Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Ultimate Spiderman 1-103; Fear Agent 9; X-23: Target X 1

Ultimate Spider-man 1-103(Entire Run to this point)
Brian Michael Bendis-Mark Bagley

Yeah so the whole run. From an author I kind of really don't like and an artist who draws Mary Jane more like the Green Goblin than his Green Goblin. But I did it. I gave in. Plowed through it. And did it. And you know what sucks? I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed it moreso than any Spider-man story in my entire childhood. This was the Spider-man I had in my minds eye growing up from '82 to present. These were the fumes that I was feeling in those awful Maximum Carnage and Clone Saga days.

Bendis doesn't just get Spider-man, he knocks him out of the park. So much so that even though I think the art is annoying, especially compared to the art in the all-time great Spidey stories, I think this should be the canonical version of Spider-man. Like 200 hundred years from now if I was trying to impart to someone the essence of what Spider-man was and was about, I would give them the wonderful Raimi movies, and this monster of a run.

Don't get me wrong, some things in the run really made me angry. The way Gwen Stacy was handled in the book almost made me stop reading. It's been awhile since I've been that angry at a book. If I hadn't been reading it like a year or two after it happened, I would have written an extremely angry letter.

In fact after that point the series sort of hit a lull. Though Spider-man's interactions with Kitty Pryde were possibly my favorite things in the book. For all his failures with Gwen Stacy, Bendis nails MJ and Kittie Pryde. Maybe he has a thing against blondes? Who knows. But Peter's relationships with both women are incredibly sweet and heartfelt.

But the Clone Saga, which is the current arc. Whoa. The Clone Saga was such a lame thing in the 616 universe, that it got me to stop reading Spider-man altogether. In fact considering what a lull the book was in, I was really dreading coming to it. But this version of the Clone Saga, is possibly the worst most horrific thing to do to a main character in a universe. You basically get to watch every single thing that Bendis has built up into Peter's life over 100 issues get ripped apart in the most cruel manner possible. I mean it's built into the Peter Parker character that he's this guilt ridden kid who always seems to lose even when he's winning, but you almost feel like this is too far. I have no idea how Peter is going to come out on the other side of this arc believably but I am really interested to see him try.

I know there's a lot of doubts about the Ultimate Universe at times, and hell, at times it seems like a horrible idea, because bad writers think it's just their place to simply retell the old stories they read as kids, but the good writers see it as an opportunity to give us something new and dare I say better. If at the end of the day the Ultimate Universe really only gives us Ultimate Spider-man and The Ultimates as enduring works, that's fine, because both may be some of the best most significant pieces to come out of Marvel in 20 years. Even though it's a lot to catch up on with Bendis run, it's very much worth it. A lot of the guy's stuff annoys the crap out of me, but his visions of Spider-man and Daredevil are as good as anyones.

Fear Agent # 9
Rick Remender-Jerome Opena

This was the first issue of Fear Agent that I've read so I'm at a bit of a loss as to how to describe the emotional impact of the things that happen in the book, but I can say it's a book I plan to keep up with. The book can best be described as something like a cross between Batman, Buck Rogers, and the X-Files. It's gritty first person narration combined with lasertastic action against weird aliens.

The art by Opena is very good and really fits the mixture of the above elements. The main reason I plan to keep reading though is Remender's writing, which though at times a little unpolished(mainly though in the form of oddly placed captions, which isn't something I normally notice, but there's a few of them that unnecessarily break up the narration simply for the sake of putting one in a panel) is a lot of fun. There's been discussion on some message boards I post at who should be the next Detective Comics writer after Paul Dini finishes up, and my top two for that gig would have to be either Matt Fraction or Rick Remender. I think either one would do an exceptional job at it. This isn't to say that Fear Agent isn't enough. It's just that I like Remender's writing in Fear Agent so much, I'd like to see it in more books that I read. Because I'm lazy like that. Rather than chase the author, I'd appreciate it if he would just come to the books I read.

Add another one to the pull list. Fear Agent is good for what ails ye.

X-23: Target X
Craig Kyle and Chris Yost-Mike Choi and Sonia Oback

Books like these, with two authors(and in this case two artists as well) make me wish I had a writing partner. I think it'd be a blast. But I digress. Does X-23 qualify as a guilty pleasure? Because I read the first X-23 story, and felt guilty about really enjoying it, and I've got that same feeling here. It's not a life changing meditation on some great universal truth. It's not savagely political. It's just a nice yarn about this cloned from wolverine lonely psycho girl with toe claws.

She of that long line of blank slate psycho girl killing machines. Harboring dark childhood traumas. Hmm...maybe it is savagely political. Perhaps if Kathleen Hanna were writing this book...hmmm that would be cool.

Anywho. The art is really clean nice eye candy, though at times X-23(or "Laura") looks a little wonky. But all in all, like the story solid.

There's nothing truly outstanding about this book. But there's nothing wrong with it either. I will be sticking with it, much like Supergirl because I like the character, but if you're not terribly interested in the character, there's nothing here that would really compel you to bump something else off your list for this.

1 comment:

deluin said...

You really hit the nail on the head with Ultimate Spider-Man.

I read all the Spider-Man titles for years, since I was 6 years old or so. When the clone saga happened, I put comics down for the first time in my life and didn't come back until I got pulled back in by Vertigo books. It was around that same time that USM started, and I was very wary of the entire premise - having witnessed the clone saga and the grim early 90's.

But USM is well put together - I haven't picked it up in awhile but I'll probably make an effort to catch up beause I'd love to see the Clone saga retold.

BTW - I totally agree on the art. The green goblin looks like a crackhead Hulk, and that sucks. If the color wasn't so good and the layout wasn't stellar then the art would definitely be more of a negative factor.

- rob