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…
This week, Joe takes the temperature of Marvel’s multi-book “Spider-Verse” event through the two issues released on Wednesday.
Amazing Spider-Man #9
Written by Dan Slott
Art by Olivier Coipel and Justin Ponsor (colors), and Giuseppe Camuncoli (pencils), Cam Smith (inks) and Antonio Fabela (colors) (back-up)
Lettered by Chris Eliopoulos and Travis Lanham (back-up)
Spider-Verse Team-Up #1
Written by Christos Gage and Roger Stern (back-up)
Art by Dave Williams (Pencils), Dexter Vines (Inks) and Chris Sotomayor (colors), and Bob McLeod and Andrew Crossley (colors) (back-up)
Lettered by Joe Caramagna
“Spider-Verse” is finally kicking off in earnest, after about a month of prologue issues and various hints and set-ups in Amazing Spider-Man. I’m really excited about this event, so over the next few months, I’ll check back in periodically to see how it’s going. Let’s get started with the first two installments!
ASM #9 and SVTU #1 both illuminate the central conflict of the “Spider-Verse” event more clearly than the vague rumblings we’ve gotten through the weeks of Edge of Spider-Verse. Morlun, a strange, kind of lame villain from J. Michael Straczynski’s “The Other” event, is back, with a family of supporting characters and a retooled backstory. He and his kin are The Inheritors, a group of powerful pseudo-vampires who jump between realities, murdering and consuming the life forces of various Spider-themed superheroes. The Inheritors are fun because they’re pretty simple and fit a clear family dynamic, with Morlun as the serious one, his brother Deimos as the huge, hedonistic bruiser, a couple younger twin girls who bicker, etc. They’re sort of like a shitty Eurotrash version of Neil Gaiman’s Endless. As we’ve seen in Edge, their feeding frenzy is ramping up, and a group of Spider-Men from various universes are starting to come together to fight back, bringing the fight to our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man’s doorstep in the main Marvel universe.
I’ve been a fan of Slott’s run for a while, but maybe my favorite story he’s done so far has been “Spider-Island,” in terms of the sheer fun factor. Despite the macabre premise of Spider-Man-eating cannibals, this arc seems to be following suit, with appearances by a Bruce Banner Spider-Man, Miles Morales, a Spider-Man who lives on the Moon, and breakout star Gwen Stacy, Spider-Woman. There are a ton of Easter eggs and mysteries so far (who is the older, leading Spider-Man? What the hell is the Master Weaver’s deal?), but the story also looks like it’s going to be nicely modular, and fans can follow as much or as little as they’d like.
SVTU seems to be continuing Edge’s formula of telling a one-shot story or two about various Spider-characters each issue, while other series look a little more intriguing and specific (Scarlet Spiders follows a three-man team of Ben Reilly, Ultimate Jessica Drew and Kaine on a suicide mission to an Inheritors-controlled world, sign me the fuck up). Both Slott and Gage are proven Spider-Man scribes, but the event continues to be a showcase for new talent, which is nice. Some of the more radical takes we’ve seen in Edge (SP//dr in particular) have been my favorite, and I hope that the solo stories continue with that level of creativity. I’m also pretty impressed and relieved that they’ve chosen to incorporate Miles Morales from the start, and hopefully this event will provide him the means to continue after the Ultimate universe is for-real-we-mean-it-this-time-guys ended next year (maybe).
As someone who grew up reading Exiles and actually enjoyed Countdown, this yarn of parallel webslingers versus a crew of baddies across the multiverse is music to my ears. I don’t know that I’m going to follow every book involved (Spider-Man 2099 just bores me to tears, sorry) but it’s the first event in a long time where I’m actually using the checklist provided in the back of the issues.
Max Robinson is reading…
Written by Brenden Fletcher and Becky Cloonan
Art by Karl Kerschl
“I’m gonna loot the crap out of this place”
DC’s Batman family of books is the strongest it’s been in years, thanks to Bat-Editor Mark Doyle’s willingness to take real risks with new titles like the recently relaunched Batgirl and Cloonan, Fletcher and Kerschl’s Gotham Academy. After a strong debut issue, this month’s installment does a nice job pushing forward what seem to be the book’s central mysteries (Who or what is the ghost haunting the academy’s halls? What happened to Olive and her mother last summer?) while fleshing out.the school’s faculty and student body. Fletcher and Cloonan’s cast of characters are, at least at this point, pretty straightforward archetypes (mean popular girl, cool preppy ex-boyfriend, etc) but there’s a really solid understanding of character dynamics going on here, particularly in scenes between Olive and Maps. So far Gotham Academy has done an admirable job of balancing the conceit of “boarding school mystery” with the elements that make this a Batman book; for instance, the first New 52 appearance of A.S. Scarlet, a.k.a. The Bookworm, as the academy’s librarian is a nice touch.
Kerschl’s art feels totally in tune with the kind of story Cloonan and Fletcher want to tell here, and he’s able to shift into creepiness with complete ease as the script demands it. Gotham Academy has a manga-vibe that doesn’t feel in any way forced, and Kerschl’s fantastic outfit designs, whether it’s plaid school uniform skirts or secret bat-cult illuminati masks, really help this book stand out against DC’s predominantly capes-and tights-catalog. At a time where it’s practically impossible to avoid Batman stories in film, TV and print, Gotham Academy cuts its own path with a cool kind of Nancy Drew spookiness.
Sarah Register is reading…
Written by Cullen Bunn
Art by Reilly Brown, Nelson Decastro, and Alisson Borges
Color by Peter Pantazis
Lettered by Travis Lanham
“Guess this is why you should never meet your heroes.”
Lobo is finally back in the DCU under his own title and he’s, well, different. Turns out the classic, charismatic “Main Man” introduced into the New 52 a while back is actually a faux-bo who was promptly dispatched by the real Lobo, a more attractive, highly educated, somber mercenary who–no, wait, where are you going?? I’m being serious! And so is Lobo, very serious with a dark past that he likes to brood about. Yes, this guy is the real Lobo, and he’s here to kill bad guys and save the world (unintentionally, because he really hates us Earthlings).
Despite this character redesign being completely distinct from the original, I’ll admit he still looks cool. Peter Pantazis’s color makes the merc’s blue stripes and red eyes glow even as he stomps through a sunny amusement park. There’s a great moment where the comic actually switches artists for a two-page flashback that cleverly disorients the gloom of present Lobo with his happier, romantic past; Allisson Borges’s outlines aren’t as harsh here, and it softens the mood a bit. Back in the present, however, there’s some more traditional Main Man massacring as the last Czarnian tears through robot, zombie, and alien assassin alike while he muses about his all-important code.
I’m all for DC trying new things, but sometimes when you have a gem of a character you should just polish him instead of shaping him into something else entirely. The issue isn’t just the redesign, it’s that they managed to suck all the fun out of a really wacky (but deep) character; instead of creating Han Solo or Starlord (perfectly appropriate personalities for Lobo’s new look) or even just letting him keep his original charm, they made him a stick in the mud with an all too typical mission to kill vague baddies and discover a purpose. I’m really rooting for this comic, however, and I’m betting once they get through the introductions and get to the real meat of the character, it’s going to be a better ride.
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!