The Odyssey #5 (of 8)
Written by Roy Thomas (and, I guess, Homer too)
Pencilled by Greg Tocchini
Inked by Norman Lee and Roland Paris
Marvel Comics, 2008
If this book’s credits are to be believed, then somehow the artist who gave us this great, emotive cover is responsible for the lifeless art on the inside as well.
How the hell does that happen?
Tocchini, man, you blew it all on the cover — you peaked too soon. It’s not that the art is so bad — though maybe I’m just being kind — but it’s a big disappointment when compared to the cover. It looks like it was a rushed job. But the biggest thing is that I don’t think the interior art serves the material very well. I mean, it’s The-fucking-Odyssey, the most important story ever told; it should have art to match.
Roy Thomas is legend, so it’s pretty appropriate that he’s telling this story. The problem with legends is that they’re old. To be fair, his writing holds up a lot better than a lot of classic writers working in comics, but there is a lack here. In these 22 pages I don’t get much character off of anyone.
It does, however, keep the story moving. In this issue, Odysseus talks to a bunch of goes, faces the Sirens, and escapes Scylla. That’s a lot of ground to cover, and it does have a feeling of being rushed. But, I mean, come on, this series would have to be 200 issues to really capture The Odyssey.
I mean, that’s what I’ve been told. I’ve never read it and I probably never will. I did, however watch The Odyssey a lot when it was on CBC. That shit was radical.
[3rd para. talks to a bunch of...ghosts? gods?] — mb, it’s ghosts. like, undead things… all i know is that they have to drink blood to talk to Odysseus– mb
Isaac broke ranks this week because (a) he couldn’t find the comic he was assigned and (b) could not contain his excitement that there was a new comic with his all-time favourite Marvel character, Ben Reilly.
Written by Christos Gage
Art by Mario Alberti
Marvel Comics, 2009
Was there ever any question that I’d review a comic with a beautiful illustration of the Ben Reilly Spider-Man on the cover?
The story thus far: in the first issue, young Spider-Man and the original X-Men fought Kraven and the Blob way back in the day and defeated them. However the bad guys’ goal was to get some X-Men’s genetic material to Mr. Sinister for his crazy experiments, so they kinda won too.
The second issue had the 80s versions of the characters (Black suit Spidey and the cool brown costume for Wolverine) go up against some X-Men clones courtesy of Mr. Sinister.
Now we have finally reached the 90s — which means, yes, bone claws Wolverine and the Scarlet Spider-Man.
The development of this story has been pretty interesting. The subject of clones has been all pervasive, and there’s still an upcoming issue four yet to come out to represent this new millennial decade (one assumes they continue the pattern) — but have there been any heavy clone storylines this decade that would make sense? I don’t think so, and therefore it feels like this is when the story should have had its finish. But then again I’m not so in on the X-Men, maybe all they’ve been doing for the past ten years is cloning each other… but I would have thought Marvel had learned their lesson by now about gratuitous cloning.
There’s a lot of relatively superfluous dialogue in this comic. I don’t need Iceman to explain that the guy he’s iced up can still breathe and will be fine unless another character gets indignant and asks what Iceman thinks he’s doing, so that there’s an actual prompt for the dialogue that makes sense. That kind of thing irks me, it’s just really inelegant story telling.
However, it’s that same writing mindset that yields so many goofy fanboy references and sets up for the audience what era this story is set in. We don’t need it pointed out in the comic, for example, that Wolverine has bone claws right now instead of metal. Either way, he’s going to try (and succeed) to stab the bad guy. Sure, Carnage manages to bite off Wolverine’s claws, but they grow back, and Carnage gets stabbed again. It really wouldn’t have changed things much if the story went: Carnage tries to bite off Wolverine’s claws, but fails because they are metal. Wolverine proceeds to stab.
The effort spent on referring to these details makes sense if we consider the point of this series as a fun retrospective on the different eras of Spider-Man and the X-Men. Basically, I’m just saying I forgive the dialogue for its foibles.
I definitely have to give kudos to the choice of villains for this story; Mr. Sinister has always had an air of invincibility about him that frightened me when I was younger, watching the 90s X-Men cartoon. He’s still a super creepy guy, and Carnage has always been the epitome of 90s super-villainy with his generic bloodlust. Also, Carnage was a pretty major bad guy for Ben Reilly thanks to the “Spider-Carnage” storyline where Ben tried to stop Carnage forever by keeping the symbiote within himself. Good times.
The art is gorgeous, the cover artist also does the interiors, and it has a kind of hyper detail to it. All the patterns you see on Mr. Sinister’s suit when he appears at the Ravencroft Institute (Spider-Man comics’ answer to Arkham Asylum — which really needs to show up somewhere again, preferably along with Ben Reilly) give an extremely aristocratic air to him, a much better fit then your basic spandex number. There’s one minor detail they messed up on Spider-Man’s costume, but not a big deal, he still looks amazing, I’m not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, and I’m totally okay with it. (Breathe, man, breathe.)
In my own warped mind, this is a love letter to Ben Reilly, who gets to defeat that impossible-to-beat Mr. Sinister with some patented Spider-pathos injected into that mind controller’s brain, and Wolverine gives the old “You’re Spider-Man in every way that matters” speech. BEN4EVAH!