Saturday, 31 January 2015

Comics Round-Up (January the Last)

Still trying to pair down the series. Reluctantly dropping Batgirl for the time being. Star Trek is getting a rest after this story is finished. Going to keep going through Spider-Verse and its associated titles, then I think I'll stick to Spider-Gwen, so long as it's as good as expected. Wild's End must be seen through to the end, The Wicked + The Divine has become a must-read. Ms. Marvel is a must on those months it comes out, as is The Multiversity. Other titles here and there. Squirrel Girl and Thor I want to stick with for a while at least, although I'm not sure about Marvel's new Secret Wars plans. They seem to be gearing up for a DC-New 52-style event. Not sure I can be bothered with all that.

Spider-Verse #2 (Marvel)

I am enjoying these anthology titles, I have to say. None of them are actually necessary to read to follow the overall plot of the Spider-Verse event, which is refreshing, but they do add something to the characters and are a good read in their own right.

Spider-Verse #2 is a mixed bag of actual short stories, such as "Anansi: A Spider in Sheep's Clothing," which has an unexpected meeting of Anansi the Spider God and Spider-UK; and brief vignettes, such as the opening "It's Showtime," which is just one page of the Capcom video game Spider-Man. The highlight is "With Great Power, Comes No Future," an origin piece for "The Anarchic Spider-Man," aka Spider-Punk. I'd be surprised if he doesn't get his own title after all this is over. The final vignette, "It's the Little Things," is also cute; it's just a series of nods to the various Spideys that can't be included for various reasons, such as the Electric Company version and the Broadway musical star. So, even though we can't have a panel with Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield facing off, we at least know they're there, along with all the others. Except LEGO Spider-Man and the evil misogynist Turkish Spider-Man from 3 Dev Adam, who have yet to show up.

The Amazing Spider-Man #13 (Marvel)

The penultimate installment of the Spider-Verse storyline visits a universe where it was Uncle Ben who was bitten by the spider. I can't recall this being tried in a "What if?" story before, though, even though it really is the most obvious idea you can think of. It's also very difficult to tell the various Spiders apart in some panels. There's a nice moment where Spider-UK and Spider-Man India reflect on their nature as shadows of Peter Parker, the Man-Spider appears and rips the villains to shreds, and Silk continues to screw everything up, but essentially this exists to set up the big shebang finale.

Star Trek #40 (IDW)
So, "The Q Gambit" comes to its conclusion, in quite a perfunctory way. I mean, it makes sense in light of the facts of the story so far, but it is a bit of a squib. I do like the idea that the Pah-Wraiths are potentially powerful enough to threaten the Q (and that the Q cannot see anything of their own future on their plane). The best part is Picard's final line on the last page.

Star Wars #1 (Marvel)

Well, I had to pick this one up, just like everyone else. It's fine, reasonably good fun, and it certainly feels sufficiently Star Wars-y. Can't say it really convinced me to follow the series though, and I don't really care that it's officially canon. This is Marvel, where every bit of nonsense is canon (except 3 Dev Adam). I'll probably give Kieron Gillen's Darth Vader series a look, though.

The Wicked + The Divine #6-7 (Image)

Speaking of Gillon, I've got myself both issues of the second volume of the superlative W+D. Laura has become more cynical in her view, giving this a distinctly aggravated, downbeat tone. Issue 6 sets up some direction for the second volume, but it's issue 7 that's the better read. This is such a gorgeous book, and the convention scenes are incredible, with the thousands of convention goers rendered as nothing more than faceless shades. It's callous, jealous, Daft Punk-inspired Woden who is the most fascinating thing in this story right now, though.

Avengers Universe #9 (Marvel/Panini)

Still on Gillon and McKelvie, their Young Avengers run is by the best thing about this compendium, even if this (issue 5) isn't best installment of the story. The Apocalypse Twins storyline for The Uncanny Avengers (issue 14) is throwing major events at us but it's starting to feel like overkill, although I am intrigued by the unravelling timelines. The Black Widow/Hawkeye/Spider-Woman story from Avengers Assemble #13 is frankly dull (and the cover provided for the issue as a whole is hideous). I'll probably see the current storylines through to one more issue and then rest it if it fails to reignite.

Wild's End #5 (Boom!)

Not much to say on this beyond it's still a solidly exciting and well told treatise on the horrors of war and its toll on civilian populations. The lantern-headed invaders are a monstrous force, and the animal characters are more well-rounded and believable than the stars of half the comics on the shelves.

SHIELD #2 (Marvel)

More of an extra issue of Ms. Marvel than an Agents of SHIELD instalment, but that's no bad thing in my book. Jemma Simmons gets some decent focus this time round, although it's still Coulson everyone's here for. Good fun, nothing special. I enjoyed the artwork, particularly Delgado's unparalleled colouring, but Humberto Ramos's pencils do make the characters look extremely dopey on occasion.

Guardians of the Galaxy #23 (Marvel)

Finally, the Planet of the Symbiotes arc arrives at the Planet of the Symbiotes. There's some wonderfully weird imagery on offer, but the exploration of the planet feels cut short. It's an mportant part of Flash/Venom's development though, and the diagnosis of the Venom symbiote as being disturbed and damaged is perfectly obvious.

Thor #4 (Marvel)

The inevitable man-Thor vs. woman-Thor issue arrives, and plays our predictably but entertainingly. I'm tempted to keep following this series; I find the new Thor a genuinely enjoyable character to read, and the ongoing mystery of her actual identity is intriguing. A fiver says she's Jane Foster.

Powers #1 (Marvel/Icon)

With a Powers TV series on the way, it's unsurprising that Marvel have launched another new volume of the comic, bringing Walker and Pilgrim back to Homicide. And, you know, it's fine. There are some striking images, as you'd expect from Oeming, but it's not the exciting title it once was.

Multiversity Guidebook (DC)

Oversized and overpriced, but an essential purchase to those following Morrison's latest opus. The actual guidebook segments are the part that can be done without. Fun and fascinating as the reality descriptions are, it's hard to care too much when we know they'll just be rebooted again a few years down the line (as the history of the various "Crises" makes clear). No, it's the actual storyline in which it is embedded that is the important part, building on events in the previous installments and setting up major conflicts to come. At the same time, the tales of the futuristic Justice League coming into contact with the innocent Chibi Little Leaguers is joyfully acerbic, pitting the two extremes of DC's story styles against each other with genuine consequences for the overall story. While the fallout will have to wait, this remains an excellent series.

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