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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “Web-Slingers, Worms & Civil Wars”

    Comics are one of the easiest mediums for artists and storytellers to break into. People like the Wachowski brothers got their start writing comics before going on to make films like “”The Matrix.”” Frank Miller of “”300″” and “”Sin City”” fame has now become a force in Hollywood, and even new talents like Ben Templesmith are seeing their once fringe comics achieve mainstream success.

    Many times, however, the results of an open industry can be less than desirable. Illustrators or writers may hold comics hostage, asserting their creative control over every aspect of production, and results can be less than desirable; like, say, a 60 year-old Spider-Man fighting crime in his underwear (see the review of “”Spider-Man: Reign””).

    Despite how controversial certain stories may be, the industry is only a pen and pad of paper away from someone else making their own comic.

    “”Civil War””

    Mark Millar and Steve McNiven: Marvel Comics

    Marvel Comics has a bad habit of creating massive crossover events where characters from separate universes collide in large-scale superhero wars. Although it may sound like a comic reader’s wet dream, crossovers often contradict established realities and leave less-popular characters at the wayside to cater to mainstream fans.

    Enter Marvel’s “”Civil War.”” Avoiding the tired clichǸ of an army of superheroes battling an army of villains, “”Civil War”” uniquely pits heroes against heroes disputing a “”Superhuman Registration Act.”” Iron Man leading one side and Captain America on the other, the comic intelligently disputes the familiar topic of security versus civil liberties.

    The event introduces fresh storylines and weaves current issues into the absorbing plot. Spider-Man, yielding to the registration act, gives away his true identity, entire superhero teams are obliterated and, if you happened to miss it on CNN last month, Captain America is assassinated.

    That’s not to say “”Civil War”” is void of any comic stereotypes. No one really cares about Captain Marvel joining the present timeline, the New Warriors’ reality TV show or Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Woman’s marriage troubles.

    If you’re a fan of any of the popular Marvel characters, “”Civil War”” is a must buy. On top of the main collection, an avalanche of other trade paperbacks chronicling individual heroes’ roles in the war and various side stories will be covering store shelves in coming months. The first “”Civil War”” trade paperback will be available in stores next week.

    “”Spider-Man: Reign””

    Kaare Andrews: Marvel Knights

    In December the first issue of “”Spider-Man: Reign”” was recalled by Marvel, but it wasn’t because of the weak storyline. The comic was recalled because it had a panel featuring a naked elderly Peter Parker sitting on a bed, genitalia and all. Now, if a shriveled penis doesn’t get Spider-Man fans excited, who knows what will?

    “”Spider-Man: Reign”” is basically a rip-off of Frank Miller’s “”Batman: The Dark Knight Returns,”” rehashing the formula of a villain-run future pressuring an aging hero out of retirement. Not only is it an imitation, it’s a bad one.

    In “”Reign”” a fascist mayor rules New York and hires Spider-Man’s old enemies as muscle in his plan to secure the city by shielding it with a neon-pink laser web. However, a group of rebellious pre-teen kids has taken to the street in protest. Meanwhile, Spider-Man is nowhere to be found.

    Now a florist, an elderly Peter Parker spends his days, in the solitude of an empty apartment, mourning the death of his beloved Mary Jane Watson. How did Mary Jane, die you ask? No, it wasn’t any of Spidey’s numerous villains that murdered her. Mary Jane was killed by nanites in Parker’s spider-sperm. Guess it brings a new meaning to the nickname “”web-slinger.””

    “”Spider-Man: Reign”” quashes a beautiful illustrative style with a discombobulated story that at times is so bad it’s funny. Most of the decent portions of Kaare Andrews’ plot seem to be influenced a little too much by other stories. The artistry definitely makes this title worth flipping through, but “”Spider-Man: Reign”” should be left on the shelf.

    Interested parties can find a hardcover collection of the series hitting stores in two weeks.

    “”Wormwood: Gentlemen Corpse””

    Ben Templesmith: IDW Publishing

    IDW has become sort of a one-stop shop for entertainment companies to turn TV shows like “”24,”” “”Star Trek,”” and “”CSI”” into comics. Although they may not be looked at as a cutting-edge independent comic company, they do have the talent of Ben Templesmith, whose cryptic stories and accompanying art are in a league by themselves. His 2002 breakthrough vampire epic “”30 Days of Night”” is being made into a movie starring Josh Hartnett, set to be released at the end of the year, and since its success Templesmith has churned out a quality supply of other horror-based comics.

    Although his last release, “”Singularity 7,”” seemed to read more like Matrix fan-fiction, his newest graphic novel, “”Wormwood,”” is one of the most original comics available in stores.

    The story follows a group of monster hunters led by Wormwood, a rotting corpse inhabited by a worm. The group never takes itself too seriously, and Templesmith counters the craziness in the pages with a needed dose of wry humor and sarcasm. For instance, the final battle, between a towering Minotaur and the monster hunters, is interrupted by a phone call and settled by the two sides talking it out.

    Templesmith is definitely at the top of the horror genre, and “”Wormwood”” shows him near the top of his game. He has one of the best illustrative styles in comics, and with this latest trade paperback he provides the story to compliment it.

    Although it probably won’t be made into a movie anytime soon, “”Wormwood”” is a great read for fans of the more occult. If you’re at all into vomiting leprechauns, demon-impregnated gimps or supernatural monsters with squid heads, this graphic novel is for you.

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