Comic Reviews – March 14

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Mister Miracle #7 by Writer Tom King and Artist Mitch Gerads

Picking up nine months after the conclusion to the series’ first arc, Mister Miracle #7 finds Scott and Barda as they arrive at the hospital to deliver a little bundle of New God joy. Surprisingly, Tom King and Mitch Gerads bypass the immediate fallout from Orion’s death at the hands of Darkseid to give the reader an intimate story of the birth of Scott and Barda’s son Jacob. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Mister Miracle comic if there wasn’t a bit of the otherworldly, so King and Gerads use the opportunity provided to introduce readers to the Female Furies Bernadeth, Mad Harriet, Stompa, and Lashina; who serve as a sort of family proxy for Barda. The Furies, originally led by Barda before she left Apokolips to be with Scott, are technically at war with the expecting couple, but come to the hospital in peace to support Barda during the birth of her son.

This loving sentiment permeates the issue, giving a rich and nuanced look at the relationships at the heart of the story, while providing an optimistic counter-point to the death at the end of issue #6. This isn’t to say that everything is roses in the land of Scott Free, as there are a few potent moments of tension skillfully laid throughout. Additionally, the very presence of the Furies–Although comical in the context of this issue–symbolize the constant fear of death that has moved beneath the surface of this series and point to the future strife awaiting at the other end of this lull in action. Any reader that knows Tom King knows that this brief moment of happiness can only mean more horrible things to come, but I can’t wait to face them with Scott and Barda, as Mister Miracle continues to be an outstanding DC comic.

-Jesse

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Spectacular Spider-Man #301 by Writer Chip Zdarsky and Artist Joe Quinones

Spectacular Spider-Man #301 returns to form delivering the funny as Peter, Jameson, and Teressa meet up with Peter from the past to find Phineas Mason. Set “several years” before the events of the current run, #301 brings Spidey even closer back to his roots, as the titular character employs his young, poor, still-living-at-home self to help him find the Tinkerer and save the world. The issue is essentially split into three sections, each defining following the three time travelers as they set out to complete their part of the mission, and maybe address some personal issues along the way.

While Jonah’s portion is both touching and humorous and Teressa’s points to a deeper pain she is struggling to resolve, Peter’s is easily the high point of the issue, as he spends the day fighting old villains with his younger self and beating them handily. It is these moments of wacky Spider action that really show Chip Zdarsky’s skill with the character. Although issue #300 left a bad taste in many readers’ mouths, this issue reassures that the creative team knows how to deliver a strong Spider-Man comic.

This is all topped off with the addition of artist Joe Quinones to the creative team. While the previous artist Adam Kubert had some truly spectacular panels throughout his ten issue run on the series, Quinones style really lends itself to the New York of yester-year that Spidey and company find themselves in.

This week’s issue of Spectacular Spider-Man #301 is a promising return for the series and serves as a reassurance to any wayward readers that old web-head is in good hands.

-Jesse

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Vampironica #1 by Writers Greg Smallwood and Meg Smallwood and Artist Greg Smallwood

I have never read an Archie comic. I have never wanted to read an Archie comic. That is until I saw panels from the first pages of this issue of the new Archie Horror series Vampironica. Therein Veronica Lodge (if you’re new like I am, she’s the brunette in the Betty-Veronica-Archie love triangle) walks onto the scene of a high school party as it is being crashed by a pair of ravenous teen vampires. To say I was drawn to this for its Buffy-esque what-if-Cordelia-was-the-Slayer vibe is an understatement. However, I was looking forward to being intrigued by what later pages would offer.

I was then mildly disappointed. What follows this exciting scene is a flashback to THREE DAYS EARLIER when Veronica is rebuffed by ubiquitous Archie in favor of her romantic rival Betty. This flashback of course is merely and excuse to show the reader the origin of her vampiric powers. We see her bitten in her lavishly appointed mansion (she is rich, btw) by a vamp of unknown origin, though it is implied he is a “client” of her father’s, only to escape.

This may be the first installment of what will be a compelling, action-packed story against the backdrop of high school drama…but it is just too soon to tell. I believe the potential is there, but as much as I am pulled by the Buffy-lite vibes of the comics opening, I will be looking for this book to do something different.

Not to be ignored, the art in this comic is something special. Smallwood has an adept hand when it comes to facial expressions and body language. A good amount of the storytelling and mood in this issue falls on the art’s shoulders. It will be interesting to see how that develops as things unfold.

–Tim

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New Mutants: Dead Souls #1 by Writer Matthew Rosenberg and Artist Adam Gorham and Michael Garland

It seems like every time an auxiliary X-Team gets a new book, they’re working for some shadowy government organization or mysterious corporation. This is time is no different…except it is. More on that in a second. I was excited to read this because it brings together mutants we haven’t seen together since the good ol’ days of Peter David’s X-Factor run (also Magik and Boom Boom, I guess).

This comic shares a lot of DNA with David’s noir-influenced X-Factor Investigations. The team shows up in a town following a devastating hurricane. The Hatchi Corporation has set up a camp for the survivors, but something is terribly wrong. The dead are walking about doing what the walking dead will do. And then it’s time for the team to do “the big superhero thing,” whatever that means, and save the day, which naturally requires Magik to magic them into their classic New Mutants-inspired costumes.

If by my description this all seems a little bland, it’s because it is. Magik discovers one of the Hatchi site leaders took a ring off a dead body that happened to belong to a witch and giving it back restores everything to normal (minus the very real hurricane damage). What is very interesting about this comic is when the team reports back to Hatchi (the mysterious corporation that, surprise! they all work for) we find the corporation is owned by other former New Mutant Xi’an Coy Mahn, aka Karma, the mutant with psychic  possession powers. As it happens she has hired her former teammates––who she readily points out were not her first choices––to investigate a series of paranormal occurrences.

Despite some pacing issues and frankly so-so art, I’m on the hook for this one. Reuniting this particular cast of mutants––Rictor, Boom-Boom, Magic, Strong Guy, and Wolfsbane––all famously volatile personalities with big chips on their shoulders for a limited series romp into the paranormal sounds like big fun to me.

–Tim

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