Amazing Spider-Man #28/29

True confessions of a spider fan: My love of Spider-Man begins before I even know what comics are, but until recently I think I owned maybe one Spidey comic. I really liked Spider-Man and his amazing friends on TV as a young child. That is the one with Iceman and Firestar. Years later they did another Spider animated serial that I watched a lot of, I have even checked a few episodes of Peter on XD (the first one with Power man and Nova). There is a great hard cover of Stracynski’s work, McFarlane did some of his best work with Spider-man, and I read most of Ultimate Spider-Man by Bendis. 18 Months ago when I walked into my local brick and mortar for the first time and saw Spider-Man on the shelves I was intimidated by the choices. Spider-Gwen was launching, and the other Spider girls seemed big; isn’t Gwen Stacy dead, like for a long time. Things didn’t improve for me, you have your Miles Morales, Marvel launched a new young Peter Spider-Man, there is the main title of course, the Clone Conspiracy starts, Ben Riley is back on the scene, Spider-Man has enough titles to launch his own publishing company and I am too afraid to jump in. I am locked out of the ever-expanding universe of one of my longest loved superheroes.

Things changed two months ago when I saw the cover for ASM #31 by Alex Ross, it’s hot, check it out next month. Looking deeper I saw it was written by Dan Slott and drawn by Stuart Immonen. I loved Immonen’s work on Empress, and I confused Slott with another writer that writes Warhammer space marine novels. I just wiki’d Slott’s bibliograghy which is huge, no space marines, but I do have a couple of Ren and Stimpy’s he wrote from 25 years ago. In fact Slott first penned Peter Parker as a pugilist against the late great, burnt, Powdered Toast Man in an issue of that comic. Ross’ awesome cover, Immonen’s art and the mistaken identity of Dan Slott were enough for me to stick a toe in the water and see what was swimming in the spider universe. My next trip into the comic shop I decided to see if there were any back issues available. How many of this team could I find? I was lucky to get consecutive issues from 25 to 29 by the creative trio.

Issues 28 and 29 are the omega and alpha of their respective story arcs. A lot has changed in Peter’s life since I last checked in. He is now the CEO of Parker industries a global tech company that has been supplying SHIELD with weapons since Tony Stark went AI. Spider-Man has a high-tech suit complete with voice activated web shooters, multiple warehouses of spider vehicles around the globe, and a roster of amazing friends, (just don’t call them that) that could give Batman’s cadre some competition. With all that has changed in Peter’s life, is he still the same person? Pretty much, still a wise guy, not so great with the ladies, and more problems than solutions. In the words of Big E Smalls mo’ money, mo’ problems I guess. Peter was always feeling the weight of responsibility, as he gets more resources to bear that weight seems to increase. All in all I think it is a nice progression that stays true to his core for a character that is 55 years young. The best part of course is that when the current spidey bubble pops and his sales sag you can take it all away from him, watching Parker pick himself up by the bootstraps.

ASM #28 is the blockbuster finale to a Norman Osborn villan arc, and it has everything you could want. Mockingbird and Silver Sable each come in with big saves and Sable’s new Wild Pack is included just for extra seasoning. No Sable is not dead it’s a good story, but you have to check out the previous issue to get it. Spider-Man goes mano e mano with Norman, Sable crosses swords with another pretty girl and Mockingbird saves everybody. In short everyone in Symkaria doomed and then saved in under 30 pages but, this is a shocker Norman gets away. Alex Ross does a cool gritty face off with Norman and Spider-Man for the cover.

ASM #29 begins the arc of the superior Doc Oc. Peter is doing a damage control interview for Parker Industries recent invasion of Symkaria; see it’s just like bad press in the bugle only bigger scale. Afterward he stops by the London office to check on things, and finds way more than the night staff. The new and thinner Doctor Octopus has made new friends that play rough. Doc Oc demands control of Parker Industries picking up a thread that was left at the very end of super sized issue 25. If I have one complaint of the issue, it is that Doctor Octopus plays Spider-Man like a pop song. A bit obvious.

Dan Slott is including all the quips, bum luck, potential relationships, villanous machinations I want from a Spider-man script. Issue #27 even gave me a nice surprise. I hope Slott does more with Bobbi and Peter I’m sure there is a good doomed relationship in there. Slott’s scripts are chalked full of dialog without feeling wordy. Stuart Immonen’s art is top-notch like I remembered. His work hasn’t taken me like my introduction to him on Empress did, but he draws great looking characters that feel detailed without a lot of lines. Just the right amount of them; he must use magic. Immonen is right at home in Slott’s action packed scripts. Immonen’s work really shined in issue #27 which featured a lot of cool goblin tech. Alex Ross’ covers are very good and some of them on this run make you go wow! I especially like # 26 with Silver Sable and #31 coming up.

Both ASM #28 and #29 are good comics. I will probably stick with the series as long as these guys are on it. If you are a long time fan of spidey, but not a collector, you can be confident in picking up a current issue of Amazing Spider Man and enjoying the world of the superheroic for 20 minutes.

Sacred Creatures #1

I just finished this book yesterday, and let me start by saying “Hey boy, howdy!” Sacred Creatures is well drawn, well scripted and big. Published by Image comics, Sacred Creatures is packed full of story and exactly the kind of book that makes Image the independent titan they are. Like the initial wave of titles in ’92 that challenged what you could expect in the production quality of a comic, Sacred Creatures #1 smashes your expectations of a single issue series launch.

Meet the family. All mysterious, seemingly ancient (by our standards anyway), and all very different. No relation different; but they have plans. What are they planning? And what kind of family is this anyway? Shifting to a climax of action in the next scene leaves you with more questions. The hook is set. Over the next fifty some odd pages Pablo Raimondi and Klaus Janson reel you in to the purchase of issue#2.

Josh is a young man with a lot on his plate. Finishing college, father to be, and no job, the stress is keeping him up at nights. He has potential though, his girl Julia seems great and their relationship is on solid footing. An upcoming interview for a good job could be the answer to providing for his new family. Josh is at a crossroads of life, keeping appointments and meeting his obligations in the next week will set him firmly on the path he has been working for. Fate has a different idea for Josh, his contact with mysterious members of the family push his life in a downward spiral that he is helpless to halt.

Throw in a big city detective and an exceptionally athletic priest and you have the character ingredients for a pressure cooked supernatural thriller. Raimondi and Janson deliver a well plotted script that shuffles chronological time to keep you turning pages. Their logical sequence shifts increase the impact of an exciting plot. The dialog in the script is sharp, matching the composed storytelling. Raimondi’s art is clean, detailed, and abundant. There is a lot going on in every page regardless of the frame count. At 12 years old the art of Image captivated me, 25 years later Pablo Raimondi’s illustrations provide that same excitement of quality, without spandex and superbods of course.

I think that both Raimondi and Janson are accomplished artists and writers in the world of comics. Their ability to pool those talents in a collaborative way shows in Sacred Creatures #1. Both Klaus and Pablo talk about the time they took to create their tale and how well they got to know their characters in their final notes. Taking that time is one reason why independent projects can be special, and certainly nothing about their composition feels rushed. Because of its overall quality and length Sacred Creatures #1 redefines what can be done with a first issue, earning it the volcanic rating. At five dollars you could not get a bigger value out of any other book on the shelf this month. It’s possible that you just finished a Dan Brown binge and could not possibly read another story that had even a hint of the supernatural, otherwise give Sacred Creatures a read you will not be disappointed.