SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN / BATMAN/ELMER FUDD / DROIDS UNPLUGGED / JONAH HEX/YOSEMITE SAM / WMD [Reviews]: Off to the Loony Bin.
Back when Marvel announced that Chip Zdarsky would be writing Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man, I was cautiously optimistic because I’ve reallly enjoyed everything I’ve read that he’s written, despite a sense of humor that tends to lean hard into the absurd. After reading the first issue, I feel justified in my initial reaction, because that absurdist humor is ever-present and doesn’t really work for Spider-Man in the same way that it works for, say, Howard the Duck. In a book that theoretically isn’t satirical in nature, the constant barrage of jokes–many of which don’t actually land–distract from what seems like it might be an otherwise fun and interesting story. On the other hand, Zdarsky also writes a back-up story in this issue that I actually enjoyed much more.
The back-up retains much of the absurdity in regards to Spider-Man, but balances it out by providing an antagonist that’s much more serious in contrast. Adam Kubert‘s art and Jordie Bellaire‘s colors are both excellent throught, as is to be expected with two creators of their caliber. It’ll be interesting to see how this series plays out going forward, because if Chip can strike the same balance in the main story that he does in the back-up, his storytelling combined with the fantastic work of Kubert and Bellaire could still produce some fantastic Spider-Man stories. Unfortunately, that isn’t what we got in this issue. 2.5/5 Estranged Siblings.
Although not something I would ever really consider reading an ongoing about, I can’t say these Looney Tunes crossovers have been bad either. Granted, the only one I read before this was Bugs Bunny/Legion of Superheroes, but both have been great fun. While that one was more playful Silver Age stories with Bugs inserted, this one is a deep detective crime noir. Batman scribe Tom King takes to the pen already known expert with this style of storytelling. Lee Weeks, who impressed me a couple years ago on the Lois & Clark book, impresses here again. I’m not sure why he doesn’t do a lengthy run on a title, his art is great. I’d personally love to see him attached to Nightwing.
The story here follows Elmer Fudd into Gotham city. Everything here has been changed out the elements that everyone might understand and adapted to fit this new dark setting. Elmer is still hunting Bugs to kill him, who is now a creepy looking lowlife in a bar in a bad part of the city. In the backdrop of the bar, is also a humanized biker-looking guy that talks like Yosimite Sam, a punk with a mohawk with Taz on his chest, and even a ganster that talks like Foghorn Leghorn. Knowing that he’s busted, Bugs gives up a name he knows can take Fudd off of him: Bruce Wayne. Once we get past this opening segment, most of the rest of the book is a lot of actions scenes, including many pages without words, just action, where Lovern Kindzierski‘s muted colors and Weeks’ pencils really shine and carry us through the story. 4/5 Bibles.
Interesting comic with three short stories during three different times in the Star Wars series all done by Chris Eliopoulos (letterer extraordinaire/artist of I Am ____ series with Brad Meltzer), with the first story being a bold choice by almost being completely “silent.” Not much dialog besides motor noises (allowing for sound effects to take center stage, nice trick there Mr, Letterer!), however it centers on a newly formed friendship when an sphere shaped robot saves another robot who for stuck underneath a rock. Sandpeople always causing headaches for droids! The visuals are great, but with no movement so to speak because there’s hardly any dialog to carry what’s actually going on. The second story is a R2-D2 story with quick cameos by 3PO, Luke & Princess (RIP) Leia. Our third story shows everyone’s NEW favorite dialogue-less droid BB-8 playing match maker trying to help make a love connection in this never ending war against good vs evil. 3.75/5 Midichlorians Count.
This one-shot (featuring two separate stories by two separate artists) was.. not at all what I was expecting. I’d never looked at the classic Looney Toons characters and thought “Man, I wish they’d be gritty and realistic and thrown into a dark, gritty world and kill people and even hire prostitutes!”, but I guess someone did at some point, because here we are? The main story focuses on Yosemite Sam hiring Jonah Hex for protection, after coming across a gold mine. Along the way he also encounters Foghorn Leghorn, one-eyed man-sized, anthropomorphic rooster and boxer, saving him from drowning. Shoot-outs and pistol-whippings follow in due course, somehow.
The art in this story is classic Jonah Hex: muddled, dark lines, dark shadows, earthy tones. And that didn’t work so well because it features two Looney Toons characters. Call me jaded, but watching a man-sized rooster with a stuttering problem get pistol-whipped to the point of passing out, and then later shooting a man point-blank in the head — while remembering this same character at best has to involve himself in a chase with a pint-sized chicken-hawk — leaves a bit of a sour taste in my mouth. Which is why the follow-up story is much more delightful, and wonderfully reminiscent of Tex Avery, Chuck Jones and Friz Freleng. What a delight it was: Yosemite Sam running into Jonah Hex again as the former is hunting a bear. From the framing, to the pacing, to the illustration, to the tone (yes! Someone must have read my essay!), everything clicked so well in this short, fun tale! My only regret is it wasn’t the main story. 2.5/5 Hootin’ Tootin’ Tarnations.
So Marvel has been touting Weapons of Mutant Destruction for a few months now and all that has been shown was a gigantic Hulk creature with “wolverine-esque” claws in a green vat and now we have the answer to what WMD was and it’s actually a pretty interesting start to what could be a great mutant storyline. Greg Pak is a fantastic writer. He became one of my favorite writers since World War Hulk and he continues to have a fantastic grasp of the Hulk, in both Banner and Cho form. Marvel is doing a great job of taking the current political climate and taking the opportunity to try and either make it a teachable moment or to try and push people to be heroes in their everyday lives.
With WMD, we find Reverend William Stryker once again coming back to try and kill all mutants, only this time he is using anti-mutant fanatics and turning them into hulked out, adamantium laced, killing machines, and while it’s a great start, I want to see more. I love his take on Weapon X, the interactions between Warpath, Domino and Sabretooth and his making Old Man Logan such a great leader, but this feels like the whole arc is just a huge itch and this first issue is just a scratch. Mahmud Asrar’s art, though, is confusing. At times it is beautiful and is almost slightly Daniel Acuna-ish and at other times tit feels slightly muddled. The colors are beautiful and if Asrar can clean up the artwork this could be a really stunning series. 3.5/5 Bibles.