Open Mike Night: Superior Spider-Man #6AU & Guardians of the Galaxy (vol. 3) #1

Maillaro: Jumping right in this week to get this done on time and get my partner off on his vacation!

Superior Spider-Man #6AU

Written by: Christos Gage
Art by: Dexter Soy
Lettered by: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Published by: Marvel
Cover Price: $3.99

Maillaro: You know what annoys me? When I look at a Marvel book like Superior Spider-Man #6 AU…which has four editors listed (editor, senior editor, executive editor, and editor in chief)…and Age of Ultron #3 which has five editors (two assistant editors, two editors, and the editor in chief), and Marvel still can’t get consistency in their crossovers. Superior Spider-Man blatantly says that the Spider-Man we’ve seen in Age of Ultron is still Doctor Octopus in Peter Parker’s body.

There has been no hint of that at all, with Spider-Man clearly being written as Peter Parker in Age of Ultron without any of the personality quirks that Doc Ock has shown in Superior Spider-Man and Avenging Spider-Man.  Doc Ock is just not that good at pretending to be Peter Parker, just look at his team-up last month with Thor!

My assumption is that when Bendis was writing Age of Ultron, he just resorted to the default Peter Parker…which makes sense. At the same time, I think that if a casual reader were to pick up Age of Ultron, it would have been pretty confusing if Spider-Man wasn’t Peter Parker. So, I actually am in favor of using Peter for Age of Ultron…but then this crossover issue comes out, and contradicts that entirely.

The sad part is that this was a much more enjoyable read than Age of Ultron has been so far. We actually get to see heroes actually doing something and not just sneaking around being terrified. In this one issue of Superior Spider-Man, we got to see much more action and adventure than the first three issues of Age of Ultron combined.

Weaver: There were actually a few inconsistencies between the main Age of Ultron title and this one…I’m really not sure where it ties into the story since Ock isn’t mentioning the Hammerhead situation, but at the same time, Cap’s lucid…oh well, I guess that’s what happens with many chefs in the kitchen.

That said, this was really a great comic, the best Age of Ultron book so far. I hate to say it, but it gives me a bit more faith in the crossover. Especially, we see Doc Ock doing what he always does for half of the issue, making his own plots and plans, and then when he fails, being accepted by the hero community anyway. It was really great seeing this change of heart by Octavious, I think he’s actually on the path to being a hero on his own terms.

So, really, this has everything the main title should have. Exposition. Action. Character growth. Throughout this, you got the sense that while Tony knew that Ultron had won so far, that they still had some way of eventually managing a win, and they were going to do it.

Maillaro: It sort of vaguely loosely fits around the events of Age of Ultron 3, but yeah, the continuity doesn’t quite line up right. They do mention Luke Cage and She-Hulk’s plan (he knocked her out, and tried to sell her to Ultron), and we do briefly see who is at the center of the New York “Ultron City” (it is not clear in Superior Spider-Man, but that is a legless Vision).

Again, it just makes no sense to me. Obviously, I’ve never tried to shepherd in a massive comic event, but it seems to be that these things SHOULD be avoidable. This is far from the first time Marvel or DC has done one of these, and yet these same problems happen every time.

Christos Gage (who will be joining Dan Slott as co-writer of Superior) definitely has a strong sense of what makes Doc Ock as Spider-Man such a great story. We have definitely seen Doc Ock evolving into the role of Spider-Man, and I loved seeing him dealing with a problem on a much bigger scale than anything he’s dealt with so far. This wasn’t a villain he could punch or shoot, and it showed some great facets to their character.

The Fantastic Four crossover that came out this week was pretty good too. It showed the team return to Earth to try and help against Ultron, and how Ultron killed every member of the team except for Sue Storm. Both of these comics seemed to have so much more to say than the main Age of Ultron series. I like Bendis a lot, but I just don’t think he is a really good fit for these big events..

Weaver: I said this about Fraction a few weeks ago, and the shoe definitely fits for Bendis. Not everyone is a big event writer. Christos Gage in this book both kept the character development going and gave us the scope of doomsday scenario. Age of Ultron gives us that scope in art, but I don’t quite get the “back against the wall” feeling there that I do here. By having Ock think that he could just hit the easy button and end this then pull the rug out from under him, Gage made the threat of Ultron much more real than it feels in the main book.

About Bendis…Alias is one of my all time favorite comics, and that’s the kind of comic Bendis should have. Ultimate Spider-Man too, in the early going. You had character driven arcs where it was the main character that was the important part much moreso than what specifically they were doing at the time. In Age of Ultron, he’s trying to do the reverse, and I don’t think it fits his style at all.

Maillaro: I actually think Bendis has been doing a great job on All New and Uncanny X-Men, and we will talk more about Guardians of the Galaxy later in this column, but I do agree that single, character-focused stories really play more to his strengths than these grand events. Hell, the best moments in his Age of Ultron story has been seeing the characters interact in these dystopian world. 4.5/5 for the writing on this one, and I am looking forward to see what Gage can do with Superior Spider-Man over the next few issues.

The art on this book was pretty good too. I thought Dexter Soy (who has also done a fill in or two on Captain Marvel) really captured the look FInch was going for in the main Age of Ultron series, and at the same time drew some exciting action scenes too. I also loved the muted color palette on the cover, which was contrasted by the bright vibrant colors inside the issue. I probably would have preferred that same muted palate inside the comic, but that is just personal preference. I am a sucker for a colorist who can use limited colors to create a powerful impact….which is why I love Morbius so much).

Weaver: I’m actually going to downgrade it a bit on writing to a 4/5. I mostly liked it, but there were some moments where I didn’t think all the ancilliary characters had a strong individual voice. Still, it was a great comic. I think Gage is a great fit for this title, and I look forward to seeing more of it.

I had similar issues with the colors, but I will say that I think Soy did just about everything you could ask him to do with the art. He kept it true to Finch’s vision (which makes me wonder if maybe the artists collaborate more than the writers), and the action sequences were great. Fill ins on Captain Marvel? Dexter Soy is twenty times the artist that they currently have on Captain Marvel, he shouldn’t be stuck on fill-in duty. I’m giving the art team a 4/5 too.

Maillaro: Just checked myself on that. He apparently drew the first two issues of Captain Marvel, and since then it’s been artist by committee.

I actually had originally given the writing a 4 too, but the more I thought about it, I just settled on a 4.5. Might be a tad high, to be honest.

Art I will give a 4/5, mostly because of the bright colors which I just thought was a bad fit.

Guardians of the Galaxy (vol. 3) #1

Written by: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencilled by: Steve McNiven
Inked by: John Dell
Colored by: Justin Ponsor
Lettered by: VC’s Cory Petit
Published by: Marvel
Cover Price: $3.99

Maillaro: All right, I started Spidey, so you get to start Guardians. I will say this before I turn it over to you. Guardians has been ridiculously inconsistent. I loved issue 0.1. And the two Infinite comics were great. But issue 1, I was not as blown away by…and not for reasons I was expecting…

Weaver: Behind the scenes at Open Mike Night Studios, I initially got the wrong Guardians of the Galaxy series. And sadly…I liked that one a lot better. Let me preface this by saying that I am not a fan of space comics generally. I’ve tried several over the years, and I’ve never really enjoyed any of them. It’s just a genre that doesn’t quite appeal to me. So while I was vaguely familiar with most of this cast (side point: Rocket Raccoon’s first appearance was the moment I decided to stop collecting Hulk), none of them had any real appeal to me.

Obviously, one thing this issue does not have is your typical first issue complaint. The team is together and they are doing stuff. However, they’re also spending a long time making speeches and not doing stuff. And even the stuff they’re doing seems to be minor, quickly over, and largely unimportant…which is odd that a massive battleship blowing up felt that way, but it really did feel that way to me.

I’m interested to hear what you didn’t like, since this seems like the kind of comic that would be much more in your wheelhouse than mine.

Maillaro: OH! I had assumed you had read Guardians 0.1…you read the first issue of the Abnett and Lanning Guardians…which I actually haven’t read yet. Planning to get the trades for it eventually!

Yeah, I have always loved space comics. I was a huge fan of the old Guardians of the Galaxy, and Silver Surfer was pretty much my first favorite comic. And my love of Mar-Vell is legendary I also thought Annihilation was a great crossover, though I still haven’t read Conquest. I have been looking forward to this Guardians of the Galaxy series for a while, and between it and the new Nova series, I think Marvel has got a real strong stable of cosmic books.

It surprised me to say this out loud, but the main problem I had with this book was the art. I am a huge Steve McNiven fan. In fact, the only original piece of comic art I have is a McNiven page from Meridian. But I thought a lot of the action scenes were really cluttered and hard to follow. There were still some great art moments in this book, but the battle with the Badoon just seemed to be a mess at times. I know that war SHOULD be portrayed that way, but it’s just not what I like to see in action scenes in a comic. I also didn’t like the redesigns of Gamora, Iron Man, and Starlord.

I definitely agree that it doesn’t feel like much happened in this issue. Kind of strange that so much of the action sequences felt more like exposition in disguise. It starts with Starlord confronting his dad about his “ban on aliens coming to Earth” which seems to be causing more harm than good. Then the team fights Badoon. The team is forced to retreat back to their ship, and the Badoon launch a full invasion on Earth, which Gamora believes is something that Starlord’s father manipulated into having.

One little touch I loved was when Iron Man’s armor was fritzing out, and it started spouting random lines from XM radio stations and audiobooks stored in the memory. Little character moments like that always play to Bendis’s strengths.

Weaver:The redesigns didn’t bother me at all, probably because I’ve only seen Gamora and Star-Lord a few times in the past…and Iron Man, whatever. He’s always got different things going on.

It’s a sad statement when a Badoon invasion of Earth doesn’t feel very significant. I dunno. I think that Bendis is great with character touches. What you’re saying about Iron Man, and also some details of Star-Lord’s talk with his father, and even Rocket and Drax going back in for the team members they each like the most. But when something big picture happens, it doesn’t feel that threatening. I disagree on the art, I think McNiven did the best with what he had to work with here, and the battle scenes looked great to me. I just don’t think Bendis can sell an intergalactic incident.

Maillaro: Yeah, there are writers who can do that kind of scope and scale really well, Jim Starlin has always been my personal favorite, and Geoff Johns also has done it really well in Green Lantern. But Bendis just hasn’t really done it for me. The sad part is that when he writes Guardian of the Galaxy as more focused on the characters than massive alien invasions, it really is a great book. Guardians 0.1 told Starlord’s origin. Infinite 1 focused on Drax, Infinite 2 focused on Rocket Raccoon. But then we get to the first issue, which is really the first time the entire team gets focus, and it just doesn’t seem to hold up as well. I will likely give it a few more issues, but I am not sure.

One of the reasons I wanted to review this book this week was to ask your thoughts on the movie…should Marvel do a Guardians of the Galaxy movie? Setting it in the Marvel movie universe isn’t a guarantee of success (see Hulk), and I can’t imagine this will be a cheap movie to make. Is there going to be a lot of appeal for a cosmic movie where two of the main characters are a talking tree and a talking raccoon?

Weaver: Absolutely I think making a movie of it is going to be an epic failure. The Guardians can’t even keep a comic afloat, and that’s a recipe that rarely leads to box office success. Sure, it worked for Blade, but I think that succeeded because it avoided being a Marvel movie. I mean, obviously, they produced it, but most people had no idea it was based on a comic book. I think that movie is likely to flop hard. On the other hand, I think that the upcoming Ant Man movie might not fail as hard as you’d think because the guy doing it is really passionate about making it cool, and showed some test footage that a lot of people were blown away by. I mean, talking raccoon and talking tree could work for a kids movie, but Guardians is definitely not for kids.

Maillaro: I thought it was kind of hilarious that in an attempt to help the comic get legs, they put Iron Man in it. Ever think you would see the day when Iron Man was one of Marvel’s real big draws?

Weaver: I was talking to my brother and his boyfriend about this when my son was totally obsessed with Iron Man. They were both shocked that Thor, Iron Man, and Avengers in general is the hot stuff right now. Back in the day, it was Wolverine, Spider-Man, Punisher. Now…alright, Spider-Man is still there, but Punisher can’t sell ice water to people in hell anymore, and Wolverine is waning. Heck, I had a conversation with my son’s preschool teacher the other day about how thrilled she is that Iron Man has a huge push now because her maiden name is Stark. She couldn’t believe they made a movie of him, and denied it was happening right up until opening day because he was never quite as big as she wanted him to be. Now she’s in a merchandising wonderland, lol.

So yeah, there is some precedent for a flagging franchise to make it big with a movie. Both Cap and Thor were rotting on the vine for a while before movie success. But they both had characters that were at least somewhat iconic, and stories that were pretty relatable. I can’t imagine Guardians having that.

Maillaro: I actually would love to see Guardians prove me wrong, because I always want to see much “different” movies…and Guardians definitely would be that. And of course, I am hoping that Thanos has a big role in in. Long been a fan of the character…kind of hard to be a Starlin fan without liking Thanos.

All right, so scores for GotG. Writing 3/5, art 3.5/5. Which really isn’t bad, but not at all what I was expecting to give a book drawn by Steve McNiven.

Weaver: I’m with you, brother. Except I don’t really like the Guardians or Thanos. I still want it to succeed.

I’m going to mirror you with a 3/5 on writing, but I’m popping art up to a 4/5. The action scenes didn’t hurt my head like they hurt yours.

Maillaro: All right, bro! Have a safe trip, next week! I am going to miss you! Who else is going to yell at me about my terrible taste in comics? Meanwhile, I am counting down the days until Wrestlemania! This is going to be my first live Mania and only my second PPV.

Weaver: Enjoy it! Try not to get bodyslammed too much!

Maillaro: I may have no choice…

OH YEAH! DIG IT! No idea where that restaurant is, but my friend Logan sent it to me, and I have loved that image ever since

Final Scores

Maillaro – Story Weaver – Story Maillaro – Art Weaver – Art
Superior Spider-Man #6AU 4.5 4 4 4
Guardians of the Galaxy #1 3 3 3.5 4

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