Too serious about comics.

The Sunday Pages #32

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This week: news and capsule reviews, including Amazing Spider-Man #574, Angel: After the Fall #13, Daredevil #112, Thunderbolts #125 and X-Factor #36.

Link: All-Star Grant
We’ve tended to focus recently on capsule reviews in the Sunday Pages rather than rounding up news or links, but I couldn’t let this one pass by without comment (especially if, like me, you’ve stopped regularly visiting Newsarama since that awful relaunch and so might not catch this kind of thing) – a quite excellent ten-part interview (up to its fourth installment at the time of writing) with Grant Morrison on all things All-Star. It’s essentially a superb piece of creator commentary on what is, after all, the best superhero comic in donkey’s years – and so it’s pretty much obligatory reading. Start off here, and enjoy. [SP]

Review: Amazing Spider-Man #574
Did… did I just read what I think I read? People are talking about this as one of those brilliant, reflective tales that delve into what Spider-Man as a character means to people (think the highlights of Paul Jenkins’ run, or the quintessential example of “The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man”). Which is bollocks. What this is is a piece of pro-military (I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if the US Army approved it) propaganda with an at-best-tenuous connection to Spider-Man (in that it’s about Flash Thompson, and features the odd flashback to desperately inappropriate “parallel” moments in Spidey’s life). It makes me uncomfortable in so many ways – partly because of the way in which it portrays the US as the heroes rather than the invaders (and let’s not get into a political debate – and nor do I want to downplay the bravery and sacrifices of soldiers themselves – but just accept that the situation is simply not that black-and-white), and partly because it simply has no place in a Spider-Man comic. It looks good (Barry Kitson is reliable, of course), you can sort of see a certain amount of noble intent behind the tribute, and the story isn’t necessarily bad (although it’s fairly cliched) – but in terms of its context and its very existence it’s just horribly, woefully misguided. This simply should not be appearing in this comic at this moment in time. Appalling. [SP]

Review: Angel: After the Fall #13
With only a few issues to go, it’s doubtless that “After the Fall” is going to end a far stronger comic than it started as, but it’s still failing to hit the highs of Whedon’s Buffy. Angel comes across as wishy-washy and uncertain, Illyria and Wesley’s situations are still poorly-defined, and meanwhile Gunn and Conner steal all the best moments. Spike’s opening monologue provides a rare glimpse of the ability that led Whedon to hand-pick the writer to write After the Fall. By comparison, Spike’s unexplained death and resurrection combined with the sheer confusion of how, exactly, hell “going to hell” is supposed to have raised the stakes any, displays exactly the kind of logic-leaps and shorthand plotting that made the opening of this series so frustrating in the first place. I’ll stick with it to see the ending, but it’s a good sign tell that a story’s mediocre when that’s all you’re in it for. [JHu]

Review: Daredevil #112
Brubaker’s Daredevil makes an unusual diversion through the wider Marvel Universe, both by dealing with the effects that Skrullektra’s reveal had on The Hand, which she was currently running, and making note of recent events from Iron Fist. Throw in a pithy, old ninja master and you have a book that, far from being the muted costume-crime series we’ve come to know, actually has a lot of fun about it. It’s a welcome change in tone. The engaging character drama of Matt’s adultery with Dakota keeps things from getting too upbeat, though. Far from being the misfire some people predicted, “Lady Bullseye” actually turns out to be Daredevil’s most engaging and enjoyable arc in some time. [JHu]

Review: Thunderbolts #125
Faced with the unenviable task of bridging the gap between Ellis and Diggle’s ongoing runs for the duration of Secret Invasion, Gage has performed well. It doesn’t take much to see that Osborn is going to have a major role in Dark Reign, and this issue telegraphs that fact pretty strongly. The general acceptance of Osborn isn’t made especially believeable, but it’s a minor duff note in an otherwise strong continuation of Ellis’ tone that will hopefully segue nicely into Diggle’s run. [JHu]

Review: X-Factor #36
At the risk of sounding like a broken record here, one again we have an interesting plot and nice characterisation married with art so poor it defies rational criticism. In addition to the absence of backdrops and the way characters only possess around fifty five percent of a face at any one time, we now have a delightful breaking of the laws of perspective, with objects that are further away drawn as larger than those closer to the reader’s viewpoint. The only logical conclusion is that cancelling second string X-titles before they reach their half-century is now a matter of principle at Marvel, and the firm as assigned Larry Stroman to help X-Factor in its way. [JHa]

5 Responses to 'The Sunday Pages #32'

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  1. [...] “What this is is a piece of pro-military (I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if the US Army approved it) propaganda with an at-best-tenuous connection to Spider-Man (in that it’s about Flash Thompson, and features the odd flashback to desperately inappropriate “parallel” moments in Spidey’s life).” – James Hunt [...]

  2. Is it sad that I think this is one of the better Spider-Man stories since Post-BND?

    Honestly, my only major problem with this story was trying to link it to Spider-Man at every whim. I have no problems with it being a Flash Thompson story, or an army story, or any of that.

    But trying to shove Spider-Man every time Flash has some vague thought about something that could barely reference some generic Spider-Man moment (I was completely drawn out of the issue once they showed the Sinister Six in reference to Flash going against six guys) is ridiculous.

    Otherwise, I thought it was a really nice story. But it wasn’t a Spider-Man story, and I would have been absolutely OK with that.

    MisterSmith

    27 Oct 08 at 11:36 pm

  3. But that’s the thing – it wasn’t a Spider-Man story. So why was it in a comic called Amazing Spider-Man? Why not put out Spider-Man’s Pal Flash Thompson Special #1 or something?

    The feeble attempts to tie it in to Spidey’s life (the Six example was bad, but I thought the Iron Spidey bit even worse) simply demonstrated their *knowledge* that it wasn’t really a Spider-Man story but that they needed to try and justify it in some way. I think they failed.

    Seb Patrick

    28 Oct 08 at 8:34 am

  4. I actually didn’t mind the Sinister 6 reference, as it showed why Flash didn’t back down to the outnumbering enemies, even when somebody else easily could have. Truth is, I never would have read “Spider-Man’s Pal Flash Thompson Special #1″ or whatever it would have been if it hadn’t been in the main ASM title. I read it because I subscribe to this title, and they knew that many people would. I enjoyed it the same way I enjoy TV shows that occasionally do the same thing for an episode. If its good, I’m not worried.

    Weeji

    28 Oct 08 at 3:28 pm

  5. James, I had feelings similar to yours when reading the Flash Thompson issue: as you say, the situattion is not a black and white one. I think that there’s something in the art (inconsciously?) which summed up the situation, while Thompson and his pals travel in an armoured car, and wear extensively protective body armour, their opponents wear… t-shirts and turbans (Let’s remember that classic Flash Thompson had been in Vietnam, where the means of the U.S. Army were also supoerior to those of their enemies)

    BTW, the nature of Flash’s wounds will condition how the character is written from now on… Dis really the writer had to do this to a regular secondary character? Oh, well, we can always pull a Mephisto to change things!

    And brubaker’s DD is awesome, yeah… I only wish we could see a bit more of Foggy, then that would be just perfect.

    Gloria

    3 Nov 08 at 3:53 pm

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