Tag: marvel comics
No Context Comics: A Look at 3 Books I Don’t Read from the week of 4/26
Happy birthday to me, your illustrious guide to the comic books I don’t read, Urbane Turtle. As always, life finds a way to interfere with this hobby. Thank you to the haters who continue to make Spider-Man and Mary Jane a perennial click-machine.
In celebration of my 34th birthday, I’d like to see the site churn out some real work this week. I’ll be working on a new Rearview Mirror piece in honor of the new Joshua Williamson Green Arrow series. I’ve never read Green Arrow before, but have just read through The Longbow Hunters and have thoughts. Something arrow-related should be up by the end of the week. Patreon supporters will get it a bit early.
This last week of April and first of May are fairly light weeks in terms of books out from the big publishers, which made finding issues that fit my admittedly loose criteria kind of difficult. We might hit a point soon where I’ll need to revisit some series that I touched on previously.
What’s the Furthest Place From Here? #12
Image. Matthew Rosenberg, writer. Tyler Boss, artist. Roman Titov/Shycheeks, colors. Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou, letters.
Here’s what I know about this book: it’s written by Matthew Rosenberg, who I’ve never read but had a controversial run on X-Men, with art by Tyler Boss, who drew an extremely cool issue of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Universe. Also Bendis drew a variant cover for it and they wear pig masks maybe?Continue reading “No Context Comics: A Look at 3 Books I Don’t Read from the week of 4/26”
Random Comic Panel of the Week #85
No Context Comics: A Look at 3 Books I Don’t Read from the week of 4/12
Hello Urbane Turtle faithful and newcomers who may have seen this after rage-clicking my last post about the Spider-Man marriage!
Welcome back to another NO CONTEXT COMICS! My semi-regular column where I take a look at 3 new comics I don’t read. Should every comic be written to be someone’s first comic? Does context matter? Is there a good way to lure new readers while catering to longtime fans? These are all the questions one must answer when you’re a big shot comics critic like me.
As I have shared in recent Turtle Club newsletters, it has been a difficult few months to make time for any writing. I am hoping things begin to clear up and I am able to keep doing this more regularly.
But in the meantime, enjoy my rambling about three books I picked at random.Continue reading “No Context Comics: A Look at 3 Books I Don’t Read from the week of 4/12”
The Spider-Marriage and Starcrossed Tragedy
Have you been reading Amazing Spider-Man over the last year? If you haven’t, Dark Web aside, you’re missing out on some of the very best Spider-Man comics to be published in well over a decade.
You’d never guess that by going on Twitter, where the conversations around the title center completely around whether Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson are married or not. Let’s put it out there—I’m pro-Spider-Marriage and am still angry that One More Day happened and that the marriage was thrown out via a deal with the literal devil. But moreso, angry at how it was thrown out, which was among the worst and least thematically appropriate Spider-comics ever made.
One More Day is almost old enough to drink now, and frankly, we’ve all got to move on sometime. I jumped around and floated in and out of Dan Slott’s historic run on the title, which ranged from baffling to excellent, but never good enough to reel me in. I also felt like there was never a good jumping on point. (Do jumping on points even matter? I explore that question in my regular No Context Comics column, hopefully returning soon!) I dipped my toes back in with Nick Spencer’s and Ryan Ottley’s relaunch, which got me very excited after a great debut issue. Perhaps part of what got me to buy in on that issue was its ending, a triumphant kiss between Peter and MJ. They were back together!
But Spencer’s run quickly became a convoluted, senseless, disastrous mess (read more about that here). I was ready to give up on Spidey altogether. But after reading the first arc of Zeb Wells and John Romita Jr’s (along with letterer Joe Caramagna and colorist Marcio Menyz) run, an exceptionally personal and emotionally taught crime thriller with Tombstone, I was back on board, despite being sad to see MJ shuffled back out of Peter’s life.
Most frustrating of all was the “Mystery Box” approach to those first few issues of the run. The book opened with a page of Spider-Man screaming in a crater, holding a strange device and his costume torn up. The marketing asked us “What did Peter do?” After a six-month timeskip, Peter returned to NYC after being away for undisclosed reasons. He was isolated and had seemingly pushed everyone out of his life including Aunt May, his roommate, and The Fantastic Four. Worst of all? MJ was apparently with a new man named Paul, and seemed to have had children with him. Why would they separate Spidey and MJ after the last run spent so much time retconning so many old stories to clean the slate for them?
All those misgivings colored my enjoyment of what has been a tremendous run of stories. After Tombstone, there was a great two-issue fight with The Vulture, followed by a Hobgoblin story that evoked the best of Roger Stern and JRjr’s original stories with the character. And even the hints of what we see of MJ throughout this story, her explanation to Peter that her relationship with Paul and to the children was “about responsibility” showed a clear understanding of MJ’s character and her background as elucidated by Tom DeFalco.Continue reading “The Spider-Marriage and Starcrossed Tragedy”
Random Comic Panel of the Week #81
Random Comic Panel of the Week #80
The 2023 Urbane Turtle Year in Review
Well here we are. Another year in the books. Time for another best-of list. In year 1, the Pandemic Year, I looked back on the various media and stories that impacted me and got me through the global disaster. In Year 2, I counted down my favorite comics of the year. We are focusing again on the best comics of the year. Partially because it’s most of what I’ve consumed this year (my Goodreads has recorded 80+ comics, which doesn’t even account for ongoing monthly reading) but also because that’s where the focus of this site and my writing has really narrowed in on.
With some of the SEO bait out of the way (I do not know how SEO works) I wanted to reflect on this year, personally, a bit before we get into the list. It’s been an exciting year for your old pal Urbane Turtle. I can’t say it’s been a profitable endeavor, but it has been a prolific year with a mostly-regular weekly column, contributions on new sites, surreal interview opportunities, and even regular scripting for a YouTube channel.
I don’t know if writing will ever be a real career–but it has certainly become a vocation. And the thing keeping me from completely melting down about my general “professional life.” If you’ve been with me on this journey–whether you read everything (who are you??), read one thing, or shared something on social media (Especially the comics creators who have said nice things!!)–I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Personally, the most rewarding thing that started this year is the NO CONTEXT COMICS column. That’s an idea I had for a little while and wanted to see out in the world, so I just started doing it myself. It’s been a blast and introduced me to a lot of new creators and books I might have missed otherwise. I look forward to working on it every week. When reality gets in the way and I can’t get to it? It’s a gut punch every time! Especially when I’ve done the reading. I’ve not seen anyone comment on any of these and analytics don’t show much engagement, but I like it darn it!
Too much preamble? Yeah, okay. Some final words before we get to the list.
In 2023, I have a few goals. I’d like to engage in a bit more fiction and prose, like this story. I’d like to take more photos. I’d like to see a more regular update schedule. UrbaneTurtle.com has seen some steady and small growth in audience, and I think I can make things even better in this next trip around the sun.
And, finally, I resolve to become a Ghost Rider Guy.
As I said before, I’ve consumed a lot of comics this year. And I still feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface. However, I feel pretty confident in my picks this year. There are so many wonderful stories and creators out there in the industry–and even more outside the industry making webcomics and underground zines–that it seems impossible to do justice to the hard work and creativity on display every single week. I enjoyed so many books this year that will go unmentioned here. The business side of the comics industry may be questionable–with late payments and bankruptcies and corporate consolidation–but the creative energy is off the charts. Comics, more than ever, really are for everyone.Continue reading “The 2023 Urbane Turtle Year in Review”
Random Comic Panel of the Week #78
No Context Comics – A Look at 3 Books I Don’t Read from the Week of 12/7
Here we have a somewhat belated entry into the semi-weekly No Context Comics! I’ve been busy outside of Urbane Turtle dot com, lately. You can find my spotlight review for this week’s thrilling new series, ALL AGAINST ALL, over at The Comics Beat. I also had the chance to interview TMNT writer Tom Waltz and editor Charles Beacham about the super fun event series, THE ARMAGEDDON GAME.
I also had a couple days off from the day job, but spent them doing nothing productive whatsoever other than watching a few movies and the Rise of the TMNT series on Netflix. You see, I am teetering on the brink of ~*~ burn out ~*~ and some days of total vegging were paramount.
This week we’ve got a new superhero, fantasy misfits, and a longtime pro hero. So let’s get into it, shall we?
Monkey Prince #9
DC. Gene Luen Yang, Writer. Bernard Chang, Artist. Marcelo Maiolo, Colors. Janice Chiang. Letters. Jessica Chen. Editor.
Gene Yuen Lang has written some of my favorite superhero stories of the last few years, and DC has seen a dearth of new superhero creations in the last ten years. So I should be excited by the prospect of the Monkey King, which draws from Chinese mythology to introduce a new player into the fold! Yang’s authentic voice deserves to be heard above the din of the corporate cape books. And yet I have been remiss in even looking twice at Monkey Prince, Yang’s latest mainstream series.
Despite Marvel’s reputation as being more “grounded” or “street level,” it has no shortage of characters pulled right out of mythic pantheons. In that way, Monkey Prince as an idea feels more at home in the Marvel U. DC has plenty of godly beings but most of them are DC originals, not pantheons or public domain heroes. Marvel is much more willing to do that kind of thing, historically.
There’s a LOT going on in this issue, and it feels very disorienting as a new reader. There are general ideas that feel familiar–Metropolis, Lexcorp, Bizarro Clones, and even the “Journey to the West” iconography (thanks, Dragonball!), but a lot that took a bit to put together. But everything needed to get caught up is here on the page.
Marcus, the main character’s, parents are two-bit henchpeople, and Marcus has to deal with that while juggling being a normal kid and also learning how to be a hero. His encounter with Supergirl here gives the reader a firm idea of his character, impetuous, petulant, and frankly, kind of unlikable!
There’s a big twist on the last page that gave me a big laugh. The villain of this piece is genuinely creepy and his attack that starts the issue is unsettling.
I get the point of making a young male hero kind of a jerk but it does make it hard to root for him, even if he is trying to learn. I’m certainly willing to give Yang the benefit of the doubt that Marcus is growign and learning, after all, his parents are crooks. It’s not like he’s had a strong role model.
Crossovers can get exhausting but I did get a little bit of a thrill to see this tie-in to the Devil Nezha and Mark Waid’s work over on World’ Finest/Batman vs. Robin/Lazarus Planet. It’s not ridiculously intrusive (yet, anyway; the next issue seems to be a full tie-in) but it makes all of these new elements feel important and tied into the larger DCU. Something a lot of new ideas in superhero universes fail to do authentically.
The art is serviceable if unremarkable all around. There are flashes of inventiveness and humor, particularly toward the end when the hero is transformed, that play into the Monkey Prince’s irreverent personality. I also really liked to see that most of the creative team is of Asian descent and their names credited in script as well as English.
Overall–this felt like a standard issue of a monthly comic book. Neither particularly good nor particularly bad. A perfectly serviceable diversion, with the bonus of introducing new representation.
Least We Can Do #4
Image. Iolanda Zanfardino, Writer.Elisa Romboli, Artist.
A caveat that I think is important here: I have never played Dungeons and Dragons or other tabletop RPGs. I have passing familiarity with some of the concepts, which let me generally understand some of the ideas here. I don’t know that the extreme number of word balloons here are specifically referencing Tabletop games but they certainyl seem to be. And boyoboy are there so many words here. And references to concepts that are not explained. And explaining powers and how powers work like it’s a gosh darn encyclopedia.
I found this book so hard to get through that it was a wonder to me that it exists? There is no compelling character within these pages, or even a plot that I can decipher. These characters seem to exist to talk about going on quests and to research magic we mostly do not see. It’s a real slog.
The art is mostly okay with a few truly standout moments. There is a page in here where a character stops time and speeds past other characters that displayed the idea of superspeed or time manipulation better than almost anything else I’ve seen in comics. The first panel is a shot of three characters. That is then cut through by a second panel with another caracter’s face in profile. In the third panel, the one who interrupted is suddenly standing behind the others, far in the distance. The way Romboli depicts the character slicing through the gutter where we usually read the passage of time is shockingly effective. The fight scene on the train toward issue’s end is well-staged and easy to follow (a trait not to be undervalued in comics!) with a dynamic sense of movement.
But beyond that there was nothing much here to draw me in. Romboli does the best she can with some exhausting exposition, giving the characters plenty of emotion as they shout about things I didn’t understand.
By issue’s end I just can’t help but wonder who this is for. I would like to see more of Romboli with something more to work with, though.
Captain Marvel #44
Marvel. Kelly Thompson, Writer. Sergio Dávila, Artist. Arif Prianto, Colors. Clayton Cowles, Letters.
Kelly Thompson is a writer I have heard a lot of good things about that I always intend to look more into. But there’s always more books to read and I never get to it. She’s maintained an impressive run on this Captain Marvel series, which I am sure speaks to the quality of her work.
At 44 issues of a character older than me, I don’t expect to know all the ins-and-outs of what is going on. Particularly when it seems to be a spiritual sequel to an old Claremont X-Men story. I am sure X-Men fans are happy to see this (or maybe not, X-Men fans are never happy). Ever since becoming Captain Marvel it has seemed like Marvel has tried to distance her from the mutants, despite her having had significant relationships with them during Claremont’s tenure.
I’m not an X-Men aficionado, but I am familiar enough with the broad strokes to appreciate Carol’s opening monologue here, about enjoying getting to bust on Rogue and the Brood simultaneously, in another life. I’m also able to appreciate how Thompson effectively builds this grand space drama around decades of publishing history to effectively tell a story of growth and empowerment over past trauma.
In many ways, this issue is a stellar example of how to tell superhero comics in a long-running shared universe. Just enough mentions of the past to orient newer readers while spurring interest in the old stories. It doesn’t spend pages explaining those events in detail, boring die-hards. And it moves Carol forward as a character forward and illustrates how she has grown and changed since she was Binary and Ms. Marvel. She’s no longer the B-List side character in a team book. Now she’s a blockbuster headliner, and how does that change how she approaches the things that have harmed her?
I really enjoyed this, despite being years behind on Captain Marvel. Thompson has a clear vision for who Carol Danvers is and where she has come from. The art from Sergio Dávila is standard superhero fare. I particularly like how he illustrates Carol’s powers and the almost Super Saiyan way it blows her hair around.
Perhaps I need to stop overlooking Captain Marvel, and get down to finally reading more of Thompson’s work in full.