Comics of the week reviewed for 11 July (Wired UK)


Spider-Man 2099
#1
Spider-Man 2099
#1

The Spider-Man of tomorrow – today!

©
2014 Marvel Characters Inc


Having taken over movies, television and
animation, comics have never been cooler. Now, Wired.co.uk picks
out the best and worst of the week’s titles for your reading
pleasure.

This week, it’s all fresh starts. Marvel brings us the
adventures of the webslinger of the future in Spider-Man
2099 #1
, DC revamps Bat-sidekick Nightwing into a
globe-trotting superspy in Grayson #1, and Dynamite
reboots the eponymous 90s vampire-killing bad-girl in Chastity
#1
.

Spider-Man 2099 #1, Marvel 

Spider-Man
2099
first appeared in 1992, the first of a whole wave of
titles focussed on the successors to the Marvel heroes of today.
Created by writer Peter David and artist Rick Leonardi, Spidey –
real name Miguel O’Hara, a geneticist who gained his powers after
being caught in an act of industrial sabotage — was the most
popular by far, remaining a fan favourite over the past two
decades. Here, David returns to his creation with Will Sliney on
art, picking up with the character stranded in the present day
following events in the recent issues of Superior
Spider-Man
and Amazing Spider-Man.

Essentially, that’s all you need to know, too — Spider-Man of
the future, trapped in the present, making the book remarkably
accessible even to readers who’ve never encountered the character
before. Aided by Lyla, an AI program from the future, O’Hara has
made it his mission in the present to change the nature of the
Alchemax corporation for the better, hoping to improve the ethics
of the business by his own time. This opening issue establishes his
gambit, cleverly doubling up on secret identities to work at
Alchemax as “Mike O’Mara”, an assistant to his own biological
grandfather.

Sliney’s art is solid, but a bit too heavily inked, though
action pages do impress. His attention to detail on character
expressions is also great, something too many comics artists
overlook. David writes O’Hara without skipping a beat, the
character’s snarkiness and sarcasm well-practised even after a
lengthy time away. There are some troubling moments in the story
though, which sees a timecop from 2211 trying to erase Spider-Man
2099 from existence to avoid contamination of the timeline.
O’Hara’s solution is alarmingly fatal, and he seems surprisingly
nonchalant about it. Now, O’Hara is a darker
personality than Peter Parker, more talkative out of costume than
in it and nowhere near as likely to crack jokes, but his actions
seem a little too dark here. David, as both creator of the
character and an extremely talented writer known for his long-game
plans, earns the benefit of the doubt though. Even so, hopefully a
willingness to kill won’t become this Spidey’s calling card.

Otherwise this is a strong first issue, and relatively
lighthearted (murderous moments aside). Where a lot of Marvel’s
recent series have launched as part of a big event, Spider-Man
2099
is refreshing in feeling like a character and story
driven title. There aren’t any massive, universe shaking
implications, just a solid story introducing a solid concept, an
interesting supporting cast, and some personal stakes to carry the
series forward.

Grayson #1,
DC
 


Grayson
#1
Grayson
#1

Batman’s protégé strikes out, abandoning the
Nightwing identity for a secret mission

© 2014 DC
Comics


Following the character’s blip of death in DC’s Forever
Evil
crossover, Dick Grayson — Batman’s original Robin –
moves from his role as the independent hero Nightwing to a superspy
for the secret organisation Spyral. Operating under the codename
Agent 37 and partnered with a revamped Helena
Bertinelli
, known as the Huntress before DC’s New 52 reboot,
this initial outing is a classic romp through eastern Europe to
track down a bomb. In a world of super powers and weird science
though, the bomb is a hapless Russian man who’s unwittingly been
turned into a radioactive IED.

Although it’s a tonal shift to take Nightwing and place him in a
Bond-esque setting, complete with hitech gadgets and disguises,
writers Tim Seeley and Tom King do keep the action close to the
costumed part of the DC Universe. A conflict with former Authority
hero Midnighter
(hilariously described as a “black ops fetish man” — worth the
cover price alone, that) offers the requisite amount of superheroic
beatdowns for the issue, while Spyral’s ambitions are revealed to
have a world-changing impact on the hero community.

Grayson — the character as well as the book — is playing a
double bluff though. Dick is still working for Batman,
investigating Spyral behind the scenes, and even as the book
repositions him physically away from the capes and cowl crowd, he
still feels like the character readers know. Seeley and King
deliver a Dick Grayson whose personality remains true to previous
appearance — showy, athletic, driven and full of integrity — even
if the spy genre as a whole feels an ill fit for him. Their
Bertinelli is odd though, similar to the pre-boot version of the
character in name only. Her personality is much harsher, and she
remains, at present, a loyal devotee of Spyral. Having the pair
based out of a finishing school is, however, a nice nod to the
original Bertinelli’s civilian career as a teacher.

Artist Mikel Janín plays beautifully with the comic form, with
single actions extending across panels and, therefore, across time
as the characters experience it. It’s the kind of artistry you can
only really get away with in serial storytelling, and it works
incredibly well here. Ultimately, Grayson doesn’t feel
like a long-term role for the character though, but rather the
beginning of a lengthy story with a defined end. It may only be a
matter of time until Dick returns to the Nightwing role –
hopefully in the classic blue costume rather than the New 52 red
one, when it happens — but in the meantime this book offers an
entertaining diversion with fantastic art.

Chastity #1,
Dynamite
 


Chastity
#1
Chastity
#1

’90s bad girl Chastity gets an update that adds
character to her blood-soaked adventures

© Dynamite
Comics


Chastity
is both a guilty pleasure and a huge surprise. Launched as part of
the horror-themed company Chaos! Comics’ output in the 90s, the
character has had a couple of reboots over the years, but writer
Marc Andreyko and artist Dave Acosta’s latest may be the best
yet.

Set in the 80s, before the world was taken over by smartphones
and tech, the creators deliver a story that’s equally a love letter
to slasher flicks and vampire fiction and a smart pastiche of them.
Chastity Marks is a teenage Olympic gymnast hopeful whose dreams
are crushed after an injury. Drowning in books while she recovers,
she becomes a fan of the Blood Rose series of novels –
until she meets the author and discovers first hand she’s an actual
vampire. With Chastity’s family murdered and the title heroine left
for dead, the issue ends on a downbeat but dramatic point.

Unlike previous takes on Chastity, this is far more
character-focussed, establishing both the title character and her
family long before moving her into her role as a vampiric assassin
in her own right. The very nature of the book in all its
incarnations is delightfully schlocky, but having a bit more depth
really helps. However, Andreyko’s script is weirdly anachronistic.
With the story taking place in 1985, references to Harry
Potter
and Twilight are wildly ahead of their time.
However, the issue is narrated in retrospect by Chastity herself,
recounting her “origin” — a later time skip to the present day
could explain these inconsistencies.

Acosta’s art could be sharper, particularly with regards to
inking. Some panels and pages seem to have been coloured directly
over pencils, others inconsistently inked, other still heavily so.
There needs to be more visual consistency for this to really work,
even if his depictions of vampires are refreshingly grotesque and
horrifying.

A more human touch to the cult-favourite character, and
interesting enough to warrant a few more issues’ attention at
least, but one that needs its fangs sharpening before it has real
bite.

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Source: wired.co.uk
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