Comic Review – Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #2 (Marvel Comics)

Our pal Kit reviews comics for us! This is one of those reviews.

Warning: minor spoilers.

“I’m the relatable super hero with relatable problems! Just ask my long-lost sister from my super-spy parents with Nazi g–.” Peter Parker

Up for another comic book review this week, and Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man caught my eye. This isn’t a surprise really as I saw Spider-Man: Homecoming last week and really enjoyed it. As is the usual marketing strategy of course a new Peter Parker as Spider-Man series was  launched in time with Spidey’s long overdue solo film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This comic was bought to us by:

  • Writer – Chip Zdarsky
  • Pencils – Adam Kurbert
  • Colourist – Jordie Bellaire
  • Letterer – VC’s Travis Lahman

Although this isn’t the first issue in the series its pretty easy to pick up what’s going from the first couple of pages – Spidey has come into conflict with Ironheart over a misunderstanding, while he’s trying to get to the bottom of whoever hacked a bunch of old Stark brand phones and made them untraceable for the criminal underworld to use. Although that’s being set up as the long running plot driver, it isn’t really what the issue is about. There’s a lot of catching up going on in this issue, one of the criticisms of the Marvel comic universe is the massive amount of backstory (seeing as the main universe has never been rebooted) that you won’t have when you pick up an issue so you won’t have the full picture on everything. To get around that issues like this exist and we get a crash course in who this version of Peter is, his Nazi fighting spy parents and not-sister etc. We also get to see Zdarsky’s interpretation of Spidey, who is a little bit of a screw-up in this series.

Art by Kubert & Bellaire

As a tone this is very much a tongue in cheek series, there’s a high degree of self-awareness and jokes at the expense of other events going on in the Marvel Universe.

The art is focused on character interactions throughout this relatively dialogue heavy issue. Action scenes are very much limited, so Kurbert’s line skills for facial expressions and body language are put to the test. He packs a lot of expression into each character and the colouring from Bellaire helps bring these scenes to life and helps bring out the personality in each of the characters. Finally, in conversation-based issues like this lettering is key, and Lahman has done a great job in using the limited space available to properly guide the reader’s eye throughout the issue.

But, the hands. How do they look? I am constantly surprised how much of a difference taking close note of the artist’s hand drawing skills makes. Especially in dialogue heavy issues like this hands portray so much of a character’s personality and add a lot both the conversation and perception of who they are. 8/10 for hand drawing skills!

Final Verdict

This is an interesting start, don’t let my references to the amount of dialogue put you off. There is an interesting plot brewing here and the light hearted tone of the comic is refreshing when read at the same time as something like Secret Empire.

Score: 8 Really Expensive Coffees out of 10

Comic Review – The Clone Conspiracy #1 (Marvel Comics)

Our pal Kit reviews comics for us! This is one of those reviews.

Warning: minor spoilers.

“She – she couldn’t be REAL could she?!” – Spider-Man

I wasn’t sure The Clone Conspiracy would be the best comic to pick up, considering the patchy track record the original Clone Saga had. For those who don’t know, the Spider-Man Clone Saga is infamous for being needlessly overly convoluted, and lost Marvel a fair few fans. They’re going down the clone route again, which is a bold move with the attached stigma, but if they can pull it off Marvel can do justice to what the Clone Saga should have been.

Cover art by Gabriele Dell’otto

Issue #1 (I’ll skip the whole title as it’s very long…), written by Dan Slott, pencilling by Jim Cheung, inks by John Dell, colour art by Justin Ponsor, lettering by Joe Caramanga and cover art by Gabriele Dell’otto, kicks off The Clone Conspiracy with the funeral of Peter’s Uncle-In-Law J. Jonah Jameson Sr. From here the plot rapidly picks up with Peter investigating an apparent miracle cure he convinced his Uncle-In-Law not to take. It doesn’t take long for something to smell awry and the conspiracy to begin. The first one at least.

Something I really enjoyed in this issue – Peter himself. I was a huge fan of the Animated Series as a kid and it really feels like this was the same Spidey. He’s wise-cracking, hot-headed at times, but ultimately a good guy who’s trying his best to do right by everyone. This level of character consistency can be rare in comics, especially when dropping in to a new story arc without any of the background.

clone-conspiracy-interior

Art by Cheung, Dell & Ponsor

 

The art is outstanding. The characters look fantastic, Dell and Cheung’s work really paying off. Ponsor’s colouring captures the mood, adding darker tones and secrets are revealed and the conspiracies are uncovered. The fight scenes are packed with detail, and the lettering expertly draws your attention across the panels, building the atmosphere.

As for downsides to the issue, it is a little slow to fully get going. This was useful in a way for someone like myself who’s getting back into things but the story could have been streamlined.

The big question though, can the artists successfully draw hands? It’s true that I’ve already said the art is outstanding, so that may be a little bit of a spoiler here. The hands are of course drawn well as part of this. If I’m being picky one women’s hands look like they’ve blurred into one in one of the group shots. Hands throughout the issue are used to convey a lot of emotion, as shocking things are discovered. 9/10 for hand drawing skills!

Final Verdict

I like the twist, I’ll save that for you to come across yourself when you read this issue (you should), it mixes up The Clone Conspiracy and things are not looking like a rehash of the Clone Saga.

Score: 9 Barely Alive Eyeballs out of 10

Comic Review – Spider-Gwen #1 (Marvel Comics)

Kit is taking over the weekly comic book review because Adam is in the unenviable position of attempting to finish off his PhD.

“Heeeere, Lizzy, Lizzy, Lizzzzy–” – Spider-Gwen

Warning: minor spoilers.

I’ll be carrying on covering the Weekly Comic Book Reviews by picking up another of the All New All Different Marvel initiative. This time it’ll be Spider-Gwen #1! Adam reviewed the previous Spider-Gwen first issue, which came out earlier this year (you can find that review here). It proved to be quite the success, fans taking to the new take on a Spider-Hero well.  We have the same creative team behind the relaunch post-Secret Wars, with Jason Latour writing, Robbi Rodriguez on art, Rico Renzi providing colours and letters from Clayton Cowles, so we should expect the same quality as before.

In case you missed it before the idea behind Spider-Gwen is in her world, Earth 65, it was Gwen Stacey who was bitten by a spider, not Peter Parker. In her world her friend Peter became jealous of her powers and, with the help of Dr Conners, became Earth 65’s equivalent of the Lizard. This comic starts with, and actually runs throughout, a recap of Spider-Gwen’s past. Needless to say things didn’t end well for Lizard-Parker.

spider gwen1In the present a convenience store owner is ‘robbed’ and whilst the villain’s sidekick is making his… getaway… the store is attacked by the Lizard. When the morning comes around, Gwen wakes up late for work. We get a feel for her as a person while she panics and tries to beat the rush hour. Which she does by dressing up as Spider-Gwen and riding on the side of a bus. Whilst catching up with her dad of course. Her father works in the NYPD as a detective and knows his daughter’s secret identity. We also pick up in this world that Frank Castle gets to shoot people legally! Well, not as the Punisher, he’s a cop working alongside Captain Stacey in charge of the Spider-Woman case. Once Gwen gets to her first day of work we find that she was due to work in that very convenience store. She tries to hunt down Dr Conners, but finds him missing. We get a lot of flashback now, getting to see what life used to be like for Gwen and her relationship with Peter.

The comic ends with her making her way down to the sewers to confront the Lizard. However, she gets more than she bargained for, not just in the enemy she’s up against, but it seems a certain Avenger is out trying to track her down. Although they are a little different in this world too!

The art itself of course looks great, in line with the style of the previous Spider-Gwen run. The flashbacks all have a slight tinge to the colour scheme in the panels, showing them as non-current events. I would criticise this choice slightly, it took me a moment the first time to realise it was a flashback!

Final Verdict

Overall it’s a decent first book. It’s been set up as a jumping on point for new readers, as expected from an issue 1 reboot. Although I think it does this a little too heavy-handedly. I hadn’t read any of the first Spider-Gwen series, but did have a rough idea of the concept behind it. As a new comer it felt like there were a couple too many flash backs, I’d have rather had a bit more current content and getting to know Gwen and her world in the present day. I’d also have liked to see a new villain, once we know she’s already dealt with the Lizard once.

Still, it’s well worth a read if you like the Spider-Heroes and want to see where they’re going with her character.

Final Score – 7.5 Busted Web Shooters out of 10!

Comic Review – Civil War #1

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Every week he reviews of one of them, with potential minor spoilers.

More Secret Wars tie-ins are coming out from Marvel every week, with varying quality and relevance to the main event series. Some are entirely new concepts, while some have been based on classic storylines that are being retold or continued, like Old Man Logan or Planet Hulk. So far I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve tried, but the Secret Wars series itself is especially strong for a summer event. This week Civil War #1 came out, a new spin and continuation of the hugely popular 2006 series by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven. This new series was written by Charles Soule, with pencils by Leinil Francis Yu, colours by Sunny Gho and letters from Joe Sabino.

Civil War follows the original plot of the Superhuman Registration Act, a government initiative to have all masked heroes have their identities known to the government and to be trained properly before going out to fight crime. Tony Stark thought this was all a great idea, while Steve Rodgers (quite rightly) considered this a breach of civil liberties, leading to most of the heroes of the Marvel Universe siding with Iron Man or Captain America and fighting it out. In the original series, the Civil War eventually ended. Not so in this new tale (which bears the Secret Wars banner on the cover and the same intro, but seems totally unconnected to the Battleworld).

The story picks up during the prison clash, but this time the prison detonates and many heroes are killed, along with 15 million others in the city. 6 years later the country is divided. Literally divided down the middle, with the east side of the USA dubbed ‘The Iron’ and led by President Stark, and the west presided over by General Rodgers, known as ‘The Blue’. After all these years a peace treaty is organised on the bridge where the two sides meet. Each man is joined by one of his most trusted compatriots, the former by She-Hulk and the latter by a Peter Parker in what looks a lot like MCU Falcon gear (presumably because The Blue seems like a lot of open expanse, not a lot of buildings to web sling around). Steve and Tony meet and discuss terms, more land for The Iron, more resources for The Blue. But before they can get any further an attempt is made on Cap’s life, and the negotiation breaks down as soon as it has started. He and Peter depart, certain that the war can only end one way.

The potential for these retellings of classic stories that has come out of Secret Wars has been exciting to see, providing the opportunity for these tales to go towards a far more extreme end, rather than something that shakes up the MU status quo in some small way before ultimately being righted or changed again due to the nature of serialised superhero comics. Soule has done just that in Civil War, taking what was already a fairly bleak and grim story and making it even more so, resulting in an America that we never would have seen in the original story without it being savagely retconned a few years later. While there are a few narrative jumps as to how we got there, the real meat and strength of the issue comes when the two former comrades are negotiating. The character work is great, and there are some nice concepts like The Punishers and the Bullseye Boys teased which could be a lot of fun in the later issues. Yu’s art shines when showing off the landscapes of The Iron and The Blue, the latter particularly looking desolate but beautiful. The grizzled look of the two men, especially Stark who is starting to look a lot older even in 6 years, adds weight to the never ending conflict between them.

Civil War is a great ‘What if?’ tale if the question you ask is ‘What if the original Civil War never ended and was also far more depressing with loads more death?’. You don’t need to be reading Secret Wars to enjoy it, and the writing and art are both very solid. Check this out at your LCS or digitally.

Score: 7.5 SHRAs out of 10