Lucky for me, my recent trip to the comic shop gave the choice of two completely separate Spidery-Manny type of comic books: The Superior Spider-Man #10, the continued adventures of Doctor Octopus having mind-swapped and murdered Peter Parker–as written by Dan Slott, a writer who has the distinction of taking the reactionary, juvenile, mind-staggeringly stupid storylines which have been part and parcel of Spider-Man comics since Paul Jenkins left that branch of Marvel Comics back in 2004 (and I’m being charitable giving it that), and making them merely bland (see: Brand New Day, Ends of the Earth, Spider-Island)–or The Bounce #1, a Joe Casey/David Messina joint of tee-hee stoner hijinks about a rather obvious Spider-Man pastiche, which complements Casey’s tee-hee sex hijinks about rather obvious superhero pastiches (which is called Sex, and also had an issue ship this week). A true race for the Vote With Your Wallets campaign this week! Of course, anyone could choose not to purchase either of these comics. Or both. Or no comics at all, and perhaps go for a walk in the park, maybe meet a girl or guy (depending on your preference), start dating, get married, have kids, realize you both hate each other, get divorced, see other people, maybe get back together again because oh wait you love each other after all, and then die. Or not. It’s your choice!
Just so you know, all those choices to not vote (with your wallet) are totally un-American. If you don’t vote (with your wallet), you can’t complain. What a great, democratic system we have, only being able to express discontent by looking the system you’re discontented with straight in they eye and saying, “Hey, mister, I’m going to give you more votes…er, money…er…what was this metaphor again?…aw, fuck it.”
The Deep Sea
Art by Tony Akins
Writing by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray
Published by Dark Horse
You know what’s great about original one-shots? The promise of a lean, done-in-one tale that can give writers and artists a chance to flex some storytelling muscle without having to commit to a lengthy run. So, naturally, when making your one-shot, the one thing you should not do is fail to finish your story in any way, shape, or form, or conclude with “End (For Now)”. Naturally, this is what everyone involved with The Deep Sea does.
The lead-footed pacing, with about three splash pages in the back half (if you count the page that has two small overlaid panels on it, but is otherwise dominated by a single image), all but announces Palmiotti, Gray, and Akins’ refusal to plot a beginning, middle, and end. It’s amazing this was the entirety of a serial feature in Dark Horse Presents, given Caitlin Kiernan and Steve Lieber’s Alabaster sequel in the same series is only halfway finished, and it’s already had a more complete tale. The trio aren’t even sure what to do with a blonde side character, who gets stuck holding the same B-movie scream pose in two separate panels on two separate pages, with the amount of dialogue between the two shots indicating at least a minute thirty of her just holding that pose while giant Deep Rising tentacles rip people apart around her (and then she’s forgotten until the very end of the issue). That everything else about The Deep Sea, from the Marianas Trench mystery to the tearful reunion between an old explorer and his still-young crew (who went missing in the Trench), is perfunctory wouldn’t be so bothersome if it was building to something other than a glorified “to be continued.”
Batman Incorporated #11
Art by Jorge Lucas
Writing by Chris Burnham
Published by DC
I’m kind of curious where this trend of shifting the story to some other stuff right before the big finale comes from? I know Lost did it. Metal Gear Solid 3 was entirely that for the Metal Gear series. Matt Fraction and Francesco Francavilla recently did it in Hawkeye #10. Brian Wood’s Star Wars comic operates on a similar principle (except it isn’t before a big finale so much as before the next movie comes out). Was there some catalyst that made this a thing people started doing more of? Not a complaint, I’m just entirely baffled by the choice to follow up last issue’s cliffhanger (Batman taking the Man-Bat formula so he can lay some hurt on Talia and Friends) with a side story involving a couple of Grant Morrison’s crazy Japanese characters doing crazy Japanese things (those Japanese: so crazy). Also baffling in that Chris Burnham, this series’ beast of an artist, switches over to writing duties for an issue, presumably while Morrison draws up a suitably convoluted diagram to finish his Batman run with. Burnham’s partner this issue, Jorge Lucas, is the more Westernized of the two artists: Burnham’s art on the series favored the kind of micro-panels and decompressed transitions codified in manga, which one would sensibly imagine to transfer to his script. Instead, Lucas relies on action-to-action transitions that have traditionally defined American superhero comics (again, despite the setting being Japan). There’s also a certain cruel tease to it, opening with two panels of Damian Wayne’s cat staring mournfully at the boy’s tombstone during a rainstorm, reminding readers of Morrison’s big stake through the heart that has been his endgame, right before taking us in a more lighthearted (yet still grotesque) direction involving a guy and his pint-sized, schoolgirl-outfit-wearing lady love fighting Power Ranger-dressed thrill-killers.
The Bounce #1
Art by David Messina
Writing by Joe Casey
Published by Image
There’s kind of an interesting parallel Joe Casey is drawing between pothead superhero Jasper Jenkins and his Vicodin-popping district attorney dad (brother? cousin? uncle? it’s unclear based on the artwork and the dialogue) Jeremiah. This being Joe Casey, who is way more hardcore about his high-concepts than the other Image and IDW high-concept guys who stop at pitting zombies against stuff or doing supernatural bounty hunter comics, something will probably be made of that. None of which prevents The Bounce #1 from being merely alright. David Messina’s artwork is strictly competent, but flat under Giovanna Niro’s shiny, digital coloring for most of the comic, with a brighter palette and Ben-Day dots used in the last few pages–while Spider-Man/Speedball analog Jasper is tripping, naturally–to give the scene a poppier, Silver Age feel. Because clearly Kirby or Ditko were on drugs, right? That’s the big gag?
I applaud Casey’s commitment to taking the kind of ideas someone might use in a snickering comment section post and actually turn them into a real story with ideas and such, but “Silver Age=drugs” is so hackneyed. So is the idea of connecting drugs to alternate realities, as demonstrated by a too-long aside with some secret agent types. Like Sex, it’s meant to be provocative, but it’s really just boring. Not boring in the same way post-Death in the Family Spider-Man has been boring, where it’s very clear Paul Jenkins and Humberto Ramos put a definitive underline to Peter Parker’s relationship with Norman Osborn, and even to Peter Parker as a character to move on from his myopic guilt and pity. Spider-Man comics suffered from a lack of anyone willing to try for something new and compelling for so long that of course it seemed like a good idea to do Dr. Octopus-as-Azrael, even if it’s the same “we can rebuild him” fetish Dan Slott has had from the beginning; Casey’s just snickering to himself at this point.