Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Return of Junk Food For Thought

Collects Skrulls Vs. Power Pack Nos. 1-4 (cover dates September- December, 2008)
This was a disappointing semi-tie-in to Secret Invasion. The original 20 or so issues of Power Pack in the '80s had real heart to them. They were geared towards children but were not dumbed down for them like this is. This version simply panders to them.

SPIDER-MAN: CRIME AND PUNISHER (Marvel, 2009; Hardcover)
Collects Amazing Spider-Man Nos. 574-577 and selections from Spider-Man: Brand New Day-Extra! No. 1 (cover dates September, 2008- January, 2009).
Yet another handsome hardcover in the Brand New Day line of Premiere Hardcovers. The story is great, but Chris Bachalo's manga-crap artwork is a total buzzkill. I subscribe to the notion that every issue is somebody's first issue. Building on that train of thought, let's say that little Tommy, an 8 year old kid from Anytown, USA, sees a Spider-Man movie or cartoon and decides that he wants to read a Spider-Man comic book. If he is lucky enough to live near a comic shop or Borders, he may actually convince his parents to plunk down $3-4 on a floppy, and then find...this? Bachalo is not meant to draw a mainstream superhero comic book like this. And this is the most mainstream superhero comic book on the market, and as such, should only have top flight artists working on it.

Collects Green Lantern Nos. 1-3 and Showcase Nos. 22-24 (cover dates October, 1959- December, 1960).
I bought this on a whim, and was pleasantly surprised to find that Gil Kane did the artwork. His artwork was nowhere near the grandeur he would achieve in the late '60s and early '70s, but it's like listening to an early Beatles album; all of the ingredients are there, but haven't simmered enough yet. John Broome's writing has a fun, zany flavor that could only come out of the Silver Age of Comics. A lot of the faulty science that makes the Silver Age so funny is in play here. I mean, his Power Ring can't affect anything that is yellow? I am sure that some writer in the last 50 years has addressed this with a better explanation. I'll have to wait for the Chronicles line to get there to find out, though.
SPIDER-MAN: DEATH AND DATING (Marvel, 2009; Hardcover)
Collects Amazing Spider-Man Nos. 578-582, Amazing Spider-Man Annual 2008 and selections from Amazing Spider-Man No. 583 (cover dates December, 2008- March, 2009).
The winning streak continues on this, the third Golden Age of the Amazing Spider-Man! These guys get it. Stories unfolding over multiple issues while having something actually happen in each and every issue. None of this Bendis talking head, feeble set-up, and then something happening in the 4th issue of the arc nonsense. No sirree, not only do I want to keep reading this title, but re-read it as well! Mark Waid and Marcos Martin's Shocker arc was fantastic. Everything looked and felt like a comic book, not the crappy double page "wide angle" Michael Bay style explosions that seem to mar many comic books nowadays. The artwork is crisp and clear throughout, servicing the story first and foremost. Of particular note is the team of Mike McKone and Andy Lanning, who deliver a great rendition of Spider-Man. Beloved scribe Roger Stern (from the first half of the second Golden Age of Spider-Man) returns for a done in one. Yes, a done in one. No 6 part 'arc', no tie-in to Dark Secret Planet or whatever the current crossover is. Dan Slott also deserves a mention here. He is one of the bright spots at Marvel in the 21st Century. To all of the naysayers, please give Brand New Day Spidey a chance! It truly does rock.
SPIDER-MAN: FAMILY TIES (Marvel, 2009; Hardcover)
Collects Spider-Man: Fear Itself and selections from Amazing Spider-Man Family Nos. 1-3 (cover dates October, 2008- March, 2009).
Ehhhhh, I don't know, man. This title screams sub-par from top to bottom. The Fear Itself one-shot (not to be confused with the Fear Itself original graphic novel from 1992) is somewhat enjoyable because it features the Man-Thing. The rest is pretty forgettable, and it is no wonder that this title has already gotten the axe.

SPIDER-MAN: ELECTION DAY (Marvel, 2009; Hardcover)
Collects Amazing Spider-Man Nos. 584-588 and selections from Amazing Spider-Man No. 583, Amazing Spider-Man: Extra! Nos. 1, 3 and Gettysburg Distress online only comic (cover dates September, 2008- May, 2009).
The core series stuff was great as usual, but the Obama story pretty much sucked. At least I didn't plunk down $100 for the floppy on eBay like some idiots did the week it came out.

Collects Secret Invasion: The Amazing Spider-Man Nos. 1-3 and Amazing Spider-Man Annual No. 35 (cover dates October- December, 2008).
Before I begin my tirade, please allow me to clarify one thing: This was an enjoyable read with solid writing and artwork. While it was a good read, the title of this book is entirely misleading. The Secret Invasion mini-series focused on Jackpot and Spider-Man's supporting cast, with Spider-Man himself being featured on only a handful of pages. The story did tie in to events occurring in both Secret Invasion and Amazing Spider-Man, but I was disappointed because this was essentially a Jackpot mini-series. I was also disappointed to see Marvel double dip and reprint the ASM Annual here, as it was recently reprinted in the Death and Dating Spider-Man hardcover. It does tie-in to Jackpot, but that just lends further merit to my argument that this is a misleadingly titled book.

Collects Secret Invasion: X-Men Nos. 1-4 (cover dates October, 2008- January, 2009) and Fantastic Four Nos. 250 (cover date January, 1983).
This was a decent read, but the real question is why is FF #250 included here? Sure, it is a Skrull story, but I would have rather seen this mini and the Spider-Man Secret Invasion mini collected together in one trade. Maybe they could have called it Secret Invasion Companion or whatnot? The FF issue was collected in the Byrne Visionaries line some time ago, so it seems pointless to include it here, especially when it is superior to the marquee issues in the book!

Collects New Mutants (Vol. 1) Nos. 26-34 (cover dates April- December, 1985).
I bought Nos. 30, 33 and 34 off of the stands back in the day. I am not a fan of Bill Sienkewicz's hyper-scratchy artwork. Sometimes "progress" as an artist is bad! Steve Leialoha steps in and is a breath of fresh air. Chris Claremont still had his craft at this time, but when you read a bunch of these issues in a row it wears thin. His repetition worked well in monthly intervals, not so well in marathon sittings.

Collects Boris Karloff Thriller Nos. 1, 2 and Boris Karloff Tales of Mystery Nos. 3, 4 (cover dates October, 1962- July, 1963).
A somewhat tame but always charming collection of Gold Key reprints. The artwork and writing are below the quality of EC but are worth preserving in this format for posterity. I hope that Dark Horse can finagle the rights to Gold Key's Twilight Zone as well.

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