Bullet Reviews #22: Spider-Island Begins and Dracula Ends!
It’s that time again! Yes, this week’s are a little later than normal. That’s because a huge storm went through my town and, a fallen limb later, I ended up losing my internet for a few days. It’s all fixed now, so let’s get going with our latest Bullet Reviews!
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #666 (Marvel)
Spider-Island Prelude! The final stage is set and now it begins! This is a great example of a “jumping-on-point.” The issue begins with Spider-Man doing his thing, and actually getting positive feedback from people for once(!), while we recap all the things that have been going on in his life since Big Time began in #648, including his great new job, new girlfriend, Aunt May’s new husband and living situation. We get connections with other characters including the new Hobgoblin. JJJ’s approval ratings as the Mayor of New York are touched on here as well, and they aren’t good. The Spider-Island back-ups in previous issues of Amazing begin to culminate here as there are reports of Spider-Man showing up all over the city, literally saying he’s been in more than one place at the same time. Carlie Cooper, the new girlfriend, being one of many people now showing Spider-Man-like powers leads us to a larger picture of the impact of the Jackal’s experiment on New York when people begin to flood the hospitals, showing all kinds of madness from the bug bites that we’ve seen hints of over the last few issues. All in all, this feels like a real event. Marvel apparently has a line-wide event going on now, Fear Itself, but the set up for Spider-Island is more how these things should be done. Perhaps Marvel should have made THIS their summer event and put Fear Itself in the Marvel Annuals for this year. I’ve been looking forward to this for months, and, if this issue is any indication, then this story will not disappoint! –Skott Jimenez
CAPTAIN AMERICA AND BUCKY #620 (Marvel)
I loved this book! I think Brubaker is one of the most versatile writers out there. I like how he can still write fantastic filler stories without boring the pants off of you. Two things I want to point out: 1. This is not a Fear Itself tie-in, but we know that he needed to stop his storyline for the event; 2. This story was character driven. I mean, I don’t even think that Marvel had to change the title (not that that’s a bad thing in this case) because this book still is able to conceivably fit into the mythos that Brubaker is weaving. The book focuses on James Buchanan Barnes’s early life. Yet, it is thematic in that the story emphasizes the growth and development of its lead character through the symbolism of masks. Bucky’s life before the side-kick mask was filled with the mask of cheer and the mask of responsibility. Although these traits are something to aspire to, the mask was something that he had not yet grown into. What I saw in this book is the message that, through it all, he could throw out the masks he wore and put on the new one because he had finally achieved what those masks represented. He had become the person he needed and desired to be. I am very much looking forward to seeing the rest of this story. – Andy Kirby
DRACULA: THE COMPANY OF MONSTERS #12 (Boom! Studios)
Final Issue! Another week and another saga from Boom! Studios comes to an end, this time Dracula, written by Kurt Busiek and Daryl Gregory. This is the final piece in the puzzle. If you have been reading faithfully, then you’ll know the last issue ended on a cliff hanger that even Sly Stallone would be proud off. Evan pulled the trigger, the bullet flew from the chamber and Dracula and Conrad stood frozen. Who died? We’ll let you remain unspoiled.
Sufficed to say that the conundrum is resolved on the opening pages and the rest of the issue serves as an epilogue. Marginally predictable, everything falls into place as the pace is brought down to the slow crawl of a wounded soldier looking for a place to die (literally in the book’s opening). This exposition may serve to wrap up events tighter than a pig in the blanket, but it lacks any real emotional depth. Even as several characters are killed, the reaction induced is more shrugs than gasps. The art by Scott Golewski has always been functional, but a bland-faced central character hampers any sympathy you may so desperately want to harbour. Gone, but not forgotten, this was still one of the better Dracula interpretations of recent years as, after all, you can’t keep a good vamp down.– Thom Atkinson
DUCKTALES #3 (Boom! Studios)
It’s Ducktales issue 3 as the Disney afternoon cartoon continues to splash its way onto the colourful pages of Warren Spector’s heavily scripted series. The gang is still all here, Scrooge, Launchpad and the three little ones, as they continue their hunt for the missing artifacts. Who is behind the “dastardly deportation”? Well that’s a good question. This All-Ages title contains a daunting amount of dialogue for most young children to engage with. Championing comics as a learning-to-read device is a noble cause, but this epic tomb of a children’s comic may be handed over to parents for bedtime reading. Sure, the action starts with some (also surprisingly heavy) fisticuffs as rival hunting parties come to blows, but soon the story turns into long-winded speeches and panels bursting with print. Is Scrooge McDuck itching to unleash his rage really appropriate for an all ages title? Well that may be to the readers discretion, perhaps if you can wade through all the dialogue, you may find out. – Thom Atkinson
INCORRUPTIBLE # 20 (Boom! Studios)
This issue has been a long time coming in Mark Waid’s solid and enjoyable tale of a man on the path to redemption. Hayes Bellamy has discovered the secret to Max Damage’s powers, or more importantly his weakness. The longer he is awake, the stronger he becomes so, naturally, you put the big guy to sleep. Our some-what hero has been caught, bound in chains, and perennially put to sleep by his captor as the city is under siege by a host of super villains with annihilation imminent. This, unfortunately, is a wasted opportunity. As Max lays helpless and captive the time is right to build up the suspense, not shunt it out in a single issue. Billed as an ‘arc-ending-issue’ it is no spoiler to say that resolution comes blazing onto the pages in a, not entirely, unwelcome form. The problem is not the who and the how, but, rather, the when. A man who can not be stopped when awake, has finally been put to sleep. The villain, Bellamy, has him in his clutches and begins slowly falling into the villain clichés of revealing his plans and his secret accomplices as he assumes his captive is going nowhere. This is ripe for at least a two-part issue, not just to see him suffer, but there just isn’t enough time to become engrossed in Max’s plight. Quicker than you can say former sidekick, we have an all too swift finale. Still the stage is set for Incorruptible to step up to the plate of great comics with its next new arc. – Thom Atkinson
SECRET WARRIORS #28 (Marvel)
Final Issue! I’m sad to see this title go. I really enjoyed the book, and this sendoff issue is one of the best. I do have to admit that I didn’t completely understand everything in the book, and I don’t know if I even kept up as much as I thought I did. Still, having an underbelly look at the general espionage landscape of the Marvel U is a lot of fun. Secret Warriors felt distinct and separate from the rest of the 616. We saw the spygame from a bird’s-eye it seemed. Sure we often see Brubaker portraying the player vs player stuff from the point of the individual, but here the reader was exposed to ideals of the geography and landscapes of power. Issue 28 specifically deals with Nick Fury stepping down from the game. And I would have to say that everyone should read this book, at least the final pages, for the conversation between Steve Rogers and Nick Fury. Talk about inspirational. “Be the one man.” – Andy Kirby
STAN LEE’S THE TRAVELER #9 (Boom! Studios)
After some memory tampering and story curtailing, a new day and a new arc arrives in The Traveler, and, with it comes the third title in the Stan Lee books to become involved in an intergalactic cross over. Don’t get over excited though, as the cross-over is held for a final page introduction and, perhaps, not the meeting of the minds you would be expecting. A new arc is typically the best place for new readers to jump on board and The Traveler is worthy of most people’s time. There are some intriguing power concepts that fuel the narrative of this series. It’s just a shame, then, that they are so damn confusing. The hero’s powers being time-based lead to a million questions, a myriad of head scratching and a thousand buts, ifs and maybe. Most of these questions writers Mark Waid and Tom Peyer are savvy enough to see coming with the exposition narrative expounded by our protagonists set to instantly appease any quizzical reader. Unfortunately, this has a slightly condescending tone to it as, again, the target audience for these titles remains murky at best. Still fun, still showing promise if they can find the tone all may be well yet for these cosmic titles.- Thom Atkinson
ULTIMATE COMICS FALLOUT #3 (Marvel)
This issue was a little off from the first two. We are now seeing the fallout for the major players in the Ultimate U. Initially, we get a story about Tony Stark and how his future will be shaped in the series to come. Then we jump to the mutant aspect of the Ultimate model. Kitty and Bobby are not dealing well with the death of Peter Parker and must decide how to live their life. And finally, we glimpse how Nick Fury is still out to use people, whether it be for their good or ill. He will manipulate, kill, and steal all for the ultimate good. Overall, this issue was weak, but understandably so for it being a “set up issue.” I am very much looking forward to next week when we get to see the new Spider-Man. But don’t count on the Architects of the 1610 spilling the beans right away. I’m sure we will get a whole story arc for us to discover who is the new Spider-Man! – Andy Kirby