Best Shots Advance Reviews


Avenging Spider-Man #1

Written by Zeb Wells

Art by Joe Madureira and Ferran Daniel

Lettering by Joe Caramagna

Published by Marvel Comics

Review by David Pepose

'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10

Click here for preview

There's pretty much two kinds of comic readers out there — the ones who appreciate watching Joe Madureira draw the hell out Spider-Man, and the ones who have no idea who Joe Mad is. Pity the latter, because it's a true pleasure to see the former Uncanny X-Men wunderkind tackle such a fluid, graceful character. This is the kind of book that is easy math: Spidey + relentless action + one spectacular artist = pure comic book fun to the Nth degree.

I remember when this book was first announced, and thinking to myself: "Man, me as a 10 year old must be doing kickflips right now." Joe Mad isn't just iconic because of his muscular, cartoony style, but because of the panache he has with his composition — just the first page alone has exactly the kind of swagger you want your introduction to have, moving from those iconic lensed-eyes to a one-two punch to Spidey literally jumping on an AIM soldier's chest, knocking out half a dozen guys all around him. There has been some evolution to his style, to be sure — Joe's working sans inker in this book, and there is a scratchiness to his lines that, at least in my opinion, might have looked a little more fluid with a lush inker. But as is evident in images like the book's giant beasts made out of teeth and muscle, to paraphrase the philosopher Will Smith, he makes this look good.

And in that regard, Zeb Wells knows his mission: he's got to give the Mad machine something awesome to draw. Getting extra points for a timely NYC story, Wells has embraced this new generation of Marvel Team-Up, and puts his foot on the gas immediately — get your character development elsewhere, this is about Spider-Man and Red Hulk getting thrown into as many crowds of nameless monsters and terrorists and being able to just go to town. I've said it before, but one of Wells' greatest skills is his ability to pace and choreograph fight sequences, giving each beat a real rhythm and charisma. What you might not know, if you missed early work like "I was a Teenage Frogman," is that Wells is also a funny guy — it's nice to see him be able to use a little bit of his Robot Chicken skills here on the comics page, particularly with a funny one-liner about another famous character the Red Hulk looks like.

So what keeps this book from perfection? The first thing, cliché as it might be, is that I thought Avenging Spider-Man ended just a little too soon — we've got action, we've got setup, we've got the twist, but man I wish this could have been expanded beyond a standard 22-page opener, just to give Mad and Wells some more room to maneuver. The other thing — Mad's self-inking — also gave a slightly washed-out feeling to the book, particularly with Ferran Daniel's digital colors: there were certain pages that almost had a Greg Capullo-style look, which is fine if you're most artists, but this is Joe Madureira, you don't want him to look like anybody else. And finally, there is one off-color joke that Wells put in here that even made my eyebrows raise up — I'm not one for political correctness in my comics, but it's something that probably should have been cut in the editorial process a long while back.

In a lot of ways, however, Avenging Spider-Man really brings me back to the reasons I began reading comics in the first place, before I started paying attention to things like theme and characterization and wanting stories to mean something underneath — sometimes all the meaning you need is Spider-Man punching the tar out of an AIM scientist. Ninety-nine percent of the time, however, the art isn't enough to push a comic by pure spectacle anymore — but I think Joe Madureira is an artist who's built to showcase superheroes in their natural, action-packed environment. Even with some bite-size pacing, this is a pure popcorn comic, and I can't wait for Issue #2.


Magneto: Not A Hero #1

Written by Skottie Young

Art by Clay Mann, Seth Mann, Norman Lee and David Curiel

Lettering by Chris Eliopoulos

Published by Marvel Comics

Review by David Pepose

'Rama Rating: 6 out of 10

Click here for preview

Is Magneto a good guy now? Maybe not, but he gets the job done.

With artist Skottie Young taking on writing duties and teaming up with Clay Mann, Magneto: Not A Hero #1 is definitely driven by its visuals, even if the plot itself feels a little less than magnetic. There are some seams showing in this book, make no mistake — seams that, to be honest, could and should have been ironed out with the book's editors — but because Mann has such a classic, muscular style, the production values are enough to keep Magneto flying.

It's to this book's credit that the action starts off early, giving Mann a chance to strut his stuff. His artwork is very reminiscent of Olivier Coipel, with his characters being very blocky and thick, but what I think a lot of people overlook in his art is his sense of the dramatic. Seeing Magneto walk into a room of anti-mutant supremacists and glower absolutely radiates menace, with only one eye shining underneath the shadows of his helmet. And something else that Mann does that few artists are able to emulate is that he's able to make his small panels effective — there's a thin letterbox at the bottom of one page where Magneto exercises his power, and even though we can't see every detail of every character, we get enough of the broad strokes to know exactly what's happened.

This works to Skottie Young's advantage, as he's able to work with a gifted artist and really create a nice jam session of choreography. There is definitely some roughness to Young's script, of course — things like Captain America and Iron Man talking about "safe words" or Magneto snarking about "the Invincible Rubber Man" seem a little jarring, and the overall twist to this story requires some advanced degrees in X-Men continuity, something that's a bit of an automatic turn-off to me. Yet there are some nice moments here, when Young and Mann are called to show Magneto's power rather than just talk about it. It's clear these guys are visual thinkers, and when this book rides on that, it really picks up.

Like Magneto himself, this book is a bit flawed, but with no small amount of power underneath the hood. Right now, we have a story that we've probably seen before, with a case of mistaken identity turning into a full-on mystery manhunt. I do think a lot of people are going to be confused once they hit the last page, but in terms of pacing and convention, the execution at least makes sense. I'm not all the way convinced about Magneto: Not A Hero, but the strength of Mann's artwork gives me at least some pause to give this antihero a second chance. 

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