Each week at Comic Booked we like to offer some quick reviews of the previous week’s books in hope of introducing fellow readers to books you might not generally think about trying. This comes in handy, especially if you’re having a small week! (It should also go without saying that there could be a few spoilers in some of these reviews). This week we have: Amazing Spider-Man #679, Hellraiser #10 and Valen The Outcast #3! So, while you recover from the excitement of this past Sunday’s Super Bowl, look for these titles when you hit your local comic shop tomorrow!
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #679 (Marvel)
I Killed Tomorrow Concludes! Spider-Man is still trying to find out what he needs to do in order to prevent a future where New York City is totally destroyed – and he’s running out of time! He’s swinging all over the place, fighting crime, saving lives; anything and everything he can do to save the city from total destruction, but nothing is working!
He even manages to help Silver Sable stop the mad Flag Smasher from nuking the city, but while that gets him a kiss from Sable, it does nothing to change the future!
It’s after meeting with Mary Jane, for what he thinks might be the final time, that the solution finally dawns on him and he finally does manage to save the day…or the next day…or something, I’m not to keen on time travel, it’s gets all weird too easily.
So this was a really fun story. Writer Dan Slott manages to keep the tension on a level that isn’t overpowering, yet keeps the reader engaged and wondering about what could have caused the future to turn out so totally bad. It’s always nice when that rare story, not involved in a major status quo changing event comes along and turns out to be something special. Sometimes I read a story and I think, ‘this would have been better as one-shot, then I wouldn’t have wasted my time and money on it,’ but this story would have made a great one-shot for the exact opposite reason: it’s not really part of a larger story and it’s packaged in a way that a one-shot would have been perfect. If Marvel does this, I’ll certainly buy it. I’ve read this and the previous issue back to back a time or two already and it’s a lot of fun.
Humberto Ramos does a fantastic job on the art, as usual, so there really isn’t much to say other than this man deserves a standing ovation every time he walks in a room, simply because of the way he draws this series!
It’s stories like this that makes this one of only two ongoing books I buy from Marvel right now! -Skott Jimenez
HELLRAISER #10 (BOOM!)
The newest chapter in the Hellraiser mythos continues! Seriously, this series more than makes up for Hellraiser III through whatever they are on now.
Pinhead is no more, long live Pinhead! The original Pinhead has renounced his powers and station, and has been returned to the flesh in an attempt to redeem himself and, perhaps, make it into Heaven. However, in order to even start this quest he needed someone to take his place in Hell. He picked long time nemesis Kirsty Cotton who gave him and his crew hell in the first two movies. So, Pinhead is now his human self, Elliott Spencer, again and is trying to find his way while helping Tiffany (from Hellbound: Hellraiser II) locate and destroy the puzzle configurations. Problem is he doesn’t really remember too much, seems his memory is missing.
On the flip side, Kirsty has taken to her new role as Pinhead and even resurrected her fallen comrades, the Harrowers (from the Marvel/Epic Hellraiser series currently being collected by BOOM! as Hellraiser Masterpieces), as her new Cenobites, and has apparently taken to torturing damned souls. Tiffany tries reasoning with her only to learn that Kirsty is the reason Elliott doesn’t remember anything: she stole his memories and has kept them. Tiffany pleads with her to let Elliott have his memories back, but while hesitant at first, Kirsty released the memories. The question now is: will this help their cause in ending Hell’s reign or will it make things worse?
In a way it’s sad that a once great horror franchise can’t survive under the weight of bad sequels but, for someone like me, it’s perfect that it can, and does, succeed as a comic book series! This is the continuation of the story I have been waiting for! After fully enjoying the first two movies, then seeing the series completely die starting with the third, I didn’t think much could be done to save it, but all we needed was Clive Barker to come back and inject some fresh blood into this series! Fans of Hellraiser and of Clive Barker need to know this is must read for them! -Skott Jimenez
VALEN THE OUTCAST #3 (BOOM!)
Valen Brand continues his journey on the hunt for Korrus Null, the evil wizard that stole the once-king’s soul and turned him into a member of the living dead. In this issue, Brand and his traveling companion/guide Alexio Cordovan find themselves being chased by the third member of their party, Zjanna, who has fallen under the spell of Null’s army.
Writer Michael Alan Nelson manages to keep the story interesting while introducing new dangers to prevent Brand from reaching his goal. My biggest complaint is Nelson’s transitions between scenes. The concept of time becomes blurred as the story lacks temporal clues. Minutes seem to pass when in actuality, hours would be needed to arrive at the scene.
I did enjoy the way Nelson alluded to Brand’s past with both Zjanna and Cordovan. The first issue gave readers a glimpse at the kind of king Valen Brand once was; tough, cruel and unforgiving. So with the way Cordovan describes the way they’ve crossed paths, it’s completely believable. But Brand’s history with Zjanna is still a mystery, one that was refused to be discussed. Given the way Brand speaks of Zjanna, and his refusal to fight back for the sake of his own life, their history is much warmer, an aspect of the character we wouldn’t expect. I’m looking forward to the payoff that Nelson is setting up.
Matteo Scalera’s art continues to bring out a lot of the good in the book. His dirty style best represents the cast of characters, However, compared to the previous issues, this chapter lacks. One of the aspects that I enjoyed most in Scalera’s art just weighs this issue down something fierce. He overuses movement lines within the first few pages, turning what is supposed to be an action-packed scene completely dull. I get what he was trying to do, but he ruined all sense of urgency and made the art seem lazy. Once we get past the scene, though, his art quickly falls back into place, making the rest of the issue much more exciting.
It’s tough to say whether Valen The Outcast will have the staying power to maintain a healthy audience. While the book has created a cast of strong, believable characters (well, as much as one can believe in an undead, zombie king) and created a decent story full of action and danger, it seems that the constant obstacles keeping Brand from his goal can get tedious rather quickly. Though I agree that the first arc should be maintained, and Brand’s quest for Null shouldn’t be resolved over the course of a few issues, there needs to be another driving force behind the title. Unless Valen The Outcast takes a sudden turn in the next few issues, I can envision a mass exodus from the title. But until then, I’m happy to continue enjoying the story Nelson, Scalera and BOOM! Studios has weaved for me. -Michael Wirth