The Sunday Pages #86

13th December 2009 | by | 1 Comment

This week: Capsule reviews of Amazing Spider-Man #614, Batgirl #5, Invincible Iron Man #21 and What If? World War Hulk!

Review: Amazing Spider-Man #614
Despite the fairly major events that occur in this issue, from the perspective of the Spider-canon (and indeed, the whole Marvel Universe) this arc has been a little underwhelming. If this is an indication of how The Gauntlet is going to be then I’m not sure I’m enthusiastic. Electro is one of those villains who has received a couple of re-imaginings over the years in lieu of any story actually worth telling with the character, and this one, like the others, hasn’t worked. The final pages offer a bit of clunky foreshadowing – “Imagine the trouble I’d be in if Spidey’s OTHER villains started levelling up!” – which suggests that there’s substantially more re-imagining yet to come. This issue is much weaker than Waid’s previous work on the series, and only Paul Azaceta’s charmingly Ditko-esque art prevents it from being a complete misfire. [JHu]

Review: Batgirl #5
This still needs to do some work to establish itself as a “must-read”, but it continues to be good fun, and fills the “enjoyable character-based young hero stories” niche the Batbooks have been lacking since Tim Drake went all emo. An appearance by the new Batman & Robin threatens to feel like a new book relying on a crutch, but actually makes sense – if Barbara’s going to be as much of a main character in the series as Steph is (and relationship-based subplot threads that begin to spin here suggest she will), then the question of Dick being under the cowl needs to be addressed; while Miller writes an amusing Damien – with one panel, at the close of an out-of-costume confrontation with Steph, actually bordering on laugh-worthy. A lively, mid-range comic, but still not quite at the same level as the likes of, say, Blue Beetle. [SP]

Review: Invincible Iron Man #21
Finally starting a new storyline has given this book a bit more energy than it had in the dying throes of “World’s Most Wanted”, but it’s still taking a bloody long time to get to its inevitable Siege-based starting point. Still, Fraction neatly juxtaposes the perfectly valid point made by Pepper (just why is Stark so special that he gets to cheat death when others don’t?) with the self-righteous tone of Tony’s voice when outlining the (enjoyably technobabbly) plans for just how he plans to succeed. It’s just a shame that the Curse of Marvel’s Lousy Timekeeping ruins, for the second time this week, the appearance of a character who by rights shouldn’t have shown up yet (actually, does this still count as a spoiler? You all know we’re talking about Steve Rogers, right? Well, you do now). [SP]

Review: What If? World War Hulk
Marvel already did a “What If? Planet Hulk” a while back that was suspiciously similar to this, but to be fair, this one’s much better. The first story delivers exactly what a “What If?” story should – it kills off virtually every Marvel Hero and the world ends. Frankly, if your What If? story doesn’t do that, you aren’t trying hard enough. The second story asks “What if Thor joined World War Hulk?” and the answer is a fairly straighforward alternate ending to World War Hulk, if slightly compressed due to the short pagecount available. It’s kind of rare, actually, to see a What If? story that suggests an ending where things arguably go much better than in the original story. Not amazing, or anything, but generally better than most of Marvel’s recent What Ifs. [JHu]