Before I jump into the reviews I just want to thank actress/writer Brea Grant for plugging my blog on her site. She provided a pretty awesome quote in calling my blog “a nerd’s dreamscape.” So, thank you, Brea! Now onto the reviews! This week we’ll take a look at my top two favorite titles of 2010 (SHIELD and UNWRITTEN) as they both released new issues on Wednesday. I’ll also review the latest issue of THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, which is a series I haven’t read in over a year.
SHIELD #∞: $4.99 (Writer: Jonathan Hickman, Artists: Various): If you’ve heard a ton of great things about SHIELD and are looking for jumping-on point, this issue is not it. In fact, if you fit into that category, I venture you might read this issue and think, “Really? This is the book everyone’s so excited about?” SHIELD #∞ offers us some more back-story on the involvement of Da Vinci, Archimedes, Michelangelo, Nikola Tesla and Isaac Newton with the SHIELD, but this special issue doesn’t use the same format that the main series does. The main series will jump around in time and space from storyline to storyline, rarely letting you catch your breath. This special is just four short stories set within the world of the SHIELD. All that said, it’s not a bad issue, though the $4.99 price tag is a bit much. The Tesla and Newton stories are the strongest. The Michelangelo story is fairly unnecessary. And I think Jonathan Hickman just wrote the Da Vinci/Archimedes story because he wanted to see the Colossus of Rhodes fight a Kree Sentry (which I admit was pretty cool). Final verdict: If you’re already reading the series, pick up this issue, you’ll enjoy it. If you haven’t been reading the series, hold off on picking up this issue, and wait for the trade of issues 1 through 6 that comes out next month.
UNWRITTEN #24 $2.99 (Writer: Mike Carey, Artists: Peter Gross, Al Davison): The last issue of UNWRITTEN was a biggie, revealing the true nature of Tom Taylor’s powers. This issue, however, is a bit of a reprieve from the main story as we return to the adventures of Mr. Bun aka Pauly Bruckner. If you didn’t read Mr. Bun’s first appearance, imagine if Rabbit from Winnie the Pooh just started talking/cursing like Joe Pesci in GOODFELLAS and you’ll have a good idea of what happened. Obviously, this was played for great comedic effect in Mr. Bun’s first appearance. This issue is much different. If Mr. Bun’s first appearance was darkly comedic, this appearance is pitch black. I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to laugh, be incredibly disturbed, or both. As a reader, sometimes that’s a fun place to be. UNWRITTEN #24 is a strong issue with great storybook art featuring layouts by Peter Gross and finishes by Al Davison.
THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #658 $3.99 (Writer: Dan Slott, Artist: Javier Pulido): I stopped reading AMAZING SPIDER-MAN about 6 or 7 months into BRAND NEW DAY. For those unfamiliar, BRAND NEW DAY was the launching of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN as a thrice-monthly series with a rotating creative team. At the beginning there were four writers, I believe, that made up the Spidey brain trust, and they would take turns writing story arcs. Two of the writers, Dan Slott and Zeb Wells delivered good to great stories every time. The other two writers, who’s names I can’t even remember, were incredibly hit-or-miss. Wells left the book pretty early into this new run. And I stopped reading shortly after he stopped writing. I tried just reading Slott’s arc’s but it was too much work. I heard the book got much better later, once they rotated some other writers in, but a book that comes out three times a month is quite the financial investment, so since I was already out, I stayed out. So why did I pick up this issue? Well, I’m a huge fan of Jonathan Hickman’s run on Fantastic Four/FF, and this issue ties into the events going on in FF, so it was hard to resist.
Spider-man is a difficult character to write. Or, at least, it’s very easy to get him wrong. Even if the characters around him think Spidey’s quips are groan-worthy, the reader should always find them to be funny. Dan Slott knows how to write Spider-man. This is a great Spider-man story and a great Fantastic Four story. The action is secondary to the character interactions. That’s always been, to me, the strength of good Marvel storytelling: characters first, plot second. I’ve never seen Javier Pulido’s work before, but I think I’m in love. Much like Marcos Martin, his style is very retro and very clean. His art feels smooth and effortless. No panel is overworked. If you’re a lapsed AMAZING SPIDER-MAN reader like myself, this is a perfect isssue to jump on board with, especially if you’ve been reading Jonathan Hickman’s FF.
Blog-A-Day Challenge: Day 9