Best Comics in July Part 1: Adam West Returns as Batman!
Each month the staff at 8th Dimension Comics selects the best titles for us to review. It was a good month, so tune in tomorrow for part 2!
The Superior Foes of Spider-Man #1: Soooo... Otto Octavius has taken over the body of Peter Parker and has now become Spider-Man. It sounds stupid, but it's actually a really welcome change that has invigorated the character a great deal. I'm enjoying it.
Not that it matters much in this run. Now we have the new Sinister Six, and boy are they a piece of work. Organized by Boomerang, you're dealing with some of the bottom dregs of Spidey's rogues gallery, and Spidey already has a pretty low bar for who will take him on.
Nonetheless, like Hawkeye and Daredevil lately the title is really good at showing what life would actually be like for underpowered minor "heroes" and "villains" in the real world. Fred Myers as Boomerang is a two-bit low-life unable to stay out of trouble for any length of time. He constantly cons his friends, screws up everything he touches, and all he really brings to the table is a superior throwing ability. Collectively, these titles form almost a modern Watchmen, and rather than another huge Battle of the Gods sort of thing, I would love to see the regular Joes go to war in a crossover.
Rating: 8 of 10
Flashback 5 '80s TV Shows That Need Comics
Red Sonja #1: Gail Simone is on fire lately, keeping up with Batgirl and writing the new Tomb Raider comic as well as tackling the one and only Red Sonja. As far as savage maiden stories go, Simone brings her tell-tell strength to the famous barbarian, infusing her with a grim determination that wins you allegiance to her instantly.
The first outing is more formality than anything, showing of Sonja's rescue from a dungeon by a kind king who then begs her help to prepare the last of his plague-ridden people for battle. Sonja's a little one-dimensional at times, but is every inch a hero.
Though luscious, I'm not sure I'm all that big a fan of Walter Geovani's art. Sonja comes across just a wee bit to sex kitten-y in her chainmail outfit, and he doesn't seem to have the stomach for the blood scenes. His best work is capturing the sad nobility of King Dimath, whose justice is so tempered with mercy and finality.
Rating: 7 of 10
Hawkeye Annual #1: Last month we followed Hawkeye's dog Lucky as he meandered through his dog life with the king of all screw up super heroes. This time, it's his protégé Kate Bishop's turn. Unwilling to watch Clint Barton continue to flush his life down the toilet she takes Lucky off to California for a new start.
Unfortunately, Kate really hasn't had any experience out in the real world apart from under Hawkeye's wing or her father's money. She immediately runs into a murderous Madame Masque looking to spend a couple of evenings putting cigarettes out on Kate's face, and orchestrates a quick explosion of her entire life to set it up.
As I mentioned with the new Sinister Six up there this is yet another example of the amazing realism that Marvel brings to its more human heroes lately, making them read a bit more like soap operas but once again engaging us with characters that we can more identify with. Sure, a lot of it caters to a more mature crowd, people stuck in adulthood wondering what life would've been like fighting crime, but that's a generation that needs heroes too!
Rating: 8 of 10
Quantum and Woody #1: OK, so once upon a time there was a brilliant but tyrannical comic book editor named Jim Shooter who went off to start his own comic company, Valiant. Even though he was a genius, the people who worked for him hated his guts because he lived by the credo publish or die. Eventually his partner and lawyer, who were sleeping together, cut him out of Valiant, gutted it, and left all it's intellectual property lying on a shelf.
Then in 2005 a group of entrepreneurs picked up the properties and now we're finally seeing them come back to life. This month saw the re-debut of Quantum and Woody, written by James Asmus. It follows Eric and Woody Henderson, two estranged foster bothers brought together at their dad's funeral. The two cannot be more different. Eric is a successful military man, while Woody is a light-hearted grifter.
They unite when it becomes clear that their scientist father was actually murdered, and in the course of their investigations are bathed in some sort of energy beam that gives them as yet undisclosed superpowers. The book is an amazing work of family fiction, that is more about what it means to be connected two people you don't particularly like as much as the hidden evil at the center of the story. Brilliant stuff!
Rating: 9 of 10
Batman '66 #1: I didn't know this, but apparently DC has been trying to get the rights to use the Adam West TV Batman likenesses for years. Well, they finally did and Jeff Parker and Jonathan Case do an incredible job bringing the magic of the '60s back to life perfectly.
In the opening adventure Riddler is set on stealing a priceless work of puzzle art, and earns the wrath of not only the dynamic duo, but Catwoman as well. The ensuing caper calls upon just enough of the modern story-telling sensibilities to take the edge off the traditional corniness. The result is really engaging and amazing.
It's all there. Burt Ward's gee golly innocence, West's father-knows-best style, the rope climbing jokes (Dracula compliments Batman on his taste in capes), puns, Irish cops, the works. I don't know how long they can keep this up, but retro Batman has some really one-of-a-kind moments that offer a nice break from the grimness of Scott Snyder's current run on the series.
Rating: 9 of 10
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