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Alternate Cover - 3rd June 2006

Alternate Cover

A patchy week by normal standards, though on the other hand, any week with a Brian Wood comic is a week worth waiting for. In addition to the below, I also bought Superman/Batman #26, mainly because I had to see what sort of tribute this would be where 26 creators come out to add their contribution to the pile. It's fair to say that there's not a you can review in the issue, but my take on it is that it speaks highly of anyone when this number of people, let alone industry stars (Joss Whedon, ffs!) want to pay tribute. But for now, on with the far more serious business... of comics!

Local #5

Local #5

Publisher Oni • Writer Brian Wood • Artist Ryan Kelly

It's been too long for me without a Brian Wood comic. As we're all well aware by now, I am quite possibly the world's biggest Brian Wood fanboy. Local #5 really fills the Wood-shaped hole inside me, and if that sounds slightly sexual, then that probably says more about you than it does me.

The location for Local is by this point, largely adademic for me, given that virtually no comic I read ever takes place where I live. What's really engaging is the character of Megan, and where she's taking her life. In this issue we see that her tendancy to run away has grown to the point where she's not just running away from where she lives, but from who she is.

Megan now spends her nights working in a cinema and telling anyone who'll listen - and those who won't - who she is and where she's come from. Only problem being that it's all a load of bollocks that she made up to escape herself. It's a bit of a stretch to think that she wouldn't get found out, so naturally, she does. When confronted, rather than resolving the issue, she simply runs away again, as Wood takes a more cynical bent on the realities of an intervention.

So far issues 2 and 3 stand head and shoulders above the others as the best issues, but that's because they're some of the greatest single issues I've ever read. This issue of Local falls just around the vicinity of "excellent." It's never too late to jump on to Local, though the quicker yousnap up those back issues, the less damage you'll do yourself in the long run. A+

Incredble Hulk #95

Incredble Hulk #95

Publisher Marvel • Writer Greg Pak• Artist Carlo Pagaluyan

Following last issue's trip down pseudo-memory lane, the opening arc of Planet Hulk wraps up with a guest appearance by the Silver Surfer. Be still my heart. Oh, wait, it is.

Part of the appeal of Planet Hulk was seeing Hulk's usual context totally removed. Sure, there were recognisable characters here or there, but this may well have been set in a different universe for all the background information you needed. It's a pity, then, that someone, either Pak or Editorial, has shoe-horned in not only a bunch of near-pointless Marvel Universe flashbacks, but the Silver Surfer too. It feels like they chickened out.

It makes sense in some small way - if any character's going to show up, it's the ones that are already off the planet. However, by the same token, it's an almost ridiculous coincidence. To paraphrase Douglas Adams: space is really fucking huge. The chances of these two turning up on the same planet without any intervening factor is tiny, and experience tells me not to expect any such factor to turn up. But even accepting that he's here...

I'm sorry, I just don't buy the idea that the Surfer could be captured, tagged and controlled like he is in this issue. Not only that, but he's then given a severe beat down by the Hulk. This is the Silver Surfer we're talking about here, not some villain of the week, give the guy some credit. He's woefully mis-used in this role. There's a nice character moment at the end where the Hulk recalls the first time he saw the Surfer (when he was still the child-like Hulk) but it's not really enough payoff to justify this lurch sideways in the storyline. The arc itself has the expected resolution, it has to be said - Hulk is freed, the planet's rulers are screwed. Thematically it would've been nicer if Hulk could've freed himself without the help of the Surfer since what we're being told now is that Hulk would've stayed there indefinitely had he not been broken out. Despite the issue being built on a bunch of flaws, I have to say it's not a significantly bad read overall, so the marks will reflect that: B-

Amazing Spider-Man #532

Amazing Spider-Man #532

Publisher Marvel • Writer J. Michael Straczynski • Artist Ron Garney

I'm not a huge fan of JMS' comics - Rising Stars started off good but I was finding it a real slog towards the end. His Spider-Man issues have been similarly hit & miss with me. The first Civil War issue of ASM, however, is a definite hit in my eyes.

Leaving aside Ron Garney's art, which I can only describe, in the most charitable fashion, as "old school" and probably not best suited to the flagship Spider-title, there's a lot about this issue I like. Primarily, it's a talkie issue, and I will openly admit to loving that sort of comic. JMS' dialogue for certain characters can come across really, really badly, but the points they're making are sound.

The issue centres around Stark's request that in support of registration, Peter publicly lend his support, the implication being that he'll also publicly unmask. There's more than enough leeway built in to the dialogue for him to do something else entirely though, especially since, as Paul O'Brien rightfully points out, the act doesn't call for public unmasking at all. Even Stark has admitted only to the President that he's Iron Man.

Even with its flaws, I found this utterly compelling. With MJ, Stark and Aunt May all pushing him to unmask for various reasons, and Peter himself convinced, I actually believe that it could go either way. The seen-it-all before cynic in me is sure Marvel wouldn't change the Spider-Man status quo so radically, but for the next few weeks, this cliffhanger has got me by the balls in the hope that they might actually go somewhere new with the character. It's got me excited about the next issue, and that's all I ever really want out of a comic. B+

Ultimate Spider-Man #95

Ultimate Spider-Man #95

Publisher Marvel • Writer Brian Bendis • Artist Mark Bagley

Finally, Ultimate Spider-Man gets around to telling some Spider-Man stories. I've never been more glad to see the back of the X-Men. As ever, the best scenes in this comic involve Mary Jane and Peter getting and their relationship
issues, and in this issue MJ has to deal with the fact that Spider-Man and Kitty are dating (so much as that's possible.)

Gratuitous X-Men crossover aside, the Peter/Kitty relationship has been great from day one so it's a worry to think they might be trying to wrap it up so soon. As I've said before, I'm concerned that it's heading down the pan in issue 100, which would be far too soon.

The other half of the issue, the introduction of Ultimate Morbius, isn't getting my attention at all. The mainstream version of the character is tedious, the Ultimate version doesn't look any less so. I suppose once all of the A-List villains have been Ultimised, there's only down left to go. Did they do Ultimate Looter yet? B

Battlestar Galactica #0

Battlestar Galactica #0

Publisher Dynamite• Writer Greg Pak • Artist Nigel Raynor

The thing about licensed comics is that they can never do anything that will actually affect the thing they're licensed from. Even Star Trek:TNG, king of all reset-button endings, had a continuity that the comics just couldn't ever hope to be an accepted part of. So, that in mind, doing a Battlestar Galactica comic, based (of course) on the re-imagined series from Ron Moore that's currently blowing away all other Sci-Fi on TV, one has to ask: WHY?

The new Galactica's appeal is its complex character development and a plot that'll blow your mind over and over again - the dynamic nature of the show is what makes it so utterly gripping (the Season 2 finale did "one year later" well before DC had the idea) and the idea of translating that into stories on the page which can't affect the plot in any real manner, well, I'm failing to see a good reason for it.

Okay, so admittedly, that's my prejudice. Fact is, the comic's here and I'm reviewing it. So, cover price - check! It cost me 15p on account of being a promotionally-price #0 issue. Writing - there's an adequate sense of mystery built up and Zak Adama is given adequate gravitas prior to his sudden reappearance at the end. The art...suffers somewhat. I suspect, or rather, I hope that the comic's having the recurrent licensing problem where they have to portray the characters without using the likenesses of the actors. Otherwise it's just...amateur.

I'd say it the target audience for the comic is solely the fans of Galactica. However, I consider myself a pretty big fan, and I'm not remotely interested. It's a competent enough comic, but unless you're craving new Galactica so much you'll read what amounts to network-approved fanfiction, there's not a lot of point buying the comic. C-

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I think anything with Tricia Helfer on the front will sell!

By performingmonkey
June 07, 2006 @ 4:15 pm

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