Week of Marvels 16/04/2016 – Spider-Man Comes Home, Doctor Strange is in the House, and More!

From Quicksilver’s longing for love to the first trailer for Doctor Strange, this has been a tremendous week for Marvel!

This week in Marvel Comics!

Gwenpool, Moon Knight and Avengers Alliance launch!

Not Gwenpool's Origin

Marvel certainly know how to produce some strange ideas – and Gwenpool #1 is probably the strangest I’ve read in a long time.  The character was introduced last year as a weird mash-up of Spider-Gwen and Deadpool, and Marvel evidently think the idea’s good enough to run its own book.  I admit that I’m not so sure; if I want Deadpool-style humour, I’ll just pick up Deadpool.

That said, I have to admit that Christopher Hastings’ plot is actually really enjoyable.  He plays with the concept of the character, and there’s a twist at the end of the issue that actually makes me care about what’s going to happen next.  The art is actually fairly good, with Gurihiru drawing and colouring the main story.  I won’t say this looks to be the best series ever, but it’s actually a pretty good start for a series I wasn’t interested in.

Heavy Hitters

With Contest of Champions evidently having proven successful enough, Marvel have launched another comic based around a game – this time Avengers Alliance.  Based in the reality of the game, Avengers Alliance is light on characterisation but heavy on action.  Writer Fabian Nicieza is unable to resist the opportunity to play with Marvel’s newer heroes, with Nova, Ms. Marvel and Squirrel Girl playing major roles.  The story’s division into chapters is a smart move, again resembling the game that inspired it.

Paco Diaz is excellent as an artist, and his work really shines through.  It’s a fun issue, and worth reading.

I Know What I Saw

Meanwhile, Jeff Lemire is heading up the latest incarnation of Moon Knight, and he’s clearly enjoying himself.  The concept is familiar enough – there’s a very memorable episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer that toys with a similar idea, and I remember something similar in Jason Aaron’s Weapon X run.  But this looks to have a few creative twists to it, making it a story that’s a bit more fresh and unusual.

Greg Smallwood’s art is fantastic, well-suited to the series and at times it has a wonderfully strange, almost scratchy quality to it.  He’s perfectly complemented by Jordie Bellaire’s colouring; the two make a tremendous team.  This is one book where the art truly adds to the quality of the story, meshing perfectly with the narrative.  I think this is going to be a book to follow.

A celebration of the Silver Surfer

The Surfer's Choice

Celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the Silver Surfer, Dan Slott and the Allreds have produced a seriously entertaining issue.  It explores so many key elements of the Surfer’s past – from Alicia Masters to Zenn-La itself – and weaves them into an entertaining narrative.  Surprisingly enough, it does all this by twisting the story of Zenn-La upside-down in an intriguing way that I rather suspect will annoy longer-term fans of the Silver Surfer.

That said, I’ve never seen an issue that so cleverly explores the central themes of a character’s life.  Slott craftily puts the Surfer in a place where he must once again make a choice, even though it could cost him dear.  In doing so, he reminds us of just what we love about the Silver Surfer.  Well done!

The Spider-Women Event Continues!

Spider-Women

Spider-Gwen #7 continues the “Spider-Women” event, with our three spiders trapped in Gwen’s reality.  As an aside, I remain distinctly amused by Marvel’s scrambling insistence on referring to the mainstream Marvel Universe as “Earth Prime” post-Secret Wars – writers and editors seem to pick up on it so inconsistently that they’d be wiser to drop it.  Spider-Women: Alpha accidentally referred to the mainstream timeline as “Earth-616” again, but this book doesn’t make the same mistake.

This issue is a real tour de force on Jason Latour’s part, with some absolutely inspired ideas woven into the narrative.  A particular highlight is the conversation between Spider-Woman (from our reality) and Gwen’s father, which somehow manages to give a poignant character moment to both of them at the same time.  Meanwhile, Latour uses Jessica’s presence to highlight all the off-notes between Earth-65 and the reality we know, with some amusing moments (let’s just say Tony Stark isn’t going to be building any armour in this reality).  The new Reed Richards stands out above possibly any other reimagination of the character I’ve seen.

Bengal’s art is effective, and close enough to Robbi Rodriguez’s distinctive style to not throw the issue off.  At times, though, moments just don’t feel right – the ‘wall of noise’ being one.  Still, his speciality is in the realm of facial expressions, and he displays the characters of the different Spiders so effectively.

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