New Comics Week 5/4/16: In Which I Enjoyed About Half of an Amazing Spider-Man Issue. We’ll Call It a Win!

With all the hype around Civil War and whatnot, I was feeling nostalgic for my old pal Peter Parker and with this week’s Amazing Spider-Man #12 being the start of a new arc it seemed like a good time to give Dan Slott another go. The big draw here is Peter seeing Tony and MJ at a charity event together, though it moves past it pretty quickly and raises more questions than it answers. To be honest, it almost feels like Slott is literally mocking readers confused by the continuity post-Brand New Day and Secret Wars by glossing over everything, but hey Peter is single and rich and that’s what we all want right? The Spider-Man/Iron Man team up is silly and strange. So Tony doesn’t remember Pete/MJ/May living in Avengers tower because of secret identity retcons, but wouldn’t he remember having many many adventures fighting alongside Spider-Man? Why are they so at odds in their hero guises? Who knows, but what this issue does right is the 616 introduction of Regent, the villain in the excellent Renew Your Vows mini. His scenes are pitch perfect and do a good job of setting him up as a solid Big Bad for a character who already has one of the best rogues galleries in comics.

Howard the Duck #7 is a silly one-off tale that’s perfect in every way. Howard is recruited by She-Hulk to do some P.I. for a client she’s defending. Howard then recruits Peter Parker, (sigh) billionaire CEO, to infiltrate the world of the 1% to get some information that’ll help her case. Then Daredevil shows up because Matt Murdock is prosecuting the guy Shulkie’s defending. Then they all need a ride to the Savage Land so they have to call up Old Man Rogers to borrow a quinjet. If that sounds complicated, Zdarsky lays it out effortlessly, and keeps things moving along at a nice clip. Kevin Maguire fills in on art and it’s a pretty danged good argument for a second Howard series by this team. I mean, if they can give the Inhumans umpteen titles, they can do this.

Back when Becky Cloonan and Steve Dillon were announced as the team of the new Punisher ongoing, she said in an interview “If you are a criminal, the Punisher is basically Jason Voorhees”, which I loved though I didn’t know she was going to be so literal about it. Frank, like the hockey mask-clad killer, has zero dialogue in this issue, just a whole bunch of murder and it works like an absolute charm. Aside from some ‘bleeped’ curse words, this is pretty much a return to the MAX days and it’s definitely welcome. Ironically, pulling from beloved comics also puts Punisher more in line with his (near perfect) portrayal in Daredevil season 2 in the most graceful ‘aligning’ they’ve ever done in the comics. If you like Punisher, you’re going to love this book.

It’s a big week for Frank, as there’s also the first issue of Daredevil/Punisher mini from writer Charles Soule and artist Szymon Kudranski. It’s all fairly standard- Matt is prosecuting some gangster, Frank wants to kill him, and that’s about all we get story-wise. Still, the simple setup lets the action take center stage and with the addition of Blindspot (DD’s new sidekick and one of the better new characters to come along in a while) to the mix, we get a fun if unnecessary crossover tale.

It looks like we still have some copies of Hot Damn #1 in stock, which means you can order it along with this week’s second issue and dive into one of the funniest and best-looking books on the shelves. Buy it or you might end up having to walk on a pile of Lego pieces while shampoo drips in your eyes.

Artist Marguerite Sauvage delivers a glorious one-two punch this week with both Scarlet Witch and Unfollow. They’re both gorgeous in their own way, but it’s especially nice to see the way Sauvage modifies her style to fit the tone of the books. Scarlet Witch has a gorgeous flow to it and feels a lot like her riff on JH Williams’ layouts, while Unfollow seems more like if Kevin Wada ever decided to try sequentials with his gorgeous high-fashion inspired style. Both are excellent issues in their respective series that are absolutely elevated by Sauvage’s work. Hopefully we see a lot more of her in the future.

Okay so we all saw Civil War this past weekend and we all loved it, so I’ll just hit some quick (and spoilery!) thoughts in list format:

-The biggest complaint (if you can call it that) that I’ve seen online is that the movie felt a little disjointed, moving from scene to scene without a ‘flow’. The best comparison would probably be to the structure of a Game of Thrones episode. It’s somewhat valid, but then again GoT is great. We’re at a point in the MCU (13 movies in) where the filmmakers aren’t as concerned with holding the hands of flatscans. If you need context, you should probably just go watch the previous films.

-Both new characters were serviced excellently, but man Black Panther stole the show. I reeeeeeeally can’t wait to see Wakanda.

-Giving one of Cap’s best speeches from the comics to Peggy (as quoted by Sharon at the funeral) was a really nice touch.

-Paul Rudd completely stole every scene he was in. His total and complete glee at becoming Giant Man was so infectious.

-Obviously, Tom Holland was perfect as Spidey. Everything about Spidey was perfect. Good job, guys.

– Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany both got a chance to really bite into their characters and both did excellent jobs. Everyone is clamoring for a Black Widow movie, but Vision/Scarlet Witch would be waaaaaaaaaaay better.

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