Graphic Novel Thoughts

Over the weekend, I read through some comic book collections and graphic novels.  Here’s a few thoughts.

Spider-Man: The Gauntlet, Vol. 2: Rhino & MysterioSpider-Man: The Gauntlet, Vol. 2: Rhino & Mysterio by Joe Kelly

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’ve been reading Spider-Man off and on since I discovered the character on the Electric Company. It’s a lot easier (and more affordable) these days to just keep up with the character by checking these collections of various story arcs out of the library.

But as with classic “Doctor Who” serials I have to consistently remind myself that these stories weren’t meant to be read in one big gulp, but instead were meant to be read with a bit of time to allow the stories to breath in between.

The current storyline finds a host of Spidey’s famous foes coming back to haunt him, just as his life as Peter Parker is going to hell in a handbasket. This one features the return of two of what I’d call the second-tier of Spidey villians, the Rhino and Mysterio. Of the two storylines, the Rhino story is the far more affecting and interesting. The Myesterio one seems like it’s working too hard to set some things up for the longer story arc with various mobsters plotting to take over the underworld of New York and fighting for territory.

And while the storylines themselves are good, the artwork is frustrating at times. It changes so much from issue to issue. Again, I grew up on reprints of the early days of the comic and during a time when the art work went for a more realistic tone and look. The current look of many Spidey comics leaves me cold and this collection has a couple of exceptions. I know artists want to put their mark on things, but it’d still be nice of characters are consistently drawn from issue to issue.

Spider-Man: The Gauntlet Book 3 - Vulture & MorbiusSpider-Man: The Gauntlet Book 3 – Vulture & Morbius by Greg Weisman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Clearly I’ve missed a few issues in the grand scheme of the Spider-Man universe. At what point to the Vulture go from being an old guy who could fly to some kind of new acid-spewing guy? It seems like this was done just for the gross-out factor. But maybe I’m not the target audience for these stories.

Continuing the storyline of “The Gauntlet”, Spidey faces the new look (and spewing) Vulture and his old foe Morbius. Neither story is exactly that impressive and I can’t imagine the old team of Lee and Ditko coming up with something like this.

What does work is Peter Parker’s latest personal turmoil. He’s dating Black Cat as Spidey and apparently alienating a lot of the women in his life. It’s interesting to see how Pete’s having to run off to be Spidey is perceived by various women in his life (one realizes he’s just using her..and while Pete is fairly aware of this, he doesn’t realize how deep the hurt goes). And then, Pete makes a mistake to help his boss, J. Jonah Jameson and it ends up costing him his job with the city and possibly his professional reputation. Given how Pete’s burned some bridges professionally, this could be an interesting development in future installments.

But my main issue with this series is the wildly inconsistent artwork. Take me back to Ditko or John Romita’s glory days please!

Dr. Horrible and Other Horrible Stories (TPB)Dr. Horrible and Other Horrible Stories by Zack Whedon

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

If you like “Dr Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog” (and how could you not?!?), you’ll enjoy this collection of stories about various characters before the events of epic web series.

The most interesting story is that origin story for Moist. A relatively minor character in the original story, the story is quick, to the point and poignant. The story about Bad Horse is less amusing than it could have been, but still ends on a solid enough joke.

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