I’ll start off with the customary warning: spoilers for Amazing Spider-Man #700 and Superior Spider-Man #1 can be found below. I’ll also note that these aren’t the same spoiler, so don’t think you’re safe if you’ve only read ASM #700.
With that out of the way, it’s a new day for Spider-Man, with a new first issue and a new status quo, of sorts. ASM #700 brought all sorts of reactions from fans, and now that the new series has kicked off, what do folks think? Here are a few reactions to Superior Spider-Man #1:
Rob at Crisis on Infinite Midlives: “Okay, let’s start with the most important thing: this is, almost without exception, a very good, character driven book that was clearly written with a great deal of care by Dan Slott. This book, as the introduction to Ock as Spider-Man, kinda had to be a character study of the man more than any kind of action or plot-driven story, and Slott delivers on that basis. Because this is, regardless of the suit or the name or the redhead he’s trying to bang, a story about Otto Octavius. And Peter’s memories or not, he is a self-centered supervillain. And Slott never forgets that.”
Only a handful of comics were released on Wednesday, what with it being a skip week for Diamond Comic Distributors. What did come out, though, could be described as “event” comics — an anniversary issue, crossover kick-offs and several first issues and specials — including Mara, a new miniseries by Brian Wood and Ming Doyle.
“Mara is one of the most famous people on the planet, a superstar athlete with widespread name recognition, celebrity endorsements, her own broadcast network — not so shabby for a girl in her late teens,” Wood told Comic Book Resources in September. “She is a member of a society that places their ultimate emphasis on physical achievement, whether it be in sports or the waging of war. So when she does start to manifest powers, this is pretty significant. Everything she’s accomplished up to this point is immediately suspect. It looks like she cheated. It’s hard to overestimate the implications of that in the world she lives in.”
Here is what folks are saying about it:
Vince Ostrowski, Multiversity Comics: “Wood’s goal is to clearly present us with a future world that is a magnification of our own. The NFL is the most watched programming week in and week out, and while there is no inherent harm in enjoying a sport, there is clearly a lot of ulterior stuff going on in the marketing and the business side of things. Athletes get paid salaries that are more and more outrageous every year and advertising seems to pervade everything, as certain sports see players covered in logos. Even playing fields and specific games are sponsored by companies who have a financial stake in the popularity of sports. Wood has always allowed a bit of politics or social commentary into his work, but is careful in doing so. The enjoyment of the sport itself is not condemned, and the satire of the business side of things is handled with subtlety and class.”
Francesco Francavilla has been showing us his pulp character the Black Beetle for awhile on his blog, and earlier this year the Beetle made the jump from the screen to print with a three-part tale in the Dark Horse Presents anthology. That story was re-released this past week as its own comic, Black Beetle #0, the precursor to a four-issue miniseries.
Not bad for a character that Francavilla re-discovered while “diggin through my things” back in 2009. Francavilla started creating stories about the Beetle after an informal poll on his blog asked his readers which character he should do more with–Black Beetle or a “sci-fi pulp noir” character named Max Malone. Maybe one day Malone will find his way into Dark Horse Presents.
In any event, if you like pulp heroes or Francavilla’s awesome artwork, this might be the book for you … and here are a few reviews from around the web if you still need help making up your mind:
Ryan K. Lindsay, Comic Book Resources: “The story is straight forward, as such a self-professed ‘mystery novelette’ should be for a zero issue. A special Nazi command has descended upon Colt City to steal an ancient artifact. The Black Beetle works to protect the item and the lady who currently curates it. The tale whizzes by with action set pieces for the Beetle to do his thing and then slower moments to expound character and plot. It is interesting watching Francavilla, as both writer and artist, structure pages. He isn’t afraid to drop plenty of six-panel, over-ten-caption pages while people stand still if it affords him a few breakout moments elsewhere to splash his art out for show. There are four splash pages and two dynamic, scattered double page spreads, where Francailla allows the mood and science of this story to cut loose. He obviously knows how to pace his story and gives himself room to make very pretty art.”
Wednesday saw the end of Marvel’s well-received Uncanny X-Force, by Rick Remender, Phil Noto and Frank Martin Jr., as Remender moves on to Captain America and Uncanny Avengers, and two new comics with “X” and “Force” in their titles launch as a part of Marvel NOW! Still, this is a book that will be worth missing once it is gone, as noted by the reviews for this final issue, so let’s raise a glass to the last three years of stories by Remender and company:
Maxwell Majernik, Comicosity: “I am sad to see the series go. It was hands down the consistently best X-comic and one of my most looked forward to books each month. Remender really got these characters. We won’t see another Deadpool like this for a while. Psylocke, even though she will be headlining the new Uncanny X-Force comic, is going to be tough to write after how perfectly Remender wrote her and her powers. Even Evan, who has had a lot of time to shine in Wolverine and the X-Men, comes off as a great character in this series.”
Greg McElhatton, Comic Book Resources: “The best part of the book is not the surprise happy ending, though, as surprising as that may sound. (And it is a nice ending for that character.) It’s actually a small conversation between Genesis and Deadpool. It’s a good way to wrap up Genesis’s “is he going to be Apocalypse?” story, and it’s handled in a way that justifies Deadpool’s presence throughout all 35 issues of this series in one fell swoop. It’s hard to serve up being both touching and crass in just a few panels, but I like that Remender manages to do just that. I’d expect nothing less, honestly.”
This week saw the release of another Marvel NOW! title, but this one was a little bit different than the others. For one thing, it isn’t a relaunch of an existing title — at least, not directly — and it’s gotten some attention already for its similarities to The Hunger Games and Battle Royale. Avengers Arena, by Dennis Hopeless, Kev Walker and Frank Martin, has the classic X-Men villain Arcade kidnapping 16 young Marvel heroes and throwing them into Murderworld, where it’s kill or be killed. Plus, y’know, it’s Murderworld, so there’s more to worry about than just your temporary ally turning on you.
So does the book deliver, or does it leave you “hungering” for something else? (Ack, that’s bad; sorry about that). Here are a few reviews from around the web:
Greg McElhatton, Comic Book Resources: “After an opening sequence set (presumably) near the end of the series’ set-up, Hopeless re-introduces readers to the characters that he’s lined up to get kidnapped by Arcade in the latest iteration of his Murderworld complex. Here, these sixteen characters are given 30 days to kill or be killed, with only one allowed to be standing at the end of the time period. If this sounds a little bit like The Hunger Games (or going further back, Battle Royale or even The Long Walk), you aren’t alone in that assessment. Hopeless has Arcade acknowledge the similarity and move forward from there, a nod to the connection between the two. But once you get past that, there’s actually less to get worked up over than you might suspect.” (2.5/5)
The Avengers are once again assembling, this time under the watchful eye of writer Jonathan Hickman and artist Jerome Opena.
“The idea is that the Avengers have to get bigger,” Hickman told Comic Book Resources. “That means bigger in every sense. That means the roster has to be bigger, and the missions have to be bigger, and the adversaries and scenarios they find themselves in have to be larger. I’ve played with this stuff a little bit over in the Ultimate Universe. Obviously, it’s a completely different weight class here, but in a lot of ways that’s the kind of velocity that the book should have. We (Tom Brevoort and I) also felt like that if the book was going to be about an Avengers world, it should look more like the world. Of course there are complications starting out when the necessary movie characters are five white dudes and a white lady, but, you know, bigger roster. Frankly, I’m really, really excited at how we address that. The lineup is killer.”
Is bigger better? Here are a few thoughts from around the web:
Martin Gray, Too Dangerous for a Girl: “Writer Jonathan Hickman makes a confident Avengers debut, introducing new threats, promising big things and couching it all in a framework that manages to feel mythic, but not pompous. Ex Nihilo, apparently a ‘Higher Evolutionary’, has the calm arrogance of the supposed superior being, while main Avengers players Iron Man and Cap carry the assurance of men who have stared down gods, and beaten them. The capture of five Avengers, prompting Cap to break out the new team, has echoes of the All-New X-Men’s debut with Krakoa, but it’s a classic set-up because it works. And the difference here is that Iron Man saw that something this big was coming, so he and Cap have spent the previous month signing up new recruits, putting them on call.”
The Marvel NOW line-up continues to roll out first issues galore, with this past Wednesday bringing the snappiest-looking relaunch so far–FF #1 by Matt Fraction, Michael Allred, Laura Allred and Clayton Cowles. The sister title to Marvel’s original first family, FF #1 features a hand-picked replacement team that’s needed to fill in for Reed and company for a whole four minutes. What could possibly go wrong?
If you were on the fence about the title, here are a few opinions from around the web to help you decide which way to fall:
Ryan K. Lindsay, Comic Book Resources: “FF #1 looked to be the wildest book of the Marvel NOW! line up: Matt Fraction and Michael Allred on a crazy new science team for the Fantastic Four world. It was one of those books that was either going to be too good to be true or belly flop hard. Unfortunately, this issue doesn’t give much of an indicator either way except to leave worry it’s not off to a dazzling start — not that it feels like it’s started yet.”
Rick Remender has the unenviable task of following Ed Brubaker on Captain America, a book that Brubaker took to new heights during his seven-year run on the character. Based on the review so far, though, it seems that Remender is not only up to the task, he’s taking Cap in a completely different direction, with a different tone and focus that most folks seem to be responding well to. Along with artists John Romita Jr. and Klaus Janson, Remender has sent Cap off to Dimension Z, for some “high adventure/science fiction” fun.
“It’s a departure from the standard operating procedure of Captain America, definitely,” said Romita. “We are in a different ballgame here. This is as far away from what I expected for Cap as you can get and I’m really enjoying this.”
Here are a few reviews to let you know how different the ballgame is now, and how well the new team’s doing in their first inning:
Ryan K. Lindsay, Comic Book Resources: “Captain America #1 from Rick Remender and John Romita Jr. with Klaus Janson doesn’t so much walk away from Ed Brubaker’s defining run on the character over the past seven years as it does leap frog it. There was obviously no point in trying to ape Brubaker at his A game, so instead Remender swerves Cap back toward his pulpier roots. This issue begins a strange tale that sees the Sentinel of Liberty fight the Green Skull and get embroiled with Arnim Zola in Dimension Z.”
The Marvel NOW! roll out continued this week with three titles–Matt Fraction and Mark Bagley’s Fantastic Four, All-New X-Men by Brian Bendis and Stuart Immonen, and the subject of today’s Chain Reactions, Thor: God of Thunder by Jason Aaron, Esad Ribic, Dean White and Joe Sabino.
“It’s darker and grittier and in some ways it’s maybe the closest I’ve gotten to something like Scalped, which is the only real crime book that I’ve ever done,” Aaron told Comic Book Resources about the first issue. “Thor of course has things like gods, flying horses, and crazy new worlds in deep space. I like that we can do a crime story with those trappings. There will also be some horror and, of course, fantasy elements as well, and I think at the end of the day this is a story that stays true to what the character of Thor has always been.”
What was the reaction to their take on Thor? Here are a few reactions from around the ‘net …
Martin Gray, Too Dangerous for a Girl: “You can’t fault writer Jason Aaron for lack of ambition, when his debut on this Marvel Now! relaunch spans the ages and spaceways, and Thor himself shows several sides – warrior, big brother … even detective. There’s plenty of interest in his triptych of tales, as dark drama is leavened with humour. The changes in Thor’s narration as he moves from ebullient youth to god in his prime to elder deity are subtle, yet distinct. And the mood of foreboding is strong.”
As I mentioned on Friday, a whole bunch of first issues landed on Wednesday, making it difficult to choose what to feature this week. So I thought I’d do a second Chain Reactions to focus on something that may be a little more under-the-radar than the new Deadpool comic–Storm Dogs #1 by David Hine, Doug Braithwaite and Ulises Arreola.
The “science-fiction crime thriller” shows what happens when “a uniquely skilled team arrives on a frontier planet to investigate a series of bizarre and violent deaths. Forced to rely on primitive technology, they soon learn what it means to be aliens in a hostile environment. If they are to unravel the mysteries of Amaranth they will also have to learn what it is to be human.” At least according to the solicitation text.
So what did folks think of it? Here’s a few thoughts from around the web:
Benjamin Bailey, IGN: “Science-fiction is having a good run in comic books lately. There’s lots of really great titles out there that range from violent to bizarre to epic. Enter Storm Dogs, a cool book that seems to be setting up some really great stuff. The story revolves around a group CSI agents of sorts, that are investigating a series of murders on a distant planet. Oh, and the rain on said planet will melt your face off. Mix in some cool alien races a few giant monsters and you have the makings of a one very awesome science-fiction comic book.”
It was a tough week here at Camp Chain Reactions, trying to pick from the half-dozen or so first issues that arrived on Wednesday. Luckily there was nothing on the ballot Tuesday that ruled against doing more than one of these roundups each week, so expect to see one or two more before Monday.
Speaking of elections, let’s start off with a book that apparently (I haven’t read it yet) features zombie presidents: Deadpool #1. Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn tag team on the writing, as Tony Moore and Val Staples provide the art. Do they do justice to the merc with a mouth? Here are a few opinions from around the web:
Kelly Thompson, Comic Book Resources: “Duggan and Posehn take just the right tack for a Wade Wilson book, coming up with an outlandish idea of resurrected former presidents out to destroy America so that they can rebuild it. Dead president zombies on the loose is a concept that effortlessly inserts Deadpool into working for S.H.I.E.L.D., of all places. The result is comedy gold. Duggan and Posehn, in addition to conceiving of a perfect plot for Wade, have a good handle on his energy and sense of humor. Not every joke lands, but the ones that do are great and the ones that don’t still make a reader groan good-naturedly. Zombie FDR making jokes about a ‘new deal?’ This is fun.”
Halloween saw the debut of a psychological horror/mystery series by writer Nick Spencer and artist Riley Rossmo – Bedlam, the story of a former mass murderer who finds himself consulting with the police department. Here’s how Spencer described the main character to CBR earlier this year when it was announced:
“Madder Red is a homicidal maniac and criminal overlord in the city of Bedlam until he is finally brought to justice after his worst attack on the city ever,” Spencer explained of the series. “After his trial, he is found insane and sent to an institution wherein he undergoes experimental treatments that cure him of his mania. After a few years of close supervision and testing, he is released. He’s undeniably cured – no longer ill and no longer a thread to society. So he’s a free man, and he finds himself living in transitional housing for former mental patients, undergoes extensive plastic surgery to get a new identity and finds himself slowly but surely being drawn back into the world he was once a part of.
“He finds himself compulsively studying serial killings and crime in the city of Bedlam, and he’s eventually recruited by the police department to become a consultant for them. The story is about his new life with a secret past. He’s the worst murderer the city has ever seen, and now he’s around all these people day-to-day who have no idea who he is.”
So does it sizzle or fizzle? Here are a few snippets of reviews from around the web …
Multiple Warheads: Alphabet to Infinity #1, written and drawn by King City creator Brandon Graham, arrived in stores on Wednesday. It’s not the first time the characters have appeared, but it’s been five years since the first Multiple Warheads one-shot was published by Oni Press, so likely they’re new to a lot of readers. Our own J. Caleb Mozzocco shared his review Thursday, but if that wasn’t enough to help you decide whether it’s worth your hard-earned dollars, here are some reviews from around the web:
Greg McElhatton, Comic Book Resources: “If this is your first experience with Multiple Warheads you don’t need to worry; not only is there only a little material already out there, but Graham brings you up to speed on the few things you do need to know about Sexica, Nikolai, and Nura. The reason why it’s just a few things is that in part half of the fun of Multiple Warheads: Alphabet to Infinity #1 is just soaking up the strange world that Graham’s created as his characters make their way through it. The book opens and closes with Nik and Sex traveling across the country, picking up singing cigarettes and testing the local water to see if it’s safe to drink or if it might be poisoned or haunted or worse. When some of the other water options include ‘living water’ and ‘forced immortality,’ it’s the first hint on just what a strange yet wonderful world Graham has created.”
Marvel NOW! is, well, now, with the launch of the you-got-your-chocolate-in-my-peanut-butter comic Uncanny Avengers last Wednesday. The first issue, by Rick Remender, John Cassaday, Laura Martin and Chris Eliopoulos, follows up on the conclusion of Avengers vs. X-Men as Captain America forms a new team that brings together members from those previously competing rivals.
Is the mix-and-match strategy oil and water, or a yummy Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup? Here are a few thoughts from around the web:
Alex Evans, Weekly Comic Book Review: “For those familiar with Rick Remender’s work, this title is very different from anything we’ve seen from him prior. With John Cassaday’s slick, polished artwork, this is the big, flagship Marvel Comic sort of book. Rest assured, however, that Remender nonetheless nails it, giving us an issue that almost feels like an issue from an event. That said, while Remender’s usual weirdness takes a backseat, it’s still very much there, giving the book a real edge to it.”
Marvel’s latest blockbuster crossover series, Avengers vs. X-Men, which was written by everybody and drawn by everybody else, wrapped up this week. Issue #12 featured writer Jason Aaron in the driver’s seat, while Adam Kubert, John Dell and Mark Morales provided the visuals for the big finale.
So did the ending sizzle or fizzle? Carla shared her thoughts on Friday, and here are a few more opinions from around the web (beware of spoilers in many of the links):
James Hunt, Comic Book Resources: “…the final issue manages to pull the disparate story threads together and deliver a conclusion that, somehow, is satisfying. In part, that’s because it cheats, pretending that previous issues hit story beats that they manifestly didn’t. The issue opens with a recap that doesn’t quite resemble what came before, and a clutch of flashback scenes plug in story elements one suspects should have been made clearer much earlier on. The editorial lurch is self-evident, and jarring — but crucially, it’s one that’s forgivable, because it improves the issue and clears the way for the finale the event deserved.”