Welcome back to The Round-Up! This week we have Marcus Hammond on why we should (or shouldn’t care) about Buddy’s show biz career in Animal Man #21 and Taylor White on what should be on your pull-list from Marvel!
ANIMAL MAN #21 /Written by JEFF LEMIRE / Art by STEVE PUGH AND FRANCIS PORTELA / Published by DC COMICS
Review by MARCUS HAMMOND
Animal Man #21 picks up where the its previous issue left off with Buddy Baker turning o his former career as an actor to cope with his recent losses. Seeing Buddy so low is engaging, and as each page begins to reveal more darkness and turmoil his life, readers gain a sense that writer Jeff Lemire is constructing a story that is well worth the wait.
The issue opens with a litany of Twitter posts responding to Buddy;s acting performance, though he couldn’t care less about public opinion as he falls deeper into his depression.
Taking the advice of his agent to “get back to work,” Buddy steps back into the role of Animal Man as he begins investigating a series of animal disappearances. As Buddy’s adventure begins, Maxine enters the Red to confront the Totems about her plan to stop the downward spiral of sadness her family faces.
Steve Pugh’s art throughout the issue is atmospheric and creepy. The shadows that cover Buddy’s features remind the reader of the darkness that he has conquered while foreshadowing the evil that looms. One downside, though, is that Pugh splits artistic duty with Francis Portela, who creates amazingly detailed backgrounds, but portrays Maxine in a masculine form that doesn’t fit with Maxine’s attitude.
Maxine is a bright point in an otherwise grisly start to a new story arc. Her confrontation with the Totems places continues to develop the character’s childhood confidence and innocence that smartly juxtaposes her father’s character development.
Lemire’s writing through this issue is spot-on with the emotional, horrific tone that was established in the earlier issues of Animal Man. The emotional conflict that is conveyed through Buddy’s distaste for the spotlight he’s placed himself in contrasts well with his confidence in getting back to being a superhero to provide a depth to the character that inspires an actual connection.
Overall, Lemire’s story and Pugh’s art make this an emotional and creepy beginning to a new story arc that has strong connections to previous story threads. Hopefully, however, Pugh will take up more of the artistic responsibilities.
The Superior Spider-Man #12/ Written by DAN SLOT & CHRISTOS CAGE / Art by GIUSEPPE CANUNCOLI, JOHN DELL & TERRY PALLOT / Published by MARVEL COMICS
Review by Taylor White
Dan Slott and Christos Cage’s Superior Spider-Man is the recipient of much fan criticism. Following the death of Peter Parker from a body-swap with the dying Otto Octavius, Otto has taken up the webbed mantle of Spider-Man. While it may not truly be Peter web-slinging across New York, this book remains a very interesting read.
This issue picks up from last week’s cliffhanger of the Spider-Slayer, Alistair Smythe’s, attempt to escape his execution on the soon to be closed super-prison, The Raft. He has given advanced equipment to his fellow super-villains including the Vulture, Scorpion, and Boomerang on the condition that he not only escapes, but that they help him kill every person (civilian, employee, or otherwise) remaining on The Raft. These include J. Jonah Jameson alongside his assistant Norah, a reporter from The Daily Bugle, and several Raft guards, who have been trapped in the observation room and are helpless to the disastrous rampage of the escaping criminals.
Camuncoli’s art in this issue isn’t bad, though looks a bit off. Spider-Man’s body and movement are to be more awkward than usual. While this but be a reflection of Otto’s actions differing from Peter’s, it’s hard to differ between Octto’s struggle to control his new body to Camuncoli struggling with anatomy. Fabela’s colors have a noticeable contrast when changing from light to dark moments in the book, making for some very engaging visuals. The greens and yellows in this issue can even feel blinding at times, but not in a bad way. Though panel layouts are average, and the splash pages feel like something we’ve all seen before, hopefully the next issue will rectify this problem.
If you haven’t given up on Spidey’s story due to a personal problem with the writer, this book is definitely a fun read, and continues to surprise fans.
Fantastic Four #9 /Written by MATT FRACTION / Art by MARK BAGLEY, MAK FARMER & PAUL MOUNTS / Published by MARVEL COMICS
Review by Taylor White
Matt Fraction’s Fantastic Four may be one of the most passed over books on the Marvel NOW! line, while its sister-book, FF, is one of the most praised. Fraction’s ability to combine a light though intimate family story with realistic(albeit fictional) science creates a wonderful read for both longtime fans and new readers.
Having recently revealed that he may have been responsible for the accident that scarred Victor Von Doom, transforming him into the feared Doctor Doom, Ben Grimm and the Fantastic Four family travel back in time to the moment of the accident at State University. Employing the use of chronal field generators, Ben and Richard Reed plan to watch the accident first hand, while remaining invisible to others. Upon their arrival, the team discovers that they are not alone in their attempt to observe this historic event, as several incarnations of Doctor Doom have gathered to have a ceremony, of sorts, to honor the momentous occasion.
The artwork from Mark Bagley is truly amazing, and deserves to be ranked with the likes of Jim Lee. Much like Lee, Bagley’s style may not be groundbreaking, or change the style for the current generation, but perfects the way the characters are supposed to look on the page. His work is an absolutely perfect fit for this team, and this series.
Thanks to Paul Mounts, the book’s colors are vibrant, and the cosmic scenes have a refined Silver Age quality to them. Everything works so well together that Jack Kirby himself would be pleased with the current depiction of one of his most famous teams, as they’ve never looked better, or more like themselves.
If you’re a longtime fan or even a newcomer to the wondrous and expansive universe that is the Fantastic Four, this book is entertaining, heartfelt and worth the digging in the back-issues bins to catch up on this steller series.