Welcome to Wednesday Comics on Tor.com! Every week we post short reviews of a select handful of this week’s comic releases.
This week’s batch includes:
- Air #23
- Amazing Spider-Man #638
- Atlas #3
- Fade to Black #5 (of 5)
- Lady Deadpool #1
- Marvelman Classic Primer #1
- Red Mass For Mars #4 (of 4)
- True Blood #1
- The Walking Dead #75
- Welcome to Tranquility #1 – One Foot in the Grave
This week’s batch had a lot of folks facing the reality of their situations, in one way or another. Some of them were more successful than others.
Going to Comicon this week? Feel like we’ve missed a book we really should have reviewed? Did you read something we didn’t? Post your own news and reviews in the comments!
(And check out this live reading of Action Comics #890, hosted by Paul Cornell. Very cool.)
Written by G. Willow Wilson
Art by M.K. Perker
(DC Comics / Vertigo)
Annie says: There are few things that I am sure of in this world but one of them, most certainly, is that comics that begin with fight sequences rule. It’s 8:45AM on a slow moving week, I crack open Air and the first thing I see is Lancaster engaging in an epic battle with Blythe. Ladies and gentlemen, how does it get better than that?
After everything that’s happened in this comic you have to stop for a second and think, “Why do they keep letting Blythe resume her flight lessons?” Homegirl doesn’t do anything but get herself into trouble. This week is no exception. The epic battle between good and evil as a theme is pounded into the reader’s brain in a way that’s not as obnoxious as it sounds. It’s good. Really good. On top of good versus evil, Zayn has confesses that nothing in his life has been as good as it is when Blythe is around. How do you top this?! A love story AND fight scenes? Once again, Air does not disappoint.
Amazing Spider-Man #638
Written by Joe Quesada
Art by Paolo Rivera, Joe Quesada, Danny Miki, and Richard Isanove
Chris says: This is bound to be a controversial one. In January 2007, Marvel’s head honcho Joe Quesada spearheaded a storyline titled “One More Day” that essentially hit the reset button on decades of past Spider-Man stories. Peter Parker and his then-wife Mary Jane made a literal deal with the devil to save the life of his beloved Aunt May. The trade-off was apparently that Mary Jane and Peter never got married—an event that Quesada had been publicly aiming to undo for some time.
The Spider-Man titles after this storyline collapsed into a single title, Amazing Spider-Man and began to run three times a month. Slowly...surprisingly slowly for a near-weekly title, we got answers as to what in the past had still happened and what hadn’t, but the most important remained unanswered. Until now. This week’s release of Amazing Spider-Man #638 is the beginning of “One Moment In Time”—a storyline that proclaims to address the issue of what actually broke up Peter and MJ, and what deal MJ specifically made with the devil.
That deal, or rather, what MJ whispered to Mephisto* is revealed right on the first page. Shortly after that we are thrown back into the pages of Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21, the special where Peter and MJ were originally married. Some of the original pages are used, with copycat art inserting a new storyline into events. (Marvel uses this trick a lot, but I have to confess I love it every time.)
*For those unaware, Mephisto is the Marvel Universe’s equivalent of the devil, ostensibly created to skirt the Comics Code Authority that the company adhered to for much of the 20th century. He is absolutely being used in that capacity for this particular storyline.
This issue does contain the revelation as to why the wedding didn’t happen and, without being too spoilery, I doubt this revelation is going to quell readers who thought “One More Day” was a cheap ploy. We get the mechanics of the break-up in this issue, and I hope that we’re going to get more dialogue in the next issue explaining the emotional reasons behind it, but as it stands the particular wedding crashing event comes off just as cheap as the storyline that instigated it.
Which is saddening, because aside from the controversy, the issue is a pretty engaging read. Spider-Man is always at its best when steeped in action and drama and this has the makings of a stand-out storyline.
Written by Jeff Parker
Art by Gabriel Hardman and Ramon Rosanas
Chris says: Atlas is a continuation from the former Agents of Atlas title from Marvel Comics, which couldn’t sustain readership numbers high enough to justify its existence. Having flipped through this week’s issue, I am really surprised that no one is reading this. Why? Here’s the title description from this week’s issue:
They are a team of 1950s adventurers re-formed to battle Earth’s greatest threats, the most recent involving Delroy Garrett, the 3-D Man. Meanwhile, their base of operations underneath San Francisco has abeen discovered by a body-snatching collective. Sounds like trouble for the Agents of Atlas!
That team of 1950s adventurers includes The Uranian, a telepath from space, Namora, princess of Atlantis, M-11, a reformed killer robot, Gorilla Man, and Venus the siren. They’re led by Atlas agent John Woo and call a flying saucer their home!
Their adventures are hard-boiled and realistic in contrast to their eclectic science fiction line-up and it’s a pleasure to see such broad characters treated seriously. Old fashioned, exclamatory pulp can be fun, but it’s all the more rewarding if it comes as, well, a reward at the end of a seriously storyline. Case in point: This issue opens with a serious murder investigation but eventually leads to a machine gun alien attack at a monastery, with Venus singing the punchy Edwin Starr song “War” in order to calm everyone down. Think I’ve given the whole issue away? I haven’t. Parker makes you work for your fun, to see these amazing characters in action, and it reads all the sweeter because you’ve done so. The creators drive this balance home further in the back-up story that details the origins of M-11.
Comics should always be this exciting.
Fade to Black #5 (of 5)
Written by Jeff Mariotte
Art by Daniele Serra
Chris says: The demon Yggurath has been summoned to bring the darkness of the radiant night to Earth in order to extinguish technology! Except he’s not sure he wants to do that yet, and he’s completely sure he doesn’t want to do what once the man tying him to Earth (and relatively good behavior) is killed—shot by a cadre of folks who’s do-gooding doesn’t seem to extend much beyond shooting first and asking questions later. The demon Yggurath is free! Great job, vigilantes.
Caught in the middle of this insanity are a troop of actors who seem to be the only ones with their heads on straight. While everyone else fights each other, the demon runs free and the actors devise a plan to contain him. There’s an explosion, and some lingering questions, but in the end, the actors Mario and Angelique make it out alive. Mario, in fact, has never been happier. Fade to black.
This issue is a fun, frenetic, if light, conclusion to the Fade to Black mini, a series that hasn’t taken itself all that seriously anyway. If you’ve got an unholy monster itch to scratch, this is a good pick-up for this week.
Lady Deadpool #1
Written by Mary H.K. Choi
Art by Ken Lashley
Chris says: Lady Deadpool #1 is listed as being a “Women of Marvel One-Shot”, except Marvel doesn’t have the greatest track record when focusing its efforts on promoting women creators and/or characters. Lady Deadpool #1 is no different, unfortunately. Deadpool himself is an insane, hedonistic assassin that stretches incredulity so much he occasionally breaks the fourth wall. Lady Deadpool is the same, except she’s a lady, so her psychoses are focused on chasing romance-cover type hunks, how she looks, and what she eats. It’s not like I’m expecting a title like Lady Deadpool to be a herald of progression, but I was looking for a little more than the same old tropes. This one-shot was like a Lifetime Channel movie character gone crazy, except somehow not fun. This one was a disappointment.
Marvelman Classic Primer #1
Written by John Rhett Thomas
Art by Mike Perkins, Doug Braithwaite, Miguel Angel Sepulveda, Jae Lee, Khoi Pham and Ben Oliver
Annie says: Oh hello, Marvelman, you dashing British superhero who’s actually been around since 1954 even though I have only just read all about you. What’s that? You want to tell me your full history? Including a history of British comics for all the non-anglophiles out there and even an interview between Marvel’s Editor-in-Chief, Joe Quesada and your creator, 94-year-old Mick Anglo? Great! Pour some tea and let’s get to talking. (Marvelman historian extraordinaire George Khoury is actually going through the character's detailed past here on Tor.com!)
This primer is beyond helpful in explaining why Marvelman is such a big deal. Push aside the fact that some of the stories are a bit surreal (talking tigers, a wickedly smart earthworm called Mr. Mind) and focus on the heroism and classic comic nature of Mick Anglo’s work. During its original run, Marvelman had sales peaking at almost 1.4 million an issue and it’s easy to see why when you read the interview between Quesada and Anglo. Anglo is quick-witted and charming which has obviously transcended into the characters of Marvelman.
What can we expect from Marvel’s revival of Marvelman? Mick Anglo gives us a hint here, “I don’t like taking something for nothing unless it’s in big quantities.”
Red Mass For Mars #4 (of 4)
Written by Jonathan Hickman
Art by Ryan Bodenheim
Chris says: This mini-series by Jonathan Hickman (currently making a notable run on Marvel’s Fantastic Four) concerns a utopian Earth in 2118 that comes under threat of a vicious race of aliens. Our world has defenders and the most notable and strongest of them, Mars, is coaxed (to put it mildly. See: the title of this series) into fighting the alien hordes.
Mars makes peace with his war-like nature in this issue, eliminating the alien threat, and leaving the next generation to forge their own path without his presence. At least, I think that’s what happened, as this issue was particularly lacking in dialogue. Most of it is concerned with a deep space fight against the aliens. (Drawn gorgeously by Ryan Bodenheim but colored questionably by Hickman himself. The flat browns, oranges, greys, and golds rob the pencils of their vibrancy.) There’s very little story here, and while the big fight is exciting (I can’t say I’ll miss Saturn all that much), there’s not much else here.
True Blood #1
Written by Mariah Huehner & David Tischman
Art by David Messina
Annie says: As a fan of both The Southern Vampire Mysteries series as well as the television series True Blood it was hard to say no to picking up this comic. If you’ve seen the show, you’re all set on the plot and characters but what is great about this first run is the way it introduces True Blood novices to the setting and characters.
It’s a dark stormy night in Bon Temps and the entire cast is stuck in Merlotte’s waiting for the rain to die down. Jason Stackhouse is macking it to some local floozy who’s hanging on his every word. Lafayette and Tara are as complimentary a pair in this comic as they are in the series and both Sam and Sookie’s talents are exposed within the first few pages. What is weird is that this comic picks up with all of the established relationships that took the television show three seasons to explain. It’s efficient for sure, but if you’re not watching this series you need to re-assess your Sunday nights.
What is new is Imp Shaloop (AKA Ted) who appears originally as a patron in Merlotte’s but shapeshifts into a demon with tentacles that can see your secrets. He kills off some locals, the girl Jason is with and then, just as all hope is disappearing, Bill Compton shows up to save the day. It is definitely corny but done with a Southern/vampiric charm that you can’t help but love.
The Walking Dead #75
Written by Robert Kirkman
Art by Charlie Adlard
Annie says: When we last left our living heroes, Abraham became the leader of the construction crew, which creates a problem between Douglas and Tobin. Glenn and Heath run into a pack of roamers and get stuck while trying to get medical supplies in downtown Washington D.C. Gabriel gets emotional and confesses to Douglas that he feels his group was a liability to the rest of the community.
In this issue, everyone loses their damn mind. Gabriel goes on and on only to have his concerns fall on deaf ears. Is this really how comics should start? I get that all of these characters have their own unique emotional traits and tendencies but this is issue 75. After 75 comics, haven’t these characters learned that morality holds no place when you’re constantly being attacked by ZOMBIES?
Case in point, Constable Rick...do you really have to get into everyone’s business? Rick has a formal run in with Pete (never Peter, who’s also a doctor) and identifies him as the father of the boy with the black eye (Ron). Rick doesn’t like the way Pete handles himself and suspects that Pete is hurting his family.
Unfortunately, what Rick doesn’t realize is that that no one else in this town is trying to keep the peace the same way he is. He’s constantly trying to keep this veil of normalcy and justice intact but it’s becoming a little tiresome. Everyone is just trying to stay ALIVE. Rick confronts Pete and it does not end well for… well… anyone.
Welcome to Tranquility #1 – One Foot in the Grave
Written by Gail Simone
Art by Horatio Domingues
(DC Comics / Wildstorm)
Annie says: Welcome (back) to Tranquility—a town comprised of super heroes. Gail Simone revisits her beloved town with a whole new pile of twists and turns with memorable characters and the same dark-humored tone.
If I may, I’d like to take a moment and nerd-out; this comic is ridiculously well done and being a Gail Simone fan to begin with only makes it more awesome. The characters are consistent, the plot picks up without any awkward re-introductions and the storyline that she has set up doesn’t ruin the prospects for more tremendous issues.
Mayor Fury is let out of the Salem State Penitentiary with open arms after the charges against him are dropped. Outside, he is met by the press, Sheriff Thomasina Lindo and one particular surprise guest Simone grabs your attention immediately. She has literally brought this comic back from the dead in more ways than one and sets the precipice for One Foot in the Grave to do great things. I’m not sure how many other people can do this the same way she does. Definitely worth reading and most certainly worth following.
Chris Greenland was actually pretty touched by how sweet Flash Thompson is to Peter at his bachelor party.
Annie Gala works for Macmillan, reads a lot, writes a little and loves Batman.