Thursday, January 8, 2015

Marvel debuts a pair of winners while Spider-Verse continues to rock

Marvel debuts a pair of winners while Spider-Verse continues to rock
by rick olivares

In the past couple of years, I have been highly critical of Marvel Comics’ direction. In fact, I dropped my cherished mutant books (a title I have been reading for 40 years now) and kept to their second tier books that have been highly enjoyable (Daredevil, Silver Surfer, and She-Hulk). With a spate of new titles out in the market, I thought I’d give two of them a try (I picked up Amazing Spider-Man a few months ago after the incredible Superior Spider-Man storyline).

And I was more than surprised.

S.H.I.E.L.D. #1
Writer: Mark Waid
Penciler: Carlos Pacheco
Inkers: Mariano Taibo with Jason Paz
Suddenly, the most famous S.H.I.E.L.D. agent outside Nick Fury, Phil Coulson is front and center. How often do you get to read comics inspired by a television series?
Honestly, I watched the first few episodes of the television version, decided it was lame, and ditched it. Only to find out that the series picked up and now it has a spin-off comic book.
Waid has imbued Coulson with a Captain America-like analytical mind where he is a step ahead of others. he even reprises Coulson’s bravery in the film, The Avengers where he confronts Loki with a Tesseract-powered rifle. In the comic, Agent Phil’s Trojan Horse gambit where he has the Vision hide inside his being to wrench free the infectious stone (shard of the Aftertime) that had possessed Heimdall, the Rainbow Bridge guardian.
I have read all the incarnations of the S.H.I.E.L.D. comics dating back to the Jim Steranko days and that is still the barometer for a good sci-fi/superspy comic story-wise and art-wise. Kind of surprised to see the superheroes playing ball with S.H.I.E.L.D. though.
Interesting debut. Not bad. Will keep tabs on this (wish Pacheco’s art shined more as the inkers’ took away some of the dynamite from his pencils).

Ant-Man #1
Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: Ramon Rosanas
It is a surprise and superb debut much as this character is given a film of his own. I love how Scott Lang (I have always been a fan of this vastly under-used character that was given a new lease on life with the Fantastic Four under Mike Allred) is being fleshed out as a character. His humility and down-on-his-luck story though treads on dangerous and unoriginal path as Peter Parker’s and Clint Barton’s (it even has the same type of humor) so I’d warn the creative team of being copycats.
Nevertheless, the first issue’s storyline is anything but unoriginal. I love how they use Lang wearing his superhero costume to a job interview (as Tony Stark’s security chief) that reminds me of all those Star Wars Stormtrooper memes. With the odds stacked against him (he really needs a job to earn money and get his life in order), he “cheats but also inadvertently prevents an assassination on Tony Stark. Lang gets the job except he hitches a plane ride to Miami to be with his daughter.
Could this be to the heir to Matt Fraction’s and David Aja’s Hawkeye (okay the art isn’t gorgeous as Aja’s but it’s not so bad)? Time will tell but in the meantime, it’s a solid debut.

The Amazing Spider-Man #12
Writer: Dan Slott
Penciler: Guiseppe Camuncoli
Inker: Cam Smith
For me, the most entertaining comics of 2014 are Tom Scioli’s Transformers vs. G.I. Joe (from IDW Publishing), Mike Allred’s Silver Surfer, Charles Soule’s She-Hulk, and Dan Slott’s “Amazing Spider-Man.” For the latter, the current storyline “Spider-Verse” from the first issue alone is an instant classic.

In a nutshell, “Spider-Verse” is tells of the gathering of every single man, woman, child, or anthropomorphic animal that wore Spider-Man’s garb in any medium or reality. In the latest issue of Amazing Spider-Man, we are re-introduced to Takuya Yamashiro and his giant robot, Leopardon! Shades of Voltron! Except this character has been featured in the Japanese animated series Supaidaman (waaaay back in 1978).

And it seeing all these new and old Spideys that makes the story highly enjoyable. It’s a bloody shame some of them have been kiboshed.

Now these Spideys are under attack by a family of life force vampires called, the Inheritors.

In Part Four of this seven-part series, the dwindling number of Spideys are forced to go to nuked out Earth-3145 while Jessica Drew (Spider Woman) has infiltrated the Inheritors. What secret does Earth-3145 hold? And what are the scrolls that Drew sent to Peter Parker? This is gonna be one heck of a wind-up.

You can check these books out at Comic Odyssey, Comic Quest, Druid’s Keep, Filbar’s, and other comic book specialty shops.

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