Deadshirt is Reading… Petulant Sith Lords and Absorbing Misogynists

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…

Screen Shot 2015-02-12 at 7.15.10 PMAmazing Spider-Man #14

Written by Dan Slott

Art by Giuseppe Camuncoli and Oliver Copiel (pencils), Wade Von Grawbadger, Cam Smith, and Livesay (inks)

Colored by Justin Ponsor

Lettered by Chris Eliopoulos

Marvel

Screen Shot 2015-02-12 at 7.22.05 PMSpider-Woman #4

Written by Dennis Hopeless

Art by Greg Land (pencils) and Jay Leisten (inks)

Colored by Frank D’Armata

Lettered by Travis Lanham

Marvel

Spider-Verse wrapped up this week, and its end was somewhere between a bang and a whimper. I’m eager to go back through the whole event and see how the pacing feels in that context, but it feels a little rushed here. Let’s get down to it!

Amazing Spider-Man #14 was the final showdown, the battle between the Inheritors and the Spider-Army that’s been set up for months. It was very cool. It was also so jam-packed with character moments, grace-notes and the like that it felt really busy. In the span of one issue, we got:

  •         Morlun attempting to complete the ritual and the reveal that Solus was still alive in the form of a crystal template
  •         The Web Warriors team showing up
  •         Karn’s face turn
  •         Leopardon’s kick-ass return
  •         Mayday’s redemptive moment of sparing Deimos
  •         Superior Spidey killing the Master Weaver
  •         Morlun and the Inheritors being defeated and banished to a nuclear wasteland

That’s a lot of plot, and it almost feels like it would’ve been better to spread it out over two issues. There’s also a fair amount of stuff that’s glossed over. What exactly was the point of the Inheritors’ ritual at all? Presumably to stop a prophecy of Spiders killing them, but half the Inheritors didn’t even seem to believe it by the end. Again, maybe this stuff will be clearer on a second read, but since this event didn’t have a ton of plot beats aside from continually ratcheting up the stakes for a final fight, it was a little underwhelming.

That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it. There’s a lot of solid moments, like an early scene of Gwen taking down a crew of Goblins, or the fakeout with Uncle Ben’s “cowardice.” It was also nice getting to see characters like SP//dr and Spider-UK for what may be among their last appearances. “Spider-Verse” has been a solid status quo to work with, and I’ll be a little bummed to see Peter Parker go back to being a virtual loner.

(Also, there’s a bit towards to end when Silk and Parker are reunited and I’m sorry, but it’s still just gross. I have no problem with characters being DTF, but the constant references to their “pheromones” causing attraction are just sleazy as hell. Hopefully it’s just Slott’s problem, and Silk will get a little characterization in her own book beyond “homeschooled girl who really wants to jump Spider-Man’s bones.”)

Over in Spider-Woman, we get a little bit of denouement for the homeworld of the Inheritors, where the Loomworld Jessica Drew is tapped to become the new benevolent queen. It’s sort of a light issue (the second half of it is back on Earth-616, as Spider-Woman tenders her resignation from the Avengers in preparation for her revamp next issue), but it’s a nice little epilogue that wraps up the kinds of threads these stories don’t usually bother with. On the downside, the sexy pirate captain was apparently supposed to be a parallel version of Namor, and are you kidding me, Greg Land? Namor is a super easy guy to draw, and you really screwed the pooch on this one.

Speaking of epilogues, Amazing Spider-Man #15 is branded as the real final issue of the event, and with the Master Weaver’s death, there should be at least a couple interesting bits to cover. (Silk was teased with a “mystery of your true identity” bit by Morlun, setting the stage for her solo series). Overall, “Spider-Verse” has been a pretty fun little event, even if not everything in it worked out exactly how I expected/hoped.

Sarah Register is reading…

Screen Shot 2015-02-12 at 7.18.58 PMThor #5

Written by Jason Aaron

Art by Jorge Molina

Letters by Joe Sabino

Marvel

“You wanna be a chick super hero? Fine, who the hell cares? But get your own identity. Thor’s a dude.”

All of the internet ire over a Goddess of Thunder is channeled through a classic villain in this hilarious and surprisingly touching installment of Thor. In a larger-than-life splash page provided by guest artist Jorge Molina, Thor battles the Absorbing Man, who is utterly baffled and downright insulted that a woman has taken the mantle of one of the manliest superheroes around. It’s a clear message and an amusing bit that I hope will not mean a future of bad guys berating Thor while she tries to do her job, because if Odinson (as in the guy formerly wielding Mjolnir) accepts and permits her new title, who can really argue?

Molina delivers a softer and more toned down interpretation of Russell Dauterman and Matthew Wilson’s vibrant and highly detailed take on the run thus far. This quietly powerful art style works in tandem with this issue’s more emotional feel. Odinson, while honorable in stepping down from his previous title, is still bereaved from both losing his power and holding that still unknown secret whispered to him by Fury. He seeks out Sif, a character as bummed out as himself, and rightfully so, as his extension of friendship turns out to be an interrogation to see if she’s the one under the helmet (cut to Odinson’s adorable list of potential suspects, mostly ex-lovers and, of course, Loki).

While Odinson is investigating the new Thor, Freyja does not insult her by trying to ascertain her identity. Instead, the two women share a powerful moment on the moon, of all places, where the all-mother asks the Goddess of Thunder to simply honor the title. While Jason Aaron still insists on dangling this woman’s identity just out of the reader’s reach, I find myself less and less concerned with it. Already one of my favorite superheroes, Thor has proven herself through her actions and her pledge to Freyja to do good. I can’t wait to see her take on another classic villain that Odin throws at her in a rage in the next issue.

Jason Urbanciz is reading…

Screen Shot 2015-02-12 at 7.17.30 PMDarth Vader #1

Written by Kieron Gillen

Art by Salvador Larroca

Colored by Edgar Delgado

Lettered by VC’s Joe Caramagna

Marvel

“Are you trying to hide something from me?”

Continuing their relaunch of the Star Wars comics universe, Marvel premieres their second series, this one starring Darth Vader. After his failure to protect the Death Star, Vader is in the doghouse with the Emperor and is demoted to negotiating with Jabba the Hutt for mysterious reasons. However, Vader is not accepting his defeat passively, and he’s determined to track down the pilot who destroyed the Death Star. He’s also keeping tabs on what the Emperor may be doing without his knowledge.

Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca have made a pretty good comic here, but it’s one that falls short of the excellence that Jason Aaron and John Cassaday have achieved in their first two issues on the mothership Star Wars title. It’s hard not to compare the two books given how intertwined they are (this comic directly follows the events of the first arc of Star Wars) and it can’t help but come up short. A lot of that is down to Larroca’s art. While I understand why Marvel put him on the book, as he uses a lot of photo reference and he is very good at likenesses, but it gives his art a stiffness that doesn’t work well, especially when so much of the dialog is coming from a dude whose face is a motionless black mask. The Star Wars line also seems to be eschewing sound effects completely, which is an interesting choice. While it works well in the Star Wars comic, where you can almost hear the classic Ben Burtt effects in your head, here it just doesn’t come across. Instead, you just get a lot of pages that are utterly silent, despite action happening on the page. It just leaves the entire issue feeling like a collection of movie stills.

The story itself is fine, basically Vader and the Emperor are playing passive-aggressive games against each other, both trying to gain the upper hand in their relationship. Vader is constantly hoping that the Emperor will give him that hug he so sorely wants. It keeps forcing Vader into a subservient role that doesn’t work for me, especially in a book that tries hard to echo the feel of the original movie trilogy. There’s a final page reveal that calls back to the worst of the prequels when it would probably better to ignore them. The Darth Vader of the original trilogy is this unknowable, unstoppable force of nature; the less interesting Vader here reminds me of the whiny, petulant Anakin Skywalker we were given in the prequel trilogy.

Kayleigh Hearn is reading….

Screen Shot 2015-02-12 at 7.18.14 PMAll-New X-Men #36

Written by Brian Michael Bendis

Art by Mahmud Asrar

Lettered by VC’s Cory Petit

Marvel

“Such is my thesis—no matter what dimension you’re from, never read Tony Stark’s mind.”

Okay, so if you’ve read The Black Vortex: Alpha #1, you know how this arc wraps up.

But first, let’s back up a bit. All-New X-Men #36 concludes the team’s adventures in the Ultimate Universe. Teamed up with Miles Morales and the Ultimate X-Men, the team must not only defeat Dr. Doom, but they have to find the reality-hopping mutant who trapped them on the wrong world.  They’re striving to put right what once went wrong, and hoping each time that their next leap…will be the leap home. (Sorry, the Quantum Leap theme song’s stuck in my head.)

This is a fun, fast-moving issue, with dependable banter from Brian Michael Bendis. The ending isn’t particularly surprising even if you haven’t read The Black Vortex, which is chronologically set after this issue, but was published last week by some quirk of the publishing industry. But this storyline didn’t need a big twist, either—sometimes it’s just fun to see two superhero teams join forces and trounce the bad dudes, like capes-and-cowls comfort food. I’m a bit sad to see Jean Grey & Jean Grey part ways, as their friendship was one of the sweetest things about this storyline, so here’s hoping they meet again in Secret Wars. Mahmud Asrar draws a beautiful and dynamic issue—the art’s so good that Ultimate Doctor Doom’s metallic goat legs look only slightly ridiculous.

Overall, the “Ultimate Adventure” has been an enjoyable storyline, which is an accomplishment considering that the non-Miles Morales corners of the Ultimate Universe are basically catatonic. The Ultimate X-Men’s lives were full of darkness and drama, as well as lots of wasted potential (and wretched Mark Millar dialogue), but here they’re full-blooded superheroes, joining forces with other X-Men to save mutants in need and take down Dr. Doom. If the Ultimate Universe is about to end, this is a good note to go out on. Until then, how about a “dark, creepy centaur X-Men dimension” Secret Wars tie-in?

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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