Spider-Man 2099 #3
Peter David (writer), Will Sliney (artist). Covers by Francesco Mattina and John Tyler Christopher.
Man, how weird is it to see such an inherently Nineties character headlining his own monthly book in 2014? Building on Dan Slott’s work in Superior Spider-Man and its satellite titles from last year, Peter David delivers a cool take on the Webslinger of the Future. Marooned in the present day, Miguel O’Hara is forced to protect the integrity of his timeline by ensuring the success of the somewhat evil corporation Alechemax. He’s also stuck babysitting his own grandfather, the self-serving and utterly amoral Tiberius Stone.
I’m enjoying this book for the most part, though it does have a few plot holes that nag at me while I’m reading it. Miguel O’Hara is worried that Liz Allan will expose his secrets to people like the Avengers… why is that a problem exactly? As soon as he ended up stuck in the present, why wasn’t his first thought to phone up Iron Man or Mister Fantastic, have Peter Parker vouch for him, and have all his problems solved in a matter of hours? These guys do time travel and inter-dimensional jaunts like Adam Sandler does shitty movies… Miguel could have been back in the year 2099 before you could say “half-baked cyberpunk”. And, putting on my extra-strength nerd hat here, worrying about winking out of existence if your ancestor dies? That’s not how the Marvel Universe works – changing the past creates a branching timeline within the multiverse. I’m not saying that would be common knowledge for the average Joe Schmo in 2014, but by 2099, you’d think some of this stuff would have made it into high school science textbooks.
But hey, minor quibbles, right? This is still a pretty clever book, and David is carving out an interesting niche for the secondary Spider-folks to operate in. I’m not completely sold on the long-term viability of a Spider-Man 2099 title, but hey, we’ll see where it goes, right?
The Death-Defying Doctor Mirage #1
Jen Van Meter (writer), Roberto de la Torre (artist). Cover by Travel Foreman.
Speaking of holdovers from the Nineties, The Death-Defying Doctor Mirage represents Valiant Entertainment’s latest attempt to breathe new life into their dormant intellectual properties. The time around Shan Fong is a paranormalist for hire with the ability to speak to the dead. In between begrudgingly helping out grieving widows, Mirage spends her time trying to contact her dead husband Hwen (who shares a name at least with Valiant’s original Doctor Mirage). In her latest case, Shan has been hired by a billionaire recluse, who may or may not have gotten himself bonded to a Nazi-conjured demon.
I think that’s what’s going on, anyway. At this point, a lot of the story is being kept vague and mysterious, but overly so – I shouldn’t have to go through an issue three times just to figure out the main character’s full name. Jen Van Meter sets a lot up in the first issue of this five part miniseries, but I’m not sure any of the plot hooks were enticing enough to bring me back for book two. There’s nothing overtly wrong with Doctor Mirage – I just find myself thoroughly underwhelmed.
Alan Moore “The Original Writer” and Mick Anglo (writers), Anglo and Rick Veitch (artists). Covers by Veitch, Joe Quinones and Mico Suayan.
I’ve thus far resisted the urge to review Marvel’s Miracleman series, because normally I don’t see the point of talking about reprint books. But hell, this run is every bit as though-provoking and poignant now as it was when it started thirty years ago. Besides, I was still in diapers when the original Miracleman #10 hit shelves, and due to the book’s convoluted legal history, there’s a generation of readers who never had a chance to experience this saga the first time around. So what the hell, right?
One issue after giving birth – in what is unquestionably the most graphic depiction of female genitalia ever published in a Marvel comic – Liz Moran and her husband Mike are adjusting to the difficult realities of parenthood. Of course, this isn’t exactly Mike’s daughter – little Winter Moran was conceived while Mike was in the form of his alter-ego Miracleman, and as such the precocious little darling is a super-advanced mutant freak baby. Still, with Gargunza dead and Moran recovering from injuries sustained at the hands of (for lack of a better term) “Miracledog”, things seemed to have settled into a state of relative calm. Of course, readers of the original series (or anyone who takes more than a passing look at this issue’s cover) know that this is just the calm before one hell of a storm, as the wheels are already in motion for the imminent return of Kid Miracleman, and all the carnage that promises to bring with it.
While Alan Moore “The Original Writer’s” run on Marvelman/Miracleman isn’t as widely known as some of his other books, like Watchmen or V for Vendetta, especially in North America, this really is among his most ground-breaking work. It’s almost impossible to overstate just how influential and sweeping the effects of these stories were, paving the way for the dozens (if not hundreds) of superhero “deconstructions” that have come since. Though I know I’m risking a Northampton-based druidic curse for saying this, I’m ecstatic that somebody finally threw enough money at the Miracleman legal quagmire to secure the rights, and I’m double impressed at just how well Marvel has presented the whole thing, even going so far as to throw bonus content into every issue, like original page layouts and reprinted Mick Anglo Marvelman strips from the 1950s. For anyone interested in the history of comics, the narrative evolution of the superhero trope, or just a damned gripping story, this is absolutely required reading.
“Journey Into Imagination pt. 4”
Jim Zub (writer), Filipe Andrade (artist). Cover by John Tyler Christopher
Right, hands up if you’ve ever heard of Figment, the mascot to the Epcot Center’s Imagination pavilion. Anybody? Bueller? No?
As a proudly dyed-in-the-wool Canadian, I don’t take many trips south of the Mason-Dixon Line, so my knowledge of Florida theme park mascots is admittedly a bit spotty, but I can’t imagine that many people were clamouring for a Figment origin story, but, well, here we are. The question is, is it any good?
Well, yeah. It kind of is. Figmenti is a steampunk fairy tale about clockwork armies, seas of unfathomable sadness, magical sound sprites, and imaginary dragon friends brought to life through the power of Disney-brand whimsy. It’s a story about the beautiful chaos of creative thought triumphing over the rigid order of mundanity. It incorporates elements from the best fantasy stories of this sort, from Alice in Wonderland to The NeverEnding Story to the Golden Compass, with even a little bit of Doctor Who thrown in for good measure. And maybe it’s all the echoes of things I read and watched growing up, but Figment warms even my cynical and jaded heart.
Also, on the odd chance you’re reading this and your name is Shane Zeagman, this review was pretty much written specifically for you. You’re welcome.
Deadpool vs. X-Force #4
“Time to Die pt. 4”
Duane Swierczynski (writer), Pepe Larraz (artist). Cover by Shane Davis.
This issue wraps up the untold first battle between Deadpool and the New Mutants – not X-Force, techinically, despite what the series name would have you believe – that took place before their heretofore first documented meeting. At a time when Deadpool had even less of a moral code, he’s been hired to go back to the 1940s and save Hitler from dying at the end of World War II, while also protecting him from all the other time-traveling do-gooders who keep trying to kill the bastard off. Meanwhile, Cable and his mutant buddies are bouncing around correcting errors in the time-stream, from the battlefields of Germantown and Gettysburg to the newly Nazified Nineties. Of course, the end returns everything to the established status quo, with a jab at the low-hanging fruit of old Rob Liefeld comics.
It’s never a good sign when your comic needs an afterward to explain just what the hell you just read. It’s also not great when that afterward explains in great detail the only good joke in the issue, thus making it no longer funny. It’s rather difficult to produce a Deadpool comic that I don’t enjoy on at least some level, so in a weird way, I have to applaud Duane Swierczynski, because he sure worked hard at making Deadpool vs. X-Force lousy in every possible way. And didn’t Marvel just do a big storyline about how Time Is Broken, and how this sort of crap shouldn’t be happening anymore? Great editorial consistency there, guys.
If you like Deadpool, go read his monthly book. If you like Cable and X-Force, go pick up the collections of their series from last year. If you like seeing Hitler being made an ass of, go look up “Herr Meets Hare” on YouTube. There is no reason to read Deadpool vs. X-Force whatsoever.
Superboy: Futures End #1
Frank J. Barbiere (writer), Ben Caldwell (artist). Cover by Jorge Jimenez.
When reviewing a book, I generally try to avoid criticizing artwork most of the time, since so much of art appreciation comes down to personal stylistic tastes. In this case, though, I’m coming right out and saying it – the artwork in Superboy: Futures End is objectively terrible. The page compositions are all off, there’s no consistency from panel to panel, and even allowing for stylization, the anatomy and perspective are both atrocious.
All of that might have been inconsequential if the story here was any good. Spoilers: It’s not.