Welcome to the all-new Comicscape! Each week we'll be taking a look at a few of the week's new books in hopes of informing your comic shop purchases, or at the very least giving you 4-color thrills and chills. Enjoy!
Superior Spider-Man #2 (by Dan Slott, Ryan Stegman, Edgar Delgado) My biggest beef with Superior Spider-Man so far is it doesn't deliver on the promise of Amazing Spider-Man #700. At the end of ASM, Doctor Octopus has an epiphany, he is sledgehammered with all of Peter Parker's emotions and experiences. He finally understands what it's like on the other side of the coin, and promises a dying Peter Parker that he will do the right thing, and honor what he's accomplished. But two issues in it doesn't feel like Otto Octavius has changed at all. It seems like he approaches Peter Parker's life as he would any experiment- find a way to make it better, or superior, if you will. The problem is, he's still pretty shallow, and has inner monologues that read like a maniacal evil villain. The spirit of Peter Parker is even on hand to point out that very thing, but that still doesn't make up for it. And that's the other major issue with this book- believe me, I (and every other comic reader) have no illusions about the "death of Peter Parker". We know he'll be back, of course he'll be back, but is it too much to ask to spend some time with the new status quo? With ghost Peter commenting on every move Doc Ock makes, we never get a chance to settle in and watch him grow as a character. It feels like Slott and Co. are just a few issues from putting things back to normal, and the end of this issue only adds fuel to that fire. I said it before- the best trick Slott and Co. could play is to make us want things to stay this way, instead it feels like they are barely giving it a chance.
High Crimes #1 (by Christopher Sebela and Ibrahim Moustafa, published by Monkeybrain Comics) Mount Everest is 29, 029 feet above sea level at its summit. What was once an impossible task has become a trophy, a big check mark on a thrill-seeker's list. Professional Mountain climbers aren't so enamored with the mountain, as they are wont to say- "It's not a hard climb, it's hard to survive". The biggest problem once you get to the top is you have to get back down. So, the path to the summit is littered with the frozen corpses of those who thought the peak was just another thing to check off their bucket list. Haskell Price and Zan Jensen are more than happy to accommodate those who dare to reach the roof of the world, and for those that don't make it? Well, they're profitable too. Price and Jensen have a freezer full of severed right hands belonging to unlucky adventurers. Using the fingerprints they will identify these poor souls, and contact their families with offers to recover their loved ones' body from the mountain, for a fee of course. One of these fingerprints, from a corpse buried in the snow and ice for decades, sets off a red flag, and suddenly a mystery is afoot, and a black ops team is descending upon Nepal.
High Crimes is an exciting new book that takes a very quirky and fascinating idea (the business of Mount Everest), and fills it with interesting and imperfect characters. Zan Jensen is an American expatriate, hiding from her past in the drug dens of Nepal, and Haskell Price has no qualms with his voicemail full of accusations of extortion and grave robbing. How this pair gets mixed up in an old mystery they accidentally uncover should make for a very good read. Christopher Sebela weaves a motion picture worthy opening shot, and Ibrahim Moustafa's art is sharp, detailed and serves the story perfectly. We have a new must-read on our hands, folks.
The Masters of the Universe: The Origin of He-Man #1 (by Joshua Hale Fialkov and Ben Oliver) I picked this up completely on a whim. I haven't read or watched anything He-Man in longer than I can remember, so the only baggage I brought with me was the memories of the original animated series. What we've got here is a serious take on how Prince Adam found the sword of power to become the slightly more buff He-Man. The narrative is oddly broken up for a very short and simple story- Skeletor shows up at the palace of Eternia looking for the sword, but it's Prince Adam who ends up wielding it, hence He-Man. Despite the jumping around in time, it's actually really cool to read a serious take on the He-Man mythos. Skeletor is suitably fearsome and creepy, and the legend of the sword and Castle Greyskull have a certain degree of weight. Ben Oliver's art is mostly fantastic, particularly on Skeletor. It totally eschews the feel of a cartoon in favor of pained realism, and it really works. My only gripe would be his backgrounds are fairly simple and stark. I haven't checked out DC's recent He-Man re-launch, but this book makes me think I should. If nothing else it confirmed one thing- I still have the hots for Sorceress.
Joel Rickenbach is a curator of cult cinema at the Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville, PA, and can be heard every week talking film, TV and other geekery on the You’ve got GEEK podcast. Follow him onTwitter and hilarity will no doubt ensue.