On the Panel

May 8, 2014 | Posted by in Comics

Amazing Spider-Man (2014) #1.1

Dan Slott takes us back to the wall crawler’s early days to tell a story that will have some ramifications on the present. How these events will affect Peter’s life now are as yet unclear but I’m sure it’ll all make sense eventually.

The story begins almost straight after Peter has tracked down and caught his uncle’s killer and starts to tell the kind of story that we haven’t seen from Spider-Man in many years -not even in Ultimate Spider-Man. Peter learning the true meaning of responsibility is the theme that is central to this piece, he’s suddenly forced to grow up much faster than he wanted to when faced with the very real prospects of dealing with various people on behalf of his household and financial issues. Basically, he needs money and really isn’t sure how he’s supposed to get it because that was something his Uncle Ben did.

Peter being hard up for cash is nothing new but it is refreshing to return to this period of almost total innocence where he can be written as an overwhelmed teenager instead of a perpetually penniless adult. Through this story we see things that the comics of the time never showed us, such as Uncle Ben’s funeral which is something I found particularly touching. As Aunt May pointed out, the funeral was a happy occasion for her since it let her see just how many lives Ben had touched over the years and that’s something to be proud of. It’s easy to see where Peter gets the ideals that he feels the need to live up to in this section, he has always put Uncle Ben on a pedestal due to his Aunt’s unflinching adoration of him so it’s interesting to see others talk about the sort of man he was if only to prove that May wasn’t misremembering a little. I’d quite like to see something that points out the ways that he was flawed but I doubt that’ll happen anytime soon.

This issue is relatively light on action as Peter hasn’t committed to using his powers to help others yet, instead we are shown a very different side to Spider-Man as he does more performing for money. He does make enough by doing it but it’s lost the thrill it once had for him since he feels that he needs to do it rather than just doing it to show off like he would before his uncle was murdered. I almost feel like his disinterest in performing for money comes from that desire to use his powers to do more than that.

I like to be reminded of the fact that Peter is no saint sometimes, he’s a good person sure but he does make a lot of mistakes because he’s a human being and in this instance a teenager. He almost starts a fight with Flash Thompson -something we have seen a lot of- which has the consequence of getting him noticed negatively at school for a change.

We see a little more of the kid obsessed with Spider-Man, he is given a name this time -Clayton Cole- and his story seems to involve him copycatting Spidey, he has the money to do it and seemingly the intelligence. I’m assuming this will eventually have him become a villain because that’s how it often goes, time will tell.

Something that interests me about this comic is the aesthetic, obviously it has been more than thirteen years since Spider-Man comics began and the world has changed a bit in that time. The artwork nicely fits in with Spidey of the 60s with some touches like the internet thrown in to modernise it a bit -well modernise to thirteen years ago-

Wow, long review. I loved this comic, was great to see Spidey’s history revisited to tell a new story -a NEW story Sony, I don’t want to see another reboot- and show us that Peter’s journey to heroism wasn’t quite as simple as originally made out. It makes his growth way back then seem a little more natural and expertly feeds into those early issues. More proof that Slott gets the character better than most and that sometimes it’s nice to go retro.

Cyclops (2014) #1

I’ll give then this, it’s a bit different. The All New X-Men comic has opened up new possibilities for the younger X-Men characters, something this new series takes full advantage of.

The sixteen year old Scott Summers has recently found out that his father is alive and a space pirate so he decides to spend some quality time with dear old Dad and join him on his space faring adventures.

Much of the story involves young Cyclops acclimating to his new living situation and getting used to the idea of the seemingly routine events of being a space pirate. Also, he has the very human problem of adapting to the idea of his father having a new girlfriend, though this does have a sci fi twist.

The comic is good enough, the young Scott is engaging enough and it helps that the fantastical story is peppered with very real human moments and problems. I personally didn’t find it hugely interesting, Marvel has better cosmic titles out there like Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain Marvel so if a cosmic comic is something you’re interested in then check that out. If you’re looking for human/teen drama then Marvel has many better options for you too. Off the top of my head Ms Marvel is the one to check out for that. I will not be checking out issue #2

Miles Morales: The Ultimate Spider-Man #1

Another first issue of a Spider-Man comic, this time in the Ultimate universe featuring their Peter Parker replacement, Miles Morales.

Most of the focus of this issue is Miles wrestling with the decision to tell his girlfriend Katie that he’s Spider-Man. His best friend Ganke thinks it’s a terrible idea but Miles isn’t convinced so he goes to Mary Jane for advice.

This part of the story is by far the strongest, Mary Jane has a unique insight on being the girlfriend who knows the superhero secret. I like how she compares it to proposing since knowing that about something would be something completely life changing. It certainly gives Miles a lot to think about and the conversation is superbly written. Having Peter’s supporting cast show up to advise Miles now and again is a nice touch and keeps these characters involved.

I’m also a fan of how they’re handling Miles’ reaction to his father’s disappearance. It makes complete sense for him to stay with his friend because, after all he is a young teenager and probably doesn’t feel comfortable living by himself, not to mention the fact that it’s probably illegal for him to be alone. Miles comes across as tortured in a great many ways and it’s handled very well.

Overall, this issue was very good. The conversations with Ganke and MJ are particular highlights, giving good reasons for both sides of the identity revealing argument. One of Peter’s signature villains returning may prove interesting for Miles as challenges go. Unfortunately, the issue is brought down by the “shock” ending that must surely be a red herring.

Original Sin #1

The Marvel comic event of 2014 properly begins here. Let’s hope they don’t use this one to segue into another event like they did last year, I don’t think my bank balance can handle the pressure.

I’ve had differing reactions to event comics over the years, some I feel were excellent and changed the characters in new and interesting ways like Secret Wars or Avengers vs X-Men and some of them confused me, baffled me and bored the living daylights out of me like Age of Ultron. There are also the events that are very hard to follow like Infinite. There’s a tendency in these comics to make the story too big and therefore letting it swallow the characters. It’s hard to care about what’s going on when your favourite characters are a small detail on a panel full of untold cosmic nonsense so I look on these events as being something to be wary of.

Thankfully Original Sin is off to a great start so far. Issue #0 served as a capable introduction to the character of The Watcher and the latest Nova which allows this issue to just get right into it. The afore mentioned Watcher is gunned down right in his facility on the moon and his eyes are removed, a fairly gruesome scene to be sure. This attracts the attention of Nick Fury and The Avengers who begin a murder investigation. Nick Fury rightly points out that there aren’t many people who even know that this being exists and of those very few would be capable of killing him going purely on power levels. This basically means that everyone is a suspect.

I’m impressed that this issue manages to keep the characters in the forefront, when we start on Captain America, Black Widow, Wolverine and Nick Fury they are in a restaurant enjoying a steak and talking among themselves. It’s small moments like this that keep me reading Marvel comics because they come across so genuinely and it helps to remind the readers that they are reading stories about people that happen to have super powers and exist in a larger than life world battling against insurmountable odds.

From what I understand, this event is going to deal with many characters in the Marvel universe discovering sins in their past that they may not have realised or may have dismissed. I think the murder investigation is the perfect way to bring those to light and to analyse them so I look forward to seeing things unearthed about my favourite characters and learning how it affects their lives now.

Overall, I thought this comic was great. The story felt contained and never lost focus on the characters. The death of Uatu -The Watcher- is given the gravity that it deserves and the mystery is genuinely compelling, I hope the momentum of it keeps up as more is revealed, proved, disproved, misdirected and whatever else they can throw at us…as long as it remains interesting. This could be the best event in quite some time.

The Punisher (2014) #5

I don’t really have much to say about this one as it’s fairly light on plot. Not that it makes it bad, it just makes hit hard to talk about.

The threads established in previous issues begin to culminate in this issue as The Punisher takes on the gang that he’s been after and his attack on them is oddly satisfying to see, delivering Frank Castle’s usual combination of tactical finesse and explosive methodology to get the job done.

Frank’s final confrontation with Electro is set up here too, ending on a cliffhanger that will no doubt have them battling it out next issue.

Overall this issue was a great action piece, it was so well put together that I didn’t mind the lack of plot. What little plot there was enhanced explosive carnage and had The Punisher true to his character and firmly in his element. Sometimes testosterone fueled destruction is exactly what is needed and this delivers in spades.

Batman Eternal #5

This issue delivers a largely peripheral part of the story but makes it no less important. It’s light on Batman but doesn’t suffer as a result.

We learn a bit more about what’s going on through Red Robin and his own investigation. He has identified that the virus infecting people actually originated far earlier than Batman originally thought which adds an extra layer of intrigue, making Red Robin, Batman and the reader question what’s really going on here. There’s a large piece of the puzzle that everyone is missing and I for one want to know what that is. I can see the story lurching towards where it will eventually end up as seen in the first issue but I’m still at a loss for the major details of how it can get there.

Vicky Vale props up the other plot where she takes her journalistic integrity to The Narrows to investigate the growing gang war. This story is really good as it shows a difference in how Vicky used to conduct her journalism and how it’s done now which amounts to lots of talk lamenting “the good old days”. We get much of this through her conversation with Joey Day, the man who apparently broke The Joker story some time ago. It nicely shows that Gotham is so corrupt that people know about it and can’t be bothered resisting it any more, it appears to be a losing battle so why bother? That’s really where Vicky and Joey differ, she is still enthusiastic and idealistic where he has had much of that washed away with time and experience.

To sum up, this series continues to impress. The world is getting larger but it’s not being bogged down by all of the elements being introduced. Red Robin’s investigation deepens the enduring mystery and piques my interest for what may come next. I actually like that this series isn’t afraid to put Batman in the background and explore some of his supporting cast, maybe many Batman comic series do that but I can only speak for this one and I like what they’re doing. It certainly proves that those characters are interesting enough to be front and center in their own narratives.