Hello again! It’s the nature of comics and the fact that this column is one woman’s tastes that I’m going to keep returning to the same titles again and again. I try and mix in new ones whenever I can, but some weeks, the really good ones are the ones I keep talking about, and so be it. It’s my goal to sort through the dizzying array of new comics every week and pick out a few to recommend, and if you keep seeing some particular titles in this spot, it’s because they’re consistently good.
I’d also like to give a brief moment of appreciation to Roger Ebert. I didn’t agree with all of his opinions, but his passion and love of films was foundational in my discovery that it was okay to love something that people dismissed as escapism. I watched At The Movies countless times, from the Gene Siskel days to Richard Roeper, and then after he left for medical reasons. My Netflix Queue hasn’t been the same since it went off the air.
Anyway, onto the reviews!
Superior Spider-Man #7
The saga continues! The Superior Spider-Man story arc, because despite changing the title that’s really what it is, is not just the most talked about Spider-Man story in years, but it’s also expertly written. This feels like the last issue of going up the roller-coaster, and we’re left looking down the long precipice to come.
Primarily, this issue is about Spider-Man taking on Cardiac. And now we see the progression. First he took down a total psychopath, which was easily justifiable. Then he seriously injured some more light-hearted, though still self-interested and criminal, minor villains, raising some eyebrows. Now he’s going after someone who, while breaking the law, is doing so for very honorable reasons. The line keeps being pushed farther and farther.
And we’re finally getting progression on the Ghost of Peter Parker thread. Instead of just making asides to the reader, Parker is now interacting (a little) with Otto-as-Spider-Man. It’s probably obvious where this is heading, but it’s nice that they’re taking their time with it, so it doesn’t feel like an easy victory in the end.
Will someone notice that Spider-Man has become much more arrogant, vicious, and not-so-heroic? Yes, and it’s the Avengers. The end of the issue sets up what’s basically on the cover, and should be an entertaining conflict.
This entire story would make a great, if risky, movie someday.
Mind the Gap #9
This is usually a fairly wordy comic, but this issue they decided to go (mostly) wordless – no dialogue, but there are a few text messages. And it’s an effective technique. The story involves Jo, the best friend of the protagonist Elle, breaking into the apartment of Elle’s now-incarcerated boyfriend, trying to find some evidence.
And does she ever. She ends up witnessing events that the Conspiracy does not want her to see, and this issue pushes her from the sidelines right into the thick of things. It’s a very nice, well done story progression.
My complaint, though, is the art. Most of the issue is done in a very different, minimalist two-color style, which is a big contrast to the more traditional work (like seen on the cover.) I like the style and conceit just fine – it’s a very noir issue – but it’s a different artist, and I had to really work to figure out who the characters were. And since it’s an issue that’s all about big revelations, and without dialogue cues, this is a bit of a problem.
But still, it’s an interesting approach, and I’d rather they reach and not quite succeed than read the same technique month after month.
All-New X-Men #10
The main plot in this issue is that modern-day Scott Summers shows up at the Jean Grey school and announces that him and his anti-hero comrades are also starting a school, the New Charles Xavier Academy. And he’s recruiting.
He firmly establishes himself in a Malcolm X role that Magneto plays so well in classic issues and in the recent movies. He’s given up on being a pacifist and a harbinger of brotherhood with mankind. He’s not looking for a fight in the same way that the Brotherhood of Mutants used to, but he’s preparing for one. This doesn’t go over terribly well with the adults, but it’s not them he’s selling to. Who’s going with him? This is largely left to next issue. (But I think the foreshadowing implies it’s Jean Grey, who thinks she can evade Emma Frost’s telepathy and spy on them, and that’s a story I want to read.)
Meanwhile, Mystique is on a rampage with Sabertooth and Lady Mastermind, robbing banks and blaming the X-Men. It’s unclear why they’re gathering large sums of cash, though it’s clear it isn’t purely for the sake of having large sums of cash. I’m hoping this pays off as well.
So far this title is more bark than bite, but I’ve read enough of Bendis’s work on the Avengers to know he’s building to something. He’s better at that then at consistent payoff, but sometimes his payoff is really great, and I’m looking forward to getting there, and soon.
That’s it for this week. See you next time, at the comic store!