It’s truly a crowning moment of awesome when she calls Flash Thompson “a fucking repressed dickhead”.) And along the way, Bendis and Gaydos don’t shy away from showing her difficult childhood with a heartbreaking scene where the head of the children’s home tells her it’s a “miracle”.

Alias #22 opens with a note that Gaydos is doing the art in the style of Steve Ditko, whose stories in Amazing Spider-Man portrayed Peter Parker as a social outcast by day and fighting animal themed villains by night before John Romita Sr turned the book into a romance comic with tights. (For the record, I enjoy both artists’ work.) Jessica Campbell (later Jones) is a student at Midtown High and is an even bigger outcast than Peter Parker, who she has a huge crush on. She finally gathers her courage to ask him out, but then he gets bit by a spider and she almost gets hit by the radioactive waste truck that gives Daredevil his powers. The scene turns to Jessica’s home life as her bratty little brother catches her masturbating to the Human Torch in his Fantastic Four comic. As her parents argue about her dad not standing up to his boss on a family road trip (He works for Tony Stark.), Jessica and her brother get into a tiff, which leads to her dad not looking at the road and crashing. Her entire family dies, and Jessica is left in a coma. In another crazy coincidence, she wakes up during Galactus’ invasion of Earth in Fantastic Four #48-50, and after a stay in a group home, gets adopted by the Jones family.

Alias #23 is all about Jessica Jones getting used to her new powers. She returns to Midtown High because her adopted family lives in Queens as well, tells off Flash Thompson, and runs away from Peter Parker, when he says that he “pities her”. This combined with the grief over the loss of her family causes her to fly for the first time and fall in the water and almost drown. Then, Thor saves her, and she thanks him by swearing and puking on his boots. She then has an insightful talk with her adopted dad about superheroes, and how that how they come across to society is why certain ones are loved and hated. Basically, the Fantastic Four are popular because they don’t wear creepy masks and are a nuclear family. The issue and short arc closes with Jessica testing her strength and flying and stopping a Z-level supervillain. It’s a traditional superhero deed done in a non-superhero way because she has no costume or codename.

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In “Secret Origin of Jessica Jones”, Brian Michael Bendis finds a happy medium between the deconstruction of superheroes in the work of Alan Moore and Frank Miller in the 1980s and the reconstruction of them in the work of Kurt Busiek and Mark Waid in the 1990s. However, Bendis is more concerned with laying the first stones of Jessica Jones’ character arc than making any sweeping statements about superhero comics as whole although he makes an excellent in-universe statement about why the Fantastic Four are beloved, and Spider-Man is feared towards the end of the story. Alias #23 ends on an up note as Jessica Jones has taken down her first supervillain with her flying, but not landing powers, but it’s no one big time just a guy, who looks the like love child of the Scorpion and one of the Serpent Squad’s groupies. It’s a glimpse of hope after the death of her family, her coma,  bullying at school, and failed attempts to fly. Bendis also finds some humor in the straight laced nature of the Silver Age by contrasting Jessica Jones’ speech pattern with Stan Lee’s dialogue, which he even takes word for word from Amazing Fantasy #15, a comic he adapted in the first arc of Ultimate Spider-Man as well as her puking all over Thor’s boots, which works really well because Gaydos draws him just like Jack Kirby’s Thor.

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In fact, the visual evolution and progression of Michael Gaydos’ art style from straight Ditko to a hybrid Kirby meets his own style towards the end of issue 22 and 23 is the most fascinating thing about his arc of Alias. Gaydos’ initial conception of Jessica Jones is Ditko meets Daniel Clowes with Jessica being lonely, alienated, and at the margins while sporting the glasses, freckles, and almost the hairstyle of Enid Coleslaw from Ghost World. Colorist Matt Hollingsworth gives the pre-coma scenes a four color feel with bright yellow buildings, blue shirts, and green grass. The reading experience is like finding a forgotten comic from the 1960s, but unlike Stan Lee, Bendis lets the art breathe without overwhelming the page with narrative captions and constant expository dialogue. A six panel grid showing Peter Parker getting in a car while Jessica silently blinks her eyes showing that she is smitten with him before tracing her hand on her diary. The scene where she masturbates to the Human Torch, and where her family dies are also silent as Gaydos’ art and Hollingsworth’s colors chronicle Jessica’s sexual awakening and the most tragic moment of her life through their art and colors. Nothing else needs to be said.

When Jessica wakes up from her coma in Alias #22, the art looks more similar to Gaydos and Hollingsworth’s usual style. The colors are muted, and Gaydos’ style is more realistic than the Ditko style cartooning of the earlier bits of the issue. However, whenever a superhero shows up, like the Silver Surfer or Thor, the designs and movementsare pure Kirby magic with the Silver Surfer soaring through the sky as Galactus blasts him with the digital equivalent of Kirby krackle. This contrasts with Jessica’s awkward moments as Gaydos cuts up the page into multiple panels to show her failed attempts at flying and flailing around in the water. She is different from the smooth moving, lantern jawed heroes of the Silver Age mainly because she’s an awkward teen. Bendis and Bagley did some similar things with Peter Parker in Ultimate Spider-Man showing him “spazzing out” and breaking desks when he nodded off in class and making him not the most competent fighter in some of the earlier arcs of the comic. Superpowers are definitely a great metaphor for growing up, and this is why teen superheroes continue to be a draw with Bendis still writing about the teen hero Miles Morales in 2016.

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The most revolutionary moment in Alias #22 and perhaps in Marvel Comics history is the teenage Jessica Jones touching herself as she looks at pictures of the Human Torch. This is probably the first time someone has been showed pleasuring themselves in a superhero comic, and Neil Gaiman wasn’t allowed to use the word “masturbate” in The Sandman because apparently no one in the DC Universe in the late 1980s masturbated. (This explains so much about Batman.) But what makes this scene so important is that Bendis and Gaydos are showing that women can be sexually attracted to superheroes (and superheroines) just like men are. Gaydos’ art evokes the female gaze as he cuts between the picture of the smiling Human Torch, and Jessica slowly putting her hand in her underwear. In that moment, he exists for her own pleasure, and Bendis doesn’t commentate on that scene showing that it is just a natural human function. Of course, her little brother bursts in, and this sets up the antagonistic relationship between them that leads to their squabble in the car and possibly the fatal crash. However, although she is a part of the fantastic Marvel Universe, Jessica Jones has perfectly normal sexual urges and can have an orgasm by herself.

Silence continues to be golden in another important sequence in Alias #23, which is when Jessica’s powers gottenJessFirstFlight through the time honored Marvel way of something nuclear, atomic, or radioactive activate. (Even the X-Men, who are born with their powers, are called the “Children of the Atom” because some of their parents, like Hank McCoy’s, worked around nuclear power plants.) Gaydos creates a concentrated emotional burst cutting between Jessica’s crying face, horrible things from her past, and shots of her shoes as she wobbles into the air. Hollingsworth overlays the past panels with yellow to differentiate between them and her current situation. Getting a pity talk from Peter Parker is the impetus for her taking flight for the first time, but it’s really more complex than that like her guilt over the car crash, Flash Thompson’s bullying, the woman at the group home say that it’s miraculous she could find foster parents for her, and her coma. Her flight gets a full page splash, but she’s no Superman and doesn’t strike an iconic pose. Her profanity as she falls into the water is how someone might actually react to having superpowers instead of finding the nearest crashing plane and catching it. (I’m really throwing shade on Supes in this paragraph.) The faux-Shakespearean English/Asgardian dialogue that Bendis writes for Thor is some of the funniest writing Bendis has ever done.

And even though she doesn’t don a costume, and her first heroic deed is saving a laundromat from being robbed, Bendis finds time to comment on the superhero genre. He does this in a conversation between Jessica and her foster dad Mr. Jones when she asks him the age-old question of why Spider-Man is hated and feared, and the Fantastic Four are beloved by the public while her future employer J. Jonah Jameson pontificates in the background. Mr. Jones nails the difference in one word, “image”. In the Marvel Universe, Spider-Man is a freaky, mysterious looking guy (Even though he has become the mascot of Marvel in real life.) while the Fantastic Four are a family sitcom with superpowers. Jessica’s dad says that he would pick a better costume and style than Spider-Man if he was a superhero and doesn’t say that he would 100% be a hero if he had special powers. This line of dialogue creates a little tension in Jessica between doing heroic things and just living a normal life and paying the bills that is explored throughout Alias from her hesitating to stop the robbery of a convenience store to trying to help Captain America keep his secret identity. She doesn’t want to be a superhero in the comic, but keeps getting caught up in that word through her cases, work as a bodyguard for Matt Murdock, and even her love interests, Scott Lang and Luke Cage.

This complicated relationship with superheroes stands in contrast with her antagonistic relationship with superheroes in the Jessica Jones TV show. Her origin in the show involves a similar non-superhero costumed wearing exploit as she stops a mugger, but then Kilgrave shows up immediately. Also, she is completely opposed to the Jewel costume that Trish Walker makes for her unlike in Alias where she wore it to fight crime for a while. The Jessica Jones TV show’s lack of connection to the Marvel Universe made it a refreshing break from the Easter Egg and teaser-laden Marvel Cinematic Universe films, but it loses a chance to explore her place in the superhero genre. But this is a smart idea because Fox owns the Fantastic Four, and most of Marvel’s big guns, like Captain America, Spider-Man, and even Carol Danvers and Scott Lang, are basically exclusive to the films.

Jessica Jones has a very Marvel and a very un-Marvel origin in Alias #22-23. Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos make her connected to major figures and events of the Marvel Universe, like going to the same school as Peter Parker and waking up from her coma the same night as the Galactus trilogy, as well as making her an orphan and getting her powers Atomic Age style. However, there is still the same emotional nuance and realism found in the previous 21 issues of Alias even though Gaydos’ art style is similar to Steve Ditko’s and Jack Kirby’s in many places as Jessica deals with her crush only talking to her because he feels bad for her, feels unwanted as one of the older kids at the group home, and takes the masturbation subtext present in Spider-Man’s powers to the bright light of day.

“The Secret Origin of Jessica Jones” is my personal favorite arc of Alias as Bendis, Gaydos, and Hollingsworth pay tribute to the Marvel Age of Comics while not being weighed down in nostalgia and use its visual styling through modern storytelling tricks like silent pages and decompression to give Jessica Jones a strong foundation as a character.

Stanford Engineers to Colbert, Yes Spider-Man is plausible

This is more Cambridge University versus Stanford than Stanford versus Colbert. The short version…

Cambridge University announced in a study that humans were too big to actually be Spider-Man, it just wouldn’t work. The CBS The Late Show host Stephen Colbert, like so many of us, was devastated by the news (I decided to settle for just flying like Superman instead, that’s still realistic). And enter Stanford, who have said not so fast Cambridge. In a video Stanford has responded with technology they invented in 2014 that makes being Spider-Man possible, to the joy of everyone. Even better, they do it to a capella version of the 1967 TV show The Amazing Spider-Man theme sung by The Stanford Mendicants.

The even shorter version… still dream on being Spider-Man.

Marvel Teases Dead No More

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That sure looks like a spider web. Who are you guessing is coming back?

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