Saturday, January 28, 2012

Reviews: Amazing Spider-Man, Scarlet Spider, The Ray, Punisher

The Amazing Spider-Man #678
Written by Dan Slott; pencils by Humberto Ramos; inks by Victor Olazaba; colours by Edgar Delgado; Marvel

Instead of writing a review I think I'll just show you this image:

Is this Spider-Man or Mr. Freaking Fantastic? Because that does not look like a human body to me. I think Ramos' art is a little too cartoony (in the sense that he distorts figures, proportions, faces, etc. for effect) for my tastes.

Otherwise, I'm still sort of enjoying this book, but it's hard to forget that it's $4 and twice a month. That's a lot of money for something that I'm only kind of enjoying. Consider it on probation.

Scarlet Spider #1
Written by Christopher Yost; pencils by Ryan Stegman; inks by Michael Babinski; colours by Marte Gracia; Marvel

I bought this out of curiosity (I like to try #1s to see if new series show any promise) and because I have fond memories of Chris Yost's Red Robin (before Fabian Nicieza took over and fucked it all up).

Scarlet Spider (aka Kaine) is apparently a clone of Spider-Man who turned evil, then died to save Peter, then was resurrected in the recent Spider Island event, and is now trying to decide whether he just wants to enjoy his new life or be a hero. That's a lot of backstory, which can be a bit of a turn off for me when I'm not super-invested in the characters, but Yost seems to deal with it swiftly in the first issue so he can tell a good story going forward.

I think I'm going to stick with this one for a few more issues. The art is nice and I like the character. The plot revolves around a case of human trafficking, which, is it just me or are super-hero comics obsessed with human trafficking? I feel like it shows up in Batman comics a lot, and lately it was in that awful Huntress mini-series. Anyway. I'm not too thrilled about that aspect of it, but it's not a major turn off or anything.

I have a feeling this series is going to be short-lived, which seems to be the fate of most solo books for non A-list characters at Marvel these days, but I'll take the risk.

The Ray #2 (of 6)
Written by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti; pencils by Jamal Igle; inks by Rich Perrotta; colours by Guy Major; DC

I like the narration in this comic. The way the protagonist is talking directly to the reader. It's a little bit meta, but not in a high-concept kind of way. It reminds me of TV shows, like Malcolm in the Middle or something. (Was that a bad comparison? Sorry.) The point is, it's a good way to give the character a voice and a personality. Which, I'm assuming, most readers need at this point, since they're not familiar with this guy.

It's not really clear to me how the Ray's light-based powers work. I think he absorbs light and then can use that energy to fly around and do other things, but then it eventually runs out. He can also manipulate how the light reflects off his body, which allows him to change his appearance.

The plot revolves around his troubles with his girlfriend and her parents, and by the end of the issue the situation has turned into a classic save the girl scenario, after these weird insect-like creatures who talk like Daleks randomly fall from the sky.

There's nothing really mind-blowing about this, but the writing is pretty sharp. Jamal Igle's art is unremarkable, but not a turn off. I'll give it another issue at least and see where it goes.

The Punisher #7
Written by Greg Rucka; pencils by Michael Lark; inks by Stefano Gaudiano; colours by Matt Hollingworth; Marvel

I just love the fact that Marvel editors have enough faith in what Greg Rucka is doing with this series that they're willing to let him write an entire issue of The Punisher in which The Punisher doesn't appear. It's great pacing for the series as a whole, giving us a little interlude after the carnage in the previous action-packed issue, and it also works perfectly as a stand-alone issue. It even functions as a pretty good jumping-on point for new readers, as the cops investigating the case kind of sum up everything that's happened so far.

The art team is also fantastic, giving the book a great pulp noir look that matches Rucka's writing style. I really don't care much about The Punisher as a character. I gave this series a try purely because of Rucka. It doesn't disappoint.


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