The Amazing Spider-Man 258 (November 1984)

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I knew I liked these eighties Spider-Man issues. It just took DeFalco a while to bring it around (though it could all be the nostalgia talking).

What’s important about this issue isn’t the beginning, which cops out of the previous cliffhanger and then strangely sends Black Cat off to Neverland instead of resolving a new situation with her… but the end.

The majority of the issue is spent getting the black costume tested by Reed Richards and then taken off Spidey. There’s some funny stuff with the Torch–it’s amazing how much better DeFalco does when he’s writing Spider-Man around other superheroes instead of trying to handle his Peter Parker stuff–and a couple nice Ditko homages.

But the ending–Mary Jane shows up to talk to Peter. I didn’t think she would show up… figured DeFalco would draw it out.

He doesn’t and it’s a lovely move.

CREDITS

The Sinister Secret of Spider-Man’s New Costume!; writer, Tom DeFalco; penciller, Ron Frenz; inker, Joe Rubinstein; colorist, Bob Sharen; letterer, Joe Rosen; editors, Bob DeNataleh and Danny Fingeroth; publisher, Marvel Comics.

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The Amazing Spider-Man 257 (October 1984)

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What a cliffhanger! Mary Jane reveals to Peter she knows he’s Spider-Man! All with some weak Ron Frenz faces. I actually liked most of Frenz’s work this issue, when he was doing the action stuff–the fight between Puma and Spider-Man had some nice moves and it worked. But when Peter gets back to Mary Jane for a talking heads scene?

Ick.

Frenz can’t keep the faces constant from panel to panel on the same page.

He seems to get the hair right though, on both of them. I guess hair’s something.

It’s a somewhat boring, contrived issue–with the exception of the long fight scene. Black Cat bitches and moans–in thought balloons–about how common Peter Parker lives. She’s such an unsympathetic character. They should have killed her off at this point. Mary Jane shows up to annoy Peter, then reveals the secret.

Still, not atrocious.

CREDITS

Beware the Claws of Puma!; writer, Tom DeFalco; penciller, Ron Frenz; inker, Joe Rubinstein; colorist, Christie Scheele; letterer, Joe Rosen; editors, Bob DeNataleh and Danny Fingeroth; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Amazing Spider-Man 256 (September 1984)

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Why have a Native American superhero when you can have a Native American supervillain!

The politics of Puma (this issue is his first appearance) are fantastic–successful Native Americans use their special abilities to become assassins for hire. It’s great. You’d never see this kind of thing today.

Maybe Jason Aaron can do a Puma MAX series, after he’s done with Scalped.

Otherwise, it’s a fine enough eighties Spider-Man costume. Frenz isn’t great, but he’s enthusiastic and he works–most pages have nine panels–and his Peter Parker looks like a grown up Ditko Peter Parker. There’s a nostalgic appeal to it.

The writing’s pretty lazy. DeFalco repeats the same expository revelation two pages after the first mention. Then there’s the when he comments on the Black Cat and her “colorful” namesake. Pretty sure a black cat is monotone.

There’s nothing particularly good about it, but nothing bad either.

CREDITS

Introducing… Puma!; writer, Tom DeFalco; penciller, Ron Frenz; inker, Joe Rubinstein; colorist, Christie Scheele; letterer, Joe Rosen; editors, Bob DeNataleh and Danny Fingeroth; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Battlefields 9 (August 2010)

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Could you be more depressing Garth Ennis? I mean, it’s really not depressing, not in the futility way the first Battlefields embraced… but it’s the first issue of this series to get me to tear up.

So it’s really effective.

It’s also the perfect example of why Ennis shouldn’t have done any sequels in this second Battlefields series. This arc hasn’t been anything but a postscript to Night Witches.

Really awful computer colors from Aviña–I’m assuming he was instructed to add all the shadows so whoever had that idea is a bit of a jerk. The series is rather unpleasant to look at during the talking heads scenes. The battle scenes are fine (I notice Aviña doesn’t add out of place shadows there).

It’s a good issue, but suggests maybe Battlefields doesn’t need to continue. Ennis has the ability to tell these stories, but the passion is absent here.

CREDITS

Motherland, Part Three; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Russell Braun; colorist, Tony Aviña; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

Battlefields 8 (July 2010)

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Still a ton of art issues–I can’t be the only one who’s noticed Aviña’s colors are horrific on this issue. Luckily, Braun keeps it together, saving the strange tablet lines for the last couple pages.

There’s a lot of flying battle stuff in this issue. Three double-page spreads. It shows the chaos really well, but it’s also filler. Along with Anna talking to herself (and hearing her dead friend talk back to her), it’s clear Ennis doesn’t have the story to fill this arc out properly. He’s never been good at war sequels anyway.

It’s not bad, not by a long shot, but there are only a few excellent moments. Nice moments, sure… but only a few excellent ones.

It also reads really fast. I think the entire issue took five minutes to read. Any emotional weight Ennis is getting is from it being a Night Witches sequel.

CREDITS

Motherland, Part Two; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Russell Braun; colorist, Tony Aviña; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

Battlefields 7 (June 2010)

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Is Braun drawing on a computer tablet here? His lines just seem completely unnatural. Of course, his art’s really loose–the size of Anna’s face isn’t constant.

And Tony Aviña’s colors are atrocious here. Looks like a beginner’s guide to Photoshop coloring.

The visual complaints aside, this issue starts fine. I’m a little unsure of another sequel (this time to Night Witches), especially after the last issue. Ennis has some good material in the issue–there’s some funny, touching stuff with this young female mechanic who’s inspired by an indifferent Anna. Indifferent being the polite way of putting it.

But, once again, Ennis has a lot of humor in the issue. It’s well-executed… but it doesn’t feel right, not when one thinks of the first Battlefields series.

Ennis maintains the attention to historical detail, but this issue is mostly full of Anna’s angst.

It’s good, but I’m getting wary.

CREDITS

Motherland, Part One; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Russell Braun; colorist, Tony Aviña; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

Marvel Team-Up 145 (September 1984)

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I guess the Bob Layton inks–on the cover–make all the difference. If only Esposito made LaRocque look a tenth as good as those Layton inks do on the cover….

Anyway, that opening is misleading. This response is a positive one. The issue is a great day in the life story. Peter Parker is in Cleveland on a crap assignment after pissing off Jonah, Iron Man (Jim Rhodes) is there trying to sell some technology company and retired supervillain Blacklash (or Whiplash–I wasn’t aware there was a name change until I read this issue).

It’s a funny, sad issue. Blacklash’s back in his home town after a public defeat, in miserable psychological shape, unable to rehabilitate and ends up battling the two superheroes.

Isabella does some fantastic scripting here–if only the art were better, it’d be something special. But still, it’s great writing.

I love this issue.

CREDITS

Hometown Boy; writer, Tony Isabella; penciller, Greg LaRocque; inker, Mike Esposito; colorist, Bob Sharen; letterer, Diana Albers; editors, Bob DeNatale and Danny Fingeroth; publisher, Marvel Comics.

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