Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Wednesday Is Any Day For All I Care #46

Blackest Night #4
Haunt #1 (2009)
Superman: World of New Krypton #8 (2009)
Web of Spider-Man #1 (2009)

Blackest Night #4 (DC, 2009, $3.99)
Let's see-- I was very disappointed up until the sweet second issue, then disappointed by the third, and now the fourth. Fuck.

It's not that I have a problem with Flash or Mera, and I love the Atom, but the focus on them makes the event look small, even as the stakes should be rising. There's lots of pep talk, obligatory cameos and lead-ins to spin-offs, but not much meat on its bones. Halfway through, and the whole thing still seems to be build-up to the event, instead of the actual epic. Great art, solid writing, but the side books are now packing more of a punch, not to mention focus.

Haunt #1 (Image, 2009, $2.99)
I remember reading Todd McFarlane's Spawn #1, which was all premise and no story. Haunt, co-created and inked by McFarlane, feels a bit like Spawn done "right," by which a more mainstream and accessible extended origin story along the lines of Ultimate Spider-Man #1. If you're starting to see a pattern in my comparing Haunt to a bunch of similar stuff that's come and gone, you're catching on. Haunt #1 is totally okay, but nothing new under the sun. The characters are established well and quickly, with some fun snarky dialogue by co-creator/writer Robert Kirkman. However, the art by Greg Capullo and Ryan Ottley helps to solidify Haunt as off-brand Spawn, and the concept doesn't read on paper as strong as the one-shots Kirkman is producing concurrently with fellow Image founder Marc Silvestri. Kirkman is best at the long haul, and it isn't like this isn't a solid first step, but there's nothing here to excite anyone not already down for the creative team.

Superman: World of New Krypton #8 (DC, 2009, $2.99)
I entered this story midway through, and left in the same place. A bunch of stuff involving Kryptonians and Thanagarians was happening, looked to have gotten resolved, and then some stuff started happening with some other aliens. I was totally brought up to speed along the way, but I don't find myself caring about any of it. The story and art by Robinson, Rucka and Woods is serviceable, and they're all responsible for a wrong-headed cameo at the end nobody will give a shit about. The only thing worth mentioning is the pretty Gary Frank cover, but it's foil wrap on stale crackers.

Web of Spider-Man #1 (Marvel, 2009, $3.99)
What I love about anthology titles is the opportunity to take obscure or disreputable characters and build a short story around them that clearly explains why they should have value to the readers. In this book's first story, J.M. DeMatteis and Val Semeiks take on Kaine, a disfigured and potentially irredeemable copy of Peter Parker from the reviled Clone Saga, and fail to accomplish that goal. Not for lack of trying, the creators obviously want you to care about Kaine as much as they do, and see his character arc through an upcoming crossover. Sadly, from conception, both literally and metatextually, Kaine was a damned thing that never should have come into being. If you like DeMatteis, as I do, you'll see he doesn't fall short of his usual fine form. If you dislike Semeiks, as the majority of fandom does, you'll be pleased to know he apes John Romita Jr. reasonably well here. All for naught, as Kaine is just too stupid to live, and yet he does, wasting a lot of time and effort in hopes to extricate him from his inherent shittiness. This is no peanut, my friend, just hands dirtied and good money thrown after bad.

Meanwhile, Spider-Girl gets resurrected again. I've only read a few of her comics in her decade-plus existence, and while she doesn't interest me, I respect the work done on her. A text piece brings the reader up to speed, even if the actual story is downright obtuse in its inability to remotely resemble a jumping-on point. Tom DeFalco isn't a great writer, but all these goombas and castaway concepts from his 80s/90s heyday play to both his strengths and my personal area of interest in the Spider-Man mythos. Ron Frenz and Sal Buscema are artists I always affectionately associate with this neck of the woods. It's downright nostalgic to see Peter and Mary Jane as a happily married couple, and unfairly maligned villains like Tombstone put to good use. I felt no compulsion to continue with the series, but I had fun with Spider-Girl in this one outing.

Finally, there's a short Frog-Man team-up story by Sean McKeever and legacy Stephanie Buscema. It's neat to see her paint in a style far more reminiscent of 1960s children's books than the Buscema brothers, but the weak backgrounds and angular figures also make it clear she doesn't belong here. The story also takes a clever idea and does nothing with it that would illicit laughter. It's harmless, and that is all.

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