We are going back to the standard size for this week’s Picks of the Week and it has been yet another great week for my personal pull list. It may have been lighter than most weeks but it sure did pack a punch.
Over in Marvel’s camp we get a couple more relaunched books and everything else winding down or making those last big story steps (Amazing Spider-Man #698 OH MY GOD!). Oddly it also seems to be a week for letters from the writers and editors to take up space in multiple comics released this week which is a nice touch. On the DC side of life we got the continuation of some very strong stories that have spun out of the recent zero issues or where kicked off just before zero month hit. We also finally get some explanation as to what is going on with this whole H’El on Earth storyline in Supergirl #14. (Which despite this is still not one of picks of the week)
So make a cup of tea (the English kind none of that flimsy American herbal stuff!), get comfy and read up on my picks for the past week’s comics.
A WARNING though, there will be SPOILERS!
Did you ever have any doubt in your mind that Wonder Woman #14 would not be my pick of the week for DC? The consistent brilliance continues with this issue as more wrinkles are added to building and re-building of the Wonder Woman mythology. The issue tackles the build up to the next Earth shattering big confrontation as Wonder Woman seeks allies to help her track down Hermes who still has Zola’s baby. The hulking, mysterious and as it turns out, yet another child of Zeus is filled in on events by his equally mysterious aid and prepares himself to take on Apollo who calls a meeting of the gods to discuss their current situation. It is a very dense issue storywise but thankfully some action is peppered in there to keep things fresh with Diana’s confrontation with her half sister, Siracca.
The art duties in this issue are a weird but good collaborative effort between Tony Atkins who has laid out all the pages with Dan Green and Rick Burchett providing finishing touches to multiple pages. Green dealing with current events and Burchett depicting past and more…other worldly goings on. The differing styles work simply because they are clearly defined and separated by the story being told. If it was a case of the art switching suddenly with the turn of a page then it would break the flow. Here however we are eased in by the change of time period and a different filter being applied to the art to denote it is the past or present. So it all manges to just about fit together.
The issue is filled with all those little details and flourishes that I love about the current Wonder Woman book. From the attention to established Greco-Roman mythology to help spin out new ideas to the story itself. It all has love, life and due care applied to it. The thing I get the biggest kick out of however is the continued depiction of the gods. They are all clearly defined and derived from their classical roots and purpose. A personal favourite being Aphrodite who as of yet we have been unable to fully see face on, simply because she is too beautiful to depict on the page. Therefor we always see her side on and/or obscured like in the above panel. It totally works and fits with the book perfectly. The issue also stands out because it ends with more teasing of the New Gods and New 52 version New Genesis.
Sure Orion may be a pretty boy these days but if I get a new New Gods book or Forth World event out of this line-wide teasing then I do not give a damn! I mean who else is going to help the Justice League stop Darkseid when he comes back to Earth?
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Batwoman continues excellent the team-up with Wonder Woman that has the story heading to the conclusion of this lengthy and at often times confusing first larger arc. So while I have lost sense of the wider story a long time ago the inclusion of Wonder Woman and her somehow legitimising all these mythological monsters running amok is keeping me entertained. Also the book continues to have AMAZING art that makes my decision to stop buying this book after this story has finished harder to actually carry out!
Justice League #14 is also all about Wonder Woman this issue. (It seems to be her week in the spotlight) As the League tries to capture Cheeta while Superman is saved from death by cheetarisation (it’s a thing now. Deal with it!) by the local Cheeta Tribe. Wonder Woman is confronted by the truth behind the Cheeta’s motives (basically she is an evil so and so) and where her continued trust in everyone can lead. Just as she is doubting herself Superman tells her that her faith in people is one of her qualities the he admires and tries to exemplify himself. Supes then takes Wondie on their first date in you guessed it, Smallville for a brilliant scene of them having food in a diner in costume. Then checking out the farm and having a smooch. Finally in one last twist we get to see Batman spying on them because that is what Batman does! Also can we please have it so that Matt Banning & Sandu Florea as inkers and Tomeu Morey as colourist remain as Tony S. Daniel’s permanent team now? His pencils have never looked as good as they do currently with these guys building on them.
If my reaction video for Amazing Spider-Man #698 is anything to go by you can tell I liked this issue a lot. As ever when Dan Slott attempts to do anything big with Spider-Man is seems to split the internet in half. On one side, those who hate it with a passion and scream loudly for our entertainment and then on the other, those who like the idea and want to see how it plays out because it is something different or unique being done with Spider-Man. I am squarely in the second camp. As I am for pretty much every comic I read. I would rather something different, new and exciting rather than tied and predictable.
The whole body switching/bad guy impersonating the good guy thing has been done many a time before but in this instance something new is being done with it. The Doc Ock in Peter’s body has all of his memories and as it turns out has been Spider-Man since the start of this issue. Instead of the usual bad guy ruining the personal life of the good guy type stuff what we get instead is Doc Ock doing good and almost improving Peter’s personal life.
One of the first things we see this new Doc Ock Peter do is start to actively patch up his relationship with Mary Jane. We also see him helping stop a bad guy and heeding the call of the Avengers to come to The Raft for the eventual reveal at the end of the issue. After issue #700 the book is ending and relaunching as Superior Spider-Man, now for the following to pan out as I think. It requires Doc Ock Peter still being around come the relaunch and with two issues to go anything could happen.
Doc Ock is perhaps Peter Parker’s greatest foe. Over the years he has come to embody the ultimate antithesis the Peter Parker/Spider-Man dynamic, much more then Norman Osborn. (Stormin’ Norman is a WHOLE different kettle of fish) Their animosity has grown from simple good guy/bad guy hitting each other to them constantly battling for supremacy over whatever battlefield they meet on. Since the way back when days of Amazing #600 (it seems so close but yet so far away!) Doc Ock has been doing everything he can with his last few months on Earth to one up Spider-Man. From “saving” New York in his own twisted way to “saving” the world in the recent epic, Ends of the Earth. They have all been grand schemes to show up Spidey on both a physical and mental playing field. While Ends of the Earth upped Ock’s scope he was still beaten despite his constant proclamations that he had the superior mind (go back and re-read it). In the end Spider-Man’s quick thinking won out and Doc Ock was resigned to death yet again. Between then and now one last plan has formed in Ock’s twisted and dying brain, perhaps his greatest plan. A planned stemmed from his revelation that Peter Parker and Spider-Man are one in the same. A plan that will finally show that his is superior to Spider-Man in every way.
Become him and be a better Spider-Man and Peter Parker than him. Be the Superior Spider-Man.
To the world everyone will think Spider-Man has reached new heights and that Peter Parker is finally sorting out his personal relationships but inside…Ock will know. Know that he has finally won. Finally beaten Spider-Man at his own game. In his twisted way being a better force for good than Peter Parker is him doing the ultimate evil.
The issues is also awesome because if you read it without knowing the twist it requires an immediate re-read. The genius of the writing has your initial read from the point of view of this being your typical “let’s sum up Peter’s current life to introduce the story” issue. Then odd things keep happening that you do not quite fully register. Odd remembrances and flashbacks, strange turns of phase. The whole speediness of the MJ situation is unnerving. Then the twist happens, you sit in shock for a moment then turn/flick back to the start of the issue and begin re-reading. Suddenly all the signs become clear. It was there all along! How could you be so stupid?
I mean just look at this panel! It is all there laid bare before you and you just do not register it on the first read. If you say you could see it coming then you are either lying or are from the future.
A bloody brilliant comic. I doff my hat to Dan Slott, Richard Elson and Co. for delivering such a brilliant issue.
Cap #1 kicks off the new era of the character with style as John Romita Jr.’s art is absolutely gorgeous throughout the issue. It is a perfect fit for the more out there, grand adventure style Captain America that Rick Remender is aiming for. Storywise this issue is mainly introduction and setup for what is to come over the next several issues but it does it so well. We get Steve learning something in his childhood that informs his attitude as Captain America. Solving a terrorist plot. The re-establishing of Cap and Agent 13’s current relationship status (it is cosy with the potential for a further step). Then we are hurtled in to Dimension Z full of disorientation and many, many questions. Oh and there is a baby too! I am really looking forward to seeing where this story goes.
Captain Marvel kicks of a new storyline and the theme for this one is water and a new Bermuda Triangle like phenomenon. As with the rest of Captain Marvel, so far it keeps the lighthearted tone and plays up Carol’s still relatively sudden switch of identities to great effect. The parade of great art gracing the book continues too as Dexter Soy returns.
Then we come to Avengers that is the happy go lucky wrap-up to this last story that sees the return of The Wasp to the Marvel Universe. The issue is a delectable smorgasbord of Marvel’s top talent as any and everyone has come on board to help Bendis say goodbye to the franchise he has helped define over the past decade. I am glad that this last story was a fun romp instead of a grim and gritty downer. It serves as a brilliant counterpoint to Avengers: Disassembled which ushered in the Bendis era of the Avengers. Instead of tearing down everything so that it can be started over yet again. Bendis leaves it with the promise of bigger and better things yet to come.
Seriously on another note Bendis’ letter at the end of Avengers #34 had me both beaming with a big smile while being an emotional wreck at the same time. I owe basically my whole modern comic book reading life (17-to now, 25 and some change) to Bendis because it was New Avengers and House of M that introduced me to the wider Marvel Universe and in turn the output from DC at the time. Until I picked up the first trade for New Avengers Vol.1 on a whim because I saw Spider-Man and Wolverine were now part of the team. I was simply an Astonishing Spider-Man guy (Astonishing is the UK collected reprint of the Spidey books with Amazing being the focus) who picked up the odd trade, mainly X-Men here and there. So that letter carried a lot of weight for me. It was a true signifier of the end of an era. I have loved Bendis’ run on the Avengers every step of the way and it is something that I can see myself re-reading many times over the coming decades of my life.
So thank you Brian for eight years of entertaining and amazing stories with a whole lot of wit and charm!
New Avengers still needs to wrap up! If I am getting this sentimental now who knows what is going to happen when the last issue of that rolls out!