Welcome to this week’s Marvel Rundown! Depending where you are in the world, you may be noticing things are slowly returning to normal… but for Marvel it’s business as usual, as they release yet another event series into comic stores and people’s tablets, this time focusing on Spider-Man, by Amazing Spider-Man writer Nick Spencer and artist Mark Bagley. Is Sinister War good enough to warrant its own title?
All that and some more books to be covered in the Rapid Rundown!
Sinister War #1
Written by Nick Spencer
Art by Mark Bagley
Inking by Andrew Hennessy, John Dell, and Andy Owens
Colouring by Brian Reber
Lettering by Joe Caramagna
Cover by Bryan Hitch and Paul Mounts
As you may have heard, Nick Spencer’s time on Amazing Spider-Man is coming to an end this September, leaving the book for… Substack? Some will cheer, some will cry, and some will… simply shrug. Someone like yours truly. But what this announcement does illuminate is that Sinister War, which appeared to be another one of Spencer’s Spidey events but given its own title, now acts as the capstone for Spencer’s three-year run on the series.
This event seems to serve as the culmination of the entire run, pulling in threads that Spencer has set up from the first arc along with every obscure D-list villain he could think of, which is sometimes what has given this run its charming moments.
I take issue with something that’s been bothering me a lot as of late when it comes to Marvel events springing out of ongoing series; this really should have been a part of the main series. Anyone jumping onto this will be confused from the very first page, and in the coming months or years anyone buying a trade called Sinister War will wonder exactly where this fit into whatever Spider-Man was going through that year. Unsurprisingly, it’s one of those incredibly short-sighted decisions that comics are very much known for.
Speaking of regressive or artistically stagnant decisions, I could not think of a worse artist for this than Mark Bagley. That’s not to say that Bagley is a bad artist by any stretch, but in a world where plenty of Big Two books have incredible artists drawing these mainstream books like Nic Klein on Thor, Jorge Jimenez on Batman, or Pepe Larraz on X-Men, why is this series getting the short shrift? These pages are unremarkable. Aside from the villains who are easier to render due to their costumes, none of the other characters look right. Peter and Mary Jane look awkwardly posed and quite stiff at all times, and Spider-Man doesn’t have the flexibility or emotiveness that has drawn legions of readers to his character.
As for Spencer’s plotting, it’s frankly more of the same wedding-bait and “One More Day” references along with a pretty paint-by-numbers Spider-Man-gets-overwhelmed plot. Since Kindred’s identity was a secret for a large portion of the run, it looked like the story could go in a million different directions but with his identity all up in the air again… things seem a little more obvious. Especially now that there are two other Harry Osborns running around, with one of them on the coroner’s table. With the Doctor Strange/Mephisto scenes bookending the issue… yeah. It’s obvious. If anything, I appreciate that Marvel is trying something different with the book’s next creative team.
Final verdict: WEAK BROWSE. I don’t want to spoil much because if you’re one of those people who deeply care for Peter and MJ’s relationship, then this is certainly something you’re going to want to read. The art is good but unexciting and honestly I’m just counting down the days until I can read a Zeb Wells Spider-Man comic again.
- Aliens: Aftermath #1
- After being more than a little disappointed in the ongoing Alien series from Marvel, I was a little skeptical going in to this week’s Aliens: Aftermath one-shot. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by this issue, though. Writer Ben Percy introduces a group of characters who are interesting and whose interplay is entertaining, and artists Dave Wachter and Chris Sotomayor bring the characters and the story to life in a way that visually echoes the look and feel of Aliens well. With an Alien comic you sort of know what you’re in for, but this team puts some interesting twists on reader expectations. I wouldn’t mind seeing more stories set in this world from any of them. —JG
- Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #12
- Another Aphra after just a fortnight? You’re making me dream of a weekly Chelli drop! The rogue archeologist (and Sana Starros) invade the galaxy’s most glamorous gala in this War of the Bounty Hunters crossover. This issue introduces several complications to Aphra’s plan and leaves us on a cliffhanger that will leave you wishing it were only two weeks until the next issue. Meanwhile, between the Shadows of the Empire allusions, the continuation of Attack of the Clones narratives, and multiple references to Solo, this comic book crossover event continues to present a window into a galaxy far, far away that seems much better integrated than its onscreen counterpart. — AJK
- Star Wars: War of the Bounty Hunters #2
- Not to be outdone by the X-Men and the events of their Hellfire Gala, Star Wars throws its own soiree, as the criminal organization Crimson Dawn auctions off everyone’s favorite frozen scoundrel, Han Solo. This issue of the War of the Bounty Hunter storyline runs in tandem with Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #12. When I saw the initial breakdown of issues that would cover this event I was very skeptical and this issue proves that an event this long can have some foul balls. While still well crafted and executed, Boba Fett keeps showing us how much of a badass he is, but there wasn’t that much emotional tissue for me to care about him wanting to get paid. Even with a few easter eggs and the attempt to make more of the Solo movie, this issue is only helped if you read both issues as the Aphra issue has more of the emotional stakes to this event. —GC3
Next week, post-gala Marauders, and “The Last Annihilation” kicks off!