Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #3 Review

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis

Artist: Sara Pichelli

Colours: Justin Ponsor

Lettering: VC’s Cory Petit

Cover: Kaare Andrews

 

The slow yet enthralling introduction to Miles and his world continues in this issue of Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man. I have really enjoyed this series so far and this issue does not let me down.

The only downside so far in this series for me has been the cover art, as mentioned in my last review I am not a fan of this ultra-realistic depiction of Spider-Man that Kaare Andrews draws and so again this issues cover is a let-down. I do however like the massive moon behind Spider-Man and the glittering city lights below him. I also think that Spider-Man’s pose on this cover is a slightly uncomfortable one, knowing that he is only 13 years old.

The plot of this issue is as good as the two issues before it. It again deals with Miles not wanting these powers that he has received but knowing that he could do a lot of good with them. We receive our first glimpse of Miles doing a heroic rescue in this issue and it is interesting that he does this in full view of everyone. Evidently at such as early point in his development as a superhero he is not thinking about needing a secret identity, but simply knows he can save those that are trapped and goes and does it. I really liked that in this issue the series has begun to tie into the end of Peter’s time as Spider-Man, right at the end of the issue we are told that there has been a superhero battle on a bridge and that there are unconfirmed reports that Spider-Man has been shot. The shock on Miles’s face when he is told this news is brilliant, it is evidently going to affect him more than those around him because he is considering not using his powers as there already is a Spider-Man, and so with Peter’s death Miles is going to have one less reason not to take up his mantle.

The interior art in this issue was again fantastic; Pichelli continues to draw the world of Miles so uniquely and vividly.  I think that my favourite panel of the entire issue was when Miles was having a nightmare that he was attacked and electrocuted by a villain. The bolts of electric shooting around the panel were amazing.

Ultimately this issue continues the excellent introduction that Bendis and his team are creating and I look forward to issue #4.

Issue Rating: 9/10

Review: X-Men: Pixies Strikes Back! #1 (of 4)

Kathryn Immonen won a great deal of good will from me with her excellent (if somewhat surreal) Patsy Walker: Hellcat last year.  Despite low sales and mixed critical reception, however, Immonen seemed to be on her way up, put on one of the very, very few successful modern franchise creations: Runaways.  The book thwarted more polished creators than her, however, with Joss Whedon and Terry Moore both coming off troubled runs, and Immonen proved no different.  Now she returns, however, with X-Men: Pixie Strikes Back, a mini-series that appears to have decided that Patsy Walker: Hellcat was just a little too normal.

Runaways artist Sara Pichelli joins Imonnen here, and while her style feels notably different than in her previous book, the dreamy, exaggerated style serves the plot well.  Pichelli’s cartoonish exaggeration fits into Immonen’s hyper-energetic world perfectly.  Though the issue may be a bit disconcerting to many, it’s energy, charm and savvy definitely deserve some notice.  From fake high schoolers talking in bizarre quotes to random bouts of high school violence, Pixie Strikes Back offers up a variety of surreal action that’s sure to baffle, confuse and entertain.

Grade: B+

– Cal Cleary

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Catch-Up Mini-Reviews

Detective Comics #856

Tec3

Greg Rucka’s story in Detective Comics isn’t particular deep.  It’s a relatively simple story, in fact: Batwoman learns that the new leader of the Religion of Crime is coming to Gotham, goes, confronts her.  It’s a pretty standard adventure comic, with Rucka’s usual capable plotting and dialogue.  In fact, the more concise, fun Question back-up in the book features slightly sharper writing thus far… but no one will confuse that for the better read.  Hamner continues to turn in clean, dynamic work on the Question back-up, while J.H. Williams III’s work on the main feature remains stellar.  The book is gorgeous and well-written, and consistently worth your time.

Grade: B+

Wonder Woman #35

Wonder Woman

Gail Simone finishes up this brief arc with a few revelations and a lot of aftermath left over from “Rise of the Olympian”, including some dark promises and new powers.  All of it sets up the next big story, but it’s done in one of the book’s most engaging, fun arcs Simone’s run has produced.  She goes a way too heavy on the fan-worship of Black Canary in a number of awkward, uncomfortable internal monologues from Wonder Woman, but the arc otherwise offers action with gorgeous, fluid art from Lopresti paired with a simple story setting up another major new chapter in Diana’s life.

Grade: A-

Final Crisis Aftermath: Ink #4

Ink4

Ink continues to be a pleasant surprise for me.  Fiorentino’s art, while occasionally muddy, is improving, and he’s demonstrated himself to be an apt choice to illustrate just how formidable the Tattooed Man can be.  Wallace’s story, meanwhile, generally maintains its pleasant mix of urban crime drama and superheroics, though the more action-oriented approach to this issue meant that it sacrificed a little bit of the drama in favor of the superheroics.  A late game plot twist took that shift a little too far, however, and the issue ends somewhere between the ridiculous and the parodic.

Grade: B+

Final Crisis Aftermath: Dance #4

Dance4

Dance finally pulls itself out of the slump the mini had been in and starts moving forward.  Though the last issue was of a high quality, the mini really wasn’t going much of anywhere.  With the team broken up, however, and the media blitz that had blinded them for the first few issues fading, Most Excellent Superbat finally has time to check up on his home country.  Not all is right in Japan, however, and he’s forced to get the team back together again.  Casey’s writing of these new teen heroes remains relatively sharp, while Chriscross’ cartoony art more than keeps up with the book’s humor and energy.  If only DC’s other teen heroes were even half so interesting right now…

Grade: B+

Incognito #6

Incogni

Brubaker and Phillips complete the first arc with the strongest, most exciting issue yet.  We learn even more about the origins of the Overkill brothers, learn about why Yuri was created, and see a massive showdown between Zack and his old allies.  All the action is well-illustrated by Sean Phillips in some of his most exciting fights yet.  The book is undeniably over the top, but it loves living up its pulp roots.  Though it’ll be quite some time before we get the next issue, the news isn’t all bad – the reason for the long delay is because Brubaker and Phillips will be returning to do a new arc on Criminal.

Grade: A

Runaways #13

Runaways

Immonen was responsible for last year’s manic, excellent Patsy Walker: Hellcat.  Unfortunately her Runaways, which finds her teamed with Sara Pichelli, lacks both the momentum and the cleverness of her debut work. Pichelli’s art is clean and cartoonish, giving the book a sense of energy, but it isn’t enough.  It isn’t enough, however.  After subpar runs from Whedon and Moore, Immonen and Pichelli needed to start their run off with a bang.  Unless the end of the arc offers up some pretty massive surprises, it’s safe to say that she’s failed to do so.

Grade: C

Doktor Sleepless #13

Sleepless

After a lengthy delay, the good Doktor returns.  Things are heating up in Heavenside, mostly according to the Doktor’s plans.  The issue reads like a montage of the city going to hell, and while it isn’t the most creative or compelling issue Ellis has turned in thus far, it is nonetheless immensely satisfying to see everything come to a head like this.  Rodriguez continues to improve as his design becomes more confident and his figures become less stiff.

Grade: B+

– Cal Cleary

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Detective Comics #855

Doktor Sleepless #11

Final Crisis Aftermath: Ink #3

Final Crisis Aftermath: Dance #3

Incognito #6

Runaways #12

Wonder Woman #34

Catch-Up Mini-Reviews

Captain Britain and MI:13 #15

Britain

Thus ends one of Marvel’s strongest ongoing books.  Cornell and Kirk wind down their title with the massive “Vampire State” arc that should’ve been cheesy as hell but ended up being gripping, exciting and just downright fun.  The issue is packed with excellently written and drawn action set-pieces that build off of everything that’s come before to give the issue the emotional closure it needed without sacrificing the excitement.  Top quality work.

Grade: B+

Runaways #12

Runaway

Immonen still hasn’t brought the energy of her absolutely fantastic Patsy Walker: Hellcat mini to the title, but her second issue shows a small amount of improvement over the first.  Pichelli’s art renders everyone and everything in the title improbably pretty, if overly cartoonish, but she handles the issue’s dramatic moments quite well.  Nothing spectacular yet, but more than good enough to keep giving it a shot.

Grade: B-

Final Crisis Aftermath: Ink #3

Ink3

Ink continues to be the surprise of the Final Crisis Aftermath titles for me as it uses the conventions of the gritty crime drama to tell the story of a supervillain seeking redemption.  Wallace and Fiorentino make the tale a little more complicated than it needs to be by having Richards’ tattoos come to life, but the metaphor is apt: escaping a life of crime is already hard without having those closest to you trying to drag you back into it.  

Grade: B

– Cal Cleary

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Captain Britain and MI:13 #14

Runaways #11

Final Crisis Aftermath: Ink #2

Final Crisis Aftermath: Ink #1

Review: Runaways #11

Runaways

Confession time: despite being a hardcore Whedon fan and generally enjoying Moore, I haven’t read Runaways since BKV left the title a few years back.  When it premiered, it was one of the cleverest new titles on the shelves, and it hung onto that for a good little while.  I hadn’t heard enough good things about the book to get back on board, and so, for a long time, it lingered, a largely forgotten pop culture relic in the back of my brain.

When I heard that writer Kathryn Immonen was coming on the title… and that it had nothing to do with this Dark Reign nonsense… and that it was one of the few Marvel titles remaining at the crucial $2.99 price tag, I decided to jump back on board.  I miss my Marvel Universe, I’ve found, at least until I read anything that takes place in the mainstream setting.  Besides that, though, Immonen’s recent Patsy Walker: Hellcat was one of the most quirky, charming minis in recent memory, and I wanted to see what she could do with a slightly more high-profile title.

Runaways #11 is not without flaws, especially not to readers who’ve been away for awhile.  Little information is given on the new Runaway, Klara, and little personality, too.  Meanwhile, the death touted on the cover of the issue seems a bit too random, and the return doesn’t actually seem to happen.  And while Pichelli’s art is gorgeous, it is perhaps a little bit too much so – Chase looks like the platonic ideal of a boy band idol, just to give one example.

That said, those are mostly nit-picks.  Pichelli does  fabulous job with 99% of the issue, and her cartoony style is a joy to look at.  Immonen isn’t quite as quick as she was in Hellcat, but she still provides a solid opening issue, and her snappy style works well with Pichelli’s art.  The book is fun, different, and just a little confused, but it definitely makes me curious to see where they’ll go next issue.

Grade: B+

– Cal Cleary

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