Home > Comic Catch-Up, Comics, Reviews > Comic Catch-Up: New Releases, 02.09.09

Comic Catch-Up: New Releases, 02.09.09

Strange Tales #1 (of 3) (2009) - Page 32It’s been a while since I’ve posted something comic-related, and it’s mostly been because I’m just not sure how to go about it: review a few comics each week, or wait until story arcs have finished and then look back on them as a whole. For the time being, I’m going to go with the former, since it means I can cover one-shots as well, but you can expect some retrospectives on big storylines as well, all under the Comic Catch-Up category. Any ideas for changes, or any titles you’d like to see covered, drop me a comment below: it also gives me an excuse to add more titles to my pull list.

And yes, the date above might look weird, but it’s the European format for the US release date…go figure.

This week, I take a look at Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #2, Cable #18 and Strange Tales #1.

ultimate spiderman #2 - Page 1

Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #2: Writer, Brian Michael Bendis; Artist, David Lafuente

After the Ultimatum wave hit Marvel Comics’ Ultimate Universe, things would never be the same again…because the imprint was then retitled to Ultimate Comics; after a minor side-step to address the effects of Ultimatum and skip forward six months in time, not much has changed for Peter Parker. He’s still Spider-Man, still struggling to keep his identity private and balance school, heroism and work (now in a fast-food restaurant.) He still finds himself running into cops at every turn (although now, they’re being nice to him.) And he’s still got girl trouble, a hell of a lot of it in this issue.

Peter faces the mother-daughter team of the Bombshells in this issue, super-powered (and foul-mouthed) thieves whose powers only function when close to each other. While the duo give Peter something to fight this issue, far more menacing is new nemesis Mysterio: as if his defenestration of Kingpin last issue wasn’t worrying enough, now the villain has made clear his intention to have it all. Supporting characters have always featured strongly in Spider-Man stories, and this is no exception: Peter’s relationship with Gwen Stacy continues to develop, especially now that they live under the same roof, the same place as Johnny Storm is now resting his head. But the most interesting part of the issue had little to do with Peter or his alter-ego and was rather a confrontation between Kitty Pryde and Mary-Jane Watson, as Kitty is bullied for her mutant status and MJ captures it all on her camcorder.

Bendis’ dialogue is smart and sassy as always, with Kitty and MJ trading blows in the same fashion as Peter himself does with the Bombshells. Lafuente’s art is great for any Spider-Man story, regardless of which universe, since he’s capable of portraying both the furious action of a fight and the stillness of Peter’s underwater dream, also lending expansive wide shots and close snappy movement to Bendis’ dialogue, oftentime within the one page. Especially interesting is how he spreads the same scene across different panels, each a close-up coming together to portray the landscape and sense of space in Mysterio’s lair and also the capture of movement portrayed in an unmoving image necessary for the scene in the cafeteria, and so vital when it comes to portraying Spider-Man’s movement.

Best Moment: MJ and Kitty get cat-fighty…or would that be Kitty-fighty?

Cable V2 #18 - Page 1

Cable #18: Writer, Duane Swierczynski; Artist, Gabrial Guzman

Cable’s mission to keep Hope safe and, more importantly, alive continues as he and Hope continue their journey through space on a colony ship after Bishop’s actions have made Earth inhospitable. But when Bishop and his forces dock with the ship, it places Hope and Cable in danger. Thankfully, Hope’s friend Eli has tagged along, unwittingly serving Bishop until turning on him. But nothing can keep any of them safe from when a Brood ship docks, paralysing all on board and leaving them helpless.

Although set in the future, Cable has been unusual in recent X-books because of its perceived slow pace, although given that Hope is now fifteen years old, it’s been anything but. What divides with Cable is the depth of its characters, and while Bishop has been hot on the heels of Cable and Hope since the series began, the drive behind the book has been more about the relationships between the three main characters, made clear here with Hope’s subtle rebellion against Cable, while still recognising him as a father and protector, and Bishop’s mindless pursuit of them both. Bishop’s transformation from X-Man to villain continues to be engaging, especially as he looks less and less human and the monster inside comes out. I never really liked Bishop to begin with, and throughout most of his appearances, felt him to be a very two-dimensional character, so such a transformation has finally added some raison d’etre to such a character, even if my dislike is now intentional. Guzman’s art captures the space-bound action well, even calling up echoes of the X-Men’s 90s adventures, and although the Brood only appear on the book’s last page, their bared-teeth are a kind of old-school menacing, and it’s great to see some of the classic villains return in such a fashion.

Best Moment: What else but the latest appearance of the Brood?

Strange Tales #1 (of 3) (2009) - Page 1

Strange Tales #1: creators, Peter Bagge; Nick Bertozzi; Molly Crabapple and John Leavitt; Nicholas Gurewitch; Jason; James Kochalka; Michael Kupperman; Junko Mizuno; Paul Pope; Johnny Ryan; Dash Shaw

Strange Tales is a wholly appropriate name because the shorts within are strange, to say the least. With independent writers and artists given relative free-reign over Marvel characters, it’s a lovingly irreverent look at some classic Marvel characters and moment, in the same vein as Marvel Minis or Wha? Huh? The less-refined art-styles remain from the world of independent comics, but that’s a good thing, as each is perfect for its story, from the fairy-tale wedding of Jennifer Waters and John Jameson through the manga-influenced story of Spider-Man and MJ moving to a spider-town to the classic noir-style illustrations of Namor’s deepest desires (for pizza.)

Since Strange Tales is an anthology, there’s many more stories or vignettes to it, but to discuss in any more detail would spoil some of the funniest moments, but that makes the book well worth picking up.

Best Moment #1 (just in case you missed it above): Namor likes pizza (who doesn’t?)

Best Moment #2: The Incorrigible Hulk

Best Moment #3: Spider-Man’s pink webbing

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