Deadshirt Is Reading… is a weekly feature in which Deadshirt’s staff, contributing writers, and friends-of-the-site offer their thoughts on Big Two cape titles, creator-owned books, webcomics and more. For more of our thoughts on this week’s new comics, take a look at Wednesday’s Deadshirt Comics Shopping List.
Sarah Register is reading…
Written by David Hine and Fabrice Sapolsky
Art by Richard Isanove
Lettered by Clayton Cowles
“He’s the one. The way he moves, the speed, the agility. The blood of Anansi flows through his veins.”
The Edge of Spider-Verse mini series, which promises a massive cross-continuity team up of Every Spider-Man Ever (or just about), takes off in a hard-boiled 1930’s New York City with the gritty Spider-Man Noir. Peter Parker encounters Mysterio, here a dangerous hack magician after the blood of Anansi. His spidey senses are bullhorning that something big is about to go down, but little does Pete know it’s because Spider-People are being hunted down through the multiverse; that is until the hunt, which began in Superior Spider-Man #32, comes crashing into his world. Fans unfamiliar with the noir universe will have no problem keeping up with this comic as the story incorporates enough backstory to catch you up.
“Noir” is a somber incarnation for Spider-Man. The art paints the city as a grim and gothic set piece for a dark web-slinger (seriously, even his webbing is black). Spider-Man slinks in and out of shadows backlit by a full moon, and Isanove’s obscured yet expressive faces emote pained undertones. Mary Jane is troubled, quiet, and visibly struggling with her past. Felicia Hardy is withdrawn and disfigured. There’s no fun banter between hero and villain; it’s all very melancholy. It’s clearly setting up not only a diverse romp through the Spider-Verse but also an interesting dynamic to be had between different versions of Spider-Man.
The brief introduction to the Spider-Man Noir universe, while convenient for the readers, is almost a disservice to the story. Felicia and Mary Jane come off as the most interesting characters, and I hate leaving them behind. Little story hints, however, give me hope that they’ll have larger roles to play in the “Spider-Verse” saga. Regardless, I’m optimistic this is going to be a fun, nostalgic ride through the Spider-fandom. Next issue: Gwen Stacey suits up!
Dylan Roth is reading…
Written by Dan Abnett
Illustrated and Lettered by I.N.J. Culbard
Designed by Kara Leopold
“It weren’t no shootin’ star, it were a falling star’…I made me a wish”
A play off of H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds starring well-mannered anthropomorphic talking animals in 1930s England? How can I lose? Wild’s End is a six-part miniseries in which the quiet life in a cute small town of furry folk is interrupted by an alien invasion. Or, at least, this is the direction the solicitations imply the story is going. This issue actually includes very little in the way of plot revelation, being only the opening chapter, and takes its time introducing the setting and characters, which is especially important because of how familiar this story is. There are thousands of alien invasion stories out there (some more directly inspired by The War of the Worlds than others), so Wild’s End needs a special ingredient to stand apart from the pack.
Wild’s End is a very entertaining read. It feels very much like a child’s storybook at times, no doubt due in large part to I.N.J. Culbard’s simple but stylish artwork and colors, but also because the “funny animal” characters feel straightforward and honest about their motivations. There’s a pretty adorable comedy of manners taking place in this very specifically English small town as they go about their lives unaware of the dangers around them. At the same time, it’s not an all-ages book, as some characters are drunken and foul-mouthed, and there are already hints that the violence in the book will not be watered down. All in all, Wild’s End has the making of a fine adventure book.
Max Robinson is reading…
Written by Paul Tobin
Art by Juan Ferreyra
Lettered by Nate Piekos of Blambot
“So you’re telling me you want permission to bring ants on my ship?”
One of Dark Horse’s bigger moves since losing the Star Wars license to Marvel has been their announcement of a unification of their Alien, Predator, Alien Vs. Predator and Prometheus properties under one, massive sci-fi umbrella. They’re kicking off this ambitious project with “Fire and Stone”, a sequence of connected mini-series. Fittingly, the first one up is Prometheus, which reunites the Colder team of Tobin and Ferreyra set in a return to LV-223 set in 2219 (125 years after the original film but before Alien: Resurrection, if you’re curious).
P:F&S #1’s major weakness is it lacks the “oomph” factor of it’s cinematic predecessor. While Prometheus immediately threw us into a startling, beautifully abstract sequence of a proto-human alien god sacrificing his body, the comic’s equivalent scene isn’t as powerful. “Where’s the Earth-shattering kaboom?!”, as Marvin The Martian might say. Tobin’s cast of characters feels, this early on, fairly indistinguishable from one another and in some cases derivative of their counterparts in the original film. Where the issue does succeed is in creepy atmosphere, largely aided by Ferreyra’s cool flora and fauna designs for the noticably different planet of LV-223. The reveal at the end of the issue that presumably ties the mini-series into the larger cohesive Aliens/Predator framework is shocking, but feels maybe a little too forced. Still, there’s enough potential and set up in this first issue that it’s definitely worth sticking to and it’ll be very interesting to see how each of the “Fire and Stone” plotlines compliment or detract from each other as Dark Horse’s rollout continues.
Jason Urbanciz is reading…
Written by Kurt Busiek
Art by Brent Eric Anderson and Wendy Broome (colors)
Cover by Alex Ross
Lettering and Design by John G. Roshell & Jimmy Bettancourt of Comicraft
“And the memories keep battering at me. I try to hold them back, but they’d break me so I let them come…”
Ellie Jimson has been collecting the robotic detritus of superhero battles the world over. Hauling home the junk left behind and repairing what she can, showing off her “friends” in a museum in the desert. However, her nephew has been renting out her friends to supervillain behind her back and now she’s in trouble with the law, and someone even more dangerous who wants her dead.
With this issue (and the one previous) Astro City takes a break from telling stories of the big heroes in its universe to focus on some of the “smaller” people. People who are heroic, and just as special, but who mostly just want to live their lives and maybe make the world just a little bit better. Ellie is one of those people, formerly a brilliant scientist and now a doddery old woman living with her robots who’s thrust into something much bigger. This is a sweet little story of a woman who has had her past stolen, and knows it, but she is able to forgive. It’s amazing that Busiek and Co. are able to invest a character that has only existed for forty-some pages of comics with so much life, it shows again why Astro City is the best superhero comic on the stands.
It’s almost impossible to separate the writing from the art in this book, as Brent Eric Anderson has drawn every issue since the beginning (except for one recent fill-in) and he gets a lot to do here, drawing so many of Ellie’s robot “friends” and investing each with its own style. Special notice has to be given to Alex Ross for his cover work. While I usually find his work elsewhere to be too static and lacking in personality, Ross always manages to have so much more life in his work on the Astro City covers, especially with this issue. Maybe it’s because he’s designing the characters or that drawing an old woman and her massive robotics workshop is just more interesting than the umteenth shot of Captain America standing up stright, but this one is jumps right out at you.
Thanks for reading about what we’re reading! We’ll be back next week with a slew of suggestions from across the comics spectrum. In the meantime, what are you reading? Tell us in the comments section, on Twitter or on our Facebook Page!