A few thoughts on some of the comics I picked up this week:
Amazing Spider-Man #640
I have to admit, as an exercise in continuity bungs, the first couple of issues of OMIT weren’t bad, aside from the ridiculous story-logic of “I don’t want kids with you, so let’s not get married”. Quesada’s pages are brilliant on just about every level, and it kind of surprises me that he’s able to improve so consistently as an artist when he appears to draw about 6 things a year. Or maybe that’s why. Anyway, OMIT is getting into weird territory now, as it starts telling the story of how Peter went from unmasked and living with his wife/long-term partner MJ to single, unknown and living with his Aunt. I’m not really sure we needed to see these details, because frankly, “A Satanic analogue did it” was more than enough to get Marvel out of any continuity scrape. So while it’s not terrible, it’s just sort of academic at this point.
Avengers Academy #3
I kind of love Avengers Academy. It reminds me of Busiek’s Thunderbolts, from back in the day. Strongly-defined characters with strongly-defined powers, a frisson of will-they, won’t-they villainy, it’s pushing all the right buttons for me. Hazmat and Finesse are two of my favourite characters right now. The first is an angry Japanese girl whose powers have made her a walking biohazard, confining her to a hazmat suit. The latter is a potentially sociopathic genius who can replicate any action, but has trouble interacting with people. And she’s blackmailing Quicksilver into giving her secret classes in BEING EVIL. Amazing. Anyway, this issue is a crossover with the current Thunderbolts comic, and it’s the better of the two, really. There’s a hilarious scene where Valkyrie gives the girls on the team a lesson in avoiding the male-centric man-ocracy, and later the kids visit The Raft, and a few of the team decide they’re going to go kill Norman Osborn. And despite the number of times characters have proclaimed that they’ll be doing that over the last year, this time it’s actually quite good. It’s not a very Avengers-y book, but I really like it.
This is the first Parker/Walker issue which hasn’t massively clicked for me. Part of the problem is that it “crosses over” with Avengers Academy – the issues portray the same events from different perspectives – but where Avengers Academy is taking two issues, Thunderbolts takes one, and has to quickly wrap up the previous issue’s plot, so it’s all a bit rushed and spotty. Large swathes of story that will presumably turn up in Avengers Academy #4 are dealt with in the space of a single dismissive panel. I’m inclined to say that it hasn’t really worked, although the part of the story that involves John Walker to fight a bunch of villains into submission despite the fact he’s currently missing a hand and half a leg was completely badass, as was Cage’s encounter with the Purple Man. Always nice to see plot threads from Alias get a look in.
Uncanny X-Men #527
I don’t know what’s going on with this series, but as near as I can tell, Matt Fraction has a strong idea of what he wants the book to be like, but no-one else remotely agrees with him – least of all the people reading it. In this issue, we appear to learn for the first time that Sebastian Shaw is supposed to be a “secret” prisoner – that is, only Emma and Danger know about his presence – which doesn’t make a lot of sense, particularly given the “no secrets” talk Scott and Emma had comparatively recently. It certainly doesn’t help that Whilce Portacio is turning in some shocking work, too. I know he’s not to everyone’s tastes, but I’m sure he used to be better than what we get here. It’s a mess of ruined perspective, failed anatomy and self-consciously arty storytelling panels that don’t work. I’m having trouble remembering the story because the issue just feels like it’s ripping itself apart on a purely technical level.
Web of Spider-Man #11
I bought this on a whim because I saw it had a Black Cat story in it, and a Jackpot story by Sana Takeda, both of which are relevant to my interests, so I was even more pleased to discover that the lead was actually a Mary Jane/Black Cat team-up with nary a hint of Spider-Man in it. A shame, then, that Felicia spends most of the comic with her breasts hanging out, but it was a good enough read that I’ll probably buy #12 toget the second half. The Jackpot story turned out to be the last part of a coda to her recent miniseries (which was thoroughly risible) and this wasn’t much better, really. I think it gives some closure to the plot about Boomerang being her arch-nemesis, so there’s really no more stories about the character that demand to be told. Probably best to leave her alone for a while, now.