Comics Catch: A Weekly Roundup of Comics Worth Buying
Amazing Spider-Man #678: In part one of the excellently-named "I Killed Tomorrow," Peter Parker's buddy invents a doorway that can take anyone who walks through it a day into the future. Unfortunately, when Peter himself takes that trip he finds that New York City's been destroyed, all because of something he did or didn't do. Now Peter and the good-natured but not-quite-right Grady Scraps have to piece together anything and everything Spider-Man might do in a day to make the world not blow up. Writer Dan Slott turns in a fast-paced, fun sci-fi adventure that Spider-Man comics can do so well, but the whole "ticking clock" thing brings a pretty nice level of tension to the story too. For lots of folks, Humberto Ramos' artwork is something of an acquired taste, although he exaggerates his characters a lot less than usual here. If anything he's channeling a classic Steve Ditko feel with his Spidey, though his panels still seem very crowded and busy. Still, this is a really fun issue that exemplifies what you can expect from Amazing Spider-Man month after month. A-
Daredevil #8: One of the most annoying things monthly comics do is run a story through more than one title, making you buy books you normally wouldn't to figure out what the heck's going on. Daredevil #8, a crossover with Amazing Spider-Man #677 (NOT the one that came out this week), gets around that problem pretty well by having our main character explain the plot in a couple caption boxes on page three. From there, it's full speed ahead as Daredevil, Spider-Man and Black Cat try to get to the bottom of a telecommunications heist that could give some super-criminals a serious tactical advantage. Even though regular series artists Paulo Rivera and Marcos Martin take a break on this issue, fill-in penciller Kano (Immortal Iron Fist) does a good job of maintaining the comic's signature quality; he's helped a lot by regular series colorist Javier Rodriguez. As usual, Mark Waid's script is equal parts hilarious and smart. You'll marvel (pun intended?) at the things Daredevil does here with his billy club. A
Lord of the Jungle #1: You wouldn't know it from the title, but this here's a Tarzan comic. According to publisher Dynamite, this book's trying to get back to the characters' original stories, which hail from the well-before-any-of-us-were-born time of 1912. I think we'll be forgiven, then, for not being totally familiar with the source material. Still, this book gives us a pretty interesting set-up for the series to come: a couple European nobles are stranded in the Congo, and there they give birth to a son. Shortly afterward, the parents are murdered, and an ape (who just lost a child of her own?) adopts the baby herself. Yeah, it's a little weird, but this is pretty much how Disney did it too (TWICE!). The script from Arvid Nelson (Rex Mundi) is a little hokey; some of the dialog and characterizations feel like they come straight from 1912 (wife Alice Greystroke's only jobs, for instance, are to get pregnant and faint). Roberto Castro's lush and detailed art, though, makes up for it; he especially has a lot of fun drawing some hyper-intelligent killer man-monkeys or whatever that pop up halfway through the book. Best of all, though, this issue's only a dollar, so there's not that much risk involved in checking it out for yourself. B+
Steed and Mrs. Peel #1: When most of us hear "The Avengers," we probably go straight to thinking about Captain America, Iron Man and the like, especially when we're, you know, talking about comics. But wait— did you know that in the swingin' 1960s, before any of us could say "directed by Joss Whedon," there was another team of heroes to use that name? This was a group of British spies that our friends across the pond loved to watch on the BBC for eight whole seasons. For some reason, comic publisher Boom! has decided that now's the time to publish a series featuring those Avengers (Marvel'd probably be mad if they used the other ones). This series holds interest even to people who don't remember the old spy show, though—it's written by Mr. Grant Morrison, mega-famous crafter of best-selling superhero stories like All-Star Superman and Batman: RIP. His name has big pull, and Boom!'s banking on it. Regular Morrison readers might not find too much of the Scot's signature style here; Steed and Mrs. Peel #1 (named after the show's two main characters) is a pretty straightforward spy piece involving government corruption, sexy ladies, deadly serums and all that jazz. The art by Ian Gibson (Judge Dredd) is a treat; he pencils, inks and colors the book himself, taking us back to a time before digital art became the norm. As a result, his pages look old-school, almost washed-out, but it works for this mega-groovy book. If '60s spy shtick sounds like your bag, this comic's definitely worth a read, baby. B
Wonder Woman #5: Unlike this week's Daredevil, Wonder Woman does not do so hot with a fill-in artist. Instead of series regular and superstar Cliff Chiang, this book gives us Tony Akins (Jack of Fables). His work's fine, but it doesn't really jive with the magic Chiang's worked on the first four issues of this book— it's a little more cartoony, like Wonder Woman went and enrolled herself in Riverdale High. Action sequences are okay, but when the characters are just sitting around talking—most of this issue—the difference is distracting. That's too bad, because Brian Azzarello advances his plot pretty heavily here. Now that Zeus has bailed on ruling Olympus, his brothers and his wife all want to claim the throne, and they're ready to employ violence to get it done. This issue sees Wonder Woman tussle with Poseidon, whose look in this series is actually pretty hilarious and awesome (here's a rough description: giant green whale with mustache and crown). The mythological angle Azzarello's been playing with is really interesting, especially if you're a certain type of nerd who geeks for Greeks (come on, you know you're out there!), but without Cliff Chiang it's just tough to enjoy this issue for what it is. C
BOOK OF THE WEEK—Batman #5: Bruce Wayne's been captured, drugged and turned loose into an endless maze by his tormentors, the fabled Parliament of Owls. We spend this whole issue inside Batman's head as he wanders his enemies' trap with no hope of escape in sight, and brother, is his head a terrifying place to be. If you didn't know better, you might think writer Scott Snyder actually went crazy himself crafting this issue; Batman's monologue darts from moderately disturbed to Lady-Gaga-plus in rapid succession. That's especially troubling since Batman is a dude known for being super together. As the book goes on and on and readers get drawn into the Owls' trap, Snyder actually asks us to change how we read the book, first turning it on its head and then upside-down, so at one point we're literally reading this comic backwards— and, oh yeah, we flip it at a point where Bruce hallucinates that have parents have come back to life. Geez Louise, this is an intense comic, and it's also one of the most inventive mainstream superhero yarns to come out in months. You guys, if you have even the slightest bit of interest in guys in tights, you cannot go wrong with Batman. A+
What did you buy this week?