Howdy, y’all! Now, before you say anything, both of us are really sorry for not getting a You’re Welcome, Internet article up this weekend. We fully intended to, but burnout and other things got in the way. As poor of an excuse as that is, it’s all we’ve got.
Well, okay… we also got you a sex picture, in honour of the Walking Dead/autumn dinner party James threw last night:
You’re welcome, Internet.
But that’s not all! There were also comics last week, and the sheer volume of amazing ones made it hard to pick the best ones of the week. But because we love you, we toughed it out. Oh no, comics are so good we have it so tough whatever will we do oh no oh no.
TANDY AND TY, DETECTIVES AT METAPHOR
Part of me cannot believe that one of my favourite comics of the year has been a Cloak & Dagger comic, considering my general ambivalence towards the character. Then I remember that this was a comic written by Nick Spencer with art by Emma Ríos and it all makes sense. Spencer has an incredible ability to capture a character’s interior life on the page, and Ríos is one of the best artists out there today. Period. She is a goddamn wizard. Just look at this!
She does things that nobody else does, in terms of style and layout and just everything. Nobody else’s art looks like Ríos‘, and that’s why I need to lap up every bit of it I can. She can make something light and friendly or completely and genuinely terrifying, as both this limited series and Osborn demonstrate. But it’s always unmistakably her own, and this is one of very few comics that I have to read more than once, not to pick up the hidden secrets in the writing (though I do that too in a third reading), but because I just need to look at the art all on its own, with nothing else interfering.
Spencer is equally up to the task of matching the art. Cloak and Dagger are pretty minor-level heroes in the Marvel Universe, but here they feel as big as anyone else. This is a Spider Island story in little other than name and location, but sneakily makes it something bigger and much more important. This isn’t just a story of Tandy and Ty during the Spider Island outbreak, though it succeeds on that level, too. This is the Cloak and Dagger story to date, the big one that explores and redefines the characters in terms of how they relate to the world around them, each other and themselves. If putting “Spider Island” on the cover and including a few scenes with arachnids put this comic in extra hands, that is wonderful, because I want as many people as possible to read this and I hope the title helped.
Before the issue was released, Spencer mentioned that this was a comic that changed everything for the characters and that it was a significant – and sticking – change. And he’s absolutely right; my jaw very literally dropped when I saw the final twist to the issue, and then metaphorically when I realized it made complete sense and had been telegraphed in plain sight right from the beginning of the series, as in from the very first pages. It just didn’t make sense until the very end, and that is Spencer working at his best, with a complete and full understanding of his characters and what makes them work. If anything, asking that question is what ties it in most to Spider Island and its core question to Peter Parker.
So for both sneaking in a story like this under the Spider Island banner and for that incredible twist at the end, I happily give Spider Island: Cloak & Dagger #3 the Ol’ Switcheroo Award. (J)
YOU CAN’T STAB FINANCIAL STATEMENTS
But oh, if only we could.
This week, the X-Men line began a new season of comics with the release of Wolverine and the X-Men #1, and I have to say, it was a damn fine read, and a perfect way to start a new set of stories. In a short span of time, Jason Aaron gives you the lowdown on the series, and why it exists. Wolverine and Cyclops came to a parting of ways, and took chunks of the team along with them. Cyclops is off on Utopia still, fighting for the species’ survival in his own way, while Wolverine has decided to re-open the school (or a version of it) to help train kids for the future, rather than using them as soldiers.
Applied here are all the lessons Aaron has learned about writing Wolverine so far. Mainly, that pretty much every kind of Wolverine story has been told before, so you have to find stories in which the character is out of his comfort zone, and just drop him right in the middle of them. In times past, Aaron has written Wolverine into a kung fu tale, a B-movie horror flick, has sent him to hell, and so forth and so on. All tales that don’t quite fit the regular Wolverine mould, really. And here, we see Wolverine as an idealist and an administrator, struggling to deal with troubles he can’t stab in the face. It’s nice to see, and is played pretty straight, resulting in some big laughs.
From top to bottom, this book was fun. The pace was brisk, the ideas were abundant and the story, once established, began pushing towards some big crazy fights. The art by Chris Bachalo was energetic, and perfectly fitting. And damn, this was just exactly what I want from an X-book. Thus, we award this book the Red Dawn Award. For being rad as hell.(B)
Goddamn, right? Spider Island had a massive build up, and might have been overtaken by Fear Itself, Marvel‘s bigger and longer crossover event, had it not been so absolutely wonderful. The premise of the action, what happens when millions of New Yorkers all develop spider powers?, ensured a lot of crazy, complicated action spreads, which Humberto Ramos delivered with glee and aplomb. How many other people could draw the chaos of dozens of people on a page all swinging and wall-crawling and have it be perfectly readable, let alone as thrilling as it was? It’s not a big list, and that’s a reason why Ramos is perfectly suited for Dan Slott‘s writing.
Spider-Man comics are seldom just about the action, though. Peter Parker’s life is a glorious four-colour soap opera, and Peter’s self-doubt and conflicts are what make him truly interesting. Plus, you know, he has SPIDER POWERS. But when everybody has spider powers, of what use is Spider-Man? That’s the emotional core of Spider Island, and despite some already great moments – like the various Avengers telling Peter to go home because they don’t want to accidentally mistake him for one of the criminals dressed like Spidey and collapse his skull – this week’s finale issue, Amazing Spider-Man #672, got in one of the best ones yet.
A big part of Amazing Spider-Man since “Big Time” has been his promise to save everyone, that nobody will die on his watch. It’s a promise, like the best of them, rooted in tragedy, and so far it’s been idealistic but somewhat hopeless. But in #672? Peter does it. He saves everyone, and his smile when he realizes that he’s done it is one of the best moments of not just Spider Island, but also of Slott‘s run as a whole. Spidey doesn’t get the big wins very often, and seeing him actually get to accomplish his life’s goal, even if it’s just for that one day, got the pollen in here so crazy it’s unbelievable.
Spider Island was a crossover comic that happened in the middle of a bigger crossover comic, that featured lesser-known villains, referenced one of the most polarizing Spider-Man stories of all time – the Clone Wars Saga – and had Peter spend most of his time not being Spider-Man. He’s not even wearing his mask when he saves the day. It shouldn’t have been as good as it was, but Slott and Ramos forced it to through sheer talent, willpower and their secret weapon: that they understand Peter Parker and what makes him important. Any jackass can write a Spider-Man story, as my magnum opus Spider-Man: Springtime for Shitler can attest. It takes real talent to make a story about millions of people getting his powers and still showing, completely and convincingly, why he’s the only Spider-Man. He’s the only one who could save New York, no matter how many clones and people with his powers there are. This is a love letter to the character and what makes him who he is, and I loved every single page of it. (J)
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