Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 12/29/12
After last week’s tsunami of comics, both Marvel and DC decided to take it easy during Christmas. Marvel has only delivered The Amazing Spider-Man #700 (and a side issue that I didn’t read), while DC only put out Justice League and Aquaman, kicking off their big Throne of Atlantis storyline. So I’m definitely excited to say that this week’s comics were all pretty damn awesome. I’ve already written at length about my reaction to the big revelation in The Amazing Spider-Man #700, so now I’m just going to review the comic itself – which earns the coveted Comic Book of the Week!
Not that Aquaman and the gang over at DC Comics don’t have some fun this week too.
Comic Reviews: Amazing Spider-Man #700, Justice League #15, and Aquaman #15.
WARNING: Full SPOILERS to follow!
Amazing Spider-Man #700
Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Humberto Ramos
Here it is, the big event! Dan Slott’s masterpiece! Does it live up to the hype? Yeah, I think so. My initial guesses for what would happen in this issue were totally off. And I’ve already written about the big surprise. To reiterate, I’m just not all that hyped to read about Doctor Octopus using Peter Parker’s corpse like a meat puppet, even if he’s going to be a hero. I see potential in the story, and I’ll definitely pick up a few issues of Superior Spider-Man, but I am not all that interested Doc Ock pretending to be Peter Parker. It’s just too creepy, and it robs Doc Ock of any real growth as a character. If he continues the Peter Parker ruse, then he can only go so far in terms of personal character growth. He’ll always be judged as Peter Parker. But we’ll see what happens. As for this issue itself, it’s a winner.
Now that he’s in the body of a young virile Peter Parker, the normally old, chubby and dweeby Otto Octavius plans to take full advantage by sleeping with Peter’s super model ex-girlfriend Mary Jane Watson. But before he can seal the deal, they see the news that the ailing Doc Ock has broken out of prison! So Otto rushes off…to the airport, to buy a round-trip ticket to Belgium so that he’ll be impossible to reach while his body (and the real Peter Parker) die. Clever Otto.
Meanwhile, Peter is in a race against time to catch up to Otto and get his body back. Using Scorpion, Hydro-Man and the Trapster, Peter breaks into NYPD headquarters to steal the gold Octo-bot, which switched their brainwaves in the first place. He tries to convince ex-girlfriend Carlie Cooper that he’s really Peter, but she doesn’t believe him, and gets hurt as he escapes. Peter’s efforts to use the Octo-bot to switch his mind back are foiled when Otto decides not to run, but to face Peter head-on. And for the rest of the issue, Otto stays a few steps ahead of Peter, using his own intellect and knowledge to cut off Peter at every pass. Otto sends the police to his secret hideout, where Peter is hiding. He traps all of Peter’s friends and family in Avengers Tower (on the pretense that they’ll be safe from the dying Doctor Octopus), and launches all of his remaining giant Octo-bots to attack around the globe to keep the Avengers busy and out of his way.
It all comes down to a final battle between Peter and Otto (still in each other’s bodies) at Avengers Tower. Being trapped in the villain’s body is starting to take its toll on Peter, both physically and mentally. When Otto continues to outsmart him, Peter grabs Otto and plunges them out of the window, intending to kill them both – only for Otto to once again outsmart him by thinking up a clever new use for webbing. Peter tries to use the golden Octo-bot, but Otto thought ahead and covered the back of his neck in impenetrable metal plating. He’s thought of everything, and Peter can do nothing!
But in one last desperate stab of hope, Peter uses the neural connection between the two of them to start replaying all of his memories as Spider-Man. He forces Otto to relive all of the great character-building moments from Spider-Man’s past, from the deaths of Uncle Ben and Gwen Stacy to that time he lifted all that heavy metal to save Aunt May. Doc Ock gets a crash course in “Power and Responsibility”, and in the end, he promises the dying Peter and he will be a hero and protect his loved ones. And so Peter Parker dies, content in the knowledge that he has passed on the responsibility of Spider-Man. Otto stands over the body of his foe and promises that not only will he be a good Spider-Man, but he will be a “Superior Spider-Man” to Peter Parker!
Comic rating: 5/5: Great.
Simply put, this is an awesome, exciting comic. If we put aside the big surprise ending, everything that comes before is absolutely riveting. I didn’t have the ending spoiled for me, so I didn’t know how it was going to end. And I definitely didn’t expect Peter to just die and Doc Ock to win. So it was very exciting to see Peter try again and again to come up with a winning plan. Slott definitely had the throttle pushed to full. Couple that with Otto always been three steps ahead of Peter, and that just ratcheted up the tension even more! This story was electric in its energy, and Ramos turned in some of his finest work. I have always been a fan of Ramos, and he was marvelous as he drew this major issue. So all around, a totally exciting issue of Amazing Spider-Man – let’s hope it wasn’t all for nothing.
Justice League #15
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Ivan Reis
So how does DC compete with such a momentous Spider-Man moment? By launching the first two parts of their next big Throne of Atlantis storyline! Geoff Johns is one of the best writers working in comic books today, and his Aquaman has been one of the true standout gems of the DCnU reboot (though I’ve been less than thrilled with his work on Justice League). So I’m excited to see Johns delivering a big, contained crossover between two of his comics. I am definitely in favor of anything that puts more positive focus on Aquaman.
In the Mid-Atlantic, a U.S. aircraft carrier is sabotaged, and it’s missile barrage is accidentally launched to the ocean floor, hitting Atlantis. Aquaman’s step-brother Orm, the King of Atlantis, witnesses the missile strike and launches a retaliatory attack on the surface world! It starts with a wall of tidal waves striking all the major cities along the East Coast. The various members of the League just so happen to be in those cities. Superman and Wonder Woman are on an incognito date (with Superman revealing his secret identity) in Metropolis, and Batman is fighting some bad guys in Gotham City. Aquaman and Mera find Batman to tell him about some ominous fish movements, but it’s not in time to stop the tidal waves. The heroes then do what they can to try and help people. And Aquaman reveals that Orm is following the Atlantean War Plans, which Aquaman himself wrote.
Comic rating: 4/5: Good!
Awesome start to the crossover, with some absolutely fantastic art by Reis. We’re talking ‘Bryan Hitch on Ultimates’ quality art, and that is high praise indeed. There is a two-page splash of the tidal wave hitting Metropolis with the aircraft carrier sticking out of the wave that is absolutely breath-taking. And Reis does such a great job with the smaller scenes as well, especially the date between Clark and Diana as they blend in among regular folk. That scene was a real standout. I’ve often felt there was a certain disconnect with Johns’ Justice League book, a feeling that the characters were just brand identities instead of actual characters. That is starting to change thanks to some really strong character moments in this issue, though it’s not gone for good. Aquaman feels the most natural, but that’s probably because Johns has been writing him all along. Great start to the crossover.
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Paul Pelletier
And this is a great continuation to the crossover. Reis hands over the art chores to Pelletier, who does a pretty good job as well. The art style is definitely consistent, so that helps to keep the story flowing. Other than that, Johns continues to nail the smaller scale character moments, including a standout conversation between Batman and Aquaman. Seriously, DC is off to a great start with this crossover, and hitting us with the first two chapters on the same day was a very good idea.
As the heroes recover from the tidal wave attack, they try to help as many people as they can. In Metropolis, Superman and Wonder Woman meet Vulko, one of Aquaman’s oldest Atlantean friends. He says he needs to find Aquaman. In Gotham City, Batman and Aquaman save Commissioner Gordon, then hop into the Batplane to join the other Leaguers. The two discuss what Atlantis will do next (a land invasion), while Batman pushes Aquaman to reveal more about his time as King of Atlantis, and how he felt a disconnect with the surface world. Their chat is interrupted by an attack on the Batplane.
The heroes eventually get together and Aquaman reunites with Vulko. They’ve all come to the realization that someone is trying to start a war between Atlantis and the surface world. Aquaman goes to Orm to try and talk him out of his plans, but Orm isn’t listening. The Justice League arrive to take Orm into custody, but Aquaman tells them that they have forced his hand, and he grabs Batman around the neck.
Comic rating: 4/5: Good!
Another great chapter, for sure. The action slows down (no new attacks), but the slow down means more meaningful conversations. Batman and Aquaman have a great chat in the Batplane, the two heroes butting heads while also revealing the respect they have for one another. Orm is also very entertaining as he tries to threaten some fishermen. It’s also cool that Orm isn’t a super-villain (at least not yet). He’s a king who is responding after he was attacked. Though perhaps we’ll later find out that he’s part of the conspiracy. We’ll see. For now, he’s a cool antagonist with a fairly understandable position. Here’s hoping the rest of this crossover is as good as these first two chapters. Also, whatever happened to the Flash?
The comics I review in my Hench-Sized reviews are just the usual comics I pick up from my local shop any given week, along with a few impulse buys I might try on a whim. So if there are any comics or series you’d like me to review each week, let me know in the comments!