Comics Ate My Brain

August 7, 2006

New comics 8/2/06

Filed under: 52, atom, batman, fantastic four, spectre, spider-man, weekly roundups — Tom Bondurant @ 2:10 am
Well, it’s been a hectic couple of weeks. I have been traveling, first with the Best Wife Ever and then alone, for at least part of both the past weekends. Got back into town yesterday afternoon, which meant I had to spend today (after church, of course) running around doing all the things I could have done yesterday. Including, I suppose, writing this post, so here we all are again. Not to sound like this is some kind of leaden obligation; I’m just a little tired. Also, traveling gave us the chance to see friends and family, so there was an upside.

Ach! Enough dithering!

We begin this week with The Spectre #3 (written by Will Pfeifer, drawn by Cliff Chiang), in which the late Detective Allen makes his peace with his being the Ghostly Guardian’s host. I have to say, I read none of the John Ostrander Spectre series and all of the J.M. DeMatteis version, and being otherwise familiar with the character only as an agent of God Almighty I have to say I like the way the New-For-2006 version is set up. It does not offend my Methodist upbringing and it is a good compromise between the “classic” ironic-punishment model and the more huggy DeMatteis take.

Next up is 52 #13 (written by Mickey, Mike, Peter, and Davy, breakdowns by Keith Giffen, pencilled by Todd Nauck, inked by Marlo Alquiza), which I had thought would be pretty fun, having reunited many of Ralph’s formerly-dead JLA colleagues. However, as they used to say on Mystery Science Theater 3000, “it seemed like a good idea … at first!” SPOILER ALERT — things do not go well for Ralph. Coincidentally, re-reading Waid’s Fantastic Four now makes me wonder if a similarly uplifting finale is in the works for Ralph. Maybe he’ll get to meet God, played by Julie Schwartz? That’s about the only way I can see this issue’s creepy ending being balanced out.

I did like Detective Comics #822 (written by Paul Dini, pencilled by Don Kramer, inked by Wayne Faucher), in which the Riddler — the classic Riddler, not the LOTDK makeover, I hasten to add — plays Marty Eels to Batman’s Monk. (Oh, if we had only seen Riddler’s mother this issue!) There are lots of neat little character bits, as you’d expect, but my favorite is the one involving who’s more recognized at a hardcore sex club. It reminded me of Mike Barr and Alan Davis’ over-too-soon Detective issues from 20 years ago, and I hope Dini sticks around a lot longer.

I hadn’t planned on getting The (All-New) Atom (#2 written by Gail Simone, pencilled by John Byrne, inked by Trevor Scott), but I’m glad I did. Our hero starts his costumed career in earnest, while the mysteries of both his anointment and the tiny alien invasion deepen. (I do hate sounding like a press release, just so you know.) Simone writes a group of scientists struggling believably to explain superhero tech in a world that must also acknowledge omnipotent magical beings. Accordingly, it’s quite plausible that even a scientist would respond simply by letting himself enjoy the experience. It makes for a fun book, and it might end up being my favorite superhero reinvention since Firestorm.

Marvel Adventures: Spider-Man #18 (written by Peter David, pencilled by Mike Norton, inked by Norman Lee) is a fairly insubstantial Spidey/Man-Thing team-up (as much as one can team up with Man-Thing) involving a guy and his daughter on the run from unsavories in the Everglades. It’s nothing special, but there’s nothing really wrong with it either. I also got the Untold Tales of Spider-Man paperback (or, as Marvel calls it, Spider-Man Visionaries: Kurt Busiek Vol. 1), and just read the latest Spider-Man Masterworks, so I am apparently all about the classic Spidey.

Finally, I suspected that Fantastic Four #539 (written by J. Michael Straczynski, drawn by Mike McKone) borrowed liberally from other parts of Civil War which, naturally, I have not and probably will not read. It also struck me that this issue’s focus on Ben Grimm — including the ending — might well have been handled better in, say, his own solo title …? Too bad Ben apparently can’t support such a thing, because I bet it could attract a really great writer who could have made Ben’s climactic decision that much more poignant. As it is, the poignancy for me comes from realizing that this is, in fact, the last nail in the coffin of Dan Slott’s The Thing series, because Slott really could have made something special out of this issue’s cliffhanger. I would love to see Slott’s take on Ben traveling Marvel-Earth, but alas….

Anyway, I feel like I can’t really evaluate this issue either on its own or as part of “Civil War,” so I’ll just say it didn’t feel much like a Fantastic Four story to me and leave it at that. It should have been The Thing #9.

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