Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Reviews: Spider-Man- The Gauntlet Vol. 5, Grim Hunt, One Moment In Time; Boris Karloff Tales of Mystery Archives Vol. 2; Batman & Robin: Batman Reborn

SPIDER-MAN: THE GAUNTLET VOL. 5- THE LIZARD (Marvel, 2010, Hardcover)
Collects Amazing Spider-Man Nos. 630-633 and selections from Amazing Spider-Man No. 629 and Web of Spider-Man No. 6 (cover dates May- July, 2010).
Zeb Wells is the weak link in the writers of the 'Spidey Brain Trust'. He writes in a more Bendis-esque, ultra-padded style than any of the other cats involved with this title. Couple that with Chris Bachalo's manga-crap-infused "artwork", and you have one unenjoyable book. I would dump this book in a heartbeat if not for my Amazing Spider-Man completist OCD. At least they tried to do something new with the Lizard. It wasn't any good, but it was new, and they tried.

BORIS KARLOFF TALES OF MYSTERY ARCHIVES VOL. 2 (Dark Horse, 2010, Hardcover)
Collects Boris Karloff Tales of Mystery Nos. 5-10 (cover dates October, 1963- June, 1965)
This series is fun and entertaining. While not great, the stories are paced nicely and have artwork by many Golden and Silver Age greats, such as Alex Toth, Frank Springer, Paul S. Newman, Jack Sparling, and Joe Orlando. This book is worth checking out if you are a fan of the Horror/Mystery genres or appreciate vintage comic books. 

BATMAN & ROBIN: BATMAN REBORN (DC, 2010, Hardcover)
Collects Batman and Robin Nos. 1-6 (cover dates August, 2009- January, 2010)
I picked up the .99 reprint of Issue 1 and was blown away. I ran out and bought the first two hardcovers (sucker!!) and really enjoyed this one. I have not been a regular reader of Grant Morrison's run, but quickly picked up what was going on in Issue 1. Bruce Wayne is dead. Check. The original Robin (Dick Grayson) is now Batman. Check. Batman's 10 year old son that he had with Ra's Al Ghul's daughter is now Robin. Check. With that basic knowledge, I was able to follow this with ease. I am not a huge fan of either Grant Morrison writing or Frank Quietly's artwork, but it seems to work here. This is pretty gruesome stuff, so parental guidance is suggested. I am more than a little sad that I can't share modern Batman comics with my son.
I have a double-standard with Marvel and DC. With Marvel, things must strictly adhere to continuity and characters must adhere to the foundations set by Stan Lee. Anything else pisses me off. I am also a completist with Marvel titles like Spider-Man, Avengers, etc. With DC, my knowledge is limited mostly to the Golden Age (1930s/1940s). I have no urge to own the complete run of anything, rather I am more than happy to cherry pick arcs here and there based on either the creators involved or any other whim I may have. Again, this is my 'big two' double-standard, and I am sure that there are DC fans somewhere griping about this the way that I gripe about Bendis' Avengers.


SPIDER-MAN: GRIM HUNT (Marvel, 2010, Hardcover)
Collects Amazing Spider-Man Nos. 634-637, The Grim Hunt Digital Prologue and selections from Amazing Spider-Man Extra! No. 3, and Web of Spider-Man No. 7 (cover dates May, 2009- September, 2010).
So this is supposed to be the payoff? After plowing through all 5 Gauntlet hardcovers, this is what it all leads to? While not horrible, I felt underwhelmed after that much investment, both in time and money. No spoilers, only these gripes: Ret-cons suck, as do resurrections. There is some sucky dialogue in here too, with Spider-Man doing several "..." replies, and even Arana saying "BTW...". I wish that I were kidding about that, but Joe Kelly is such a lazy writer that he saved a few keystrokes by doing that. Rather than have her say "By the way", they had her say something that has more syllables, as if anyone would really do that. Horrible writing. 

SPIDER-MAN: ONE MOMENT IN TIME (Marvel, 2010, Hardcover)
Collects Amazing Spider-Man Nos. 638-641 (cover dates September, 2010- October, 2010)
G-R-O-O-O-A-A-AN-N-N....What a piece of crap! With the exception of the outcome of The Gauntlet/ Grim Hunt arc(s), I feel that the Brand New Day run has given us the best Spider-Man comics in 25 years. Rather than putting the whole messy Mephisto thing behind us and moving on, Joe Quesada feels that drudging everything up with more ret-cons is a good idea. This is borderline DC/ What If...? style storytelling.
The last few pages is Issue 641 were padding to the maximum. Showing the same panel 10 or 11 times, but with different coloring, and then on the 12th panel showing the same pose but with something different going on is piss poor storytelling. Oh well, we had a great run that lasted nearly 100 issues. Now we are getting Humbero Ramos' sucktastic "artwork" after this. Let the new 'dark ages' for Spider-Man begin.

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