Marvel Quick Takes: Spider-Man #579, Hercules #124

I spent the weekend catching up on two months’ worth of superhero comics, so as usual, I’m not the most timely with these — they came out a couple of weeks ago, but I enjoyed them, so I wanted to point them out. (It’s so easy to rip on the usual shelf-filler, but I think it says more to talk about what’s doing it right.)

Amazing Spider-Man #579

Amazing Spider-Man #579

This is part two of a story written by Mark Waid. As such, I had high expectations, and they were fulfilled.

I don’t normally like Spider-Man, as a character, especially given what’s been done to him lately. Here, though, I got the essentials of the premise, and I understood why he’s got so many fans. The story gives you almost everything you need to know, too, with no need to study history or read anything else to enjoy the action. (I say almost because there was no room to explain why the J. Jonah Jameson connection was so significant, but that’s ok.)

Spider-Man is trapped underground with a group of civilians. A subway car containing a special jury hearing the trial of a mobster was bombed, and Spidey has to get everyone out safely. That’s a creative, unique premise, and yet it also has ties to essential Spidey stories of the past. (Yes, there’s a scene where he has to hold up an immense amount of rubble, beyond the point of his usual strength, although that took place in part one, issue #578.) It also directly ties the hated vigilante to defending the cause of law and justice.

Waid also captures the sound of Spider-Man, in his dialogue and concerns. It seems like it would be easy to write wise-cracks, but not every joke suits the character. Moreover, in the funny and the tension, Waid never forgets his heroism. There’s one particular sequence in the dark (while Spidey is lifting everyone out of increasing floodwaters) that gave me shivers, due to artist Marcos Martin’s skills. It’s very true to the setting but still really creepy.

I haven’t said enough about Martin here. He does an athletic Spider-Man that I really like, giving him a bit of an insectoid feel but not in a non-human way. His storytelling is clear but evocative of the underground setting. Between the two creators, this is an impressive achievement that will likely be overlooked, since it’s just a two-issue fill-in.

The Incredible Hercules #124

The Incredible Hercules #124

As part four of a storyline where the Amazons are trying to take over the world, there’s not as much to recommend here. I’m still enjoying reading it, but I’m more interested to see how the cliffhanger — an alternate world due to a changed timeline — plays out, since it also promises an all-female Avenger team with Sue Storm, girl Wolverine, Spider-Woman, and some chick in pink underwear I don’t recognize.

Namora and Hercules are funny in their fighting, but there’s not enough Amadeus Cho for my taste, since he’s just a chip being fought over. (Personally, I don’t understand why the bloodthirsty Amazon queen doesn’t just kill him, since he doesn’t seem to be of use or interest to her.)

The best part is the short glimpse into what everyone’s ideal worlds would be as they bobble catching the Maguffin.

13 Responses to “Marvel Quick Takes: Spider-Man #579, Hercules #124”

  1. Tyler Chin-Tanner Says:

    I’m in the same boat as you with Spider-man. Those were the only two Spidey issues I’ve read in a long while and they were great. Waid and Martin really know what they’re doing and are perfect for this title. That’s too bad to hear they were just fill-ins, I might have actually considering reading Spider-man again.

  2. JD Says:

    They’re not exactly fill-ins : Mark Waid is now officially part of the “main writing team” (with Dan Slott, Marc Guggenheim, Bob Gale and Joe Kelly), and Marcos Martin seems to be a regular part of the art rotation (like Phil Jimenez, John Romita Jr, Mike McKone and Chris Bachalo, who all have already done several arcs on the title).

    We’ll see them again, though there’s no guarantee we’ll see them again together.

  3. Johanna Says:

    Oh, interesting. Thanks for updating me on that.

  4. Rob Barrett Says:

    Martin’s previous Brand New Day story (the Paper Doll arc written by Dan Slott which is probably Slott’s best arc so far) is also worth checking out. It’s another master-class in visual storytelling.

  5. Johanna Says:

    Um… I miss Slott’s She-Hulk. I’m not sure I would like his straighter superhero stuff as well. And the hype seems to be a little over the top on it.

  6. Tim O'Shea Says:

    Martin’s work with the Paper Doll arc is great. Slott gets a chance to write Peter Parker as part of the stalkarazzi–it really is a fun read. Brand New Day has been uneven, but I begrudgingly admit, the reboot revitalized the property.

  7. Johanna Says:

    Why would Peter put someone in danger (besides himself) to get pictures? Or am I misunderstanding the stalker part?

  8. Tim O'Shea Says:

    What I mean by stalkarazzi is Peter realizes he can make more money at the new DB (the hipper name for the Daily Bugle given it by the new owner a Rupert Murdoch like character) by going the TMZ route. This review has some spoilers but explains things better than I can as I try to post my John Rogers interview about Leverage (yea, I need to stop multitasking)

  9. Tim O'Shea Says:

    Sorry this review

  10. James Schee Says:

    Cool I’ll have to look for the Spidey story, as I like Martin’s work ever since I first saw it in Batgirl Year One.

    I just ordered the first Hercules trade, so hopefully its as great as you describe.

  11. JD Says:

    Just for reference, the “Peter Parker, Paparazzi” story was in Amazing Spider-Man #559-561, reprinted in the third “Brand New Day” Premiere HC or TPB (which also has the forgettable Gale/McKone Bookie story).

  12. Johanna Says:

    Oh, Leverage interview? I’ll be sure to check that out, Tim. And thanks for letting me know where to find it, JD.

  13. JD Says:

    More Spider-Man tales by Waid and Martin :
    – Waid wrote the main story of this week’s ASM #583 (the one with the Obama back-up), illustrated by the always-serviceable Barry Kitson. It’s a nice Betty Brant character piece (and the Jameson Sr subplot is slightly advanced), but it’s mainly a pay-off for all her appearances since the relaunch. As such, I doubt it can really work as a stand-alone.
    – Martin drew a 13-page story in last July’s Amazing Spider-Man Extra! #1. It’s billed as an interlude in Marc Guggenheim’s big “Character Assassination” arc, which will start… next week. No, I have no idea why they thought such an early trailer was a good idea.
    Anyway, it’s Spider-Man being put on trial for some unknown reason (presumably explained in that arc) and defended by Matt Murdock. While not as visually innovative as Martin’s other works, it’s very funny and manages to pull off the very strange remit of having no context whatsoever.
    That issue also has a forgettable Wells/Ollife 8-page about Peter and Harry’s friendship, and a quite good prelude by Kelly and Bachalo to their recent Hammerhead arc (ASM #575-576), explaining how he came back despite being killed off in a Civil War tie-in. A nice character piece about a quite corny villain, and actually better than the story it trails (as it fizzled up without much resolution).




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