Isaac’s Book of the Month
The Amazing Spider-Man #595
Joe Kelly (w), Phil Jimenez (p), Andy Lanning (i), Chris Chuckry (c). Marvel Comics.
Though this issue would stand on its own merits to become Book of the Month, it also gets points because of the contrast between itself and the previous Spider-Man storyline. The previous story, “Spider-Man 24/7,” was not a well-done Spidey, and, to me, has been the only misstep since the start of “Brand New Day.”
The pin-up covers I’d put up with for years during Straczynski’s run made a disarming return (barely including the image “24/7″ does not make the cover any less of a pin-up), and I’m not a fan of modern Mike McKone’s bright, sterilized artwork that fails to synch up the words with the facial expressions — how hard is it to figure out J. Jonah Jameson’s expressions? He’s always angry, or, if he has to print a retraction, is a little upset, moaning “Oooh, why me?” (See the 60s Spider-Man cartoon for reference.)
Don’t try and draw “surprised Jonah.” Especially not when the words are angry. The whole premise was out of character for Peter Parker anyways, but that’s enough about how Marvel did me wrong (yes, it was a personal attack, I can tell) with what must have been a filler story, and let’s look upon the shining face of everything that is right about Spider-Man #595.
The Jimenez cover is the apotheosis of a modern cover, wordlessly setting up the story and priming you for what’s to come. I’m usually a fan for goofy captions on the cover over-selling a book, but that’s really the old school comic fan in me. There’s no denying the dignity and artfulness of this cover, and I wouldn’t change a thing.
The acting is incredible in this book; just flipping through and ignoring the words, the story is told regardless. I can’t get over the range of expression from panel to panel.
As for the story itself, titled “American Son,” we take a close look at Harry Osborn, the poor little rich kid at the top of the world. We don’t often get to see him this strong, so self assured. Supporting players often get the short end of the straw, looking bad to build up the hero in our eyes, but that’s taking an easy way out. This is a Harry that you have to like and respect (you don’t always get both).
But what about Peter Parker? Does he, the star of the show, end up looking weaker by comparison? Nope, he’s just a different person, with a different kind of strength. It’s interesting to see him more in the role of observer — his is often the narrative voice, and being the star with so much action following him has its perks, but often it’s a very self-involved narration.
This is a Peter Parker that is naïve, but keen to learn; it reminds me of the character archetype of the burgeoning writer, a role I welcome for Peter. He listens to Ben Urich, which leads him to Wolverine for advice (while making a Back to the Future reference). It’s only when Harry is “threatened” by Norman Osborn that Peter loses his cool and makes a rash move. This is part one of the tale after all, the characters have to make some mistakes.
As far as the craft of the issue, there is an odd misstep that I’ll address — you don’t need a not-so-subtle dig at the Bush administration followed by Wolverine and Spider-Man fist bumping. That’s unnecessary.
The team behind the Spider-Man books have consistently created the best comics and “event” story lines for the past year, and this issue is a fantastic start to another one.
Owen’s Book of the Month
The Unwritten #1
Mike Carey (w), Peter Gross (a), Chris Chuckry (c). Vertigo Comics.
This is a comic that everybody needs to try. It’s only one dollar and it’s the best read I had all month. In the span of one issue I was introduced to the concept, the characters and got a hint of the conflict to come. That’s how you do a first issue.
Peter Gross does a great job of handling the realistic setting that the main characters inhabit but also of allowing a more fun, fantasy style to the fictional world within the world. Plus, on that note, Mike Carey does fantastic work in creating scenes from both the book within a book and the movie adaptation of that book. That’s no easy task, but each one feels like a work that could be the mega-hit that it is said to be.
Every so often a comic comes along that I really want to get behind and tell everyone to buy. That was the case with Jersey Gods and that’s the case with The Unwritten. I can’t remember the last time I was this excited to see what happens next in a comic.
Miles’ Book of the Month
The Unwritten #1
Mike Carey (w), Peter Gross (a), Chris Chuckry (c). Vertigo.
As I said in my initial review, I had high expectations for The Unwritten. These expectations were met and exceeded in its first issue. It’s got its hooks in me and I’m really excited to see where this series will go. And that’s exciting. More exciting than most of the mainstream comics out there because you kind of know what will happen: you know who the players are, and what they can do, and that there are limits to what all the characters can or cannot do because they are franchises (or franchises in the making).
Like, Lizzie Hexam who may also be Sue Sparrow: what’s her deal? What is she trying to accomplish? She said she messed up badly last time and has a chance to make it right? What was the mistake?
Also, as usual, Todd Klein, the world’s only famous letterer, does a great job with the text. There are a lot of font switches and each one of them connotes something different. The one interesting choice I noticed was that sometimes when characters said “Tommy Taylor” the words would appear in blue — what’s that all about? Just a simple text change or will it indicate something more profound?
I’m excited to find out.
Sandra’s Book of the Month
Mark Waid (w), Peter Krause (a), Andrew Dalhouse (c). Boom Studios.
This series has me very excited. I was hooked three pages into the first issue and this one definitely delivered. This was an issue that sold out before any stores had even opened their doors. See, I’m not the only one raving about it.
Irredeemable #2 goes on to peel away at the layers and further explore the man behind the Plutonian. Kaidan, a former teammate of Plutonian, is assigned to find the Plutonian’s ex-girlfriend in the hopes of perhaps finding out once and for all what made him snap. Alana Patel indeed recalls her relationship with the Plutonian. She recounts her tale of meeting him and falling in love him. She also recalls her memories of Dan Hardigan, a co-worker that one day professed his love for her in a broom closet and revealed that in reality, he was the Plutonian. Unlike what a typical Lois would do, she freaks out and goes on an angry tirade and reveals his identity to everyone around her. The situation leaves the relationship in ruins, but doesn’t seem to be catalyst of his breakdown. It was a mere piece of the puzzle.
The art by Peter Krause and colouring by Andrew Dalhouse is very clean and well suited for the story. There is noticeable effort put into creating the two different feels of the past and present. It really helps to contrast the man that the Plutonian was then, to the man he is now.
I mean, I could tell you a lot more about the series and the issue, but that takes the fun out of reading it yourself. Mark Waid is definitely taking the Superman role and adding his own twist. I mean the Plutonian is no tool and he has reached his breaking point. He’s a dangerous man. By the end of it, you get a glimpse of the story that is to come and it promises to be a very riveting read.