Now on to what I actually bought this week. Plus a note, to you, the readers, about the New Amazing. Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man 1 - "Shock (The Other, part 1)"
by Peter David and Mike Weiringo
This is a story, basically, structured around a single scene. By that, I mean that it all serves that one particular scene, and it's obvious that that scene was the starting point of the story. It's not uncommon in comics, especially superhero comics, and especially those of PAD's generation of writers. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't. This time, it works.
Part of the success is that the scene is just a damn cool moment, and something we've literally never seen in a Spider-Man comic before. Another part is the talent of the creators involved; David's decades of experience pay off in the pacing, as does Weiringo's little-frills style that allows the reader's eye to jump straight to the important bits. And it doesn’t help that the rest of the comic is filled with excellent character moments, some surprising developments, and a new villain with an interesting gimmick and refreshing simplicity of motivation. The fact that MJ and Captain America have bonded in the months Spidey has been an Avenger is just too cool to contemplate, and the kind of thing that made me enjoy the Marvel Universe in the first place.
Starting a title with a multi-part crossover is most definitely a risk; the boosted sales for the launch may be offset by the number who drop the book if they're dissatisfied with where the big arc goes. We get only a few hints here of what JMS has in store for the wall-crawler in coming months, mostly in the form of a returned unfriendly face. I don't feel I can judge "The Other" on the whole yet, so I'm delaying that for a bit.
MJ's 'tude regarding Peter's activities didn't jibe with me initially, but on reflection, I can see how recent events would have brought these feelings back out from whatever psychic lockbox she normally keeps them in.
This book didn't have to work too hard to please me, truth be told. My favorite character, and two creators who have done excellent work on him before; 'twas a shoe-in, as long as they remembered to bring their A-game. They did.
Exiles 71 - "World Toru: House of M, Conclusion"
by Tony Bedard and Paul Pelletier
I'm one of the relative handful that liked the show Sliders. Part of it was, admittedly, that we were starved for good TV sci-fi in the mid-90s period between the end of Star Trek: TNG and the beginning of Babylon 5. But another part of it was that, essentially, it was a neat concept, with very few rules, where literally anything could happen each week. Then they killed John-Rhys Davies's character, and, well, I think we all remember what happened next. By the time the Sci-Fi Channel put it to rest, it resembled the show we had once loved very little, and most regarded it as a mercy killing.
Something very similar to that happens this issue, and whether or not Exiles shares Sliders' ultimate fate rests in the ability of Tony Bedard to avoid the pitfalls that earlier series fell into. Not replacing anyone with Kari Wuhrer is a good start. Giving the possibility of an out for the imperiled character, however false a hope it may be, is another. The villain having an unridiculous reason to go hopping around reality, causing trouble, same deal. And I have to admit, this chapter is very well-done from a technical standpoint. The money shot moment gave me genuine chills, and Pelletier outdoes himself with the visuals. You have to admit, Proteus has a great power to draw.
There is one bit that unsettled me: the writing off of a certain character. Given… other events this week, it's pretty clear his fate has been taken out of Bedard's hands. I'm not too happy about that, given that Bedard has been this character's only champion of late… aw hell, I'll say it out loud: You fuckers kill Beak, I'm-a show up at the Marvel offices with a length of rubber hose. And I won't be alone.
We know that "World Tour" will be big. We know that at the end, the Exiles won't be the same as when they started. The journey in between… is off to an interesting and unpredictable start.
A Final Note: Cover reviews, as you may have noticed, have ceased. This is because, increasingly, I'm finding myself bereft of things to say about most of my covers. (Thanks, Marvel!) So, until further notice, I'll only be commenting on them when I feel like it. I will continue the Infinite Crisis Cover Competition, once DC gets around to releasing the Perez cover for IC 2. Newsarama promises they'll preview all of them… eventually. Stay tuned.