Deadshirt Is Reading… The Old Familiar

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.

Joe and Max are reading…

In this month’s Multiversity Roundtable, Deadshirters Max Robinson and Joe Stando fine-tuned their vibrational frequencies and shared their impressions of the installment out this week. 

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The Multiversity: Society of Super-Heroes #1

Written by Grant Morrison

Art by Chris Sprouse (pencils), Karl Story and Walden Wong (inks) and Dave McCaig (colors)

Lettered by Carlos M. Mangual

DC Comics

“I won’t let you die. ‘Doc’ isn’t just a nickname, it’s a qualification.”

Joe: My response to this installment of Multiversity was a little more muted than the the first issue, primarily because the sheer scale of the debut issue isn’t something that comes along every week. Nevertheless, I loved the Society of Super Heroes, Doc Fate, and the rich, vibrant world Morrison crafted in the span of one issue. To me it felt like not only a callback to early pulp heroes and their stories, but to the heyday of the Elseworlds line at DC. It’s a cast of characters suited for this story and style specifically, rather than “here’s a pulp version of Superman.” This also lends it a very intentional air of metafiction, in that it feels like a comic book story. Multiversity is very much about exploring the medium of comic books, and this mostly self-contained yarn resonated on that level. As such, Chris Sprouse’s art is pitch perfect, with designs that harken back to Dick Tracy or The Rocketeer. The first issue of Multiversity was great in the way that it blew the doors off of everything, but I’m liking more and more the idea of a series of roughly connected snapshots that will pull back together later on. This is Grant Morrison’s tour of what makes comics (DC and otherwise) great, and I’m glad we’re along for the ride.

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Max: The kind of “alternate retro pulp” take Morrison chose to do with this second issue of Multiversity is, by DC standards, pretty old hat. That he’s able to take a well-worn conceit like this and make it feel fresh and exciting is what makes Society of Super-Heroes such a great read. The assembled cast of characters are familiar but uniquely compelling; Earth 20’s Doc Fate may be a mash up of Doc Savage and Doctor Fate, but Morrison gives him wonderful dimensions beyond that, from his concern for his fallen friends to his “Hey, presto!” when he kicks Felix Faust in the groin rather than join a drawn out sorcerer’s duel (shades of Indiana Jones and the swordsman there). Sprouse’s art here is dynamic yet precise and his action sequences of Manhattan skyscrapers toppling over and Blackhawk aircraft dogfights are astonishing. His character designs, whether it’s a fleet of Vandal Savage’s robot automatons or the redesigned, demonic Abin Sur, exude a pulp vibe without feeling derivative or lazy. My absolute favorite part of Society of Super-Heroes is seeing Morrison revisit some of his signature concepts like The Immortal Man and Vandal Savage’s destined battle to the death (previously seen or alluded to in earlier works like JLA One Million and The Return of Bruce Wayne).

Sarah Register is reading…

Screen Shot 2014-09-18 at 6.57.15 PMEdge of Spider-Verse #2

Written by Jason Latour

Art by Robbi Rodriguez

Color by Rico Renzi

Lettered by Clayton Cowles

Marvel

“This mask is my badge now. If I don’t define what it means, monsters like this will.”

The Edge of Spider-Verse mini series continues this week in a universe where Gwen Stacy and Peter Parker’s fates are swapped. Peter suffers an early death seemingly at the hands of Spider-Woman, who in turn is shunned by society, shamed by J. Jonah Jameson, and hunted down by her cop father. Despite taking place in a single issue, this story and character feel fully realized; Gwen is a troubled but cool young woman on the road to true heroism (while juggling college and band practice).

I’ll do my best not to gush about Gwen’s costume, but oh man that costume! It seems modernized but not in a heavy-handed way, and it feels exactly like something a college aged girl with spider powers would design to fight crime. The white, black, bright blue and muted reds of the suit flow beautifully with the colors of the comic as Gwen swings across a neon New York City skyline. The dark night sky and alleyways are contrasted with every vivid “Thwip” that cuts across the page. Gwen’s got all the moves that Spider-Man has as she wall-crawls and gives lip to cop and villain alike.

I think the biggest draw to this story for me was the “anything guys can do girls can do” theme of Gwen basically living Peter Parker’s life, dealing with the same struggles and coming out as an equal. She carries the weight of Peter’s death on her shoulders, the responsibility of being a vigilante, and even drama from Mary Jane while still being the fun, friendly neighborhood crime fighter we all know and love. She’s a great addition to the Spider-Verse saga, and considering how much of her drive to be a hero is based on Peter Parker’s death, I wonder how she’ll react with she’s suddenly surrounded by a dozen of him. My only hope is that her popularity with readers will tempt Marvel to pull another Miles Morales and permanently add Spider-Gwen to the regular Marvel U.

Patrick Stinson is reading…

Screen Shot 2014-09-18 at 6.57.55 PMMiles Morales: The Ultimate Spider-Man #5

Written by Brian Michael Bendis

Art by David Marquez and Justin Ponsor (colors)

Lettered by Cory Petit

Marvel

“My greatest achievement. I created the Spider-Men. It might be that we cannot die.”

The last line of this issue is “He deserves answers.” Well, both Miles and we readers have been deserving answers for six months now, so that reads pure mockery.

Miles Morales is becoming overshadowed in his own book, and thanks to decompression I can’t tell if it’s a wickedly ironic story about the fears of both Morales and his dedicated fanbase, or just total hamfisted not-getting-it. Peter Parker’s back, he’s *really* back (he has Peter’s memories and passed the Aunt May and MJ tests). But, last issue he beat the daylights out of Morales, stole his webshooters, and at the beginning of this issue abandons the now-webshooter-less Morales in a fusillade of police gunfire. So, uh, maybe he’s not really really *really* back, because if one thing defined Ultimate Parker with respect to his 616 counterpart it was his refusal to compromise his selflessness no matter what.

Somehow managing to be more in-character than Post-Resurrection Parker is Actually-Never-Dead Osborn, despite the fact that Morales’ sting gave him a temporary case of sanity. (Is there ANYTHING that power cannot do?) He surprises Jameson in his apartment (the best character in the book bar none) and starts pouring his heart out, on the record, as only one naked man can do to another. Right before Jameson’s terrified eyes, Osborn starts to go from pensively-evil to violently psychotic…but of course, we’ll have to wait till next issue to find out how that resolves.

It’s so strange to read a book that is of such undeniable quality and skill (you could never mistake one Spider-Man for another even without colors, and the faces are amazing), yet feel so unsatisfied while reading it. I keep getting these issues to find out what happened to Peter and what’s going to happen to Miles, but this would absolutely be a more enjoyable experience in a trade. So if you aren’t already hooked and reeled like me, get the trade instead so you don’t constantly hear the faint ghostly sound of Bendis laughing at you that he dragged out the big reveal for another issue.

Kayleigh Hearn is reading…

Screen Shot 2014-09-18 at 6.59.01 PMAll-New X-Men #32

Written by Brian Michael Bendis

Art by Mahmud Asrar and Marte Gracia (colors)

Lettered by VC’s Cory Petit

Marvel

“Now I’m in the wrong time and space. I’m not having a good year.”

Ultimate X-Men got me at the right time and the right place, when I was looking for a reintroduction to the X-Men comics after Bryan Singer’s X-Men films. It offered familiar faces in a brand new world without the weight of decades of continuity, though it would also come to represent a particular cinematic yet “realistic” everyone-is-an-asshole era of superhero comics. Eventually I dropped the Ultimate line altogether, so while I’m not excited about a mainstream X-Men/Ultimate X-Men crossover like I would have been years ago, it is still an interesting idea because the worlds have significantly diverged. The All-New X-Men had a hard enough time adjusting to a new and uncertain future, now they’re in a new and uncertain universe.

The young X-Men are scattered across the globe and forced to survive on their wits, and the most interesting plot thread so far is Jean Grey meeting the Ultimate Spider-Man, Miles Morales. It provides the most forward plot momentum and has some cute moments buried under Bendis’ usual dialogue tics. (How many times have we had a “Don’t read my mind!” scene with young Jean?) This issue is a fantastic showcase for artist Mahmud Asrar, who draws each wildly different sequence, like Angel looking at dinosaurs in the Savage Land, and X-23 on a high-speed chase, with clarity and energy. He also pays homage to Stuart Immonen’s previous work on All-New X-Men in a striking two-page spread.

It seems self-indulgent to cross over All-New X-Men with Ultimate Spider-Man so soon after that other crossover with Guardians of the Galaxy, another book by Bendis. But this also has the makings of a fun adventure story, with interesting stakes—how will the X-Men find each other again? How will they make it home? If nothing else, I haven’t been this curious about the Ultimate X-Men in years.

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!

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