This week: Reviews of Adventure Comics #6, Amazing Spider-Man #617 and Buffy #31, and a reaction to the SWORD cancellation.
Review: Adventure Comics #6
I’m not sure a book has had a stranger publication history in its early stages than this. The first few issues made up a fairly pleasant, engaging Superboy story by Johns and Manapul. Then all of a sudden, the book was given over to a bizarre – and not very successful – metatextual Superboy Prime story, with Conner’s story relegated to the backup. And now, just in time to actually finish itself before the writer and artist depart the series abruptly, it’s back as the main feature. Anyway, it’s… well, it’s fairly pleasant and engaging, actually. Very rooted in the Silver Age in its treatment of Lex Luthor, mind (all orange-prison-suited, evil genius determined to prove a point, demonstrating just how brilliant he could be were it not for that pesky Superman), and I’m still not sure that version works in the present-day DCU. But it plays off what remains an interesting dynamic – that Luthor has such a close sort-of-familial connection to the Super-family – even though that itself was something that the ’90s already did with the Matrix Supergirl. And Manapul’s stylish, pencil-led art sells it, even almost making the Red Robin outfit (admittedly sans hood) look alright. Quick point, though – despite the increased page count for the main story, this is still a $3.99 issue without a backup strip; and that’s bad form. [SP]
Review: Amazing Spider-Man #617
You know, this is the kind of issue that makes me glad of the series’ tri-monthly format. Would I want something like this every issue? No. Would I want this story to last more than one month? No. But as it is – a story about the (admittedly, rather shallow) new Rhino attacking the old version of the character, now reformed after finding love, well, it’s a pretty entertaining one-off. With a nice back-up strip that further explains how he got to the point he’s at. The art throughout is, to be honest, not to my taste, but it’s never so ugly that it undermines my enjoyment of the story. The fact that the schedule makes this kind of issue possible is exactly why Amazing, for better or worse, is one of my favourite ongoings right now. [JHu]
Review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer #31
I’ve mocked the delayed reactions of Buffy’s letters page before, but “we are only a couple of months away from revealing Twilight’s identity” takes things to a new level, as well as confirming the panicked nature of the decision. The quality of writing here, however, makes it easy to hope that Dark Horse’s stratagem is successful in raising sales. Joss Whedon has no hesitation in putting his creation through the wringer, and the lack of pulled punches in characterisation benefits the story immensely. The ongoing metaphor of the ‘Season Eight’ story is a little hard to gauge, with many elements in flux, but the quality of the tale is undiminished. [JHa]
Appeal : Save SWORD!
Are we going to be doing this every year, then? Yes, it looks like – for all intents and purposes – Kieron Gillen and Steve Sanders’ excellent S.W.O.R.D. ongoing is being forcibly turned into a miniseries, apparently missing from Marvel’s April solicitations and thus seemingly set to end after issue #5. Can anything be done to save it? Fan campaigns have worked in the past for the likes of Manhunter and Spider-Girl - although you wonder if they can have the same effect on a series cut short so early in its life. I feel particularly sorry for editor Nick Lowe, clearly one of the best visionaries that Marvel has, who’s now seen both this and Captain Britain prematurely canned despite doing his best to align exciting and inventive writing and artistic talent with interesting characters. Anyway, if you do want to join the attempts at persuading Marvel that they’re WRONG, then there’s more info here.