Dan Slott, Skottie Young, Robbie Thompson, Katie Cook (W)
Humberto Ramos, Dennis Medri, Jake Parker, Katie Cook (A)
Fun, yet so, so confusing. There’s this creepy family of … I don’t know, energy vampires? For sport, they hunt Spider people. And eat them. It’s quite gross. The spider people, of course, are not so crazy about this, and they want to stop the spider eaters. So the Spider-Men of every alternate universe are teaming up.
We’re seeing Spidey-types we haven’t seen in years, such as Peter Porker, the Amazing Spider-Ham (who has grown kind of bitter and cynical since the last we saw him), Spidey 1966, and Snack Cakes Spidey, who usually can defeat a villain with delicious snack cakes. Yes, seriously. The cooler side is seeing Lady Spider, the steampunk robo-Spidey, and Miles Morales as part of the action. The troublesome side is that Silk is sort of the linchpin of this whole mess. She and Spidey 616 have some some kind of pheromone attraction that makes them act like horny prom dates. But worse, she also has been locked in a bunker since she got her powers, and is determined to not only live her life, but be a super hero in her own right. The interesting side is that due to the multiverse and the time travel that goes with it. Spidey 616 and the so-called Superior Spider-Man are both present in the storyline. It’s a jumbled mess that doesn’t seem to be getting less jumbled, but at least it’s a fun jumble. Worth the cover price alone is Katie Cook’s super cute “Penelope Parker” story.
Brian K. Vaughan (W), Fiona Staples (A)
First of all, I am still traumatized by the man-on-spiderwoman sex.
And I don’t squick easily. The line about putting it in her spinnerette was funny. But, but- explicit interspecies sex. Of the spider kind. Spider sex. Spiiiiiiders.
My emotional harm aside, this wasn’t as fulfilling an issue as the last one. The pace was a little slower, but the payoff was pretty huge. The focus on The Brand and her search for her brother The Will allowed a little emotional distance for the reader after last issue’s devastation that occurred when the treeship took off without Marko. It fleshed out an important character and introduced a new face without overshadowing the split between Marko and Alana. Staples’s art is still killing it (even when my eyes are bleeding from spider sex) and the last page was another peak of the emotional rollercoaster.
Paul Tobin (W), Jaun Ferreyra (A)
Dark Horse Comics
Colder: The Bad Seed is the story of insanity. There is a man named Declan Thomas who can talk to insane people and make them better. He was catatonic for five years, and when he woke up, he had this new ability. Reece was his caretaker but now is his girlfriend, and this issue is when Declan’s past catches up to her.
The first issue was good enough to make me snap up the second as soon as I saw it, and while it’s not quite as strong, the writing and art are still good. Ferreyra’s depiction of a man with fingers for teeth is really spooky, and there are enough severed fingers in this issue to make any gorehound’s day. I love the limited palette of the cover, and the black of the man’s silhouette, and the birds against the white and orange are striking.
While I’m kinda lukewarm towards the protagonist and his girlfriend, Tobin’s handling of villainous Swivel’s motivation is what’s selling me on this comic. Swivel has the intensity of focus that comes with a calling, and he’s determined to right what he sees as wrong. The best bad guys don’t have to be relatable, but they do have to be fully realized individuals with a worldview that’s seriously skewed, and that’s Swivel. The introduction of an otherworldly plane of madness/dreams was pretty much the kick in the pants to keep a series going strong in the wobbly second issue, and the cliffhanger at the end is killer.
Nathan Edmondson (W), Phil Noto (A)
In this issue, a TV special report about Black Widow leaves everyone doubting if she is really a hero. Her Avengers colleagues, Maria Hill, and her lawyer Isaiah are worried, and Natasha is incommunicado on a black ops mission in Somalia.
Issue #12 is important to Black Widow’s arc because it deals with a theme that is intrinsic and fundamental to the character. Is she a hero? What does it take to be one? Should humanity thank her, or fear her? More than dealing with other people’s doubts, Black Widow will always have these questions stuck inside her head. This is what drives her, and at the same time what scares her the most. In this sense, Natasha is much more alive, real, and relatable than your classic superhero. In the real world, doing good is hard and there is no such thing as black and white choices. And Isaiah is completely right, of course: Natasha needs a publicist as soon as possible.
Edmondson handled this theme well. Natasha is not a bad-girl-gone-good who suffers because everyone else is suspicious of her motives. No, she doesn’t know if she is good. She doesn’t know if she is bad. And, more importantly, the reader does not know either.
This is made clear by Natasha’s otherwise not very relevant mission in Somalia. There, she clearly states her love of war for war’s sake and her contentment with killing, even without any moral reasoning behind. The way the creative team presents the scenes (one page the journalist’s speech, one page Natasha’s killing frenzy) invites the reader to draw their own conclusions. Also, what the journalist says is basically the truth – not sensationalist gossip, but what the readers know to be straight facts – and highlights not only the bad but also the more noble doings of Black Widow. The reader knows the journalist has a point. As Maria Hill says, that the report wasn’t unfair is the real problem.