Amazing Spider-Man #619
Dan Slott (w), Marcos Martin (a), Javier Rodriguez (c), Marvel Comics
You know when you re-read something and you can grow to like it more, or like it less? Well, I’m not doing either one exactly – my appreciation of it is just kind of being refined. I’m noticing the silly things, like just how crazy this would be out of context- a tall cyborg of an old man yelling at someone that he’s a rat. That doesn’t happen in real life, but it is a “comic book scene”. And I’m a big fan of the “comic book scene”.
One technique used in abundance is the abrupt scene change whose caption is still relevant to that last panel- we read the line as both a continuation of the previous action and the start of what’s to come. It leads to some creative visuals (like where Carlie Cooper’s face should be we shift to a panel of Aunt May’s. Certainly just as effective as a “Meanwhile at the Hall of Justice” style scene shift.), and it’s an interesting signature. Be sure I’ll be paying attention to future works by Slott to see if this is something he abuses, but at this point it’s cool.
Speaking of those scene changes- we bounce around quite a lot in this issue, some exposition in the past, over to a fight scene in a warehouse, to Aunt May’s destroyed home… I don’t want to list them all, that’d be silly (though there’s kind of only four more, but yes, you get the picture) the point is, a lot of ground is covered at a fairly brisk pace. Like a man unsure of his specific charms, each scene leaves before you can get tired of it. The fight scenes last a bit longer of course- they know they’re cool. This is all done in a way that makes the issue feel full while drawing you in and making you want more. It’s what’ll make you come back for the next installment, so ultimately this is the kind of book used to get more comic fans!
The art style is, of course, beautiful, everyone is made unique, something especially important with the number of characters appearing- it’s a lot harder to keep track of them when they all look alike. But most important- how do Spider-Man and Mysterio themselves look? Well, Spidey looks like a very lean guy in his pajamas- that’s a good thing, by the way, to avoid the “over muscled hero” trap so many fall prey to, and Mysterio looks like he walked out of a Ditko penned 60’s comic and said “hey, I’m just going to check out the future for a bit”. We’ll be glad to have him and his fishbowl head along for the ride.
Miles’ Book of the Month
This choice is a bit of a political decision. It may or may not have been the best book last month but it was the best book that got cancelled. It’s the kind of cancellation that really pisses me off about comic fans — how unwilling they are to try new things. The first issue of this book came back with tons of positive reviews but only 15,000 people on this entire planet were brave enough to spend three bucks to see if this was something for them. And if I see anyone comment on this article that they didn’t buy this book because they don’t like how Beast was drawn I will call them every nasty name in the book of nasty names. That matters the least — the style is 100% appropriate for this book and that matters more.
So, if you ever liked a thing that I like, I ask you to try S.WO.R.D.. There are only a couple more issues left and I’m sure your store has extra copies of the first issues. It’s really funny and wacky and something different from the big two. Buy it and make them bring it back.
Owen’s Book of the Month
James Robinson (w), Fernando Dagnino and Bill Sienkiewicz (a), Matt Hollingsworth (c), DC Comics
James Robinson is at his best when he lets his talent for characterization flourish. Some of his recent work has slipped because of his tendency to rely too heavily on shocking the reader, so it was with great relief that I cracked open the “resurrected” issue of Starman and found the characterization I loved so dearly in the original series back on display. While Jack Knight was (wisely) nowhere to be found in this issue, another character that I love to read was prominently featured: The Shade. Not only was he there, but Robinson didn’t miss a beat when it came to writing him. The Shade was witty, charismatic and still intriguing as Hell, without losing the evolution of the character that filled the pages of Starman.
The artwork was fantastic. Completely fantastic. I was disappointed when I heard that Tony Harris wasn’t going to be drawing this issue (he still provided a great cover), but my disappointment faded immediately when I saw these pages. They’re moody in exactly the right way and are completely beautiful to look at. As I have said, I was a little concerned when I heard that Starman was getting an extra issue, but holding it in my hands I couldn’t be more thrilled. Now let’s get that miniseries about The Shade’s origin moving, okay?