This week on the Wal-Tor Weekly Review, Spider-Man gets his “happily ever after” as a result of Secret Wars, Batman Beyond makes his post Future’s End debut, and Groot kicks off his own solo series!

 

Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #1

AMAZING_SPIDER-MAN_RENEW_YOUR_VOWS_1Peter Parker is the Amazing Spider-Man, one of the greatest heroes to have ever lived!  With his wife, Mary Jane, and his infant daughter, Annie, by his side, Peter must now weigh the balance of great power against great responsibility more heavily than he has ever done before.  When numerous street level heroes begin to unexpectedly disappear or turn up dead, Peter reaches out to the Avengers in an attempt to get to the bottom of things.  As Earth’s Mightiest Heroes head out to tackle the root of these problems, a new villain called Regent, Spider-Man is suddenly pulled away as he must race to protect his wife and daughter from a long time foe.  With a personal threat looming over his family, Peter must do whatever it takes to protect them.

Dan Slott and Andy Kubert attempt to renew your love and loyalty to Marvel’s premier superhero with Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows.  Restoring and altering Spider-Man history for the Secret Wars event, Dan Slott shows that he still has plenty of gas left in the tank as a Spider-Man writer, delivering what may be one of the best Spider-Man issues he’s wrote since the early stages of Superior Spider-Man.  Slott plays up the classic and loveable elements of Peter Parker as a family man here, going to great lengths to show you how personal of a tale this is for the Parker family.  One of the biggest successes Slott achieves with this first issue is showcasing that the other two primary members of the cast, Mary Jane and their daughter Annie, are far from your archetype of damsels in distress, instead making them characters who can hold their own and benefit the plot.  Slott shows that MJ isn’t just another pretty face who is always in trouble, even if the issue seems like the exact opposite at about the halfway point.  Andy Kubert is an interesting choice of an artist for this series, bringing back compact and uniform panel layouts to help make this comic appear old school for fans who are more familiar with Peter as a married man.  It’s a great choice of layout as again, it hammers home this old school feeling due to its lack of dynamic and bursting nature that so many comics nowadays rely on.  Kubert’s civilian character work is a tad bit rough, with Peter coming off looking goofy, but the artwork truly shines when Spider-Man takes action.  Kubert draws a seemingly perfect Spider-Man, striking the balance between realistic and playful.  He doesn’t appear as overly cartoon-y nor does he come off as some muscle-bound freak.  The panels where Spidey is in action are a clear indicator of why Kubert was the right choice artistically for this series and only serves to prove that he as well as Dan Slott are set to strike comic book gold with this Spider-Man story.

PROS CONS
+  Great, classic Spider-Man feel — Rigid “normal” characters
+  Art shines when Spider-Man is present — Mildly predictable plot
+  Interesting look at Peter Parker as a character

Wal-tor_Rating_4Overall:

Dan Slott and Andy Kubert work together beautifully to provide a solid Spider-Man related Secret Wars series.  As a child of the 90’s, this comic reminded me strongly of the Spider-Man Animated series of that time, which is what helped me to establish my love for the character.  This series feels like it’s the natural continuation of that series, the unspoken ending that was never delivered and it may all be in part to how Slott characterizes Peter here.  The plot is rather predictable but still does a convincing job of throwing you at least one or two curve balls that may catch you off guard.  At its core, Renew Your Vows is a compelling glimpse into a man who must weigh where his responsibilities truly lie.  With Andy Kubert on, art drawing the best darn Spidey I’ve seen in quite some time, there is no reason you shouldn’t pick up this series and give it a chance to wow you like Spider-Man likely did when you were a child.

 

Batman Beyond #1

BATMAN_BEYOND_1Tim Drake is stuck in a dystopian future where Brother Eye has decimated and enslaved much of the free world, save for Gotham City.  Following the death of the original Batman Beyond, Terry McGuinness, in the “Future’s End” series, Tim Drake takes up the mantle of the fallen Batman and works diligently to maintain order while trying to stop Brother Eye.  As Batman Beyond, Tim discovers that the future he was unexpectedly thrust into isn’t the same one that Terry McGuinness once existed in, creating a whole slew of new challenges for him.  With plenty of characters from his own past, as well as characters personally connected to Terry, Tim must adjust to his new life as the future Batman quickly if he wishes to survive against Brother Eye.

Dan Jurgens and Bernard Change bring Batman Beyond to the main DC continuity with their new series.  Dan Jurgens plots out a fairly standard first issue that has hits and misses aplenty.  The issue doesn’t do the greatest job of really establishing who Tim Drake is or why he is Batman beyond rather vague references to what occurred in Future’s End.  If anything the series relies a little too heavily on readers having knowledge of Future’s End to understand your primary character and villain.  Once you get past that though, the issue is fun and exciting, maintaining elements of the classic Batman Beyond cartoon that fans surely know and love, whilst also sprinkling in new key elements that are sure to surprise fans new or old alike.  Jurgens brings plenty of different building blocks to the table for the series in this first issue, presenting the readers with something they can watch grow over time and hopefully flourish into an excellent series.  Bernard Chang illustrates this Batman Beyond series with a harder edge that will likely draw in more new readers than it will deter.  Chang’s art style isn’t as sleek or clean as previous artist to have worked with Batman Beyond before but that actually ends up being perfect happenstance as the style of art greatly compliments the direction the book appears to be heading in.  Batman Beyond seems to pop out just a little too much from the page in some panels but beyond that, Chang’s artwork is a great fit for a series that has the potential to be an exciting action thriller for DC Comics.

PROS CONS
+  Fun and compelling —  Predictable
+  Different type of Batman Beyond —  Not particularly new reader friendly
+  “Edgy” artwork

Wal-tor_Rating_3_5Overall:

Dan Jurgens and Bernard Chang kick-start an all-new Batman Beyond series with a solid first issue.  Although it isn’t necessarily new reader friendly, this first issue is still moderately accessible to new readers and definitely a thrilling affair.  From the opening pages, beautifully rendered by Chang, there’s an immediate sense of old school colliding with the new, as longtime fans of the character will get the feeling they used to get watching the cartoon while new readers will get a quick jolt to the heart to keep them hooked in.  The new style of Batman Beyond is perfect for people looking for a fresh take on the character with the edgier art style only complimenting the tone and direction of the book.  All around, Batman Beyond is a great glimpse at what DC Comics will likely be trying to achieve with their current relaunch initiative.

 

Groot #1

GROOT_1Groot stars in his own solo series, traveling across the galaxy with his furry pal, Rocket Raccoon.  The large tree beast has a desire to return to Earth for a specific reason and brings along Rocket in tow on the hitchhiking adventure.  As the two best friends take the “scenic” route across the galaxy on their trip, they encounter plenty of wacky occurrences along the way.  Things really start going wrong for the dynamic duo when they encounter someone looking to benefit from the bounty that’s been placed on their head.

Groot #1 gets off to a fun start with the help of Jeff Loveness and Brian Kesinger.  Loveness plots out a story that doesn’t really go anywhere, instead relying on comedic beats that make it feel like a “clip episode”, an episode of a television show that strings together random occurrences to form a plot.  This format works to push the story along to its conclusion, setting up what appears will be the long running narrative of the series.  With a character like Groot, who only says one sentence repeatedly, there’s a difficult set of challenges that anyone who writes a solo series for the character faces.  Jeff Loveness looks to offset the lack of dialogue from Groot by using Rocket Raccoon to serve as his mouthpiece, informing readers of what each particular “I am Groot” means.  The true problem of this is that Rocket actually ends up overshadowing Groot in his own solo series, wherein you feel it’d be more appropriate to call this series “Rocket Raccoon and Groot” instead.  Brian Kesinger draws out a fairly straight forward issue, bringing the character of Groot to life in incredibly entertaining ways.  Kesinger’s style of art is closer to the realm of cartoon than realism (due to his background as an animator) and as such, it gives this comic the perfect kind of tone to it.  Everywhere you look you’ll find fine examples of Kesinger’s style throughout this issue and realize that there is no one better to be drawing a solo series for the character.

PROS CONS
+  Comedic “buddy cop” style story —  Weak plot
+  Humourous —  Rocket Raccoon outshines Groot
+  Great cartoon style artwork

Wal-tor_Rating_3Overall:

Jeff Loveness and Brian Kesinger branch out the cosmic side of the Marvel Universe with a new Groot series.  Although the plot hardly progresses, Loveness still manages to provide a fun, rip-roaring space travel comic for readers.  It definitely feels like a series that should be called “Rocket Raccoon and Groot” because of how central a role Rocket Raccoon seems to play in this first issue but nonetheless the character dynamic between these two characters is what makes this comic worth reading.  Brian Kesinger is a great choice to draw the comic as his cartoon style is a perfect fit for the series and makes it feel like a natural progression from Skottie Young’s Rocket Raccoon series that just wrapped up.  The cosmic best friends provide plenty of laughs with this first issue and there’s promise for plenty more to come.