Serials: Swamps, Soleil and Slott

We continue this week's four-color bonanza in review of Amazing Spider-Man #559, Dead of Night, featuring Man-Thing #4, and Sky Doll #1.

Are you ready to rock?????

Dead of Night, featuring Man-Thing #4

by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Nic Klein and Nick Percival

I'm gonna be honest here: I hated the last two issues. I just hated them. I wanted to pick them up and throw them across the bathroom as I read them on the toilet.

Not so for this issue, the conclusion to the miniseries. The writing finally goes back to the mystique of the Swamp-Thing as well as the fun narration from Digger, as well as bad people getting what they deserve in delicious gore-o-vision.

You know what I thought was particularly genius? It's the way Aguirre-Sacasa basically summarizes the past three issues. Commander Brandt is basically explaining the situation to her soldiers, and along the way, she's explaining it to us as well. A very smart technique from Aguirre-Sacasa here.

And never forget kids. Beware the terror that is. . . THE MAN-THING!

Sky-Doll #1
by Alessandro Barbucci and Barbara Canepa

Are you sick of dumb comics? Do you want a comic that doesn't take your intelligence for granted?

You should totally check out Sky-Doll then. Originally from Soleil Publishing of France, Marvel worked together to bring this sci-fi fantasy story to us. I don't wanna spoil too much, but basically, everyday life is supported by these Sky Dolls, which are mechanized puppets designed to "satisfy our needs without soiling our souls." Make of that what you will.

There's political intrigue here, religious fervor, (and even nudity) all through the personal perspective of a Sky Doll who wants to be something more than a machine. The comic may be France-based, but one of the themes couldn't be more American: that of individuality and autonomy.

This issue is great. The dialogue is so simple and innocent, but the themes that are communicated are nothing near simple. Maybe it's because I'm a Yank, and the content is unchanged from its European version, but I'm impressed. I am pretty impressed. The art and the writing work hand in hand, so no one factor dominates the story, and there's a real beauty to that.

All in all, you're paying 6 dollars for 44 pages of story, as well as some previews and a couple articles. I very much think you should Check This Out.

Amazing Spider-Man #559

by Dan Slott and Marcos Martin

Whatever happened to my self-imposed moratorium on reading Amazing?

Oh, I know. The "Parkour Luck" happened. Peter "Pekar" happened. "Starbrand Coffee" happened. In summary, Dan Slott happened.

Gimme a chance to explain the three things: Peter was bragging about "the Parker Luck" when Brand New Day was kicking up. Then, in this issue, a viral video villain, Screwball, comes and bests him in city acrobatics -- with Parkour (pronounced: "par-core.")!


That is some clever stuff right there.

The second thing is Dexter Bennett's constant misunderstanding of Peter Parker's name. Since Brand New Day began, it's a running joke, but Slott uses it to make a reference to underground comic legend Harvey Pekar.

Dan Slott, I love you.


The third thing is Spidey and Screwball passing by Starbrand Coffee. This is a reference to the (pretty much defunct) Star Brand Universe of Marvel Comics. Not only has Slott parodied Starbuck's, he managed to fit a goddamn comics reference to it.

There is so much fanservice here, I can't help but like this comic. The problem at large still remains a problem at large, though: Peter PekarParker's sense of morals has pretty much gone down the drain, and it's manifested here when he takes sleazy photos of a celebrity. There is some hint of hope though, in that Joe Robertson (remember him?) is serving as a moral compass and showing that what Peter doing is wrong. To me, this is a hint that Peter's morals are currently sour, but Slott has plans to show us growth.

Because that's what we really want from Peter: growth as a human being.

Other parts I liked were Jonah's exercising in the park, and Peter's moving out of May's house. It also turns out that Peter is moving in with Vin Gonzales, the same person who distrusts Spider-Man! Artist Marcos Martin really shines here too. His pencils are direct and to-the-point, and they deliver the story effectively and with a bit of fun (check out the paneling).

I enjoy the tongue-in-cheek reference to porn ("Peter Parker, Paparazzi -- Part One: The Money Shot"), but I'm not sure if it's appropriate for a Brand New Day comic, which is designed to attract new readers.

All in all, there's a lot to get from this issue, and that makes me very glad. Peter is not, of course, the same Peter I was reading two years ago, but when you can tell stories as well as this, I won't hold that against you. I'm fine with Peter being a sleazeball, so long as it means he learns not to be a sleazeball in the end.

So maybe you have another opinion on these comics? Would you like to point something out that I didn't mention or take a perspective that I didn't?

Don't be afraid to hit that "comment" link and leave a comment. Only beware the terror that is. . . THE MAN-THING!

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