This is the first part of John’s pull list comic reviews for the week. The second part follows tomorrow.
Pull of the Week:
New Avengers #52 – Marvel – $3.99
If there was ever a team book that could get away with next to no-action and still consistently be the best read of the week, it’s the New Avengers. Brian Bendis knows these characters and knows how to bring them to life. The amazing part is that he does it with brief action sequences and is able to dive into the personalities of the New Avengers by simply sitting them down at a dinner table and meet as a team. Everyone fits a role whether it be a cool and collected leader, a partially insecure spaz, the quiet bad ass or the person everyone thought was dead but was actually only just abducted and replaced by a Skrull. The magic is that Bendis has such a grip on these characters that his conversations between these characters feels like they have known each other for years.
The story revolves around the team being filled in by Doctor Strange, the former Sorcerer Supreme, about the attack he suffered at the hands of the Hood. Mystical cameos seemingly abound in this issue, the New Avengers head south to find another magical character who may be the next Sorcerer Supreme (who wasn’t actually who the reader was suspecting from the clues given pages before). Bendis exhibits great understanding of character building and does it in an entertaining way in this issue.
This truly is a book that could still be enjoyable to read even if no action took place much like Bendis’ control over the characters has proved time and time again. Also, like the last issue, the dual art teams give the book a feel all of its own. Having two art teams seems like it’d be disjointed in the story telling but by splitting the teams between the conflict of Strange and the Hood and the other team working on the rest of the book, it only helps the “magic” of storytelling.
Amazing Spider-Man #592 – Marvel – $2.99
As much as it pains someone who is a big fan of this character and usually the series, not much really happens in this issue. At the end of the last issue, it’s revealed that in the time Spider-Man was in the Macroverse with the Fantastic Four J. Jonah Jameson was elected mayor of New York. Nothing in this issue reveals how this went down though. The issue ends on an awkward last page that shows something most long time readers of the series really could have done without (don’t say I didn’t warn you).
Much of the issue seems lackluster. While Mark Waid plants a few seeds for future issues like questioning who is taking care of Peter Parker’s apartment while he has been gone and introducing a new shadowy costumed vigilante, the story itself is weak and leaves a lot to be desired. One thing Waid fails to do is capture Spider-Man’s personality with witty quips or the normal everyman perspective Peter often gives. Sadly, the one thing that stands out most from the issue is the beautiful cover which has more personality and draw than the entire issue.
If you are a Spider-Man collector, you’ll buy the issue anyway but don’t expect a standout story. If you aren’t a regular Spider-Man buyer, this is one of the stories that you can pass up and not worry about missing much. One of the advantages of these rotating creative teams on the book has been getting varied perspectives and takes on a character who is one of the centerpieces to the Marvel Universe.
Unfortunately, not all of these teams seem to get the character as much as the reader would hope. And again, if you do decide to pick up this issue, don’t say I didn’t warn you about the last page. The nightmares are going to haunt you.
American McGee’s Grimm #1 – IDW – $3.99
For those not aware of American McGee, he began his career working on the PC Game American McGee’s Alice back in 2000, a twisted sequel to the classic tale of Alice in Wonderland. Since then he has created the PC games American McGee’s Scrapland and American McGee presents: Bad Day L.A. Now, American lets writer Dwight MacPherson take his twisted sense of humor in to the comic book realm using a small disgruntled dwarf named Grimm, originally from a PC game of the same name. Grimm, sick of the happy ending lifestyle of fairy tales, made it his mission to destroy the goodhearted classic creations. Having succeeded in doing so, Grimm sets his sights on a new medium… comic books.
Grimm, disgusted by the standard formula of super hero comics, decides to help turn the tide by teaming up with a legion of parodied super villains lead by Baron Putzkammer (Doctor Doom) and his minions including Killer Cock (A pumped up chicken version of Killer Croc), Westseid (a thugged-out version of Darkseid) and Deadeye (a blind and seemingly homosexual version of Bullseye).
Grimm takes lead of this motley crew and organizes a simple plan to destroy this world’s super hero team, the Freedom Friends. Lead by Captain Trustworthy (an obvious dig at Captain America), the team’s roster also includes the Spitting Spider (Spider-Man), the Flesh (a naked Flash), Fruit Bat (Batman) and Angry Man (a blue version of the Hulk, because apparently Marvel making a red version of the character wasn’t ridiculous enough.)
The art in the book also greatly stands out from anything else on the rack this week as it is a mix of Silver Age style thick ink lines and dot matrix color to a computerized, slick style to help set apart the old mentality of comics to the new standard that these stories don’t have to follow their classic formula. The character designs are well thought out and intriguing, especially where Grimm takes the campy 1970’s style villains and turns them in to modern day bad asses who have nothing to fear from the Freedom Friends who refuse to change with the times.
While it’s obvious that the book is meant to be parody of all the clichés in super hero comic books, the real humor in it comes from the amount of truth seen in its pages. So many comics follow the same formula and it gets old very fast. This book bucks the formula by making the reader cheer for the “villains” and shows just how silly some concepts for famous character really are, Fruit Bat especially. The issue is a great self contained story that really makes the reader begin to love this angry little dwarf despite the fact he is such an unlikable person if based solely on his actions.
But while there is nothing good about him, the reader can’t help but argue with his almost surgical deconstruction of the ridiculous nature of the medium they have come to love. And to keep the reader wanting more, the issue ends with a preview of next month’s cover where Grimm looks like he is ready to take on the already trite world of Romance Comics.
Be sure to check back tomorrow for part two of John’s reviews of comic books coming out this week. A brand new feature right here at The Flickcast.