Singles Going Steady is Comics Bulletin’s weekly review roundup. It’s a relatively even split, with two from the Big Two, and a pair from smaller, independent publishers.
Amazing Spider-Man #41
(w) Nick Spencer (a) Ryan Ottley (i) Cliff Rathburn (c) Nathan Fairbairn
The best way to describe Nick Spencer’s run on Amazing Spider-Man is “a return to normalcy.” He is telling the types of stories that people think of when they think of a classic Spidey jaunt. However, these stories are also extraordinarily safe, making this current run merely “okay.” This is especially true when compared to the great work that has been put forth in Tom Taylor’s Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man and Chip Zdarsky’s Spectacular Spider-Man and Spider-Man: Life Story. What is most maddening is that there are good ideas in place, but they are passed over in favor of much less interesting things. Amazing Spider-Man #41 sees Spidey team up with Boomerang, but most of the issue is spent with Boomerang setting up why these two are together, and then leading right into the next issue. The problem is that there is a middle section – with Spidey and Boomerang hunting down pieces of the story’s mcguffin – that is hand-waved away via montage. It’s such a wasted opportunity, especially when someone as talented as Ryan Ottley is drawing. Oh yeah, the art is phenomenal, so it’s got that going for it. Say what you will about Dan Slott’s run, but at least there were some bold chances taken.
— Daniel Gehen
The Batman’s Grave #6
(w) Warren Ellis (a) Bryan Hitch (c) Alex Sinclair
The Batman’s Grave isn’t some grand story that will change the course of the character’s history for years to come, but rather a solid, evergreen Batman comic. Unlike most Batman stories from recent years, this one keeps the characters grounded. There’s no magic or bonkers sci-fi or anything like that, which is what makes it so appealing. The script for Issue #6 by Warren Ellis is simple, but effective. The first half features Batman and Gordon fighting their way out of a compromised Arkham Asylum, and the second half focuses on the detective aspect that is often overlooked. Both enable Bryan Hitch and Alex Sinclair to craft beautifully laid out pages, allowing for excellent pacing. While the series as a whole has been rather slow with regard to overall plot progression, this is undoubtedly a great distillation of Batman as a whole.
— Daniel Gehen
Blackwood: The Mourning After #2
Dark Horse Comics
(w) Evan Dorkin (a/c) Veronica Fish & Andy Fish (l) Greg McKenna
The second issue contains the charming atmosphere as the first, yet has an inconsistent flow. At times, Blackwood: The Mourning After #2 contains scenes that either has no reason to be there or shouldn’t have spent so much time on it. Nonetheless, the atmosphere continues to entrance you making you want to visit the cursed school. Talking about entrancing, the Fish’s art & colors continue to be gorgeous. Each venue visited looks jaw-dropping with the library looking magical in every aspect. I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to visit a comic location more than Blackwood’s library. McKenna’s letters have a few moments to shine throughout the second issue with it hitting a high towards the end. When a new character is introduced that is vastly different than the others, McKenna letters then just as differently.
Although it may not feel as great as the first issue, Blackwood: The Mourning After #2 continues to drag you into its world.
— Jason Jeffords Jr
(w) Jonathan Hickman (a) Mike Huddleston
Not since the debut of Saga back in 2012 has a comic fully delivered on its pre-release hype. Decorum #1 is a feat in visual storytelling. From cover to cover, the team of Jonathan Hickman and Mike Huddleston have crafted a fully-realized world with its own rules, logic, and idiosyncrasies. While Hickman drops in his trademark charts and graphs which help to flesh out this world even further, it really is Huddleston’s art that breathes life into Decorum. The issue opens with an multi-page sequence that is essentially devoid of dialogue, relying solely on his visuals. To put it simply, he nails it. Once the issue transitions into its core story, readers are completely hooked. As beautiful as the visuals are, the writing itself might be even better. Hickman manages to inject these characters with a liveliness and authenticity that is often missing in his works, making it that much easier to invest in them. As a whole, readers will be hard-pressed to find a more satisfying experience this week. Decorum #1 is a reminder of what the comics medium is capable of.