Best Shots Reviews: SPIDER-GEDDON #1, WONDER WOMAN #56

DC Comics October 2018 solicitations
Credit: DC Entertainment
Credit: Marvel Comics

Spider-Geddon #1
Written by Christos Gage and Dan Slott
Art by Jorge Molina and David Curiel
Lettering by Travis Lanham
Published by Marvel Comics
Review by David Pepose
‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10

With Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse hitting theaters this Christmas, it feels like the time is right for Marvel’s comics division to tap into that web-slinging well once more with Spider-Geddon #1. Working off of a story from Dan Slott, writer Christos Gage doesn’t waste time trying to build portentous drama, but instead delivers a fast-paced action extravaganza that basks in the excitement of Spider-Men teaming up from across the multiverse. Combined with some slick artwork from artist Jorge Molina, and Spider-Geddon #1 makes for an engaging and effective start to this new Spider-event.

In certain ways, Spider-Geddon feels like it has more than a few connective threads with the current Extermination X-Men event — both feature sprawling casts delving into kinetic combat rather than suffocating set-up, with implacable enemies who aren’t afraid to draw a body count. In the case of the Spider-Man universe, however, there’s a much more stable foundation for Gage to work with — characters like Miles Morales, Otto Octavius, and Gwen Stacy have all had stellar runs to jump from, and Gage is able to introduce their shared history with a breeziness that feels inviting rather than self-conscious.

Miles, for example, gets a terrific introduction as he single-handedly squares off against a squad of Vulturions — Otto, meanwhile, continues to be a breath of fresh air as he employs lateral thinking to disarm the overpowered Count Nefaria. (And for those following Gage’s work on The Superior Octopus, Otto’s seemingly foolproof new status quo winds up kickstarting this series in a major way.) But even the Spiders that aren’t getting front-and-center treatment, like Spider-UK, get just enough attention that we’re able to follow who they are and how they fit in this team — for a group of Web-Warriors that all share the same power set, it speaks to Gage’s team-building skills that each hero has their own unique feel and dynamic.

Penciling and inking himself, Jorge Molina comes out swinging with this debut, as well. There are shades of Stuart Immonen in the way that Molina portrays motion, while also paying homage to the work Olivier Coipel and Guiseppe Camuncoli did in the original Spider-Verse crossover — similar to Gage’s knack for mining characterization out of similar characters, Molina experiments with a variety of heights, shapes and body language to make each Spider-character feel unique. While Molina’s introduction to Miles Morales hits all the right notes in terms of how fast and agile the character is, his take on Otto Octavius really steals the show — not only does Molina sell Otto’s new costume spectacularly, but the way he incorporates classic Spider-Man poses with the fluidity of Otto’s cybernetic tentacles is really striking stuff. Colorist David Curiel deserves plenty of praise as well, lending plenty of mood to the book without being heavy-handed, or draining any of these heroes of their natural color.

It would be easy to be skeptical about a sequel to Spider-Verse, an event book that hasn’t even hit its fourth anniversary yet — but it’s a testament to Gage and Molina that they’re able to take this premise and deliver another fun story out of it. While the themes for this book aren’t necessarily the deepest, even with the casualties that inevitably arise when Morlun and the Inheritors strike, there’s a certain zing that this creative team rides, knowing full well the fan-service that comes from crossovers like this. Spider-Geddon is a book that isn’t afraid or ashamed of what it is — instead, it reaches to be the best popcorn adventure story it can possibly be, and if this debut is any indication, it might very well succeed.
 

Credit: DC Entertainment

Wonder Woman #56
Written by James Tynion IV
Art by Emanuela Lupacchino, Ray McCarthy and Romulo Fajardo, Jr.
Lettering by Dave Sharpe
Published by DC Comics
Review by Pierce Lydon
‘Rama Rating: 7 out of 10

James Tynion IV’s spooky Halloween crossover “The Witching Hour” continues here, and it’s clear just how comfortable the writer is with this cast. There’s an underlying confidence in Tynion’s script that helps emphasizes the character interactions that carry the story. And while the machinations of Tynion’s magical plot might still feel a bit over some readers’ heads, Emanuela Lupacchino’s art is absolutely gorgeous. Her work alone is worth the price of admission.

The magical corner of the DCU is a vast and sometimes unwieldy thing, but Tynion seems to have a good handle on it. What comes through in “The Witching Hour” is the writer’s penchant for putting together a team that seems a bit off the wall at first glance but gels fairly quickly. There’s a familiar center here as Zatanna and Constantine anchor a lot of reader expectations in terms of stakes, but Tynion does a really great job of making Wonder Woman, a character who often can feel a bit distant from the audience, our point-of-view character. While Diana’s background has certainly always had a bit of magic to it, she’s being thrust into the deep end and taking us along with her. And having a character as strong-willed as Wonder Woman really pushes the team in interesting directions. It’s an odd dynamic for the book — not much really happens on the page, but the character interactions are still propulsive.

Emanuela Lupacchino is doing everything in her power to help Tynion out, and her work is part of why this book is such a fun read. Acting is so important in comics, relying on subtle facial expression-work and body language to communicate important details about the relationships we see on the page. Seeing Zatanna stand up to Diana or Circe’s knowing smirk adds an extra layer to the text on the page. Lupacchino’s characters come alive here, and that’s exactly what this book needs — this is an issue with a lot of exposition and a lot of narration, and while that doesn’t leave Lupacchino a lot of room to be as dynamic as she’s fully capable of, she still turns in a solid effort.

“The Witching Hour” has been an intriguing story so far, playing both to the strengths of Tynion but also all of the artists involved. It still feels like it needs another issue to really get going, but it’s impossible not to like what Lupacchino is doing here, not to mention the team of oddballs that Tynion has assembled. It’s also great timing, given the Halloween season, for a story that’s just outside the superheroic expectations of the DCU. Hopefully as the story moves forward, the plot will come into a bit better focus, but fans looking for more horror/supernatural-tinged work should be eating this one up.

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