Deadshirt is Reading… Gods, Mutants, and All Those Spider-Men

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 Stando is reading…

spiderverse

Amazing Spider-Man #11

Written by Dan Slott

Art by Olivier Coipel (pencils and inks), Grawbadger, Livesay, Olazaba, and Morales (inks) and Justin Ponsor (colors)

Lettered by Chris Eliopoulos and Travis Lanham

Marvel

Spider-Verse Team-Up #2

Written by Christos Gage and Gerry Conway

Art by Steven Sanders, Dave Williams (pencils), Dexter Vines (inks), and Chris Sotomayor and Andrew Crossley (colors)

Lettered by Clayton Cowles

Alright! It’s been a couple weeks since I’ve checked in, and things are getting rolling for “Spider-Verse!” Since the last issue, we’ve gotten a glimpse of what Jessica Drew is up to in Spider-Woman, which I ended up buying (it actually wasn’t terrible; Land’s art still isn’t great and Silk is still irritating, but they fight guys in golden Gundam-esque armor suits in a desert, so that was cool), and how the clones are faring in Scarlet Spiders (SUPER good. Super good. Loved the book). This week follows some more of the core cast, with Pete, Otto, Miles, and Gwen all sharing the spotlight.

In the core book, we get the fight everyone wanted but no one dared hope for: Superior vs. Amazing Spider-Man for leadership of the Spider-Army. It’s a solid fight, and even though we know it’s gonna end with them setting aside their differences, yadda yadda yadda, the fact that both of them are concealing facts from the rest (Ock that he’s not really Peter Parker, and Pete that he’s from later in time, after Ock is dead) makes for a clever wrinkle. The middle section of the issue does a lot of the same bouncing between spinoff and tie-in books as the last issue, but it’s starting to feel more like an actual battle plan, with directions and goals for the away teams.

There’s also a lovely little scene between Peter and Spider-Gwen, which helps him to accept that she’s a capable teammate (and so hopefully we’ll be seeing more of her in the main book). Finally, Jennix and Morlun show up with their big bad dad, and everything goes to hell. I still don’t know if I’m sold on the Inheritors as much as I’m supposed to be (what are their powers, exactly? I need a little more backstory), but Jennix’s “I ate a monkey. How was that worth my time?” line is killer, and the reveal of the Scion was sort of interesting. One of the sticky things about “Spider-Verse” is that it jerks back and forth between being a funny event, with a lot of Easter eggs and gags, and a serious apocalyptic story. It’s not that it can’t handle both, per se, but with some side characters’ deaths being played mostly for laughs, it can be a bit much.

Spider-Verse Team-Up is actually a really good example of that disconnect. It’s two stories, both of which are pretty good in their own right, but taken together, they’re a little jarring. First is “Too Many Spider-Men,” which is exactly the kind of thing this event was made for. Miles Morales and Peter Parker of the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon series travel to recruit Spider-Man from the low-budget 1967 Spider-Man cartoon (or “shitty meme someone you went to high school with posted on Facebook Spider-Man,” as he’s now known). In addition to giving Miles something fun to do, this issue does a great job of both lampooning the cartoon Spider-Men, and keeping them believably in-character. The art team deserves every accolade in the book for rendering characters in three different art styles together without it looking dumb (at least, when it isn’t supposed to). Perfect example of a quick, fun “Spider-Verse” story that also makes the general narrative feel more full.

“A Spider in the Dark,” on the other hand, is the total opposite. It’s a dour tale pairing fan favorite Spider-Gwen with a Pete who was driven by grief to murder all of his villains and become a Goblin-themed anti-hero (villain?). It’s an interesting premise, but it plays out pretty much exactly how you’d expect, since Slott isn’t going to have a Goblin in the Spider-Army. It’s a good spotlight for Gwen, who continues to be great, and the redemptive aspect is nice, but sharing space with a laugh-a-minute cartoon parody probably wasn’t the best choice. This wasn’t a bad story, but it would’ve been better served in a bigger anthology, or just paired with something else.

Still, two solid outings this week. We’ve got a couple side-stories coming up that I’m looking forward to, especially (surprisingly enough) Spider-Woman, since it looks like it’s focusing not only on Jessica and Silk, but Anya and Gwen as well. Until next time!

Kayleigh Hearn is Reading….

dowlol6Death of Wolverine: The Logan Legacy #6

Written by James Tynion IV

Drawn by Andy Clarke

Colors by Dan Brown

Lettered by VC’s Joe Caramagna

Published by Marvel Comics

“I’ve been practicing that catch in my mind for hours, but I never expected the knife I gave you for Christmas.”

Who is Mystique? Appropriately enough for a shapeshifter, she’s worn many faces over the decades. She’s been the leader of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, one of the X-Men, the mother of Rogue and Nightcrawler, Wolverine’s mortal enemy, and even Professor X’s secret wife. As Mystique’s history has become increasingly knotty (did I mention she’s now Professor X’s secret wife?), Death of Wolverine: The Logan Legacy #6 is a welcome return to the character’s roots, and a time when it was just Mystique and Destiny against the world.

In a single issue, writer James Tynion IV constructs a complex character study of Mystique in all her cunning, backstabbing glory. The main thrust of the story follows Mystique as she infiltrates a SHIELD compound in search of a mysterious tape, while flashbacks reveal her attempt in the 1970s to take control of Madripoor—an attempt foiled by the “brute” Wolverine. What Mystique and Wolverine have in common is their shared ability to be a merciless killer one moment, and then be surprisingly tender the next. There are plenty of cool, badass-killer moments for Mystique in this issue, and Tynion and Clarke show off her shapeshifting in clever ways, but my favorite scenes in the issue are between Mystique and her partner Destiny.

Ah, supervillains in love. Mystique and Destiny were one of the first same-sex couples in superhero comics, and reading this issue, it’s a bit sad knowing that stories like this, in which their relationship is openly romantic and not hidden behind the Comics Code, are only able to happen several years after the character Destiny was killed off. But Tynion captures what made their dynamic so fascinating, as the two women act like a tender old married couple even while trying to take over an entire country and twist the future around their wills. In their few scenes together, the reader gets a strong sense of how important Destiny was to Mystique, and how Mystique has always been a bit adrift without her.

Andy Clarke’s artwork in the issue is stunning, with a dramatic, realistic style that reminded me a bit of Katsuhiro Otomo. You can feel the grime and grit in Mystique and Destiny’s crumbling Madripoor apartment without the art feeling stereotypically “gritty.” Mystique’s first “appearance” early in the issue is also knockout, and Clarke draws Mystique with all the deadly beauty the character deserves. Together, Clarke and Tynion have made Death of Wolverine: The Logan Legacy #6 one of the best Mystique stories in years.

Jason Urbanciz is reading…

klarionKlarion #3

Written by Ann Nocenti

Layouts byTrevor McCarthy

Finishesby  Sandu Florea, McCarthy, and Staz Johnson

Coloris by Guy Major

Letters by Pat Brousseau

DC Comics

“I guess we gotta prove it’s evil before we kill it.”

Klarion continues to be a frustrating book. Landing our title teen witchboy in a group home for other homeless magically-powered teens, Nocenti has created some compelling characters and a good setting for the action, but the plot just can’t seem to get into second gear. After their friend Rasp picks up a robot spider/girlfriend, Klarion is mistrustful of her and sets out to determine her evil intent. Klarion, Rasp, and fellow witchgirl Zell set out to confront “buddybot’s” originator, the screamingly evil Coal, who is creating an army of anti-magic nanobots. Then some monster hunters show up. I just get the feeling that this book is kind of making it up as it goes along, and while the conflicts are seemingly set up on the page, they just don’t turn into anything.

The art on the book is similarly murky. While McCarthy creates some great page layouts, that each page is finished by one of three different people gives the book an unevenness. Some of them have rougher lines while some of them are smooth and clean, and it doesn’t transition well with the flow of the story, making an already uneven book moreso.

So far this book has spent three issues setting up its characters and conflict, and it still doesn’t seem close to getting anywhere. While there is good character work happening here, the unevenness of the story and the art are probably going to lead me to drop it soon.

Patrick Stinson is reading…

satxmSpider-Man and the X-Men #1

Written by Elliott Kalan

Art by Marco Failla, colors by Ian Herring

Lettered by Clayton Cowles

Marvel

“This is a terrible idea.” – Storm, Beast.

The only mainline Marvel comic I’m reading now is Ms. Marvel, which is hilarious and completely standalone. Spider-Man and the X-Men is the former, but not the latter…I’m enjoying myself, but I’m confused as hell.

It was my fault, really, for picking up an X-Men comic. Spider-Man is usually a reliable audience surrogate into someone else’s continuity (his own is another matter), but this issue is so ambitiously plotted that the audience and Spidey are mostly just left confused. Which isn’t all bad — think Big Trouble in Little China.

So apparently Wolverine has died (yeah, right) and one of his last requests was that Spider-Man be made the counselor at the school. He only tells Spidey the real reason for this: There is a mole among the students, but he doesn’t know who it is, who they’re working for, or why. Why tell Spidey this and not his friends on the X-Men? How did Logan have time for all this before he died? How does Spidey, given his current situation, have time to do what he’s doing? The writer doesn’t know the answer either, but he’ll hang funny lampshades all over everything till you stop caring as much.

Despite the fact that he’s a “counselor,” Spidey immediately starts teaching a class of students/suspects. I have no idea if any of these mutants are newly created for this book, but they are all very inspired in terms of design and extremely well-rendered by Failla and Herring. At any rate, they all do a fine job of giving Spider-Man headaches, and there is a nice give-and-take between Spidey’s famous philosophy and the students’ sulky resentment at being born as creatures who could never pass for human. It’s nice to see Kalan actually delving into why mutants and other superpowered individuals might have different perspectives.

There is also a clever bit of balance in that Spider-Man wrecks an X-Men villain who wasn’t prepared for him, and then gets clowned in turn by a different X-Men villain who has powers he can’t defend against. (Though, even with my limited knowledge of Marvel continuity, the appearance of the latter villain seems implausible.) The issue ends with a cliffhanger, but not a frustrating one, as the villains’ deeply silly scheme does more to set the tone for this series than the thousand quips that preceded it. It’s a bit of a Marvel version of the ‘60s Batman TV show. Here’s hoping it can keep the humor and the outstanding action layouts, while beefing up the plausibility of the characters and situations.

(Shark Girl is my favorite mutant now.)

Sarah Register is reading…

Thorthor3 #3

Written by Jason Aaron

Art by Russell Dauterman

Color by Matthew Wilson

Lettered by Joe Sabino

Marvel

“Verily, boys, this hath been fun. But I’m afraid the frivolity is at an end.”

Page after page, this book is basically one long action sequence, to the utter delight of the reader, that still manages to deliver a compelling story. The issue opens with Malekith breaking bread (or a bloody bowl of body soup, as it were) with the leader of the Frost Giants, hashing out a dark plan to invade Midgard now that Thor has dropped his hammer. Little do they know there’s a new Thor in town wielding Mjolnir, she’s just not wielding it right this very second.

The art assembles a violent (but fun!) feast for the eyes as all of the major players come crashing into each other, filling empty spaces with a lot of yelling and knocking panels off the page. Colors pop but exhale an icy breath as Thor takes on a gaggle of Frost Giants without her hammer, revealing that Mjolnir’s absence means she’ll eventually lose her mask and her powers. While the lady of Asgard takes on some icy beasts, the dark elf throws his ego at the CEO of the Roxxon Energy Corp (and I will never get tired of seeing Malekith petting Thor Odinson’s arm around his neck like a feather boa as he banters with an actual minotaur).

The story comes teasingly close to revealing the face of Thor, and I’m actually glad we remain in the dark for now (although my guess is still the gal who skipped out on Earth with Frigga at the end of Thor: God of Thunder). This is only the third issue, but already the novelty of this character has less to do with her gender and more to do with who she is as a person. It’s easy to be a champion when you have superpowers, but it means a lot more when you become a verifiable hero.

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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