COMICS REVIEWED BY THE PART-TIME HENCHMEN!
Which of the latest comics are you missing from your pull list?
Amazing Spider-Man #1
Writer – Nick Spencer
Artist – Ryan Ottley
Price – $5.99
Marvel is doing its best to reintroduce Spider-Man after several massive changes to his circumstances in the last decade. How well does this book do in that?
Nick Spencer is a writer that some people find controversial. That is because he was the writer of the Hydra-Steve era of Captain America. Personally, I like changes, and Spencer has changed a lot with this era. Gone is a lot of Parker’s success after Secret Wars. Also gone are the fancy suits and accolades. Spencer has presented us with a stripped down and easy to follow Spider-Man. Additionally, Spencer has opened the door for Peter Parker to return as a student with an odd teacher and another shot at romance with Mary Jane. The changes are similar to prior versions of Spider-Man. However, anything that undoes the Brand New Day storyline is a major positive to me.
Ryan Ottley had the art duties and he did pretty well, although he did not hit it out of the park. The characters and faces are distinct enough. The problem is that when you settle into the art, facial expressions can turn excessively square. A couple of smiles by Mary Jane looks like she’s trying to hold back a drunken burp. With that said, I am going to give Ottley time. The book just started and someone has the faith for him to make this book shine.
While the art isn’t a strong point in this book, Nick Spencer has started a story that is both familiar and new. That means the book has a chance to appeal to a lot of readers. Moreover, Spencer has a feel for what makes Peter Parker special to different people. It’s a good jump-in point for readers, even if it isn’t perfect.
Writer – Dan Abnett
Artist – Brandon Peterson
Price – $3.99
After No Justice, DC entered into a new era of story potential, and has added the Titans to the Justice League’s response teams. This book does not stick the landing, though.
Dan Abnett is one of the people who made the Guardians of the Galaxy popular, so I have a high opinion of his work. After reading Titans #23, I want to know what happened here. These are mostly well established heroes, but their personalities feel very one-dimensional. Nightwing is the broody leader, Raven is the sullen exposition machine, Steel is an over-exuberant lover of tech, and so on. On top of that, there is excessive exposition in the dialogue and the threat stayed very difficult to define until the very end.
Brandon Peterson is an artist I also have a high opinion of, meanwhile the art here was distracting. Peterson kept using high and low perspectives in his pictures. I almost felt like no matter how the characters were portrayed, I was always looking up or down at them. His character’s faces were often flat or over-animated. Moreover, there is not much of an in-between in the expressions. The action scenes lacked weight and energy.
I am truly surprised that this creative team doesn’t seem to be working well together. I’m even more surprised that this revamped team of Titans is less interesting than their pre-No Justice issues. I am hoping that later comics step up to their potential, although this issue isn’t one I can recommend.
Rat Queens #10
Writer – Kurtis J. Weibe
Artist – Owen Gieni
Price – $3.99
I have lost track of the latest volume of Rat Queens and read the first and last issues. Even I’m surprised I wasn’t as lost as I could have been.
Kurtis Weibe’s story is usually filled with comedy. This issue has the title characters on their heels, hopelessly beaten by an enemy made from their second volume. It is very rare that you can catch up on a series after missing eight issues. However, Weibe ties together a lot of questions after the soft reboot of his comics.
Owen Gieni does his best here and I could sense the work he put into it. Gieni uses two additional styles similar to other comic and cartoon medium to tell flashbacks. The result creates a very distinct feel to the stories that doesn’t detract from the main story. Additionally, the art style he picked for this issue has the right amount of detail to make characters distinct and pop. It is rare for an artist to be able to make so many different hairstyles feel distinct and vastly different. Full marks for the art here.
It isn’t a good jump on point for new readers, however Rat Queens #10 does make me want to go seek out every back issue and see how this story developed. I also think Rat Queens is one of the more under appreciated series in all of comics today.
PICK OF THE WEEK
Writer – Mariko Tamaki
Artist – Juann Cabal
Price – $4.99
Cards on the table… I am a fan of the Laura Kinney character. In my opinion, her no longer being Wolverine is a shame. The announcement of her being X-23 again irritated me and feels like a big step backwards for her story. But this comic is truly special.
Mariko Tamaki’s name has been busy with major comic heroines like She-Hulk and Supergirl in the past two years. Her turn on the ongoing X-23 story has proved more insight into Laura Kinney. Additionally, she has expanded on Laura’s supporting cast. She has made Laura more driven and introspective that prior writers. Meanwhile, Laura’s sister, Gabby adds all of the humor and light-hearted moments some comics could use more of. I would say that X-23 and Honey Badger have the kind of Batman-and-Robin relationship Batman and Robin have forgotten about decades ago. Tamaki has also created stories for other characters in the X-Men universe that have been underused in recent years.
The art is by Juann Cabal. I am truly amazed he hasn’t been more widely used by Marvel Comics. His line work is very clean. While he minimizes detail, he is careful with his perspective and he makes sure that facial expressions don’t lose their dynamic or depth. With X-23 and Honey Badger having the same genetics, drawing one like the other (except smaller) would be easy. Cabal goes the extra mile and gives Honey Badger enough changes to show the difference in age between them. He also has a very different take on costumes for X-Men characters. I’m not sold on X-23’s new look yet, though I respect the attempt.
The art also has terrific action sequences early on. the enemies are non-descript minions meant to be tossed away, however Cabal does not waste the opportunity to give glimpses of what he can do with X-23’s agility and Gabby’s ability to take serious punishment.
X-23 #1 sets up the story for months, if not years, in a single issue. It is not exposition heavy and balances story, action, history, and mystery to bring readers back for a second issue. In addition to all of that, this creative team has a balance of dark and light moments that a lot of comics miss out on today. Even though she isn’t Wolverine anymore, this may finally be the book that shows that X-23 is truly worthy of being more than Wolverine.
Did we miss any special issues this week? Let us know in the comments! Also, we have added a link to the latest episode of our comic news and reviews podcast, the Part-Time Henchmen!