It’s become a bit of a cliché to go on about how good the art is in the current Spider-Man comic is getting, but that’s because it’s fucking true. There are some gorgeous pages in there – brilliantly kinetic action scenes that really flow, Spidey in the city like he’s never been seen before. Idiosyncratic styles and a slick modern sheen that helps story cohesion and just looks bloody pretty.
Even poor old Mike McKone - who has put me off comics with his stilted bodies and flat perspectives since back when he was filling in on the Justice League – comes off all right, his style loosening under the grace of a human with the proportionate speed of a spider.
Story-wise, it’s all right on an individual level. Who cares about deals with the devil? The new Spider-Man works best when nobody gives a damn about the past. Existing in the now is always a better story than worrying about the past.
If the new Spider-Man comics could do that all the time, and just forget the whole who-knows-whose-identity bollocks, they would be a whole bunch stronger. But they can’t resist explaining how Flash or Betty or the coffee shop guy who appeared in Spectacular #148 fits in to the new jigsaw, and any momentum the story has slams to a halt.
There are also neverending subplots go nowhere, and it’s hard to see what’s so interesting about the Spider Tracer killer that necessitates the continuous teeth-grinding. It’s an easy way to turn the ever-fickle Marvel Universe public against the web head, but goes on and on.
The shame of it is, these are bloody nice comics that occasionally sing when the writers and artists are given a free reign, but are constrained by incessant continuity pandering that doesn’t need to be there.
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Batman: Battle For The Cowl Companion
Lots of people, some of whom you may have heard of, but probably not
Apparently, Gotham City can’t survive without Batman and everybody who lives there is mental.
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Thunderbolts: Caged Angels
By Ellis and Deodato Jr
The ridiculous seriousness of the modern Marvel universe is a bit off-putting. Fortunately, Warren Ellis knows the more serious it gets, the more ridiculous it gets, and there is nothing wrong with that if you’re going to push the dial all the way up to 11.
So this Thunderbolts book is a bit stupid and a bit funny and shifts along at a cracking pace. The biggest problem is that it relies on a bunch of mentally deranged people acting more mentally deranged than usual, which is hard to get to grips with and leads to all sorts of confusion.
That might be Ellis’ intention and he might be saying something brilliantly clever about the inherent absurdity of the characters he’s writing about, but it still gives the whole comic a bitter after taste that will take a shedload of whiskey to shift.
Deodato Jr’s art is much, much better than it was when he drew Wonder Woman and she was replaced by a ginger who nearly put my eye out with her nipples.