Thursday, April 27, 2006

Low Blows 04.27.06

“The Thing” #4
Marvel Comics
Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Andrea Di Vito

“The Thing” #5
Marvel Comics
Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Andrea Di Vito

I'm going to be a little harsh at first here, but please hear me out.

This book is in trouble, and I'll tell you exactly why: the editor approved a lackluster storyline featuring the "wacky" villainy of Arcade, bow-tied, freckled and tired as ever, as the first arc, and then allowed it to go on for three whole issues -- way too long for an introduction to a series that was most likely a hard sell to its potential readers in the first place.

And this is not to mention that an important cast addition, that of the Inhuman dog Lockjaw, was held off until the fourth issue. By then, I imagine many, if not most, people had already given up.

And it's a shame, because the last two issues have been dynamite. These are the stories that should have kicked off the series -- tales of Ben Grimm, the rock-skinned Thing, interacting with his Fantastic family and getting used to the idea of being the wealthiest superhero in the world. Dan Slott gets a lot of praise for being a writer who "puts the fun back into Marvel Comics," but I'm not so sure that's really his strong suit. Sure, the stories are enjoyable, but they're far from fluff, as the "fun" label implies. It's the rich characterization of the Thing (and supporting cast) that has become the strength of this book.

I just wish, for the sake of Marvel's continued publishing of "The Thing," that this had become apparent sooner. Just ask Jon -- I rarely even consider dropping a book, unless in the case of a radical creative team change, but I almost did this one until I was won over by issue four's heartfelt lesson dealt by Mr. Fantastic (and son Franklin) to his best friend Ben. Oh, and did I mention the huge, teleporting dog? Issue five continues the upward trend, as the "kazillionaire" Thing tries to give something back to his hometown at Yancy Street, which doesn't seem to want his help in the least. Great stuff.

The art by Andrea Di Vito has improved with each installment as well, really hitting a high point in these last few, but he has unfortunately been moved, mid-storyline, onto a higher-profile book. As I said before, it's a shame, really. Kieron Dwyer is taking over with issue six, and if its absence from July's solicitations is to be believed, the title looks to have already been cancelled as of issue eight.

That is, unless you give it another chance. Even if you were disappointed by the first few issues, "The Thing" is worth another look. I swear, that little bitch Arcade is nowhere to be found in these issues, only the very human Ben Grimm trying to come to grips with his sudden superhuman wealth. Check it out.

"The Thing" #4: 9 out of a possible 10.
"The Thing" #5: 8.5 out of a possible 10.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

The (Really Short) Shortbox 4/15/06

(*** I actually wrote this a couple of months ago, but never finished the rest of article due to life getting in the way, but you can chalk it up mostly to laziness. Hopefully, this will not become a regular message. - 7-21-06)

The New Avengers: Illuminati (one shot)
writer: Brian Michael Bendis
artist: Alex Maleev
Marvel Entertainment, 5/06
As part of the upcoming super-event Civil War, we've been introduced to the Illuminati -- a collection of leaders from the most important Marvel U teams made up of Iron Man, Namor, Prof. X, Mr. Fantastic, Black Bolt, and Dr. Strange. While this group has existed for years consulting eachother on many of the greatest threats to occur in Marvel's past, this is the first glimpse we've ever gotten of them. Illustrated wonderfully by Alex Maleev, I can't help but wonder if his talents are wasted on a relatively actionless tale of Bendis going into his talking heads mode. The issue is meant to give us background on this group that I assume we'll be hearing more about in the pages of Civil War, but as a stand-alone story it leaves me uninterested in the group. That's really a shame considering the members involved. I may feel differently about this issue after Civil War gets underway, but until then it may be wise to hold off from picking this one up. There's just not enough here.
6 out of 10