Superior Spider-Man #5

Written by Dan Slott

Art by Giuseppe Camuncoli, John Dell, Edgar Delgado and Antonio Fabella

Lettering by Chris Eliopoulos

Published by Marvel Comics

Review by: David Pepose

'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10

There's a decently smart hook in Dan Slott's Superior Spider-Man #5: corporate-sponsored carnage. With that backdrop, Slott adds a subtle new layer to his fairly flat supervillain Massacre, and gives Otto Octavius and Peter Parker an interesting new dilemma to wrestle with.

Last time Peter Parker squared off against Massacre, the theme was "no one dies." But with Otto Octavius — an unrepentant killer — behind the wheel, what happens next? Dan Slott delivers a punchy finale to a tautly constructed issue, but also leavens the mix by adding in a lot of human moments here. Otto not only is upgrading his tech in a Dark Knight sort of way (and actually cooperating with the police in a way that Peter never thought to do), but he actually is starting to develop a supporting cast of his own. Slott continues to find new angles to play off for irony, and even the small beats are fun to mine for die-hard Spider-fans.

And Giuseppe Camuncoli. Man, that dude is the real deal. I love the dead look in Massacre's eyes as he stares down the room like a predator. I love the way that Spidey's eyes light up as Uatu Jackson downloads facial recognition software into his new lenses. And the way that Otto moves menacingly towards Massacre, after a kinetic action sequence that incorporates not just hero and villain, but multiple bystanders, too? Camuncoli has a sketchy style that feels like John Romita Sr. with a shot of Joe Mad, and it's intoxicating. And the fact that the central conceit of this book features two Spideys swinging around means we actually get to see twice the expressiveness and dynamic choreography. Just awesome.

That said, where this book fails is the dismount. This is likely a stylistic choice on Slott's part, to not show exactly what Otto's choice was. We've already seen Peter stay Otto's hand once, but Slott actually robs us of some of the catharsis by making us wait. Considering the story as a whole, that might pay some nice dividends, but as far as a single issue goes, it definitely knocks the wind out of an otherwise Superior comic.


Detective Comics #18

Written by John Layman

Art by Jason Fabok and Jeromy Cox

Lettering by Jared K. Fletcher

Published by DC Comics

Review by David Pepose

'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10

At first glance, it's somewhat hard to be generous to Detective Comics #18. With "Requiem" plastered across its cover, you'd probably expect a Robin-centric issue, and that's not at all what John Layman and company deliver here.

But then you realize that Layman isn't just pulled in one direction — he's pulled in three. Forced to thread the needle between "Death of the Family," Batman Incorporated and his own running subplots in Detective, this book is actually a miracle it's so solid. So while as a tie-in to a big Bat-event Detective Comics #18 is kind of a bust, it still remains a consistent read.

Jumping from the end of "Death of the Family," John Layman is finally able to pull the threads tight for his long game: the fall of the Penguin. Coerced by the Joker into aiding his plans, Oswald Cobblepot is learning the hard way that a nest neglected is a nest easily usurped, thanks to one enterprising former underling. Yet for all this build-up, I can't say that Layman sticks the landing here, even with the Al Capone-style twist at the end. But Layman's quick pacing still gives his book plenty of heft, bouncing between Batman, a quick few references to the late Damian Wayne, the escape of Victor Zsasz, and the two Penguins going toe to flippered toe.

Yet all that ambition also leaves a lot of disappointment when it doesn't all stack up. The death of Damian Wayne is supposed to be a huge moment in Batman's life, yet he gets exactly two mentions in the entire script. It feels like an abrupt tack-on rather than something that would change Bruce's entire outlook — this issue feels very business as usual, down to Batman doing routine investigations in a zoo. What happened to the pathos? What happened to the rage? The most intense image is the cover, but it winds up telling a different story than the pages underneath.

The art remains strong, however. Jason Fabok brings a no-nonsense muscularity to his characters, which works great when you see Batman leaping through skylights or looming towards the Penguin. Fabok inks himself and looks great doing it, with a lush style that values clean spaces but still can use shadows when called for, particularly around Batman's face. Yet the script actually calls for a lot of screen time with the Penguin, which does keep Fabok from his strengths (like Batman himself, it's almost weird to see him do daylight scenes).

They say any landing you can walk away from is a good landing, and when you consider the kinds of directions John Layman was being pulled, it's amazing this book reads as well as it does. Detective Comics remains one of the best-written books DC Comics publishes today, in spite of it being in the shadow of its more-publicized sister titles. While this book doesn't quite deliver on its promise, there's a lot to like about this solidly constructed comic.

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