Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Titanic Tuesday Floppy Reviews: Amazing Spider-man #654, Batgirl #18, and Carnage #3

Ok, dear readers, I'm going to be doing my best to add new floppy reviews every other weekday.  Today, let's take a look at Batgirl, Amazing Spider-man, and Carnage.

Amazing Spider-man #654
 Writers: Dan Slott and Fred Van Lente  Artists: Stefano Caselli and Palo Siquiera

 Wow, that was a packed issue.  Slott, joined by Van Lente for a script assist, wraps up his action-packed Revenge of the Spider-Slayers arc this issue by with some big events that look to have major ramifications on the series.  The main plot follows Spidey as he works against time and Smythe's seeming ability to strike anywhere he wants.  Slott really ramps up the tension here, balancing the different hot zones well and giving the various supporting cast members time to shine.  Marla in particular steps up to the plate, reminding everyone that she isn't just the wife of JJJJ, but actually has a mound of scientific smarts in that head.  Back to Spidey, after last issue's realization that Smythe's army shared a form of hivemind, he's constructed a signal disruptor to take away their edge.  Only catch?  He has to set it off remotely lest it mess with own super senses.  Of course, Scorpion shows up at the worst possible time, destroys the remote activator, and forces Spidey to activate it manually or risk endangering all the people Smythe has targeted.  Spidey sets it off, disrupting the bug army's hivemind and in the process seems to destroy his own signature Spider-sense.  Enraged and without the support of his bug army, Smythe abandons his plans of making Jonah suffer and goes after the man himself.  Spidey takes Smythe down, but not before Marla sacrifices her life to save Jonah's.  Jonah's reaction to the sacrifice was extremely well done and shows a lot of character growth on his part.  Slott's plot is noticeably helped here by Van Lente's scripting as the dialogue flows a bit more naturally, the jokes hit their mark more, and each character has a bit more distinct flair to their personality.  I'm also loving the continued development of Phil Urich as the anti-Peter Parker, abusing his abilities for personal gain and endangering those who get in his way.  It's an interesting juxtaposition that makes me eager for the inevitable confrontation between the two.  I would be remiss if I didn't mention Caselli's masterful art.  His action scenes are absolutely top notch, with Caselli incorporating just a slight amount of motion blur to line work, but that little touch really makes the action whiz around the pages.  His work here alone is worth the price of admission.
   Unfortunately, the Venom backup doesn't fare quite as well as the main story.  It's got some nice art by Siquiera, but unfortunately it's a case of "tell, don't show" with heavy exposition doing the heavy lifting here in setting the stage.  Hopefully, 654.1 next week deals with nu-Venom in a more satisfying manner.
   Disappointing backup aside, the superb art throughout the issue and extremely satisfying finale to Revenge of the Spider-Slayers make me give ASM #654 an...
I'm a sucker for these split-face scenes
Batgirl #18 Writer: Bryan Q. Miller Artist: Dustin Nguyen

Batgirl has some of the
best covers in comics
In comparison to ASM's thick, fast-paced plot, Miller's Batgirl gives us a simple story overflowing with cute interactions between Stephanie and Klarion.  Yes, Klarion.  No, I didn't think I'd see him ever again either, but I'm glad I get to see more of him here.  The story here is a simple one-and-done (a rapidly dying story).  Stephanie is investigating a series of murders that turn out to be perpetrated by Klarion's cat familiar.  Now why is his cat going around on a murder spree?  Klarion prevented his cat from "coupling" with a fellow familiar and the cat essentially gets driven mad out of sexual frustration.  Yes, it's all a bit silly, but Miller's great handle on dialogue and Nguyen's luscious art make it go down easy.  Watching Stephanie help Klarion try and understand the importance of "coupling" is the very definition of cute, and even as a grown man, I couldn't help but keep a smile on my face as I turned each page.  However, I don't think I would enjoy the issue half as much without Nguyen's fantastic art.  Nguyen especially shines in the mid-section of the book where he switches to his watercolor style for a trip through Limbo Town.  I picked this up starting last issue after hearing great things and loving Nguyen's covers to this series and haven't looked back since.  A cute story with surreal watercolors and pencils make me award Batgirl #18 an...
The watercolor sequences in
this book really set it apart

 Carnage #3 Writer: Zeb Wells  Artist: Clayton Crain

As cute and sweet as Batgirl was, Carnage is twice as twisted and disturbing. After reading this book, I felt like a needed a long, hot shower to wipe the grime off.  Not a whole lot happens in this issue as the plot follows Dr. Tanis Neaves struggle to not give in to the murderous urges of the symbiotes and resist bonding with the creature.  All along the way, Carnage is dragging itself and its host towards the CEO of the company that imprisoned it and leaving a swath of destruction in its wake.  Once it gets to the office, Wells throws a huge swerve by revealing a certain Mr. KasidyTanis as Carnage tries to impose its will and the twisted memories of Cletus Kasidy on Tanis' mind.  Along the way, Crain tries his very best to provide the reader with nightmare fuel.  His Carnage and Doppelganger are genuinely scary creatures that send shivers down your spine with their horrific designs.  Crain's digital artwork really works well here to highlight the fluidity of the symbiote while giving him all sorts of death metal spikes that look like they're just searching for eyes to poke.  His Doppelganger is a seemingly innocuous Spidey ripoff, but up close it turns into something that will probably eat your soul.  However, not all is right with Crain's art.  When asked to draw the mundane, his art falters and loses a lot of its allure.  Additionally, he still suffers from some overly muddy pages that can make it hard to figure out what is going on.  This issue is another decent entry into the Carnage miniseries, but some glaring flaws are weighing down this series from achieving greatness.  This comic is thoroughly disturbing, but its narrative and art shortcomings make this issue only a...
The art in this book will make your
skin crawl

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