Thank you for reading Sequential Stories! I started it just a few months ago, and I’ve already gotten a great response. It appears people are enjoying the blog, which means a lot. Some of you even support the blog on Patreon, which is incredible.
I’m going to do something a little different this week and let you know that this is something you should come to expect sometimes. I’m changing things up a little bit!
I’ll level with you: I work as a freelance journalist, a part-time tutor and am enrolled in grad school pursuing a creative writing MFA. I’m a busy dude!
Scheduling an interview with a cool cartoonist for a feature on a weekly basis is a lot of work – this week, it didn’t work out. I decided I’d take this as an opportunity to start something I’ve been wanting to do on this blog lately – reviews!
At first, when I started this blog, I wanted to avoid reviewing comics, because I wanted to try to be as unique as possible here. However, I want to be a part of the discussion on comic books, including mainstream comics, and scheduling and conducting the interviews simply takes so much time that holding myself to a feature once a week is just a little too much right now.
So, expect reviews to become a regular feature of the blog. I’m thinking just once a month I’ll do a review or reviews instead of a feature that came out of an interview. The rest of the month, you can still expect features written from interviews with creators. I have some really cool stuff in the works right now, so don’t worry – those features aren’t going anywhere!
Let’s get to it!
Getting it Together #1 (Image Comics)
Getting it Together fills a gap that’s been missing in the mainstream comics scene recently.
The new series, co-written by Sina Grace and Omar Spahi, drawn by Jenny D. Fine, colored by Mx. Struble and lettered by Sean Konot, is a pure episodic slice-of-life drama, something that can be hard to come by from a major publisher in comics. Image also publishes the excellent Snotgirl comic from Byran Lee O’Malley and Leslie Hung, which includes a lot of grounded drama steeped in romantic troubles, but that book also has murder-mystery and dreamy vibes to it.
Getting it Together keeps to drama, following a group of friends and siblings in their 20s who are trying to get their shit together. They navigate sex, dating and work in a way that feels distinctly modern, with references to dating apps, open relationships and jobs that feel more like “gigs.” It also features a diverse group of compelling and complex characters, crafted lovingly and believably by the excellent group of creators working on this book.
The book explores breakups and cheating and deceit in relationships with a nice balance of levity and seriousness. The art has a lovely bounce to it with some great, lively colors. Overall, it’s a fun book but not a comedy.
I have been looking forward to this book, partly because of its cool concept but also because of my long admiration for Grace and Struble, who did Li’l Depressed Boy together, one of my all-time favorite comics. There’s a cute reference to it in the comic that you can’t miss!
Batman #100 and Amazing Spider-Man #49 (#850) (DC and Marvel Comics)
Both DC and Marvel Comics put out oversized issues of their flagship titles this week, Batman #100 and Amazing Spider-Man #49 (actually the 850th issue of the long-running series).
I’m a sucker for these big, exciting issues that offer payoff to a story that’s been building (and inevitably plant seeds for future stories), so I excitedly read and loved both of these. Still, both feel a bit forced, only made to be oversized to coincide with their landmark numbering.
Longtime Batman writer James Tynion IV finally got to helm the mainline Batman comic after Tom King finished his instant classic run on the character, and it’s been quite the change. Whereas King focused on an emotionally complex character study of Bruce Wayne and constantly played with the comics medium in interesting ways with the artists he’s collaborated with, Tynion has opted for a far simpler, fun-first approach.
It’s solid stuff that has me pumped to read the book with each release, even if it won’t be remembered nearly as much in years to come as the recent major Batman runs from King, Scott Snyder and Grant Morrison. Batman uses really cool tech in gorgeous and thrilling action sequences, rendered brilliantly by extraordinarily talented artists like Jorge Jiménez and Guillem March.
Tynion hopped on Batman at #85, meaning he had fourteen issues to build up to something big and special in #100, and he did about as good of a job as he could have. He’s been telling a grandiose, sprawling Joker story that introduced two new characters, Punchline, a fun, sort-of-riff on Harley Quinn and Clownhunter, a cool antihero with a solid edge to him.
Issue #100 has a nice sense of scale to it and wraps up the story nicely, though it’s not too memorable. Jiménez’s art is great, but the last few issues featured more arresting and memorable splashes and spreads than what appears in this issue.
Overall, Tynion’s run has felt a bit cramped. Punchline and Clownhunter are cool characters that didn’t quite get enough of a focus because of how few issues there were before the grand finale. They don’t seem to be going anywhere any time soon, fortunately, so I look forward to following them in the future.
Over at Marvel, Nick Spencer has the similarly tough gig of following Dan Slott, who led Spider-Man comics for about a decade. With his run, Slott brilliantly redefined the character and added so many incredible, exciting new bits to the character’s history, most notably the Superior Spider-Man, a Spidey with Doc Ock’s soul.
Spencer’s run has been a lot more grounded, focusing on a familiarly down-on-his-luck Peter Parker who finally got back together with Mary Jane. It’s been fun so far, even if it’s felt a little uneventful throughout. Spencer has been building up to a confrontation with a mysterious and creepy new villain, but this big issue continues to simply tease this.
Instead, this massive issue concludes the most recent arc on the series, one of the best in Spencer’s run so far because of its comparably high stakes. The previous issue upped the ante by injecting the Green Goblin into the story.
Just like Batman #100 brings together big co-stars like Nightwing and Batgirl, Amazing Spider-Man #49 brings together all of the other major Spider-Man heroes like Miles Morales and Spider-Gwen for a big storyline focused on the hero’s archnemesis. It does seem like the Green Goblin steamrolled over the story taking place. The Joker also emerged from an arc focusing on a different villain, but it was done over the course of more than a dozen issues, whereas Goblin steals the show as soon as he’s introduced.
Batman #100 made the smart choice of having one, relatively big main story done by one artist with two backups that act as addendums. Amazing Spider-Man #49 decided to go with an even bigger story, divided into three parts each helmed by a different artist. These parts seem incredibly artificial – it doesn’t really seem like anything other than one large story drawn by three artists with disparate styles.
Still, these are some of the best artists working at Marvel: Ryan Ottley, Humberto Ramos and Mark Bagley. All of them do great work, especially Ottley, whose kinetic style has truly proven itself as perfect for Spider-Man. There’s a particularly well-done two-page splash in his chapter that looks so, so good. There are also three cool, unrelated back-up stories in here by another awesome slew of artists like Tradd Moore.
Like Batman’s big issue this week, it’s hard not to enjoy a big, dumb story featuring such major characters and drawn by such all-stars, but it’s not all too memorable.
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