The Superior Spider-Man 19 (December 2013)

So does Slott successfully conclude his Spider-Man 2099 thing? Define successful. It’s not a terrible issue. It’s definitely one of the better ones with Spidey 2099 in it, probably because there’s none of his annoying narration and he’s treated like a buffoon throughout. Otto loses the spotlight even more, however. And for some inexplicable reason, Slott wastes a whole page on a monologue from Mary Jane. Mary Jane who hasn’t been a part of this comic book for over a dozen issues; she gets some spotlight time. What else happens… oh, right, a big double-page spread of famous Spider-Man panels, only with…

The Superior Spider-Man 18 (November 2013)

Well, it’s definitely better than last issue but it’s still one of Slott’s weaker efforts on Superior. He’s got a big time travel story and it’s boring; referring to Back to the Future in the issue’s story title and then delivering a bunch of plodding exposition. It’s like he’s promising something good next issue, not this one. The opening fight between Otto and 2099 isn’t bad, except Otto’s megalomania stops him from actually understanding what’s going on. It comes up a lot throughout the issue, actually. If Otto would just listen, he’d be able to solve the problem. Why Slott wastes four…

The Superior Spider-Man 17 (November 2013)

When the Goblin Underground scenes are the best thing in the issue, it’s obviously Slott is running into some problems with Superior. At least there’s some bickering between the Goblin King and Hobgoblin… it’s kind of amusing. Otherwise, the only good thing in the issue is Otto showing off for his lady friend at a softball game. Slott’s introducing corporate espionage–involving Liz Allan (who I really did think was spelled Allen) and her weird kid and some other goober–along with Spider-Man 2099. So, Slott’s overwritten megalomaniac interior monologue is great for Otto, but why does Spider-Man 2099 have it too? Slott wastes…

The Superior Spider-Man 16 (October 2013)

I really don’t like the whole Goblin Army thing. It’s a little much, to say the least. Slott plays it tongue in cheek–which Ramos’s pencils just encourage–and it feels silly instead of scary. It’s like a Joker thing out of Batman, only repurposed for Spider-Man. Otherwise, the issue’s got some decent moments in it. Slott’s back to not developing Otto at all. It’s an action issue and the Daily Bugle staff gets some good play time. Robbie Robertson might actually be the most formidable opponent Otto’s had so far. There’s also some odd stuff–Slott being fast and loose with his characters morales–where…

The Superior Spider-Man 15 (October 2013)

I think with so many Spider-Man issues a month, sometimes Slott gets too disposable with the single issues. There are usually two Superior, I think, then a bunch of others, right? This issue is on the right track again though. Slott opens with the fallout from Otto taking out Shadowland, with maybe the only weak scene in the issue. He’s trying to explain himself to the suspicious lady cops and one of them reveals she’s got a costumed identity to investigate him. It’s goofy. Otherwise, there’s a lot of chase the Hobgoblin going on with a fantastic cliffhanger. Slott keeps the series…

The Superior Spider-Man 14 (September 2013)

Umm. Couple things. First, Slott doesn’t have Otto narrate this issue. Maybe the first Superior without some insight from him. Second, Marvel never resolved that “Shadowland” crossover? Wasn’t it like five years ago? Otto–with an army of spider-robots and spider soldiers–cleans up the Shadowland compound this issue. Apparently Kingpin has had a fortress in New York City and no one did anything about it. I love how Marvel zombies claim 616 is so much more realistic than DC. Anyway, it’s kind of obvious why Slott doesn’t get into Otto’s head… because it turns out he’s letting crime continue. He might even be…

The Superior Spider-Man 13 (September 2013)

It’s weird how Slott let Gage handle the script on this arc. It’s got some of the biggest changes to Superior since it started–a new page in Otto’s relationship with Jonah, a secret base (and lab) for Spider-Man–one would’ve thought Slott would want to be more hands on with it all. The issue’s pretty good, with some nice moves for the Lizard. Hopefully he sticks around, even though he wouldn’t really be good with Otto. Sadly, even though the issue moves well, there’s nothing memorable. The villains each have their own problems, but who cares? They were never interesting in the first…

The Superior Spider-Man 12 (August 2013)

Gage (and the plotting Slott) put Otto in an interesting place. Given the standard superhero trope of having to save one person or another, Otto apparently goes from the villain himself instead of bothering to save anyone. Apparently, as it’s the hard cliffhanger. Otherwise, some of the issue goes to Jameson, who decides to hunt down the Spider Slayer himself. Making Jonah sympathetic always seems impossible but then one remembers the dead wife. There’s a fun scene with Otto and the Spider Slayer rambling about their master plans. Having a hero who goes on and on about it is pretty fun–especially since…

The Superior Spider-Man 11 (August 2013)

Giuseppe Camuncoli and John Dell make Otto look so positively condescending it’s wonderful. He only has a couple scenes outside his Spider-Man adventures, one with Anna and then one with his boss. I didn’t pay attention to the credits so I didn’t realize it was Christos Gage scripting from a Slott script; a lot more makes sense now. Gage spends a lot of time writing maniacal Otto narration, which is always fun, and also goes far in establishing the revised ground situation since Ghost Peter is gone. Also gone are Peter’s supporting cast members. This issue–save Jameson–is just Otto. Except, of course,…

The Superior Spider-Man 10 (July 2013)

Very interesting issue. With Otto freed of Ghost Peter, he makes some different choices–first is prioritizing responses to crimes and crises (which Slott addressed earlier in the series but not as directly) and, second, how he’s going to spend his Parker time. Without the old Peter Parker memories, Otto’s scenes with Aunt May completely different. He’s not trying to fit in as much as enjoy the company of his new family. The same goes for his pursuing the tutor, Anna. Slott writes them a couple good scenes together this issue. There are a couple action scenes, of course, one at the open…

The Superior Spider-Man 9 (July 2013)

Whew. There I was, having to take back some negative comments about Slott’s pacing last issue and how well he sold the story overall… and now I’m validated. This issue reads in something like two minutes, maybe three if you take a bathroom break. Otto zooms down into his own mind to fight the collected memories of Peter Parker–Ghost Peter isn’t a ghost as much as congealed memories–and there’s a big street fight out of Superman II. Lots of guest stars. Pretty much every supporting cast member, friend and foe. Ryan Stegman must have had a great time drawing it, but there’s…

The Superior Spider-Man 8 (June 2013)

Well, Slott recovers this issue. Big time. He must have watched “ER” too–all you need to make something touching is a sick child, add a megalomaniac like Otto being touched by said sick child? One’s sympathies for the story and its characters go through the roof. There’s also the big Avengers fight, which is funny afterwards because all Otto’s ramblings of them being morons are accurate. Ramos proves the right artist for it too. He draws everyone like a giant baboon. The resolution with Cardiac is outstanding too, though Slott still isn’t addressing all his ongoing subplots. He also addresses the Ghost…

The Superior Spider-Man 7 (June 2013)

This issue Ghost Peter discovers he can influence his old body and also make enough noise to distract Otto. Sadly, Slott uses that trick three times at least this issue to save someone from Otto’s wraith. Well, maybe twice with the third just being a little wink. But it’s not a particularly good issue. In fact, it’s the first one where Slott doesn’t deliver a worthwhile narrative. Otto beats up some superhero who steals medical equipment to save poor people and then the Avengers confront him. There’s nothing else to the issue. It’s a short opening, a long, poorly illustrated fight scene…

The Superior Spider-Man 6 (May 2013)

Been a while since I read an Humberto Ramos comic. Between steel fortitude and Slott’s writing, I didn’t get sick. The issue continues the “Spidey is going too far” theme, with Mayor Jameson setting Otto loose on some superpowered Internet pranksters. There’s also the stuff with Otto and his tutor, which is wonderful. The Jameson stuff plays to the reader’s expectation of him being a boob and deserving getting pranked. The Spidey too far stuff–the Avengers cameo–plays to the storyline in general, but the stuff with Otto and his tutor is where Slott is doing something different. Whatever his end game is…

The Superior Spider-Man 5 (May 2013)

I guess I didn’t realize it before, but “Brand New Day” Peter Parker is supposed to be unbelievably good looking. Otto lucked out in the bod department, apparently. This issue features a really nice scene where Otto has dinner with his “tutor,” a very charming woman who happens to be a little person. Ghost Peter never says it, but there’s a definitely implication he’d never give her the time of day whereas Otto’s able to see past it. Otto’s also able to see the benefit of coordinating with others (shouldn’t Peter have learned a little of that practice in The Avengers). Slott’s…

The Superior Spider-Man 4 (April 2013)

Well, I’ll eat my rotten onions right off–I miss Stegman. Giuseppe Camuncoli takes over on pencils (John Dell on inks) and it’s not a good move. There are lots of regular people scenes this issue and Camuncoli draws them like it’s an absurdist comedy. He also draws Spider-Man in Batman postures, which works out, but, wow… Not nice art. The issue skips a head a few weeks from the last with Otto having to deal with a psychopath who Peter let get away. The psychopath is spree killing and Otto vows to stop him. Even Ghost Peter is a little taken aback…

The Superior Spider-Man 3 (April 2013)

Slott’s starting to edge in on Batman territory here. The Vulture is using children to commit crimes, strapping them into flight harnesses and sending them out. Otto loses it and almost kills him, horrifying Ghost Peter and the police lady. I can’t remember her name. It might be Carlie or something; it’s goofy, whatever it is. There’s the judgment from Ghost Peter and cop lady, but… Otto’s kind of right, isn’t he? If the Vulture has graduated to abusing little kids, the soft-hand tactics are clearly outdated. There’s also some stuff with Ghost Peter getting into Otto’s memories and discovering Otto’s human…

The Superior Spider-Man 2 (March 2013)

I’m liking Stegman less this issue. Something about him reminds me of Todd McFarlane; he’s busy without content, just a lot blockier than ol’ Toddy. Luckily, I’m liking Slott’s writing a lot more this issue. Ghost Peter has a big role here, basically narrating Otto’s narration. Only Ghost Peter can only know what Otto’s narrating, not what he’s thinking, which means Otto can surprise both the reader and Ghost Peter. It leads to a couple nice moments throughout the issue and a great one at the end. Slott’s freaking brilliant with how he uses Otto–Otto’s a long-time Spider-Man reader inside the comic.…

The Superior Spider-Man 1 (March 2013)

Once one gets past the entirely goofy brain-swapping detail, Superior Spider-Man is a hoot. Dan Slott’s success at it comes from his refusal to play too much into Doctor Octopus all of a sudden being a good guy. Otto isn’t out to beat the new Sinister Six because it’s the right thing to do, he’s doing it because they’re using his old bad guy club’s name. He doesn’t run away from a fight because he’s scared or hurt, but because he doesn’t actually care. He does care about one detail in Peter’s life… Mary Jane. Physically at least. It’s a ludicrous idea…

Girl Comics 2 (July 2010)

It’s another terrible issue. Is Marvel trying to say all female creators can do are trite stories? Colleen Coover annoys with her opening… Oh, wait. The Jill Thompson Inhumans story is fine. It’s predictable to the point I think I’ve read it somewhere before (Lockjaw getting a bath) but the art’s good and the writing’s inoffensive. The next one is awful—it’s about a superheroine beauty parlor, from Coover with Kathryn Immonem writing. The uncredited letterer screws up the dialogue pacing but it wouldn’t be much better with competent word balloons. Stephanie Buscema has a weak Doctor Doom two pager. Faith Erin Hicks’s…

Girl Comics 1 (May 2010)

Marvel should have tried harder with Girl Comics. It’s way too easy just to say, Girl Comics is bad comics. The opening from Colleen Coover is weak. It’s so trite, the story featuring Nightcrawler getting saved by a nameless woman (writing by G. Willow Wilson, art by Ming Doyle) doesn’t seem so bad. The writing’s weak, but the art isn’t. The next story, a Venus story (which breaks Atlas continuity), is okay. Trina Robbins’s script is okay and the Stephanie Buscema retro good girl art is nice. Valerie D’Orazio and Nikki Brown then do a surprisingly effective Punisher tale. It’s contrived, but…

Marvel Treasury Edition 28 (July 1981)

Was Jim Shooter paying himself by the word, because I don’t think I’ve ever read more exposition in a comic book. It’s terrible exposition too, but I suppose the sentences are grammatically correct. For the most part. But what I can’t figure out is the artwork. The combination of John Buscema on pencils and Joe Sinnott on inks produces one of the worst eighties comic books I can remember seeing. Superman’s figure is strangely bulky, with a little head. But the facial features on everyone are awful. It’s a hideous thing to read. The story concerns Dr. Doom trying again to take…

Superman vs. the Amazing Spider-Man (January 1976)

It’s too bad this one doesn’t work out better, but at least it fails in an interesting way. Superman and Spider-Man simply can’t work together. It’s not so much the problems with them not matching powers—Lex Luthor zaps Spidey with some red Kryptonite powers to even the odds at one point—it’s the characters themselves, they’re too different. The comic’s split into four parts. First is a Superman prologue, then a Spidey, then Doctor Octopus and Lex teaming up before the culminating team-up between Spidey and Superman. The first three parts work great. The fourth part barely works at all. Peter Parker and…

Spider-Man: Back in Quack 1 (November 2010)

This issue, one of Marvel’s smorgasbord of one shots, is actually a Steve Gerber tribute issue. The feature is Howard the Duck (meets Spider-Man) and the backup is Man-Thing. Not sure why Marvel didn’t advertise it better, other than they missed a good memorial period by two years. Stuart Moore does a fine job on the feature, with Spider-Man discovering Howard and Bev have been brainwashed by these corporate bad guys. It’s all very anti-establishment, but in a broad way. Moore’s not being a rebel, he’s just posing as one. I wouldn’t even mention it if it weren’t for the Man-Thing backup.…

Osborn 5 (June 2011)

DeConnick brings Osborn to a depressingly lesser conclusion. She needed another issue. She fast forwards a few weeks and everything’s resolved. It provides a nice narrative device (a Congressional hearing) but it’s not satisfying at all. Worse is the decision to narrate from Norah the reporter. Norah is, as Norman points out, not special. She’s ordinary in an extraordinary world and if DeConnick had any particular insight into her, I’d have loved to see a Marvels revamp by DeConnick and Rios. Unfortunately, she doesn’t have any special insight because Norah’s a lame character. Instead of Veronica Mars, she’s barely Carrie from “Sex…

Osborn 4 (May 2011)

So, yes, it turns out—unfortunately—I was right. Norman Osborn is a megalomaniac who needs an audience, so he keeps Norah the reporter alive. However, his sidekicks are very bad people who would not. But still they hang out with her. In fact, I wish Osborn was an issue longer because DeConnick has such a great time writing Norah with the supervillains. By pairing Norah with Norman here, Rios gets to combine her two styles on the series and it’s no surprise the relatively calmer Norah art is moved aside for the frantic Norman art everywhere. The result is a visual feast—definitely the…

Osborn 3 (April 2011)

There’s a lot of great stuff in this issue of Osborn—my favorite is the way DeConnick mostly spends the non-Norman time with the senator, making it very different than what I expected. So after the utterly realistic scene where the Democrat senator realizes she’s getting blamed for sending Norman to a secret prison (shockingly, her Republican “friend” betrays her), DeConnick throws reality out the window. Norah Winters has been present at Norman’s taking over the prison, up in an observation booth. He discovers her and brings her down to witness his return. Now, realistically, he’d have her torn into pieces or tortured…

Osborn 2 (February 2011)

Peter Parker fails to show up again this issue for more premarital sex, which is disappointing, but otherwise DeConnick is in fine form. Setting up a cult centered around Norman Osborn is a good plot point, as are some of the smaller developments. DeConnick knows how to tightly wind scenes and she’d probably do really well on a horror book. Rios also continues to impress. She basically has the one style, but there’s intensity. Norman gets more feverish lines while the stuff at the Daily Bugle is far cleaner. As for the Bugle, Norah Winters is still central to that side of…

Osborn 1 (January 2011)

The first thing I noticed about Osborn is the Emma Rios artwork. She reminds of Paul Pope in a lot of ways. She’s very good, able to mix the implied evil and then the lighter comic moments with the Daily Bugle cast. The second thing I noticed was the implication Peter Parker was rushing off a reporter to engage in some sort of sexual congress, possibility receiving the very clearly implied fellatio from his female colleague. I’m not up on my Spider-Man, so I don’t know if he’s dating her but it doesn’t seem like it. Does Disney know about this series?…

The Amazing Spider-Man 259 (December 1984)

Lot of Ditko homage on the last pages, even with the filmic–especially for the eighties–pacing of Peter suiting up in the red and blue. It’s sort of a weak finish to a great issue. Most of the issue–except some ill-advised attention on Hobgoblin (providing the action)–is Mary Jane telling Peter all about her life. DeFalco does an amazing job with the Mary Jane stuff. It’s this heart-wrenching confession–as Mary Jane assesses herself and her past actions–mixed with Peter’s internal reaction. It might be one of the most touching comics I’ve read about a major property, just because it’s so delicate. It doesn’t…