Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Death of Spider-Man (Ultimate) Part 1

Ultimate Spider-Man. I used to love this series. It was the first comic I seriously followed, and one of the only ones of which I've read every issue. Brian Michael Bendis still writes to this day, but the original artist, Mark Bagley, was replaced with Stuart Immonen in issue #111. I considered this a slight drop in art quality, but that's only because Bagley is my all-time favorite Spider-Man artist, so no big deal. Then, around issue #133, the Ultimate comics crossover Ultimatum happened, leading to a rebranding of the series as Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man and restarting the numbers. The art was taken over by David Lafuente, giving us comics like the last one I reviewed, Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #13. Although Bendis remained the writer, I noticed there had been problems. He seemed to forget how to write female characters, instead making their entire personalities revolve around how much they want to date Peter. If Gwen Stacy were in this comic, you would see. Anyway, let's begin.

Ultimate Spider-Man #156

Now, you'll see on the cover there, the banner "Death of Spider-Man" looking all ominous at the top. This is the newest Ultimate crossover which will end in, I assume, Spider-Man dying. I can't see much of a point to this, seeing that Spider-Man is the only popular Ultimate title, and killing it off would just be bad business. Of course, I guess they need to start these crossovers to get people to buy the comics before they quit in disgust. The other title incorporated into this event is Avengers Vs. New Ultimates, which may only be good in that Mark Millar, the writer of the Ultimates 1 and 2 as well as Kick-Ass, is writing it. You can usually trust Millar.

So, our comic begins with the title, Death of Spider-Man, again. Guess they really want to hammer that in. I imagine next issue will just forgo the cover art and replace it with the words, "Spider-Man Is Going To Die!"

So anyway, we see our good friend, Carol Danvers, the current director of SHIELD. She is talking to Norman Osborn, who is both alive and naked.

He should, by all means, be dead, considering he was shot in the head by Danvers after he killed his own son, Harry. Are we gonna get an explanation for this? No?

Uh, okay. We then cut to Peter and Mary Jane, who are dating again. There really wasn't any reason for them to be not dating, except maybe that Bendis decided to change things without a good reason for doing so. They more or less bring up that fact when Peter says he can't think of a reason why they broke up. Way to write yourself out of that jam, Bendis. Anyway, Peter tells her about how J. Jonah Jameson, after figuring out Peter's secret identity, and then surviving being shot in the head, decided not to out Spider-Man, and instead give Peter a job wherein he could go fight crime whenever. How convenient.

Their conversation is interrupted, however, when Peter's phone starts ringing. He doesn't pick it up, though there's a very creepy reason he should.

The uh, guy outside is Steve Rogers, Captain America. Previously, the Ultimates agreed to train Spider-Man, so he stops being such a liability. I'm pretty sure that was the plan before, when Nick Fury was in charge, but with Danvers as the head honcho I guess it needed to be reconsidered. Cap tells Peter to meet him at a cemetary in 15 minutes.

We cut to SHIELD Headquarters where Norman Osborn is being held. A psychiatrist is talking to him. Osborn apparently doesn't take therapy well, because he decides to explode everything,

He turns, again, into his Green Goblin form, which in Ultimate is a giant green fire demon. He breaks out the rest of the Ultimate Six, most of whom we haven't seen in over 100 issues.

They smash out of the detention center, and Electro helicopters them out.

Spider-Man arrives at the cemetery, and Captain America is waiting for him. Cap lectures him about death, and how Spider-Man doesn't seem to care enough about not-dying. This speech seems really unnecessary. I mean, Ultimate Spider-Man isn't the most responsible of heroes, but he's not stupid. He takes serious situations seriously, he just makes jokes so he doesn't get too scared to do anything. Anyway, Cap's chastising is interrupted by a call by Danvers, about the security breach at the Triskelion, and that Fury's team has gone renegade and is attacking the city. Captain America leaves, telling Spider-Man he can't come.

Back with the Norman Osborn Fun Times Gang, they've crashed the helicopter, and went into some building through the window.

They see the news covering the fight between the New Ultimates and the Avengers on a bridge, and Norman takes it the wrong way.

Well, actually, if you take "God" to mean the creator of that universe, Brian Michael Bendis, it makes perfect sense. This is just happening because Bendis wants it to. Maybe when Osborn died he broke the 4th Wall and saw through the panels or something. We see Spider-Man on the scene, and he can only watch the giant explosions coming from the bridge. He gets a disturbing call from Mary Jane.

And that's the end. Now, it all seems very climactic, but why is it happening? Osborn was brought back to life with nary an explanation or even tiny excuse. It's just, "Hey, you're alive again."
"Yep, guess I am."

I love the fact that Bagley is back to drawing this, but the writing just doesn't match up. Spider-Man's not going to die now, just like he didn't die during Ultimatum when they teased us with the fact that he went missing. It's so obviously a ploy to get more readers with a storyline that honestly, wasn't foreshadowed at all and has very little impetus to begin with.

Then there's how Bendis stuck MJ and Peter back together, as if he wanted to hastily bring the status quo back to the good old days when Bagley was drawing. I didn't think it was possible, but I think after all these years of writing Ultimate Spider-Man, he's just running out of ideas. I'll have to read the rest of this storyline to make sure, but if my fears are correct, this will just be trite and predictable.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Antia Blake: Vampire Hunter: First Death #2

Now, as well all know, or should know, you can't trust a cover. Covers just want you to buy the comic, and promise absolutely nothing about what lies inside. Most of the time, you are disappointed. This time, I saw a comic with some awesome Marvel Zombies on the front, and what was inside was actually so much better.

Comic Review: Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter: First Death

Anita Blake is a book series by Laurell K. Hamilton. Being about a vampire hunter who hunts sexy sexy vampires, Marvel started making comic adaptations in 2006. Guilty Pleasures being first, then The First Death, a prequel. And it is TOTES. AWESOME.

So far, our sexy-cool protagonist, Anita, is both a Vampire Hunter and Necromancer, killing Vampires, mostly ones who break the law, and raising the dead for hire. She's recently been investigating a bunch of child murders. They find a vampire, named Sean, who confesses to some murders. Unfortunately, these aren't the child murders. He then tries to kill them.

After kicking vampire ass in the most efficient way possible, Anita goes with her cop friends to the Vampire's house, to kill them. After the cops mention that they need a warrant to do that, she says she doesn't need anything of the sort.

Oh man, she doesn't need a warrant to break into people's houses and kill them? That's what I want in my protagonist!

So she goes to the Vampire House with her vampire hunting friend, Manny. After shooting in the door, they find the vampires out for the night, so they stick crosses in all the coffins, like the vampires wouldn't notice them or something. When Manny smells blood, they check out the basement, and find a guy naked, chained to the ceiling, and bloody. No surprise, he's dead. The police show up, and that's where Anita leaves for her day job, raising zombies!

After getting some publicity from helping the cops with their vampire, it seems a whole lot more people want Anita bringing their dead back to life. Her first appointment turns out to be that serial killer she knows, Edward.

Yeah, he hunts vampires too, for a price. He says he might know where her vampires are, and that they should work together. She refuses, mostly because he's totally batshit.

After some good ol' fashioned corpse raising, Anita's about to go home, when Edward's back. He "apologizes" for pulling a gun on her before, so she takes that as enough reason to sit alone in a car with him. So daring, our protagonist. After talking for a bit, Edward threatens to torture the information he needs out of Anita or Manny. She tells him she needs to think it over, because he scares her. He tells her to contact him if there's another killing, she says there won't be.

Oooh, is this the start of a romance? I sure hope so, you know how I love stories about women falling in love with scary sociopaths named Edward. You know, not to question our ever-so-smart main character, but isn't constantly telling the sociopath that he scares you giving him the upper hand?

Anyway, the cops call her in when they find a dead vampire, who for some reason, was up at dawn. Then she goes through the long and pointle-- I mean, uh, detailed and interesting process of making sure he's dead.

Back at the police station, she overhears something that gives her a clue as to where those vampires went. Instead of taking this and doing some of her own investigation, she calls everyone's favorite homicidal maniac. She gives him information in exchange for something only slightly more specific than what she already knew. Good call, Anita.

So her and Manny break into another house, where some of the vampire's human pets start freaking out. Anita feels bad for-- Oh wait, no she doesn't, she's angry that they would act human.

Yeah, it's not like there's any reason to think about the situation if the "bad guys" treat you like a homicidal killer.

After being lead into the basement by the humans, my expectations were just completely shattered when Anita and Manny are ambushed by vampires. And then-- hoo boy!

Dude, this comic just got a whole lot better.

Wait, what about hunting now?

Oh, so the vampires let her go because they're dumbasses and want to "hunt" her. Predictably she kicks ass until one vampire takes her from behind.

I... what? What's the point of that panel? They wanted to make it perfectly clear that there's a gay vampire? To what end? Damn those evil gay vampires!

Now I really worried about Anita at this point. How would she get out of this mess? Like an angel from heaven, my question was answered when Edward shows up to save the day!

Anita gets Manny out of the house, and they proceed to torch it down. Edward and Anita have a touching moment.

After a quick trip to the hospital, Edward offers to let Anita go hunting with him out of state. Anita will have none of it though, because she's got other killings on her mind.

(Next issue she stares at vampire man-abs)

Oh Anita Blake, what can a man say about you? You fight vampires, raise the dead, and have such interesting romantic entanglements while doing so. There's really not much more I can say about this that pictures cannot.

Aww yeah.

This is the W Defender, and Happy April Fool's everyone!

PS: Bonus Image: