Andrenn's Comic Stack Review - June 8th 2011
- Published on Tuesday, 14 June 2011 01:00
- Written by Andrenn
- Hits: 1166
It happens every now and then, a few comics each week changes from a few to a lot. What was a small bag of comics is a big old stack when you get home and suddenly I realize I cannot review all these comics but there's so much I want to say on them. For that we put on our goggles and dive head in to my comic stack. Will I find some gems or some stinkers as I explore what I got? Let's find out!
Amazing Spider-Man #663
Written: Dan Slott
Art: Giuseppi Camuncoli
Coloring: Matt Hollingsworth
Story Rating: 7 Anti-Venoms out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Anti-Venoms out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Anti-Venoms out of 10
I was pretty hyped for this issue, the long awaited return of Anti-Venom by the man who gave Eddie Brock new life. Add in a talented artist and I had every reason to be excited. While this was another good issue in Slott's run as a whole its weakened by a plot that jumps around a bit too much and is not certain what the real focus is along with some disappointing coloring work.
At first, it seems like this is a straight forward tale of Anti-Venom returning to take out Mr. Negative. For the opening that is what it is, then suddenly Slott remembers this is a Spider-Man book so we jump to Peter. No problem there. But, from this point the issue just jumps around far too much from Peter then back to Eddie then to Carlie and at the end I do not know anymore who the main character of this arc really is.
One highlight is a scene where Peter gets an article published in the Science News Journal. It is a great little scene and I am glad Slott has yet to forget that Peter is now a scientist for a living. He has not dropped that to send Peter off on some new antics every other issue. It always comes back to Peter being the science nerd and it has been a great defining aspect of Slott's run so far.
Slott writes Anti-Venom nicely just as he did in New Ways to Die the introduction for the character. Eddie's POV is well written and if we had spent the issue in Eddie's head it would have been a much stronger read. You get the feeling that Eddie wants only to do what is right but along the way missteps and is not sure exactly how to do it. Slott's characterization of Eddie is spot on.
Probably the biggest weakness next to the shoddy jumping around of the plot is the Mysterious Wraith who is supposedly Jean deWolf. An interesting enough mystery, a character who is supposed to be dead is back and fighting crime. The problem is we have no idea why we care or are told its a big deal. She is just kind of there in the opening and that's it. It never sinks in or seems to matter much to the plot. It is glossed over and forgotten easily and it makes me wonder why should I even notice or care?
The art was a let down for me. Not due to the action illustrations from Camuncoli. Not at all, his art is as great as ever and I have to say he draws the best Anti-Venom since Romita Jr. So many artists fail to translate how Romita Jr. drew Anti-Venom. They see the spikes and eyes and it just comes off as looking really odd. Camuncoli perfectly captures the way he was originally drawn and it looks great.
The problem here is the coloring is very dull and bland. Its not specifically bad coloring of course, shading and everything is good. Its the colors themselves. It is all very dark and bland looking, nothing really pops out or looks too interesting. It is like I am watching it all at night through a somewhat dirty camera lense, it just looks off and needs to be cleaned up. I am not a big fan of Frank D'armta's coloring at all, but he was a perfect fit for Camuncoli as he really added to his artwork and here his coloring is sorely missed.
For the return of Anti-Venom this issue was a little under-whelming and did not have me too excited to see how things wrap up next issue. It was still well written as far as the characters go and overall Slott's Anti-Venom is the highlight of the issue. This is one of the better issues of Amazing Spider-Man in the last month or so but as a whole its just a little lacking.
American Vampire: Survival of the Fittest #1
Written: Scott Snyder
Art: Sean Murphy
Story Rating: 7 Vampire Babies out of 10
Art Rating: 10 Vampire Babies out of 10
Overall Rarting: 8.5 Vampire Babies out of 10
I was originally planning to do a solo issue review of this (as I was with Amazing Spider-Man) but honestly I think this is a lot better since I do not have that much to say on it. Now for those who missed my Comic of the Month for May 2011 I was very excited to dig into this comic. American Vampire has been one of my favorite comics on a monthly basis and the current Ghost War arc has been the series' best arc yet in its young life.
When I heard there would be a spin-off mini taking place at the same time with Cash and Felicia I couldn't be more excited. Initially, I was not going to pick this up but I am so glad I did. American Vampire's first spin-off mini series is off to a good start and has me excited for more.
Let's get to the #1 reason you should buy this comic: Sean Murphy. I am not too familiar with his art other than Joe the Barbarian (which I now want to read after this) but boy does he impress. This may be one of the best looking comics out there as Murphy brings his A-game for this one. Every panel of every page is full of so much beautiful detail and style that it excites the senses every time I look at it.
From the early pages with Felicia at a newspaper, to a great museum scene, the revelation of the Vassals headquarters and the rather chilling scene between Cash and his son this is a damn good looking comic. If you love artwork and can appreciate a good comic for the artwork alone you should already have bought this issue and added it to your pull list for more.
But what about the story, you ask in Internet land. Sadly, the story is not quite as exciting as American Vampire has been previously. The first half of the issue is all about introducing Felicia and in some ways the Vassals to us and possibly new readers. Snyder tries his best to be as new reader friendly as possible without just telling us everything that happened. He mentions briefly here and there and I think its enough for new readers to get the gist of whats come before this.
But, this issue is simply 100% set up. The actual story of Cash and Felicia going to hunt down a Vampire curse while going up against Nazi Vampires as the cover promises will not be happening until the next issue. After that amazing cover it is kind of saddening we do not even get one Nazi Vampire. But, good things come to those who wait and it seems like the real show starts next issue.
It is a good introduction to the series and Snyder does his best to make this as exciting and fun a read it is even for a set up issue. Its clear he doesn't want to bore us with the first issue and while its all set up nothing about it is remotely bad. It is all well written, the characters are as great as ever and the world of American Vampire continues to be fun as all hell to read. Plus, getting a look into the headquarters of the Vassals was a real treat.
If you have not been reading American Vampire I strongly suggest this issue to win you over. The art alone is worth the precious $2.99 and I keep telling you all this is one of the best comics on the stands, here is another chance to get into it. Survival of the Fittest promises great things and while this is a simple start it gets things going right and has me hungry for more.
Ghost Rider #0.1
Written: Rob Williams
Art: Mathew Clark
Story Rating: 7 Demon Bikes out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Demon Bikes out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Demon Bikes out of 10
I do not think anyone was as excited for the new Ghost Rider ongoing when announced as I was. Williams absolutely killed it on the Shadowland: Ghost Rider one-shot last year and with this incredibly POINTless (get it?!) one issue we get our first taste of what is to come. As a new reader jumping on point its a great start but sadly it does not get to do much with that.
Now, I honestly feel I could bitch up a storm about the pointless 0.1 issue. Come on, Marvel. You do not have to do that crap when we are already getting a first issue. That is why we have the first issue after all! But, pointless numbering gimmicks aside, the whole POINT of this issue was to sell new readers on the series. It was a great sale by Williams.
The biggest sale of this issue though is the character of Johnny Blaze. Rather than portraying him as a noble man who sold his soul for the love of another he plays up Blaze as a redneck bastard and I love it. Johnny is a total asshole and dick to everyone around him. He is a rude crude jerk and similar to another great new series (Butcher Baker) it works out perfectly to define his character and make us like him while somewhat hating him at the same time.
The thing with Johnny Blaze is we see that spark of a good man inside him. That glimmer of hope that he can do some good in this world if he would only get over his troubles and tighten his belt. So Johnny is not a total unlikable jerk that everyone hates. He is a jerk, but we see he can do good and be good. We want him to do good even if he chooses the wrong path sometimes.
From there its a great read and by the end of it I think this issue should sell you on Johnny Blaze nicely. He is a good character and the way Williams chose to write him was really great.
The only real issue is that this is pretty bare bones on anything really interesting. It is our introduction to Johnny Blaze and that is about it. Sure, he runs from a demon and at the end he gets rid of the Rider, all important and cool stuff but as a whole its a pretty thin read. It does its job of setting things up but unlike my previous comic review it doesn't really do much more than that.
Clarke on art was a solid choice. His Ghost Rider looks great which is what really matters but the problem here is that because its a thin read he doesn't get much chance to shine. The opening and the ending where we actually see the Rider are the two best parts of the book both story and art wise but as a whole there is just not a lot here.
It is a good read and if not for being so thin on a real plot and having to work solely as an intro to the series it could have been better. Still it gets the job done nicely and sells the new series well. If you were interested in getting into Ghost Rider I highly recommend this one as it should be a good sell. I am left with high hopes to see where Williams and Clarke go next month as they put the pedal to the metal.
Written: Will Carlton and Jon Goff
Art: Szymon Kudranski
Colors: FCO Plascencia
Story Rating: 6 Hellspawns out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Hellspawns out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Hellspawns out of 10
Spawn's second arc with the new creative team continues to improve on the mistakes and issues of the first arc. Q and A so far has been a good read and shows a lot of promise for the future of the series. Carlton is getting over most of the issues he had in the first arc, the dialogue moves a lot fast and is a lot more interesting and Spawn is quickly becoming one of the best looking comics on the shelves.
The story as a whole is good. The only real complaints I have with it is that it is divided in two. The first half with Twitch is great. Really cool stuff and some of the best writing Twitch has had in years. However, the other half with the Agent Something or Other McName Guy is boring and drags out for a rather unsatisfactory cliff-hanger. If the issue had been all about Twitch or at least focused more on him it would have been a lot better for it.
Twitch has a reunion with someone from his past that is the highlight of the issue. It was a really well done reunion and I could not help but smile a little at it. It is also nicely tied into Jim and how he and Twitch seriously hate each other. I love the dynamic the two have. A huge departure from Al and Twitch where Twitch was trying to figure out Al. Twitch just straight up hates Jim and he has every reason to.
The other half is just not interesting at all. Maybe if it had been one moment it would have been fine but it drags through the entire issue and every time we come back to it the pace just dies for those couple of pages. The agent character has been one of the big missteps of Spawn in the last couple of years and he has really gone nowhere. Last issue I thought he may finally get interesting but still no such luck.
Kudranski continues to be the best thing about Spawn. While his art had some issues with shading early on he is quickly fixed that and is now turning in fantastic work. I feel bad for ever doubting him as this is stuff that will leave a big impact on how I look at Spawn. Its very similar to Brian Haberlin's style but still very unique. Also huge credit goes to Plascencia for killing it on some fantastic coloring work.
Overall, Spawn still has some bumps to work out. It is still not back to the greatness of the David Hine era, but if things keep improving like they are with this arc then I think Spawn could be back on track. Spawn fans should definitely be reading for some great artwork and solid character work.
Ultimate Spider-Man #159
Written: Brian Bendis
Art: Mark Bagley
Story Rating: 8 Dying Spiders out of 10
Art Rating: 9 Dying Spiders out of 10
Overall Rating: 8.5 Dying Spiders out of 10
Death of Spider-Man has been a very lack-luster arc so far. A good start but the last 2 issues really dragged the plot and just shifted along slowly. Though last issue did end on a high note promising a Spider-Brawl for the ages if this issue had failed to capitalize on that I think I'd have deemed the arc a failure. But things don't just pick up they move fast and it turns into a great brawl.
Everything you want in a big Spider-Man fight is here. The Sinister Six, Spidey tossing villains around, villains tossing Spidey around and a finish that leaves me dying for more. Now this issue is simple action for the most part. There's about one real character moment for Aunt May but other than that its straight forward hero punch villain. This really hinges on the artwork and it should be no surprise that Bagley brings the goods.
Its like Bagley has been held back for the entire previous three issues, building up his strength to unleash some great action and finally the chains are off! This is an exciting brawl with tons of great moments and fantastic action. Clearly, Bendis and Bagley have no lack of communication when it comes to telling a great story with great action.
There is also a bit where Peter is being seen and recorded by his neighborhood as Spider-Man. There's no longer any secret identity as its going to be put up on the internet no doubt. So even if Peter doesn't physically die this ensures that Spider-Man's death will be spiritual. Judging by the cliff-hanger I would not be surprised if Peter really does die but if he does not at least Bendis has set up a good reason for him to quit.
Overall, there is not a lot to say on it other than its a good read, an awesome fight scene and it really picked up what was a weak arc so far. It left me far more excited to see how it all ends next time than any of the teasers or previous issues have.
Best of the Bunch: American Vampires: Survival of the Fittest #1
This decision came down to two things for this issue taking the win. The first thing is that for a set up issue its still really well written and I have no actual bad to say about it. Its still full of great character work that I have come to expect from Scott Snyder. Then there is the art, without a doubt this issue was the best looking book of the week. Survival of the Fittest starts out strong and while the plot does not really go anywhere, again its the set up, the great characters and fantastic art take the win as the best of the bunch this week.