(EDITOR’S NOTE: Welcome to the first installment of Tales from the Marvel Lake House, a new column where THN’s resident Dudeist priest Jeffrey Ketchem will review comics from six months ago (or more) via the Marvel Unlimited app. If you see something on the app you’d like Jeffrey to review, send him an e-mail at [email protected]!)
While fall has finally arrived for the real world. Spring has sprung here at the Marvel Lake House. These are three books that have caught my attention from the week of March 22, 2017.
Your solicit: “SITTING IN A TREE” PART 6! THE CONCLUSION TO THE GWEN/MILES CROSSOVER! The final battle with the mysterious villain who plagues multiple dimensions! What will our heroes do with their newfound feelings for each other?
This story arc has been a totally fun ride from the beginning. In this final issue of the story, the dimension hopping takes a left turn and Gwen ends up on Earth 8 where Gwen and Miles lives turned out very different than expected. Miles makes his way back to Gwen’s Earth 65 where he finally finds his father. The final battle with the evil Earth 65 Jefferson Morales is saved by Gwen’s unexpected help from Earth 8.
The shining point of this issue (and the series as a whole) is Rodriguez’s art and Rico Renzi on colors. There’s an impressionistic dynamism to the anatomy of Rodriguez’s figures, and the coloring of the dimensional portals harkens back to the classic Kirby Crackle in the best way. In an earlier issue of the arc, Miles says of Earth 65: it’s like our world “if everything was lit with different kinds of light bulbs” and Rodriguez and Renzi pull that off flawlessly. This story was fun, and they stuck the landing. It was an excellent example of how current stories can make use of carry over from big events like Spider-Verse without being overly continuity heavy.
Being the end of an arc and a crossover to boot, this probably wouldn’t be a great jumping on point, but if you’re keeping up, BUY IT!
Your solicit: The world now knows about Riri Williams and what she can do. So other heroes come to court her for their super-teams and villains come looking for revenge on Iron Man. Welcome to the Marvel Universe, Riri Williams! (Oh, and Deadpool.)
Besides the solicit having absolutely nothing to do with the issue, (spoiler alert: no Deadpool) this was a good issue. Another end of an arc that sees Riri teaming up with Pepper Potts (in the Rescue Armor) against the last major villain Stark went up against before Civil War II, the Techno Golem.
A lot of fans and critics alike have been giving Riri short shrift and I think that’s a bit unfair. What Bendis is doing here harkens back to his work on Ultimate Spider-Man. He’s taking his time with the character and giving us time to get to know Riri, both as she learns what it is to be in the Armor, and through flashbacks showing us the events that made her who she is today. This is demonstrated at a point in this issue where Riri thinks she’d defeated the Techno Golem but finds herself having to face her one on one with a sword. This is interjected with a flashback sequence of her father trying to teach her fencing (because his father taught him) and her blowing him off. This is significant because it shows that despite her intelligence there’s still a lot for her to learn, and that much of what drives her is regret as much as revenge. To me, this is where Bendis shines in showing us these small moments that flesh out the characters. Caselli’s art with colors by Gracia are good here. Again reminiscent to me of the Ultimate Spider-man work of Bagley and Pachelli, not too realistic, but not too cartoony. Caselli draws Riri as a convincing 15 year old without over sexualizing her nor infantilizing her either.
Another end of an arc, so no jumping on here for new readers. Pretty standard fare, if you’re keeping up Buy It to finish the story. If you’re interested wait ’till the next arc.
Your solicit: HAUNTED BY SPECTERS OF THE PAST! Trying to rebuild her own life and law career, JENNIFER WALTERS is determined to help her newest client, MAISE BREWN, a woman on the verge of eviction and a massive nervous meltdown. Once an outgoing yoga instructor, a brutal attack changed Maise’s life forever. Now a reclusive shut-in, Maise wants Jen’s help…More than that, she wants a promise, that Jen will help her keep her home. And if Jen can’t, Maise has another plan, a menacing force of her own. What happens when a fear is so strong, it becomes a destructive force in its own right? Jen is about to find out.
This issue is the midway point of this initial story-arc featuring Jen Walter’s first case since recovering from her injuries at the start of Civil War II and discovering the fate of her cousin, Bruce Banner. The case seems straight forward, to defend an agoraphobe from eviction is definitely taking a turn. Her client is hiding a dark secret that somewhat mirrors her own struggles with a rage-filled alter-ego. This book has taken criticism for it’s lack of ‘Hulk’ despite the title and covers. This issue is no exception. However, what we are getting with this book is the next stage of Hulk.
If we’re looking at the current roster of Marvel Heroes as ‘Legacy’ characters, Amadeus Cho is not the legacy to Banner Hulk, at least not in personality, he is more akin to She-Hulk, being of sound personality. Here we have Jen Walters carrying on the legacy of her cousin, reminding us that the Hulk is a monster to be feared and contained at all costs. I like the concept, but if there isn’t a payoff soon, I think the book will flounder. The art by Nico Leon and Matt Milla obviously relies heavily on digital, I think to its detriment, as nearly all of the characters come off looking vaguely similar, and anyone who isn’t obviously more than human is difficult to discern. Jen Walters is the main character in the story and I have a hard time telling her from Jessica Jones most of the time.
I like many of the concepts in this arc and many of them are coming to fruition in this issue. If I’m being honest though, if you’re not reading this from the lake house, Leave It.
Jeffrey Ketcham is a writer of imaginative fiction in comics and prose. Otherwise, he’s been a professional musician, barista, bartender, and musical instrument repairman. He’s an unabashed geek and aficionado of all things comic books, dogs, genre fiction, good coffee, and Irish whiskey.