New Comics Week 3/15/17: In Which I Have A Lot to Say About an 8-Page Backup in ASM #25

Amazing Spider-Man #25 is kind of an odd beast. It’s a super-sized issue with a $9.99 price point for what is ostensibly a jumping-on point for new readers, which is around the same buy-in as a trade which would (hopefully) give you a full story arc. So is it worth it? Kind of. The main story sees Pete working with SHIELD and Mockingbird, scouring the globe for Norman Osborn and it’s pretty good. Between the art from Stuart Immonen and the vibe of manic determination Pete has going, I’m in for this arc. The rest of the jumbo issue is taken up by backups that run the gamut from ‘Nice, but unnecessary’ to ‘bland’ to ‘is this seriously an 8 page ad for those stupid Tsum-Tsum things?’ but there is one story that really set itself apart. Writer/artist Hannah Blumenreich made a bit of name for herself with her fairly delightful and off-kilter webcomics (← seriously, read those!) that feature a teen Peter Parker dealing with the more mundane aspects of his life as Spidey. This issue features her (I believe) first officially published work with Spidey and I’ve got to say, I genuinely did not expect to read her story and come away wanting to see Aunt May webbed up and hanging from a street light near the police station. Here’s a recap of the story- while out on patrol, Pete stumbles upon a hungry stray dog who he fishes some food out of a dumpster for and promptly names Sandwich. Sandwich is adorable. Look at how happy Sandwich is swinging through the city with Spider-Man. This is clearly a relationship between man and dog that was meant to be. So Pete brings Sandwich home and hides him in his room only to be found out by Aunt May, whose instant reaction IS TO TELL PETER TO CALL ANIMAL CONTROL IMMEDIATELY. Why? Because they “can’t have a dog here”. I know what you’re thinking, ‘Yes, it could be a problem for them to have a dog in their cramped NYC apartment. May is right.’ That would make sense. UNFORTUNATELY, it appears that they live in a two story building with a yard. So Aunt May hates puppos and forces Pete to get rid of the dog, but it doesn’t end there. How does May make up for the heinous act of sentencing Sandwich to death (probably)? By getting Pete a fish. Not just any fish, but a beta. You know, the kind of fish that all children learn about death from. And we’re supposed to buy this as a happy ending. So in conclusion, marrying Doc Ock is now only the second-worst thing that Aunt May has ever done.

I don’t know exactly what I was expecting when I picked up Vampirella #1, but what I got wasn’t it and I’m pretty pleased about that. Writer Paul Cornell and artist Jimmy Broxton have made wonderful use of the character’s immortality to have her claw her way up from the dirt after about a thousand years to find a dystopian Los Angeles that feels like it’s right out of 2000 AD. Vampy is her usual mischievous/murderous self, but I’ve never seen her in this kind of setting and, thanks to Broxton’s great world and character designs, it works like a charm. The world is a gorgeous neon kaleidoscope but Cornell’s writing gives its inhabitants an alien and discomforting feeling that gives the otherwise pulpy proceedings a surreal Lynch-ian tone.

Leave it to talent like Donny Cates (God Country, Paybacks) and Josh Hood (We Can Never Go Home) to create one of the best alternate-universe Trek stories I’ve ever seen with Star Trek Deviations. It’s a What If?-style take that imagines a world where the Romulans made first contact with Earth instead of the Vulcans and proceeded to enslave the populace, wiping out any record of mankind’s advancements achievements telling humanity that they were ape-like savages before the Empire showed up. They are opposed by a small resistance led by William Riker who along with a cyborg-Deanna and a Geordi who uses Data’s head to see are on a mission to find the one man who can lead humanity back to the stars- Jean-Luc Picard. Hood injects a lot of Mad Max into the look of the story, but it stays true to the feeling of a TNG story. The ending is solid for a one-shot, but this is a story just begging to be explored further and I really hope they get around to it at some point.

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