ratcreature: RatCreature as Daredevil (daredevil)
I post about Daredevil so rarely because I tend to wait for a couple of storylines to accumulate before reading, even though I collect the monthly issues.

Now I've read DD #107-110: cruel & unusual, #111-115: Lady Bullseye, #116-120 (500): Return of the King )
ratcreature: RatCreature as Cyclops (cyclops)
Astonishing X-Men #1-21 (written by Joss Whedon, art by John Cassaday)

I wonder whether I shouldn't have waited for the final issues to come out before reading. Now that I'm faced with a cliffhanger again, I remembered how irregularly this came out for a while. Still it was entertaining so far, and I like the mix of an overarching plot that's coming to a conclusion in the final issues, i.e. that alien world that is convinced by some prophecy that an earth mutant will destroy it, which makes for a nice mystery keeping you hooked, and the subplots threaded into that.

Though the subplots didn't all work equally well for me. The one with the mutant cure was pretty cool, but I didn't really get into the sentient danger room thing as much, though it wasn't bad. I have to admit that the Hellfire Club stuff left me mostly confused, as I had no idea who all these people and their history with the X-Men were (though I have come across some in fanfic), and I didn't know anything about this Cassandra Nova character and her history with Emma Frost. Eventually I read with a couple of reference and overview websites open and skimmed those to get the gist, but I still felt lost. How did anyone manage to follow superhero comics at all before reference websites?? Anyway, I suspect readers familiar with the background may get more out of this (or hate it for messing with something, I guess that's always a possibility).

Still, even with my confusion the basic suspense worked for me, or I wouldn't have bothered looking up all these Hellfire Club people and their history and powers in the first place. Also I'm inclined to like this X team because it has Cyclops, Wolverine and Beast who are among my favorite X-Men characters.
ratcreature: RatCreature as Spidey (spidey)
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #11-19 (written by Peter David, pencils by Todd Nauck and Scott Eton, inks by Robert Campanella, Rodney Ramos, and John Dell)

I enjoyed those three stories. While they aren't outstanding all are solid and entertaining action-adventures with Spidey and some of his classic villains. All are set during Civil War and the direct aftermath, but not closely connected to any Civil War plots, except for Peter's identity being known. In the first several Mysterios appear at the school, mayhem ensues, and Flash deals with Peter as Spider-Man, the second, is set after Peter changed sides to oppose registration, and the government employs the Vulture to fight and capture him, but it's mostly irrelevant why the Vulture is attacking Peter just then. In the third The Sandman seeks Peter's help to exonerate his father from the murder of the alternate Ben Parker, so that also brings the future Spider-Man story to a close. Actually I liked the last least, probably because I wasn't too fond of that earlier plot in the first place. There's also a strange school nurse with a spider affinity and spikes like Peter's new poison stingers, so I assume she's the spider-creature from Spider-Man: The Other.

I've read somewhere that Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man is going to be canceled soon in favor of ASM coming out more frequently, and I'm not sure how I feel about that. On the one hand I like ASM better, and having it come out more often with more room for a single, consistent Spider-Man plot arc isn't bad, on the other hand FNSM seem to have hit its stride and provides decent adventures with the classic Spidey villains, and it's kind of nice to have a slightly less angsty break from ASM.

Amazing Spider-Man #539-541 -- Back in Black (written by J. Michael Straczynski, pencils by Ron Garney, inks by Bill Reinhold)

I kind of hate it that I'm now caught up so that I have to wait for the next issue again, especially with cliffhangers. But I like the story so far. Peter is hunting down those responsible for shooting Aunt May, and it's fast paced and tense. Peter being pushed to his limits, not just from the assassin shooting Aunt May, but also from Captain America's death and from being hunted himself, comes across as very believable here. I also like how he keeps in contact with MJ. And I'm curious what will happen during the fight with Fisk. I mean, Fisk isn't going to die, especially not since this seems to be set before the whole FBI deal in Dardevil ended, so he obviously survived, and I don't see Peter dying yet again either, but still.

One random quibble though-- what is it with comic rats having canines?? I've complained about this before, but let me say again: rats are rodents. Their incisors are plenty sharp, but they just don't have canine teeth, nor are any of their teeth pointed. Giving them canines doesn't make them look more scary, it just looks ridiculous.
ratcreature: RatCreature is buried in comics, with the text: There's no such thing as too many comics.  (comics)
Okay, figuring out the reading order was a bit of a pain in places, especially between ASM and the main Civil War series since I just couldn't get a real grip how the events sort out into a single timeline for Spider-Man. (A bit more on that below.) Also I haven't bought all the tie-ins, so I'm missing chunks, and I think I've rad the specials (War Crimes and The Return out of order).

Anyway, the Civil War issues I read were:
Road to Civil War: The New Avengers Illuminati
Amazing Spider-Man #529-538
Civil War #1-7
Civil War: Front Line #1-11
Civil War: The Return
Civil War: War Crimes
Civil War: The Confession
Civil War: The Initiative
New Avengers #21-25

Overall I quite enjoyed Civil War. cut for lengthy rambling )
ratcreature: RatCreature as Spidey (spidey)
Well, all that Spider-Man reading has some nice side-effects: I had a neat Spider-Man/Superman crossover dream last night. Sadly no slashy content or anything, just a wacky action-adventure, and I mostly forgot the details soon after waking up. Still, nicer than lots of other dreams.

Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #5-7 (written by Peter David, pencils by Roger Cruz and Michael Wieringo, inks by Karl Kesel)
These issues were kind of forgettable, except for the brain-hurting part where they somehow compressed or relocated the timeline to make weblogs a common thing when Peter attended high school, but it is best not to notice these details. Also, I'm really not interested in wrestling, much less into mythical wrestling gods or whatever that villain was, so it didn't do anything for me, and some angsting by Peter about the origin of his powers (i.e. are they (comic-book) scientific or from magical totems?) didn't make up for my lack of interest in the rest.

Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #8-10 -- Jumping the Tracks (written by Peter David, pencils by Roger Cruz and Michael Wieringo, inks by Karl Kesel and Mike Manley)
And this story was just-- it just didn't work for me. It's not even the timetraveling future Spider-Man whose daughter is the future Hobgoblin as such. I mean, yes, that's weird, but this is comics and you deal. But the whole setup was lame. First, some crazy torturing Peter with his guilt over dead relatives and friends yet again gets old, and really there is no need to bring back Uncle Ben (again? maybe they don't count the ghost thing). Also, to me it made no sense that a future Spider-Man ends up as the boss of the time police, and that they don't even prevent that stereotypical apocalypse that apparently happened. And the whole thing with the alternate Uncle Ben just got more boring with him seemingly shooting that Spider-Man. Obviously the "real" Uncle Ben, or a reasonable equivalent from another universe as the one in the Spider-Man as pro-wrestler AU flashbacks seemed to be, wouldn't just turn into a homicidal lunatic, even when he's depressed, so the shooter isn't that Ben, no matter what the artificial tension is supposed to be. So he's either some evil!Ben brought from yet another universe (but that crazy timetravelling Green Goblin said she only brought one) or some shapeshifter bad guy who will then try to trick Peter (*yawn*), only I was confused by the clothing issue. The guy who confronted alternate!Ben first appeared to wear a woolly hat, and then later the dead!Ben (whom I assume is alternate!Ben) wears a baseball cap, so where did that come from? Alternate!Ben didn't wear any hat. Other random annoyances: as far as self-referential meta jokes go the "retcon bombs" were on the really clumsy side and not that amusing.
ratcreature: RatCreature as Spidey (spidey)
Spider-Man: The Other--Evolve or Die (in Amazing Spider-Man #525-#528, Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #1-#4, and Marvel Knights Spider-Man #19-#22, written by J. Michael Straczynski, Peter David, and Reginald Hudlin, pencils by Mike Wieringo, Pat Lee, and Mike Deodato, and inks by Karl Kesel, and Joe Pimentel. )

Overall I really enjoyed this crossover. I think the changes to Peter's powers have cool potential, and it was really creepy in parts. Some of the subplots didn't quite come together for me though, and I thought the first half was a bit weaker than the second.

For example I liked Tracer okay as a villain, but he vanished rather abruptly and didn't seem much connected to the main Morlun and spiderpowers plot thread. Also I was disappointed that we never found out what caused Peter's cell degeneration illness in the first place. Was it random? A long term after effect of the initial bite? of Peter not accepting the spider fully? or a side effect of that radiation thing he did to defeat Morlun the first time? Also I was a bit confused why Morlun wasn't always visible to others besides Peter.

I thought the part where he travels to see all these other scientist-type heroes was somewhat boring. I mean, I guess it makes sense that he had to ask around, but it just didn't do anything for me. MJ an Aunt May helping him to play with cool gadgets at Dr Doom's place was fun though.

Another random thing I liked in the first half was MJ beating up that creep with her pool cue. Granted, the creepy stalker fan cliche was trite, but MJ was cool. Peter imagining this plan to make money in Vegas was cute too, though I think a better bet for financial security for his family would be patenting his web fluid or something.

Anyway, IMO the story really picked up once the main fight with Morlun started. Things got much more tense and creepy. Morlun gouging out Peter's eye was really gross, and I actually found it almost OTT for a Spider-Man comic because it wasn't as necessary for the story as the later grossness when Peter transformed. That transformation Peter went through afterwards almost shocked me. I mean, he mutated before, like in stories where he grows extra arms, and that iirc fairly recent change (I forgot when it happened exactly) that brought the comic powers in line with the movie version so that he produces his own web fluid, but the teeth? weird poisonous spikes? and most importantly that then Peter ate Morlun?? It's creepy and unexpected when a hero goes for cannibalism. Not bad though. I actually kind of liked it in this story's context. And it even escalated further when he somehow pupated or something, shed his skin and then regenerated in that cocoon. Somehow cocoons have an inherent creepiness.

I've been a bit dubious when JMS first introduced these spiritual spider connections earlier in ASM, but here Peter's dream of embracing his inner spider or whatever that was, worked for me, and I'm intrigued about Peter's new powers and his control (or lack thereof) over them. I mean, he reacts now faster and on instinct just to being touched in a friendly way, and has suddenly possibly poisonous spikes at his disposal during a fight, that opens a lot of potential way for him to hurt others without meaning to. Especially considering that he already ate one guy, even if it was a villain.

I'm less fond of the upcoming costume change, I like Spidey's classic costume and and gold just isn't as nice, also kind of ominous in that those are Iron Man's colors (and it's not like I want to slash these two) and it's bad enough that apparently Tony Stark listens in on Peter and MJ making out like a stalker. Though I guess it's related to the whole Civil War event.
ratcreature: RatCreature as Spidey (spidey)
Amazing Spider-Man #519-#524 (written by J. Michael Straczynski, pencils by Mike Deodato, inks by Joe Pimentel)

I liked this Hydra storyline better than the previous arc. While terrorism plots aren't exactly my favorite, it was a solid action-adventure, and how it mixed with the personal B-plot in the aftermath of their places burning down worked for me. And the sinister foreshadowing of Peter's worsening symptoms, first subtle then more and more serious, has left me actually curious now about their cause.

While the story didn't seem to rely much on being familiar with non-Spider-Man comics, I think it was still a stumbling block for me that I don't know much about the Avengers. Like, I don't really know Tony Stark, but he comes across as kind of smarmy here when he offers Peter help, and I wondered whether he's always like that. Also reading this I wondered whether I shouldn't have read a bunch of the New Avengers comics that are apparently overlapping with ASM first to better follow what's going on here with Peter, his family and how he became part the Avengers now. I'm also quite lost with all this Hydra stuff, their world domination scheme and how they cloned? duplicated? the Avengers.

Also, maybe I just don't know enough about the Avengers operation, but how was Aunt May and M.J. moving in with them supposed to work while Peter still has a (at least somewhat) secret identity anyway? I mean, Aunt May has neighbors, Peter teaches at a high school, and M.J. has a job with people needing to know their address too, right? How do they intended to explain staying with the Avengers? (I can't imagine that Tony Stark blackmailing reporters into silence was the first choice of plan.) It wasn't even discussed between Stark, Peter, M.J. and Aunt May when they moved, though in a later issue it seemed to be implied (by that reporter confronting M.J.) that it wasn't public knowledge that this was the Avengers' headquarters, just that it belongs to Stark, and apparently they didn't even think of a good cover story. Though I thought that the Avenger place was known. Then again maybe that was one of the previous places. Wasn't some mansion destroyed not too long ago?

Jarvis and Aunt May are cute together though. And on a somewhat random note, am I the only one who thinks it's kind of pathetic of Hydra to produce hoodies with their logo on the back (like the one we see in the closet in #522)? At least I assume it's a hoodie because that piece of clothing didn't look anything like the spandex Hydra uniform Peter puts on later.
ratcreature: RatCreature as Spidey (spidey)
Amazing Spider-Man #509-#514 - Sins of the Past (written by J. Michael Straczynski, pencils by Mike Deodato, inks by Joe Pimentel)

The story didn't really grab me. I'm not fond of affairs and children who are retconned in years later in the first place, and while I like the basic Gwen Stacy storyline, I don't think it needs to be changed/retold again to get yet another Green Goblin out of it. Also somehow I couldn't really feel for Peter and his angst here. I guess this was supposed to be shocking, the sudden (retconned) "revelation" that Norman Osborn had had sex with Gwen and got her pregnant to make little future Green Goblins or whatever, and I didn't think it was awful or anything, but mostly just felt indifferent.

Amazing Spider-Man #515-#518 - Skin Deep (written by J. Michael Straczynski, pencils by Mike Deodato and Mark Brooks, inks by Joe Pimentel and Jaime Mendoza)

Why do the scientist geeks in comics always go completely insane when they mess up with their weird, irresponsible experiments? There's no reason why that Charlie guy had to escalate to hurting the rescue workers and worse. Obviously with the lab blown up, the work there was already lost and the plot device of the chemicals making him insane and irrational was lame, and it's not like he intended to be covered with his armor goo. So any normal person, even a somewhat obsessed mad scientist type, would want to be checked out by some medical professional just then, not murder their rescue workers and go on to become some crazed supervillain/serial killer type. And I'm completely sick of the stock character of the geek who somehow becomes insane or looses any ethical perspective because some bullies hassled him in high school, and never gets over it either. Not to mention that the counterpart, the perpetually mean/evil jock, gets old too. Also if Peter knew that guy had problems he should have known better than not to keep at least an eye on him. I mean, living in the Marvel universe he's seen enough supervillain origin stories to be apprehensive about such setups. Well, at least Peter is somewhat aware that he should have known better, but still. Anyway, this story was made of fail, IMO.
ratcreature: RatCreature as ninja (ninja)
Um, so I guess I was a little premature when I predicted the end of the Daredevil content.

Anyway, I've now read some of the older Daredevil stories, that is so far the arc starting from when Miller introduced Elektra to when she's resurrected. And well-- on the bright side, ninjas! But wow, Matt makes it really hard to like him sometimes. He acts like a total asshole towards Heather Glenn, and doesn't treat anyone else too great either. It's not that I particularly care about Heather or anything, but it's really hard to like a character who treats his girlfriend and his friends like shit. I mean, Matt is often somewhat of a jerk in his relationships, but not quite this bad. Then again, ninjas make up for a lot for me, and generally I like Miller's art here. Can anyone rec older story arcs to me in which Matt is more sympathetic? I would really rather like the main character of a series.

I've also read a newer Daredevil mini-series, Daredevil: Father #1-6 (by Joe Quesada, inks by Danny Miki). Actually I reread the first part, which came out a while ago (sometime 2004, I think?) but hadn't read the rest when they came out. I had stopped reading the issues because they were delayed so often and published so irregularly, and now read all six issues at once. I didn't really like the story. This one is just depressing. First, I hate that of course the reason that woman became a serial killer was sexual abuse. Also now the blind guy Matt saved is supposed to be a child molester? Just no.

Another Daredevil comic I've read is What If... Karen Page Had Lived? (written by Brian Michael Bendis, art by Michael Lark). And I think the Marvel "What If...?" series suffers from the (very strange) assumption that no matter how awful the lives of our heroes are, it could only get worse if things were different. Thus you end up with weird AUs in which Karen Page surviving doesn't lead to a better life for Matt, but against all sense and reason to him being worse off, acting even more self-destructive, and Karen Page dead in the end anyway. WTF Marvel?
ratcreature: Flail! (flail)
I've just finished reading Eternals #1-7 (written by Neil Gaiman, pencils by John Romita Jr., inks by Danny Miki) and-- this was just weird. I'm completely unfamiliar with any previous incarnation of these characters which were presumably created by Kirby judging from the credits, but clearly I've been missing a *lot* of weird mythological set-up of the Marvel universe by mostly just following Daredevil and Spider-Man, if this is the set-up of things in their main universe. Really a lot.

I mean, a sleeping God-robot ("Celestial"), reminiscent of Lovecraft, others of that kind who come visit as a horde to eat Deviants (or I guess more correctly "Changing People" in their own nomenclature) who are somehow a previous monster evolution that subjugated humans. And the Celestials put the one to sleep because he protested the Deviant eating, but the vegetarian God-robot isn't really a good guy either, because he now kind of wants to destroy earth and only waits to judge for a bit after he watched a lot of tv and absorbed the internet or something? Meanwhile strange immortal protector things (machines?), i.e. the Eternals have secret cities in Antarctica that nobody noticed? Also now one of them is a Messiah for the Changing People somehow?

It's not that I disliked the story, I was even kind of hooked, but also very obviously missing all kinds of context.

ETA: Rereading my entry, I am making much less sense than the comic about what confused me. Well, the story as I understood it is more or less like this:

cut for more concrete spoilers, and where exactly the story lost me )
ratcreature: RatCreature as Daredevil (daredevil)
Sorry about the deluge of Daredevil posts, but since I'm now caught up with the series that should die down again.

So now I've read The Secret Life of Foggy Nelson (issue #88), The Devil Takes A Ride (issues #89-93), Our Love Story (issue #94) and the first two parts of To The Devil, His Due (issues #95-96). I haven't been to my store recently to get #97 yet, which I think is out already, so please don't spoil me in comments.

Since these are fairly recent, all comments on the story line are spoiler cut. )
ratcreature: RatCreature as Daredevil (daredevil)
I really enjoyed the next story The Murdock Papers (issues #76-81). Lots of cool action and fights, Fisk being a manipulative bastard, sort-of-evil government officials, and plenty of angst and pain for Matt, and poor Ben Urich caught between a rock and a hard place. Also, the story brought home why Foggy teases Matt about the number and occupations of his (ex-)girlfriends. I felt really sorry for Milla, though. I like her quite a bit, but I suspect she's been rethinking whether it was a good idea to return to Matt quite a lot during the events. Things are quite bad when several of Matt's exes, one of them half-naked and armed with knives, barging into their hotel room , is actually the least of your marriage problems.

With the next story, The Devil In Cell Block D (issues #82-87) the writer/artist team changed to Ed Brubaker/Michael Lark & Stefano Gaudiano. I like their art less than Maleev's though they seem to have tried to keep it in a similar style. But I think he just isn't as good at it, in particular I like the faces less somehow. Still, not bad art or anything, just not quite as awesome as before. As for the plot cut for spoilers. )

On a random note, I till hate the spam email spelling of "ass" as "@$$". It's just bizarre. Either use obscenities or don't, but this half-assed (sorry I couldn't resist the bad pun) way drives me insane.
ratcreature: RatCreature as Daredevil (daredevil)
Ages ago (well actually late 2004) I stopped reading Daredevil. The trigger was that #66 had so much idiotic babelfish translated "German" dialog that I just couldn't get through it -- I commented on that at the time -- and then I got the next issue, but still couldn't bring myself to read #66, and somehow that state of affairs continued.

Anyway, tonight I found myself in the mood for Daredevil, and soldiered through the awful fake-German even though it felt like being sporked in the brain, repeatedly, (and spelling "ass" as "@$$" in one bit of dialog came close second-- I mean seriously, WTF, Marvel? Is this the text version of breasts without nipples??).

BTW, if you don't speak any German, and don't mind the occasional spam email spelling, there is actually things to like in #66 and the whole Golden Age story (issues #66-70), like the way the different eras are set apart in the coloring style: The 1940s flashback is b/w, the flashback to early in Daredevils career is colored with a slightly exaggerated rastering effect of older comics, and the present day is colored regularly. I found that effect very neat. And while overall neither the "old crime boss seeks revenge" story nor the White Tiger stuff grabbed me, it was okay to read, and there were bits with Matt and Foggy that I liked a lot (like, Foggy: "Sorry I'm cramping your style with your stalkers." *hearts*)

The next story Decalogue (issues #71-75) is at first about people of Hell's Kitchen sharing their Daredevil stories. I really like the stark covers, especially the first in this series (probably not least for its somewhat blasphemous impression). Though I found the idea of some church support group to discuss Daredevil kind of odd. Also, while I usually like outsider POVs of the characters, getting just these glimpses of Daredevil, until the last issue anyway which had plenty of Matt in it, wasn't all that satisfying, even though the creepy guy in the support group definitely worked for me to build suspense. And actually the reveal was pretty cool and surprising cut for serious spoilers. )
ratcreature: RatCreature is buried in comics, with the text: There's no such thing as too many comics.  (comics)
Sigh. I think they need to get beyond the typical Wolverine plot and get some variety into the character stuff. I mean the "Am I a man or am I an animal? Angst. Woe." as well as "There's some new revelation of the nefarious Weapon X program, let's bait Logan with the past he doesn't remember." plots are both getting old. And I'm not even reading a lot of Wolverine, not in comics, nor in fanfic. And I'm still fed up with this. Can't he have some other stuff going on sometimes? Anyway, I'm not enthused.

In case you're wondering, I just read the last two chapters of the Coyote Crossing story (Wolverine #10/11 written by Greg Rucka, art by Leandro Fernandez), the standalone story Dream (Wolverine #12 written by Greg Rucka, pencils by Darick Robertson, inks by Darick Robertson and Tom Palmer) and the first part of the new story Return of the Native (Wolverine #13 written by Greg Rucka, art by Darick Robertson).
ratcreature: RatCreature as Daredevil (daredevil)
I started writing this on Sunday, right after I finished reading Daredevil: The Man Without Fear (by Frank Miller and John Romita Jr.) and Daredevil: Yellow (by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale), but then got sidetracked by some fanfic and a really pretty vid (in case anyone's interested it was a TS vid by Seah & Margie, called Black Cat, and can be found on this site). So the post got never finished on Sunday.

Anyway, Daredevil -- and, as an aside, how exactly did I get from "I don't really read superhero comics." to reading Spider-Man, then Nightwing, then following most of the fricking Bat-Family, and now Daredevil? I mean, I have read Superhero stuff from time to time before when I loved the artists, or it was a famous or groundbreaking comic in some way, but until recently I've never followed the characters for their story. At least so far I haven't fallen for the cosmic battles and spacemonster stuff, but mostly for crime (and freak) fighting heroes with moderate or no superpowers (okay it is arguable whether Spider-Man's power's can be described as "moderate" but at least it's balanced by him being a science geek with a ton of personal problems). That is at least still somewhat similar to my fondness for detective stories, mysteries, and the like. Not that my resolve to avoid the spacemonster genre is absolute or anything (case in point, I read Outsiders).

But back to Daredevil. Both TPBs are retellings of Daredevil's origin, or in case of Yellow more like a "Year One" thing with the origin and early events in Daredevil's career as superhero. Also I think Miller's might be the official retcon these days. Because I read both right after one another I couldn't avoid to look at them in comparison, even though I think that this is probably not the best way to think about them.

Overall I like Miller's version of Daredevil better than Loeb's, though I don't care much about the "adept" stuff, and him and Elektra being the only two somethings (sorry I don't know the Daredevil/Elektra stories Miller wrote yet, and this TPB isn't terribly specific about this mythic (?) stuff). Maybe it's just because by now I feel a definite overkill with characters who are born as special for some kind of battle. But other than that I liked this Matt very much, probably because I have a thing for angst and don't mind a heavy dose of tragic (melo-)drama. I like that Daredevil isn't a "nice" superhero and that his actions have sometimes dire consequences, but neither is he a maniac mowing criminals down with automatic weapons.

Yellow otoh has quite a bit more levity, and for all the somber "letter to a dead girlfriend" narration its Matt is much less tortured. This young Matt enjoys being Daredevil in a more "innocent" playful way -- in as much as you can say it is innocent to dress up in a devil costume and beat up criminals in the first place -- he has definitely less anger and rage. It's more like in classic superhero comics, there are wacky fights with costumed supervillains etc, and yet at the same time it is not really like that, despite the homage element, because the darker future is always there: Not just in Matt's narration and our knowledge of the future tragedies ahead, also in moments like when Matt watches the execution of his father's murderer. I liked that in Yellow Matt's father wasn't killed when Matt was a kid, it makes for some variation in the murdered parents origin story, that so many superheroes have, and is obviously part of why this Matt is "lighter."

I enjoyed the art in both books, but I have to say that especially John Romita Jr. has become a lot better since then. I thought some of the crosshatching looked quite unfortunate, but then I only like crosshatching when it's done really well and with good effect for the surfaces it's supposed to depict, and that is really hard to manage. And I like Tim Sale's Batman art better than his Daredevil, but that's mostly because I think it suits that universe better.

To finish my a bit disjointed comments, both books are definitely worth reading.
ratcreature: RatCreature as Spidey (spidey)
This week I got 1602 #2, Supreme Power #2, The Spectacular Spider-Man #4, Batman: Death and the Maidens #2, Gotham Central #11, and Nightwing #85.

I decided to comment on the Marvel stuff first.
my comments on 1602 #2, Spectacular Spider-Man #4, and Supreme Power #2 )
ratcreature: RatCreature as Batman (batman)
Somehow I always seem to end up rather reading yet another comic book instead of blogging about the ones I've read. But I read some really good comics recently, stuff you shouldn't miss, in particular I want to point you to Batman: Tenses #1.
comments on Detective Comics #786, JLA/Avengers #1, Batman: Tenses #1, Gotham Knights #44, Batgirl #43, Birds of Prey: Batgirl/Catwoman and Oracle/Catwoman )
ratcreature: RatCreature as Daredevil (daredevil)
On the new Daredevil #51 by David Mack: I won't bother with a cut-tag -- my comments aren't really spoilery, as (unfortunately) nothing really happens in this issue.

So this issue brings back Echo, from David Mack's previous Daredevil story, Parts of a Hole. I think if she was a fanfiction character (and maybe even now), a lot of people would consider Echo to be Mary Sue. And while I do think that the fanfic honed sensitivity to "Mary Sue signs" sometimes ruins the enjoyment of original characters and storylines -- characters and stories that one wouldn't have disliked if one had never been exposed to all the fanfic related discussion and examples of the Mary Sue phenomenon -- Echo has quite a lot of the qualities of a classic Mary Sue. I mean, she has a tortured past, with a murdered parent (but OTOH that's pretty much the norm for every other character in superhero comic books), she's deaf, but compensates that disability almost completely with her gift to emulate and learn any skill perfectly through visual observation (but OTOH it is a superhero comic, so superpowers aren't unexpected), and she ends up in a romantic relationship with Matt (but OTOH it's more exceptional when a female secondary character doesn't end up as a love interest for Matt). All that wouldn't bother me much, if not for the unfortunate tendency that she ends up as the focus of the story in the traditional Mary Sue fashion. That did happen to some extent when she last appeared, yet I actually still ended up liking the character last time.

However -- oddly enough -- I'd still like to see Daredevil appear in a Daredevil comic book. You know, the blind lawyer guy in a devil costume, with a lot of Catholic guilt issues? Remember him? Yeah, I thought so, with him being the the title character and all. Maybe I'm old fashioned, but Echo remembering kissing Matt once or twice in her internal rambling didn't cut it for me in a Daredevil book. Also, nothing happened in this issue. It's all Echo's internal monologue, recapping what happened previously, only as it is solely from her perspective it's without most of the Daredevil stuff. Now, I hope that this will change the next issue, and that this one was simply a really long "previously in" segment, and that this will sort of be "redeemed" as the exposition part in the larger picture.

I mean, I still liked the comic, simply because it has David Mack's art, and I enjoy looking at his pages ever since I first saw a couple of them at a convention. Back then I had never read anything by him, or even heard of this guy, but in this exhibition there were a couple of Kabuki pages displayed, and as soon as I left the exhibition room I started to buy any Kabuki issues I could find, and got in line at the next of his signings. Actually, when I look at the art from a "comic perspective" I don't even think it's the best suited to tell a story, and usually I tend to dislike self-indulgent or collage styles for comics. But of course there are exceptions to every general preference, and even though David Mack's pages are not the easiest to read as a comic, I simply enjoy looking at them. And that's true for Daredevil #51 as well, no matter that it's,IMO, not his best work.

However that has nothing to do with this comic as a Daredevil issue. I suspect if you don't enjoy looking at David Mack pages simply because they're David Mack pages, you won't get much out of this issue.
ratcreature: RatCreature as Spidey (spidey)
Wow, that was really fun, in the best classic Marvel superhero way. I mean, the storyline as of now isn't very sophisticated or socially conscious or anything, but Spider-Man fights bulky transdimensional monsters together with the Fantastic Four, Thor and Iron Man, then Doctor Strange appears, explaining that this was actually a ploy by one of his great foes Dormammu, and they all messed things up... It sounds utterly ridiculous, and in a way it is, I guess, but J. Michael Straczynski, John Romita Jr. and Scott Hanna created really entertaining 23 pages, and I'm happy that the story leading up to the #500 issue is a classic fun "superhero plot." Of course there is also the usual daily struggle for Peter (right now with the administrative assistant at the high school, among other things), humor and the ongoing romance -- in short, all what makes Spider-Man such a great mix.

The other comics I got today -- and haven't read yet, in an Amazing Spider-Man week I usually start with that one, because it rarely fails to entertain or make me laugh -- are Batman #618, Batman: Tenses #1, Gotham Knights #44, Superman: Red Son #3, Wolverine #4, and Empire #2. So now I'm off again, to see what strange plot twist Loeb has thrown at us this month in Hush...
ratcreature: RatCreature as Superman (superman)
First, let me get the obligatory weather whine out of the way: weather whining in detail )

On a more positive note, this afternoon, when it was hot outside, and quite unbearable inside, I ventured out to get my comic subscriptions, and then spend a pleasant late afternoon sitting outside in the shade reading some of the comics. This week I got Superman/Batman #1, Superman Birthright #2, Arkham Asylum: Living Hell #4, Detective Comics #785, Batman: Death and the Maidens #1, Batman Nevermore #5 (Elseworld), Supreme Power #1, Uncanny X-Men #429, Strangers in Paradise #59, and Paradise Too #14.

longer comments on Superman Birthright #2, Superman/Batman #1, and Supreme Power #1 )

More on the other comics later, probably.
ratcreature: RatCreature as Spidey (spidey)
I've just finished reading the Essential Spider-Man Vol. 2, and it was a lot of fun to read that many of the early Amazing Spider-Man stories in one setting. That way it's much easier to follow the drama of Peter Parker's daily life. I got the Essential Spider-Man Vol. 1 collection when I first started reading the current Amazing Spider-Man -- which I can btw recommend also, currently it's written by J. Michael Straczynski, art by John Romita Jr. (pencils) and Scott Hanna (inks), the team that took over with issue #30 of the current series, and both art and writing are great -- and just now the second one. Marvel's "Essential" collections are great value: You get over 20 consecutive issues in one paperback for about $15.00, and personally I like very much that they're in b/w.

Anyway in Essential Spider-Man Vol. 2 you can read for example about the on-going problems Peter has with his costume: His one costume gets wet, preventing him from getting out as Spiderman when he needs to be, then he decides to sew a second one, but his aunt finds that, and admonishes him not to wear costumes of such superheroes to parties, finally he looses his original costume, and falls back on one of the Spiderman costumes sold by a costume store, however that one is of inferior quality and throughout the issue it always slips and hinders him during his fights...it's hilarious.

You'll need some tolerance for "meta-commentary" during the issues, however that's part of the unique style of these comics, so it doesn't bother me that the narrator addresses the readers sometimes. It does set those comics apart from the usual current style of story telling in comics though. I think it's a fun way of not taking themselves too seriously, that at the beginning of a fight scene, you'll sometimes find a text box like "And now, we promised Artie Simek we'd let him go wild with sound effects for a page or two, so here goes --" and then follow eight panels of fighting with outrageous onomatopoeic words.

Anyway, for good escapist fun that has lots of important character development for Peter Parker/Spider-Man as well, you should get Essential Spider-Man Vol. 1, collecting Amazing Fantasy #15, Amazing Spider-Man #1-20 and Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1, mostly by the team of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, covering the time from 1962-65, as well as Essential Spider-Man Vol. 2, collecting Amazing Fantasy #15, Amazing Spider-Man #21-43 and Amazing Spider-Man Annual #2-3 (that is the non-reprint parts of the Annuals of course), those mostly by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko and later John Romita, covering the time from 1965-66. The other "Essential" collections are most likely worth reading too, but I haven't read those yet.

The first issues of the current team of Amazing Spider-Man are also available as collections already: Coming Home collects #30-35, Revelation collects #36-39, and Until the Stars Turn Cold collects #40-45, if you don't want to track down the single issues.

Also I'm afraid I'm boring any non-comic fans among my few readers to death recently...

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