For part one of this week’s Pull List, click here.
Timestorm 2009 – 2099: Spider-Man – Marvel – $3.99
After Spider-Man: A Short Halloween failed to get reviewed by the Pull List because it had been on the bottom of an eighteen book stack, I made sure that didn’t happen again with another Spider-Man one-shot. Unfortunately, this issue was nowhere close to the quality of A Short Halloween. This issue continues the ongoing “Timestorm” series which sent both Spider-Man and Wolverine in to the future and the Punisher of 2099 stuck in the modern age. After an explosion caused by a time-shift, young Miguel O’Hara has attained abilities similar to the Spider-Man of what he calls the heroic age. Resulting from the same explosion, another boy in his class has mutated in to a large scorpion-like monster.
At the same time, Peter Parker, our modern day Spider-Man sits in a rubber room with a straight jacket with a young mutant girl Shakti who can see in to people’s past and future. The two escape their holding facility before crossing paths with Miguel. As this run-in occurs an explosion goes off, forcing Spider-Man to go find out its cause and leaving Miguel and Shakti behind. Miguel is about to give chase when Shakti tells him he needs a disguise or his identity will be found out.
Miguel dons a costume of Spider-Man 2099 and rushes in to help Spider-Man face the scorpion creature that had been created alongside him. Before heading off to try and find a way home, Spider-Man tells Miguel to burn the costume as wearing it will bring nothing good to his life. Instead, Miguel mimics what Peter originally did and steps in to a fight arena to try and take on his time’s Human Torch.
The more I look at the issue, the less I like it. First off, it is very confusing as there are apparently three separate alternate 2099 continuities. While they all have the same basis, none of them matchup between this version where Miguel gains the powers as a youth, the original Spider-Man 2099 series, and the Spider-Man 2099 who had a brief stint in the exiles.
For such a little known character, it seems like extra work to not have him be the same along all three stories. Also, Peter doesn’t really feel like Peter. Given his “Great power, great responsibility” motto, it seems weird that even knowing the hardship it has brought to his life, he’d so directly turn away the young boy who has gained powers so much like his instead of trying to help him understand them instead.
The artwork of the book is average at best with an almost lazily drawn lack of detail on Spider-Man’s costume. The lack of crispness in the lines of this book just don’t feel good for the character. It feels like an almost whimsical feel to the story instead of something potentially life-altering for Peter as he is stuck in this future of his reality. While a style like this could work in such an out there world of a book like The Umbrella Academy and still be taken seriously, it sadly falls short here.
Irredeemable #3 – Boom Studios – $3.99
Is it wrong that reading about the fall of a hero can feel so good? Irredeemable delivers again with the third issue in the series as the Plutonian’s former teammates try and find the secret in how the world’s greatest hero with the power of a god could turn his back and leave a body count in the millions behind him. This issue starts off grimly as the rest of the series as the Plutonian watches a couple dressed up as himself and former teammate Bette Noir having sex. Despite being scared out of their mind, the couple is forced to do as he commands or risk losing their lives.
Not only has the icon of all things good become a killer, he has also been revealed as a sexual deviant as well. The rest of the issue follows twins Scylla and Charybdis as they follow a lead that a group of former villains have found the hidden base of a hero killed by the Plutonian named the Inferno. As the teammates of the Paradigm watch from Scylla’s feed, they see what is unfolding in front of them as the Plutonian proves again why the book is titled Irredeemable.
Mark Waid does a fantastic job on this book paired with artist Peter Krause. Together, they have captured the essence of a soulless shell of a hero that has fallen so far. Waid’s story does a great job of focusing almost entirely on how evil a creature the Plutonian has become. Anyone around him feels as if they are nothing more than cannon fodder to add to his list of disposed of enemies and former teammates. Plutonian seems to go from a vacant and uncaring persona to a hateful and calculated maniac.
There is no positive side to look at him from. Unlike many villains that often have a single redeeming quality, the Plutonian can be looked at with noting except disdain in the way Waid writes him. The second someone would like to start to feel sorry for him, he goes on and does something even more terrible than what would be expected. The ultimate irony would be that one day when all things are revealed, the reader actually agrees with the actions of the Plutonian.
Something about the way the book handles villains though almost makes you want to cheer for them. Not the same as a vigilante anti-hero like a Wolverine or Punisher who are essentially good people who get to a means by any end, Irredeemable is able to make a villain so bad you begin cheering for him just to see what terrible thing he could do next. It is almost along the same lines of wanting to cheer for the Terminator in the original motion picture.
You know he is there to try and kill an innocent woman whose son is the future of the human race, but something about him is so unforgiving that it becomes cool. While no one would ever condone the actions of the fallen hero in real life, there is a sick sense of wonderment about just what he is going to do next. Like driving slowly past the scene of an accident, there is a morbid curiosity of just how bad it can get. Something tells me that Waid intends on getting much, much worse.
War of Kings #4 – Marvel – $3.99
Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning have done a good job working on the War of Kings miniseries and its tie-ins. They have made sure to keep a hold on all issues involving this story, their story. Much like the last issue, this book has fallen in to a strange reoccurring pacing as the first half of the issue is filled with a majority of politics while the second half revolves around action. The issue picks up with Shi’ar Emperor Vulcan finding out that his forces may be overextended and that a lengthy campaign could prove to be the downfall of his war. As he is discussing this with his advisors during the heat of battle, a sentry robot (thankfully not the Sentry from the Dark Avengers) attacks Vulcan only to be stopped by Talon, the Raptor who took Darkhawk’s powers away in War of Kings: Ascension. The scene then cuts to the only representation of the Inhuman royal family of the issue as Crystal walks the beach with the recovering Ronin the Accuser.
Much like the last issue, the book suffers from its Phantom Menace style pacing. Had the action been interspersed with politics or vice versa, the read could have been much more exciting. Instead of anticipation of conflict to break out because of tension building during the political pages, the anticipation comes from the need for something exciting to finally happen. Much of the political discussion is fairly paint by number in the characters all saying pretty much what would be expected of them.
There are no balls being dropped like the end of the last issue where Gladiator turned to the other side of the war effort for his Empress. Instead, the political figures give fairly standard opinions and interactions with each other. The issue also reveals a side of Gladiator that to the best of my knowledge has never been seen before. Much like many people speculate that the New Avengers was Brian Michael Bendis’ way of giving new life to the original Hawkeye Clint Barton, it seems as though Abnett and Lanning may be doing the same here with Gladiator. As much as the story is a war between two kings, it almost appears that one of the ongoing themes is the war going on within Gladiator himself as he much choose between the loyalty to the throne or to what he knows is right.
Cover artist Brandon Peterson gives a beautiful take on the state of the war as the Inhuman forces may have finally turned the tide on Vulcan with Black Bolt floating eerily in front of a shattered statue of the Shi’ar Emperor. Sadly, Black Bolt’s presence is never seen in the issue, only discussed. As it has been the rest of the series, the artwork has been beautiful throughout with great action sequences, storytelling, and detailed characters. One of the best panels comes from the reveal of the Death Commandos as they have a menacing aura surrounding them that even an elite group such as the Imperial Guard does not.
While much of the strongest action has happened outside the War of Kings miniseries and has instead happened in the tie-ins, the series has still been more exciting than most crossovers, an especially impressive task considering people had only started to take notice again of the cosmic Marvel Universe over the past few years. With what looks like all the players being put in place, a big rumble is most expected in the next issue, something the series really needs instead of the fairly mild skirmishes thus far.
Be sure to check back every week on Thursday and Friday for The Pull List.