Conservative Comic Book Pundit

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Review: Spider-Man: The Other (Hardcover collection)

Okay - I'll state the obvious first: Didn't we just read this story over in Jenkin's Spectacular Spider-Man? Well, not really, but the similarities are rather striking. I guess the mystical spider force needed to give Spidey a dry run.

But this story arc is the one that got reprinted in Oversized HC format, so it gets the publicity and the review.

There were three writers on this 12 part story arc: Peter David, Reggie Hudlin and JMS. Each one has strengths and weaknesses, but overall they create an interesting synergy that I think works more often than not.

The weakest writer was Hudlin - his sequence with Aunt May and Mary Jane using outdated Iron Man armor to take out Doombots. Sorry - they would be dead within seconds. However, Hudlin has two huge advantages over the other two writers: He scripts an awesome battle scene (the fight between Morlun and Spidey was very well done), and he has a much better feel for the integration of the Marvel universe. Of course Spider-Man would visit the Black panther and Dr. Strange and the Fantastic Four if he was terminally ill.

Peter David has the snappiest dialogue, and his "Tracer" character (the self-proclaimed god of machines) shows a lot of potential. His stories also move at a nice clip, whereas with some of the other authors seemed to be spinning their wheels for several pages in order to make sure the chapters of each arc fit a particular pattern.

JMS, of course, dovetails into the mystical aspects as he always does. While I love Babylon 5, the man is starting to sound like a broken record. What is interesting is that JMS is a proclaimed atheist yet holds many "mystical" beliefs.

He seems to be the perfect example of the "voodoo atheist" that they've been discussing over at The Corner. Someone who rejects traditional religion but can't help but believing in something mystical anyway.

Overall, this is a recommended read. Very intense, even though you know it will (more or less) end with Spidey alive. A nice chapter in the history of Spider-Man, even if it doesn't seem quite the major milestone Marvel hyped it to be.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Whoa! (Civil War and "I'm Back")

Let me just say -

The last two months of the semester were a bit too intense for me. Especially with this "dissertation thing."

Reviews will start up again, now that I have a summer break. Except that I will be working over the summer in a small town with no comic store. I'll find a way.

A few thoughts on Marvel's Civil War:

JMS (J. Michael Straczynski, creator of Babylon 5 and current writer on Fantastic Four and Amazing Spider-Man) keeps insisting that "there is no right or wrong side" in this debacle. Yet he sends very mixed messages about this.

For example, he has said
in the first Spidey issue of mine that actually deals
straight-on with the topic, I went to considerable pains to spell out
exactly why the senators and others involved with this genuinely
believe they're right in doing so...and some of their points even Peter
can't argue with.

and late he claimed

And that was the job of the story, to make sure that both sides were
presented as honestly as possible, with each having legitimate reasons
for believing what they believe, not because they want to take over the
planet or advance some evil cause.

However, what do we make of this statement, made in the midst of defending "no right or wrong side" of the story?

there have been any number of Gallup
polls and others that ask straight up, "Would you be willing to
sacrifice some of your liberties in exchange for better national
security?" and the majority of those polls have, sadly in my view, come
back in the positive.

What do we make of this? It seems there is a right and wrong side after all. Given other statements made by JMS (such as his defense of Michael Moore as an accurate presenter of the unbiased truth) and Mark Millar's constant refrains of Bush hate, that Civil War will likely turn out to be yet another volley in the "current administration bad, liberals good" war of words.

Whatever. As recent track records show, DC puts out better mega-crossover anyway. Marvel seems best at small, intimate tales. But I should withhold final judgment until the whole thing has finally come out. But I don't hold up any hope.