Thursday, June 5, 2008

Summer of Wuv

This is by far the most gorgeous cover, not only of the week, but of any Amazing Spider-Man I own. The writing by Dan Slott (the Jordan Knight of Spidey's braintrust) is fairly killer too.

By now all you haters have taken several cold showers, desperate to banish the stench of Mary Jane's return. Well, you're all lucky that Mr. Slott is sensitive to your needs. Peter and MJ don't actually come within squirting range of each other, managing, through her celebrity boy-toy's panic room and Paper Doll's clutches, to avoid contact.

It's also become clear that Slott is, in fact, the only writer allowed to wrap the final bow around a given subplot. Which is for the best, since of the bunch he's endowed with the most grace, subtlety and everything in between. In this issue, Peter finally moves out of Aunt May's again for real, and moves in with a police officer. Not a detective, mind you, just a donut-depository who provides (crappy) security at political gatherings.

Peter's move had been gossiped so insistently throughout the series by everyone, whether he was present or not, that it had taken on a "Howard Mackie's Ghost" quality, whereby my fanboy DNA fully expected the writers to change before anything even happened. But I needn't have feared. Also cleared up (to what is currently a believable degree) is the identity of heroine Jackpot. We were ready to believe fellow nerd Carlie (toward whom Peter's sperm fleet is pointing no matter where either of them are in the world) capable of the wig and bell-bottoms, but in a beauteous sidestep, it turns out that the civilian name Jackpot gave in an earlier issue, Sara Ehret, is on the level. Sara seems nice enough during her last page cameo, having stalked MJ to the airport.

Other things of note include a Birds of Prey worthy rump-roast shot of MJ while she monitors Spidey's fight from the panic room. It seems a true case of multiversal confluence, since Marcos Martin's Batgirl series, featuring a teen Barbara Gordon, had to by definition show us the character before she'd, er, developed her digital omniscience. Making up for this bizarre
visual is the explicitly marvelous page where Spidey and Paper Doll jump from Orlando Bloom's apartment into a pool below. If you haven't partaken, you've my pity.

My pet prediction for the future is that Carlie will be the one to find out Peter's secret. Or she'll be the new goblin. It's all good anyway- if we disapprove, Marvel will bust out the amnesia ray. 4/5 zagnuts.

Aaand, we can breath easier. The longest fart ever, more commonly known as Drew Goddard's run on Buffy, is over.

This story had some great set pieces, especially Dawn stomping Tokyo (what a bitch). All were squandered however, in the same manner that the show's potential was: there's only one Joss Whedon. I'd rather have the characters be unrecognizable than be more infantile versions of themselves (let's be honest, they're already pretty infantile).

But because Whedon still steers the ship, all the emotional payoff he'd intended is basically unchanged. The upside is that Xander and Dracula honor Renee's death wonderfully. The downside is that Buffy's queerness, which Dorksylvania has been pining for ever since Cruel Intentions, has finally, forcefully come to pass. Months ago, I thought, "Well, she'll bag this chick as an appetizer for Willow- YAWN," and sure enough, slayer and witch cutely rib each other about Most-Fuckable lists.

There's nothing I resent more than social commentary when it's inserted so as to be grossly ineffective. Back in the day, when Willow checked Get Gay off of her collegiate checklist, Republican fans of Buffy across the galaxy ground their dentures in rage. Oh, wait. That must have been in Milky Way B.

Some would say this is character growth. I'd rather say it's a Rubix-Cube level of dynamic personality that Ben Franklin and maybe Newton (when drunk) possessed. But Buffy needed this on her resume the same way I need to shit in my neighbor's pool: to impress everyone everywhere. 2/5 zagnuts.

But if'n you want a book that'll stick to the ribs, try the devilishly compact Kurt Busiek and Mark Bagley opus Trinity. This new weekly will be in direct competition for my love with the wonderland that is Amazing Spider-Man.

Quite like J.M. Straczynski, Busiek excels in recalling tones from yesteryear's palette, all the while spinning them to keep an adult rapt and jonesing for more. And our artist, fresh from the salt mine that was Ultimate Spider-Man, has a blisteringly good time drawing DC's characters for the first time ever. Bagley seriously hasn't been this solid since Thunderbolts (quiet, you).

The plot so far is that of a cosmic entity demanding freedom who sends Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman dreams loudly stating the fact. Everything around that is pure candy- the big three interact as friends and colleagues without the cumbersome trappings of any other story. There is no gimmickry on parade- they are icons. Each talks, thinks and behaves uniquely. Each filters the strange dream through the lens of his/her origin, bringing us the angles of criminology, science and mysticism. The Flash and Clayface appear as well, giving us the issue's brief, tasty action.

And at the rear end of this comic, we get Fabian Nicieza and Scott McDaniel showing us the assemblage of three titanic villains that the Trinity will face-off against. In the weeks to come the artist will change, but the scenes were intercut perfectly. Morgan Le Fay's scrying flame revealed scenes illustrated by Bagley, embellishing the lighter first half with foreboding.

As excited as I am, I know people out in some stank borderland will hate this. It's too simple, too optimistic, to compete with Final Crisis. But you sure as hell don't need to read/buy/question-the-validity-of five auxiliary series just to enjoy Trinity. And this tale doesn't plan to Change Everything For Two Months. It just plain has to be good. Well, success. 4/5 zagnuts.


brian said...

By the way, I love the zagnut rating system. I was thinking of adding something similar, but the best I could come up with was ball sacks. Doesn't really work.

Great review(s). I still don't read comics. I have like six or seven on my shelf, but they all involve superman fighting gangsters in the 40s and shit. My favorite is the one where Clark Kent, Lois Lane, and Bruce Wayne go on a cruise together and Wayne tries to bag Lois.

Kevin said...

If you have six or seven on your shelf, then you do read comics.

You just don't read 'em often.

For whatever reason.

Beepy said...

Ooooo, Kevin told you!

elmo said...

He should bag Zatanna, who is never not in heat.

Sam said...

I can't speak for Isaac Newton, but Ben Franklin? READY TO GO, if you know what I mean! He was one spry 70-something!

Sam said...

And I agree about 'Trinity' - wonderful, wonderful stuff. My only gripe had nothing to do with it - it was that little reminder that in the current DC continuity, Wonder Woman's powers rely on ... wait for it ... her clothes and jewelry. Can't WAIT for that little wrinkle to be ironed back out.

steve said...

But all this talk of 'Trinity' and the various Spider-Man titles just makes me think of that last Joss Whedon issue of 'Astonishing X-Men' ... what a beautiful, gorgeous, smart, unbearably moving wrap-up to his run on that title .... just amazing ...

Can we please, PLEEZE have him do a similar run on the Fantastic Four?

elmo said...

That would be the perfect antidote to Mark Millar's cynical run

L. Simpson said...

This concept of "wuv" confuses and infuriates us!

elmo said...

It involves cheese. Get used to it.