FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOOD SPIDER-MAN #10 & MORE! [Mini-Reviews]

The Flash #76 CoverTHE FLASH #76/ Script by JOSHUA WILLIAMSON/ Pencils by RAFA SANDOVAL/ Inks by JORDI TARRAGONA/ Colors by TOMEU MOREY/ Letters by STEVE WANDS/ Published by DC COMICS

Review by MATT MORRISON

A new Flash Museum has been built and Barry Allen has hidden a secret sanctuary for himself and his allies inside it. But The Flash isn’t the only one with some new tricks, as Captain Cold has returned with a new suit and upgraded technology for the rest of the Rogues.

I wasn’t crazy about the change when The Rogues were given actual superpowers in the New 52. I’m similarly skeptical of Len Snart in a black costume with glowing-blue highlights, a white goatee and a freezing touch. Still, Joshua Williamson stays true to the character, so I’ll withhold my judgments for now, even if it does feel a cheap change for the sake of a crossover event.

I can’t be quite as fair to the artwork, I’m afraid. Rada Sandoval isn’t a bad artist but the way some of the character’s heads are drawn in this issue makes it seem like some of the heroes’ heads were warped by running at Mach 10. Ignoring the oddly shaped character designs, the story looks perfectly fine and the inks and colors are good. This is the prefect jump-in issue for The Flash if you haven’t been reading Williamson’s run so far.

4-5

 

Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #10 CoverFRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOOD SPIDER-MAN #10/ Script by TOM TAYLOR/ Art by KEN LASHLEY, SCOTT HANNA & LUCA MARESCA/ Colors by NOLAN WOODARD/ Letters by VC’S TRAVIS LANHAM/ Published by MARVEL COMICS

Review by MATT MORRISON

To defeat a sinister CEO and escaped Nazi war criminal who literally feeds on the suffering of others, Spider-Man and the Prowler are going to need help. But before Spidey can call in a favor, he’ll have to face the villain himself.

Tom Taylor’s new villain is hardly subtle, yet the idea of a vampiric Nazi empath who feeds on suffering running a company dedicated to being as vicious and soul-crushing as possible seems rather timely and fits in quite easily among the likes of The Red Skull and Justin Hammer. There’s nothing really that original to the story and the resolution is a little pat, even if Peter’s ultimate plan for stopping the villain is brilliant.

I can forgive this, however, because Taylor has the best grasp of Spidey’s character of anyone working at Marvel right now.  Have we seen Pete struggle through a psychic attack and overcome it through sheer force of will? Yes. Have we ever seen it done quite so effectively as a metaphor for depression and anxiety? Not in any story I’ve read.

The artwork is similarly amazing and the look remains consistent, despite three artists working on it. Lashley, Hanna and Maresca are all fantastic creators and while they have distinctive aesthetics, the sudden changes between their sections of the book are not jarring or off-putting. This is the best monthly Spider-Man book there is, bar none.

5-5

 

Red Sonja #7 CoverRED SONJA #7/ Script by MARK RUSSELL/ Art by BOB Q/ Colors by BOB Q & DEARBHLA KELLY/ Letters by HASSAN OTSMANE-ELHAOU/ Published by DYNAMITE COMICS

Review by MATT MORRISON

With the last living member of her extended family dead and her army on the run, Sonja must make a desperate choice to defeat the invading Emperor Dragan and rescue those he has taken hostage. Yet Dragan has problems of his own among his forces…

It’s no surprise that Mark Russell’s script for this issue is darkly hilarious, evoking memories of Mel Brooks’ movies, Monty Python and The Holy Grail and the books of Terry Pratchett. His run has been awash with humor, which has offended some who apparently think barbarian fantasy cannot have a funny side. Never mind that Conan himself was described as a figure of gigantic melancholies and mirth…

In the end, this series makes me laugh while having some great action sequences and a well-plotted story with foreshadowing and all the other literary devices high literature is meant to have. That is no small feat and if there is any justice Mark Russell will be nominated for an Eisner for this book. Perhaps this time he will win.

The art by Bob Q matches Russell’s script. His action sequences are handled well and there is one splash page of Sonja by a funeral pyre I would not mind seeing as a print or poster. Yet he also has a tremendous grasp of comedic timing and all the jokes are nailed as a result. If you haven’t been reading Red Sonja, now is the time to start and this is the issue to start with.

5-5

 

Second Coming #2 CoverSECOND COMING #2/ Script by MARK RUSSELL/ Pencils by RICHARD PACE/ Inks by RICHARD PACE & LEONARD KIRK/ Colors by RICHARD PACE & ANDY TROY/ Letters by ROB STEEN/ Published by AHOY COMICS

Review by MATT MORRISON

When a stalker starts threatening Sunstar’s reporter girlfriend, he is quick to anger. God wants the hero to show Jesus how to engage in some proper smiting, but the Prince of Peace has other ideas. Will vengeance will be had?

I was surprised that one of my questions regarding the first issue was immediately answered at the start of the second, as it is revealed that the Christian robot bank-robber was actually just some guy in a suit. The comic deals with Sunstar’s guilt over this fact as well as his sudden need to prove himself when he seems to be helpless at handling every other aspect of his life, including making Jesus “man-up.”

The irony is that for all the early complaints about how blasphemous the idea of this comic was, Russell’s script is pro-Christian and offers a view of Jesus as a truly kind man who wants to help people and be a dutiful son, even if he disagrees with his hot-tempered father’s methods. This issue, like the first, is a brilliant dissection of Old Testament ideology and New Testament methodology, which shouldn’t offend anyone except for the preachers on TV asking you to send them money.

Richard Pace’s artwork is subtle and revolutionary. Vividly detailed yet clearly depicted, this book is a masterclass in how a different inker or a different colorist can completely alter a penciller’s work, thanks to the contributions of Leonard Kirk and Andy Troy. This book continues to impress!

5-5

About Matt Morrison

Matt "Starman" Morrison is The Grand Exalted High Macha of Raspur - a non-existent but real-sounding country. He has been writing about comics since before the word "blogging" was coined. He enjoys acting, role-playing, movie-riffing and sarcasm. You can follow his adventures on Twitter, @GeekyGeekyWays.

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