Looking To The Stars 4.7.03: Thoughts On…

I hope everyone enjoyed Ema Nymton’s little column last week. Believe it or not, some people did take it seriously, as I found after getting e-mail from some asking where the news about Joey Q. being fired was. I also got mail from several people after the bit about Kevin Smith was reprinted on NewsAskew.com, wondering if Kevin was allright.

So just in case you missed it, let me assure you that…
A)Joe Quesada is still Editor in Chief at Marvel
B)Kevin Smith is alive and well and unharmed. There was no hostage situation.
C)Ema Nymton is not a real person. It is an oft-used alias that spells out “Not My Name” backwards.

There were a lot of other hints besides that last one that the whole news column was a joke, aside from some of the sillier or just plain weird stories. See if you can spot them all and send me an e-mail. The first five people to do so shall win my admiration of their having that much free time.

Finally, I’d like to thank two people. First, my friend Damon Swindall, an old-school Kevin Smith fan from before Mallrats, who agreed to play the stalker. Then, I’d like to thank my old editor Michael, who was the only one to spot the major “this isn’t right” hint in the article about his death; IE: I purposely misspelled his last name.

So now that that is over with and things are getting back to normal… or as normal as we get around here, I’d like to talk a bit about some of the books I read this week. Oh sure, I wrote a few reviews this week… but there has been so much comic goodness (and badness, though the bad outweighs the good this time) that I didn’t get a chance to write about, I thought I would do so now.

Amazing Spider-Man #51

Darn close to perfect. As far as the artwork goes Romita’s pencils have never looked finer and the cover by J. Scott Campbell’s, whose constant cheesecake style I can do without, doesn’t look TOO cheese-cakish, at least in that Mary Jane’s head is bigger than her breasts. The new villain concept seems to be a tribute to the classic stories of Stan Lee himself. And its good to see the detective that Peter befriended a few issues back again and his conversation with Peter about how the police view all super-powered people, heroic or evil, with the same amount of dread is a prize. So is the date between Peter and Mary Jane where Peter harasses a stiff waiter with some truly childish and truly funny joke orders. Or am I the only person who has ever asked for steak tartare well done as a joke? Regardless, well-done describes this book as well as my steak.

Batman #613

Jeph Loeb has done the impossible. He got me to put a Batman book back on my subscription list. Time was I had all the Bat titles and the associated books (Nightwing, Birds of Prey, etc) on my list…but about half-way through the “No Man’s Land” story-line, I gave up. I found nothing exciting or new being done with the characters with the exception of Ed Brubaker’s work on Batman. And even then, I was just picking up the individual issues that looked interesting.

A lot has been written about Loeb’s writing and Lee’s pencils revitalizing this book. It has been selling out around the country and become one of the most heavily hyped comics being published right now. Now, Unca Stars is not a person who gives in easily to hype. In fact, I am proud to note that to this day I have still not seen Titanic, Gladiator, Chicago or any other “you must see this” blockbuster Oscar contender. So I think it has some authority when I say that this book is worthy of all the praise it receives. It doesn’t just live up to the hype. It surpasses it. I won’t say anything about what happens because you must see it for yourself. Enjoy.

Daredevil #45

I take back every nasty thing I ever thought about Brian Michael Bendis on this title. I’ve complained in the past about the lack of superheroic action, wonderful though the legal thriller story lines of the past few issues have been. Well, damn if Bendis didn’t live up to his typical fashion and do something that I wasn’t expecting that has me thrilling for a major return to the status quo of superhero vs. super-villain action coupled with a few new twists to make things interesting. This is what comics is all about, folks. And this story, where Daredevil confronts longtime nemesis “The Owl” is a hoot… bad pun very much intended and apologized for.

Futurama #12

I loved this series during its’ brief and irregular showings on Fox. Forever pre-empted in its horrible time-slot by football, it usually managed only a half-season of shows at best and fell to cancellation this last year. Thankfully, the reruns live on in Cartoon Network broadcasts, the first DVD set just came out and the comic book version is still getting published.

Well, I wish that were a good thing… but sadly, the comic’s writing in this story is nowhere near the equal to that of the TV series. It is still funny, but more the type to inspire quiet smiles that loud guffaws. And the book suffers more depending on running character gags and one-liners than the situational humor the series ran on. For example, there are way too many jokes about the ever poor, hungry and clueless Dr. Zoidberg being… well, poor, hungry and clueless. I’ve enjoyed this book in the past and the promotion for the next issue where Bender becomes the ruler of Robot Hell looks promising… but unless you’re a devout fan, I’d give this month’s story a miss.

Marvelous Adventures of Gus Beezer: X-Men and Hulk

I had the chance the other two books of this series (check the Reviews section for my review of Gus Beezer with Spider-Man) and found them just as delightful as the first. Hopefully Gail Simone will be doing more of these in the future or a series like it, because I should hate to think that the finest children’s comic series in a decade would be stopped after only three issues…

Ultimate Spider-Man #39

A welcome relief after the somewhat slow and ponderous mini-series centering around the creation of Venom (who has still not been named as such), this issue has Peter dealing with his feelings and fears in the aftermath of his battle with Eddie Brock and “the suit”. The revelations regarding their eventual fate are frightening and a better conclusion to the story than the one given last time. Where this issue really shines, however, is in the conversations with Dr. Curt Connors and Nick Fury in which Peter truly sounds like what he is: a 15-year old stressed out with problems he doesn’t want and can’t deal with.

Tune in next week. Same Matt time. Same Matt Website.