Thursday, April 16, 2009

Comic Book Wednesday: Brand New Dismay

Comics, comics, comics!

Amazing Spider-Man 591. By Dan Slott & Barry Kitson, Jesse Delpergang, and Dale Eaglesham. Man, Bendis really cut this one off at the kneecaps, huh? Plot: Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four save the day in the Macroverse, after accidentally disrupting the day to begin with. But it's the subplots that are the pride and joy here. The main one is Johnny Storm's attempts to get Spider-Man to come clean with his secret identity. The other is that, due to some questionable time ratios, months pass in New York while the heroes are in the Macroverse--that means we get months of subplots advancing for Peter Parker's supporting cast, while he's missing in action. Basically, everyone's story gets pushed along--including Jonah's, in a big way.

But the elephant in the room: the dramatic impetus of the story is supposed to be that Spider-Man is addressing his secret identity for the first time. The problem is, Bendis already did that in the last issue of New Avengers--and in such a manner that it directly contradicts all the resistance and excuses that Spider-Man is making here. Luckily, Slott has enough over things going on--the supporting cast scenes and the wonderfully scripted banter between the FF and Spidey--that it's easy enough to just squint up the eyes and pretend nothing's wrong. But, editorially: something's a little wrong.

Captain America 49. By Ed Brubaker and Luke Ross. There was a lot of buzz a while back when the original Captain America, Steve Rogers, was killed off. He's been gone for a while now, and it's entirely thanks to Brubaker that, in terms of great story, he has not been missed. In this issue, Sharon Carter, the woman brainwashed into doing the deed, deals with some of the fall-out of her unintended actions and gets a step closer to finding out the secret behind the new erhatz Captain America that's shown up. (Not Bucky; another erhatz Captain America.) The art is great--it's got a semi-realistic style that fits well with the tone of the stories Brubaker is telling. And the story itself is very solid. The only fault I've got with the issue is the fault I currently have with the series as a whole--it's not that accessible. I mean, this issue will make sense if you haven't read the previous ones, but you will be left with the lingering sense that you're missing the bigger story. I still feel that way, and I've read the last dozen issues. It's great that Brubaker is creating something on such an epic scale, but if a new reader asked whether this was worth buying, I'd steer him or her towards the trade paperbacks first.

Fables 83. Bill Willingham, Matt Sturges, and Mark Buckingham. Here starts the Great Fables Crossover. (No, really, that's what it's called.) It's something of an anticlimatic start, as, well, it doesn't actually start at all. Jack phones up the Fables and tells them trouble's coming; the Fables send Snow and Big after the Literals. End. (And if you want the explanation for just who and what the Literals are, you should have been reading the last issue of Jack of Fables. which, even though it is more about the crossover than this is, is not part of the crossover at all.) Other than that, it seems like business as usual. Luckily for us, business as usual for the Fables is pretty awesome. A religion springs up over Blue's passing, the uncharacteristic fight that ended last issue is resolved in such a manner that ties it nicely to the destruction of Fabletown, and in New York, Mr Dark consolidates his hold as the murder rate skyrockets. I'm hoping he figures into the crossover--and not in some cheap manner in which he's sacrificed quickly to show how uber the Literals are. Time will tell, I suppose.

Later Days.

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