Wow. Last week was a pretty terrible week for comics.
Let’s get the good out of the way: Chronicles of Wormwood: The Last Battle continues to be excellent. And to be honest, I didn’t expect such a compelling and complex discussion of relationships to come from the mouth of the Antichrist.
In Batman #693 Tony Daniel successfully proves that he should stick to penciling. His normally solid, Jim Lee-lite style is completely lost now, and his idea — that the Falcone family is moving back in on Gotham — is really strong but poorly executed, proving (surprisingly) that Jeph Loeb seems to be the only one who can pull that off.
I’ve read a bunch of relatively poor comics lately (I’m looking at you, Blackest Night Superman and Batman), but Amazing Spider-Man #611 takes the cake. This is one I was actually looking forward to, so maybe part of the problem is just me expecting too much, but I think it was the burden of putting the two funniest characters in the Marvel Universe together, the whole thing collapses on itself.
Everyone involved seems to be trying way too hard, and it shows. The first victim of this comes quickly: the recap page, a fumetti-style romp through the editorial department. WOO! That’s just one page, though. Let’s work through this.
Eric Canete’s art did nothing for me. The 2D style seems like it’s meant to emulate Skottie Young (who drew the cover), but the sketchiness looked half-finished and over-emaciated. I don’t know if there was an inker or if they went directly off the pencils, but it could have benefited from some inking or cleanup. Complicating the matter, the colorist tried adding layering and depth through the colors, which confused the art and didn’t match the style at all. If it were Carlo Pagulayan or someone who adds a lot of detail and
definition it would have worked much better than with artist with a more flat style, which tends to benefit from flatter, more straightforward colors (think Bruce Timm).
The real train wreck here, though, is the writing. Joe Kelly has been successfully writing Spider-Man for a while now, and (despite sales) had the only critically acclaimed run Deadpool has seen, but none of that seems to come through here. The jokes feel forced, especially when they stop the action to play the dozens in a playground. Adding insult to injury, Kelly and Marvel decided that Deadpool MUST use
offensive language and then put [censored] bars over the naughty words (not that I’m offended, but if it was innocent it wouldn’t have been blocked). However, they used the same faulty method DC did with
All-Star Batman and Robin, so we’re able to read about how Spider-Man’s dead mother gave Caligula a reach around. Not offensive, but not funny. (At least, not to an outside reader. I certainly understand that “Your Mama” jokes are funny when you’re playing, but that doesn’t come across here. I told Kelly his dead mother gave me a reach around and it was hilarious.)
I was really looking forward to The Gauntlet, which appears to start next issue, but ASM has used up all of the goodwill they generated with me from the excellent 600th issue. The truth of the matter is — and this has been the case since Brand New Day started and they went to three times a month — some of the story arcs/creative teams are great, and some are dogs. We used to be able to separate them out by title, but since Marvel reduced the line to one Spider-Man title, it’s getting a little harder to ferret out the good stuff.