This week The House of Ideas is finally fully entering Spider-Geddon! We have thoughts on the debut of the brand new event series pitting the Spider-Men and Spider-Women of the Marvel multiverse against a set of familiar enemies. Plus, Mojo takes center stage in the next chapter of X-Men Black! It’s time for the Marvel Rundown!
Written by Christos Gage and Dan Slott
Illustrated by Jorge Molina
Colored by David Curiel
Lettered by VC’s Travis Lanham
Alexander Jones: Gentlemen, Spider-Man is back again this week! This time we’re officially entering the Spider-Verse…again. What did you both of you think about Spider-Geddon #1?
AJ Frost: Hey guys! Well, this book was certainly as dumb as big banner comics go. I found myself rolling my eyes back multiple times because of how inane the whole affair was. It’s not that I’m against the idea of there being multiple Spider- (and spider-related) beings teaming up to fight bad guys. But this book was pretty clumsy in its execution and pretty childish all around.
Joe Grunenwald: Greetings, fellow web-heads! I’m generally a fan of a good multiversal crossover, but I have to agree with AJ. This first issue was a frustrating read on several levels.
Frost: I’m interested to learn what your particular gripes are about this issue, Joe.
Jones: I definitely felt like we were retreading old ground here. The first Spider-Verse storyline was kind of novel. At this point, it feels like we are only going back here because there is a film coming soon. I was really disappointed in this initially and how familiar it immediately felt.
Grunenwald: That’s sort of where I fell on it, too, Alex. After a zero issue, the brief prelude in Superior Octopus from last week, and now this issue, there’s still really nothing new here to sink my teeth into. It’s the exact same characters from the last Spider-Verse crossover doing the exact same things. And that’s before you add in the presence of the tired ‘superheroes fight before teaming-up’ trope that’s been a prerequisite for any sort of crossover since the late ’60s. The only thing of interest here is the body count after this first issue. It seems like maybe Spider-Geddon is going to be used to clean up the Spider-verse.
Frost: Interesting points, Joe. This comic definitely felt like prep for the upcoming flick (which, as an aside, does look amazing). Everything here was so rote and unimaginative. At certain points throughout the book, the dialogue read like clichéd dreck. It was laughably bad, and it detracted from the whole experience, I’d say.
Jones: I’m really at a loss with this particular issue. Nothing about the script here had anything remotely new in it. To me, this felt like a carbon copy of the 2014 story. The majority of the characters and interactions are exactly the same. To make matters even worse, the Inheritors are even back along with Morlun. I’m at the point where this doesn’t even feel like original content especially script-wise. After reading comics like G.I. Joe: COBRA, I know author Christos Gage is capable of producing great scripts.
Grunenwald: Knowing that this is written based on a story by Dan Slott almost makes it worse. The original Spider-Verse storyline was imaginative and fun. It makes me wonder what he would’ve brought to the table here.
Frost: It’s grist for the mill. Just gotta churn out the paper. It’s an industrial product more than a singular artistic work. And that’s fine for the most part, but these are the comics that really just annoy me so much. There were parts of this book that was just so awful. For me, it was the fight between Superior Octopus and Count Nefaria. Nefaria says something about “How is my ionic energy not working? and Octo responds “My arms are charged with ionic energy disruption” or something like that. Felt like a line out of “Toy Story” or something.
Grunenwald: “YOU ARE
A TOY CORPORATE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY UTILIZED FOR BRAND SYNERGY!”
Jones: This absolutely felt so industrial and mechanical to me. This series and issue exists to fill time and space and there is no artistry to it whatsoever. That being said, I like Jorge Molina and think he turned in some good work here.
Grunenwald: I agree with you there. I liked Jorge Molina’s linework. It felt like classic superhero work, and David Curiel’s colors complemented it well. The action pops off the page nicely throughout. I just wish the story had been of equal quality.
Frost: Haha. Alex, yeah, I’m with you. The art throughout was good. But if the story doesn’t work, the art can only do so much. And Joe, it’s not so much the forced brand synergy. That can be cool. It’s just the carelessness with which it was executed that gets on my nerves. But I bet this was a completely editorial-led comic, so there’s only so much you can do, ya know?
Grunenwald: The issue’s end-note is written not by the writer but by the editor, so I’d wager that’s absolutely the case. The most frustrating thing for me was, there are characters I really like in this book—Miles and Spider-Gwen have had some great stories, and great stories together—and they’re totally wasted. There could literally be any characters in this book and it wouldn’t make any difference. I care about those two because of my past experiences with them, but the rest of the characters I have no attachment to, so why do I care what happens to them here? Give me a reason to care.
Frost: Spider-Man Noir is so interesting. Give him more stuff to do!
Jones: What else can we really say about this one? I feel like this story was rushed out of the gate. Marvel has a ton of other properties and an event going on right now. I don’t think the Spider-Verse title was the first thing they are focusing their publishing efforts on, but maybe it should be! I think everyone is still high from the PS4 title and excited for the film.
Frost: The movie can’t come fast enough.
Jones: Final thoughts?
Grunenwald: Unless you’re a die-hard Spider-fan, SKIP this. If you are a die-hard Spider-fan, maybe still consider skipping this?
Jones: This is aggressively mandated corporate-owned comics that don’t care if you are having a good time. SKIP.
Final Verdict: The Rundown Unites! Joe, AJ and Alexander say SKIP!
Written by Scott Aukerman, Zac Thompson, and Lonnie Nadler
Illustrated by Nick Bradshaw, André Lima Araújo, and Geraldo Borges
Colored by Guru-eFX and Rachelle Rosenberg
Lettered by VC’s Cory Petit and VC’s Joe Caramagna
NOTE: The review copy of this issue received by The Beat did not contain the full Apocalypse back-up story. As a result, the review below will only cover the main feature of the issue.
Alexander Jones: AJ, Joe, X-Men Black – Mojo #1 is here! But is it any good?
AJ Frost: Well, it’s weird A.F., that’s for sure. This is actually my first time reading any Mojo-related material, so I was curious about what this was all about. And from the first panel, my thought was… ‘Gee, this is bizarre and I’m not sure I’m digging it.’ I kinda got into the groove before the issue was out and my thoughts were a bit more positive. So, yeah, this is crazy stuff!
Joe Grunenwald: I was cautiously optimistic coming into this comic—I’m not a fan of Mojo, but I am a fan of writer and comedian Scott Aukerman. My initial reaction was lukewarm, but as I think about it more I’m starting to appreciate what the story is doing.
Jones: I really like Scott Aukerman as well. There are lots of panels with really weird humor and there are a lot of pages with on-the-nose humor that goes too far. I was really mixed on the whole thing actually.
Frost: There’s definitely some aesthetic unpleasantness here.
Grunenwald: Look, I know it’s juvenile, but the Spitball Special made me laugh. Mukus is going to be the breakout character of 2018.
Jones: Humor is subjective but that joke sure did not land for me.
Grunenwald: I’m a sucker for mutants with absolutely useless powers.
Frost: Yeah, it was pretty asinine, haha.
Grunenwald: So Aukerman sets up a pretty blunt metaphor—that is, Mojo as CmicsGte—in the opening pages of the issue, and I sort of forgot about it after those initial pages, but reading the rest of the issue with that in mind I really liked how that metaphor played out across the rest of the story.
Jones: That is a fascinating observation that definitely lends something towards another reading of the issue. I’m not sure the comparison lines up 100% because Mojo is still Mojo—but I definitely feel like there’s an interesting case to be made to that comparison.
Frost: Okay, so this was something I noticed, and I’d be interested in your perspectives on this, fellas. So, I don’t know much about Mojo, but the opening pages of him sure seem to revel in near-anti-Semitic imagery and it did make me do a double take. What did you guys think? Did you catch that too? Or am I being paranoid?
Grunenwald: I honestly did not catch that, but having pointed it out I can understand where you’re coming from. I certainly don’t get the impression that it’s presented that way on purpose.
Jones: I can’t speak on this in a professional manner whatsoever—It flew right over my head.
Frost: There were definitely some tropes there, even if the intent wasn’t. I just see these things so often, sadly, that I can just kinda spot them. Coupled with the fact that when Mojo stops by a coffee shop and gets his drink back with the name ‘Shlomo,’ it’s not that much of a stretch to think something is up. I don’t know much about the character’s history to determine if this is normal or not. But there’s definitely something going on. That being said, Mojo does redeem himself somewhat by the book’s end. Maybe editorial should have been a little bit more above board on that.
Jones: Mojo is definitely an X-Men villain but any semblance of anti-semitism needs to be condemned.
Grunenwald: I agree, whether it was intentional or otherwise, that’s unfortunate. I know the character was created to be a parody of TV network executives.
Frost: Hmm….. Not bolstering their case. Then again, this book is completely bizarre. So no one should take it seriously.
Grunenwald: Would Mojo accuse us of being SJW soyboys?
Frost: Of course. Anything for the ratings.
Grunenwald: If only he got to know us as people. (It’s not a perfect metaphor, and the resolution is maybe a little simplistic, but I still like it.) What’d you guys think of the art on this story? Potentially offensive imagery aside, I mean.
Jones: Nick Bradshaw and André Lima Araújo’s contributions reminded me of Brad Walker’s pencils. I really liked it. Not sure who had the poor imagery in mind but we definitely do not advocate for that here despite how much I liked pencils.
Frost: The art was fine. The Guru-eFX coloring really made the issue.
Grunenwald: I really like Nick Bradshaw’s work. His hyper-detailing always reminds me of Arthur Adams, which is appropriate since Adam co-created Mojo. The transition from Bradshaw to Araújo’s art was smooth. The coloring definitely helped maintain consistency.
Jones: I liked the art and found Bradshaw’s work to be nice and consistent with the rest of the pencils. Araújo’s work was solid as well.
Grunenwald: I do have one tiny nit to pick with the art: when Mojo’s in the coffee shop, he orders a double half-caff Americano with coconut milk and a shot of sugar-free hazelnut. Three panels later, after he has his coffee, we see him pouring something into it. It should’ve already had coconut milk AND sugar-free hazelnut in it! You’re ruining that drink, Mojo!
Frost: He’s too infatuated with that girl to notice that he’s over-creaming his coffee, I suppose. Or maybe it’s just the proposition of more free creamer? It will forever remain a mystery.
Grunenwald: I suppose it will.
Jones: Final thoughts?
Frost: I came into this issue with my mind open, but I can’t give it a solid recommendation. Going to go with a WEAK BROWSE for this book.
Grunenwald: I’m giving this one a straight-up BROWSE. I enjoyed it well enough but I know it won’t be for everyone.
Jones: Definitely going to SKIP this one.
Frost: A bit of downer week here at The Marvel Rundown. But we do it out of love.
Grunenwald: Come for the appreciation of lowbrow humor, stay for the critical analysis of cultural insensitivities.
Final Verdict: The Rundown is divided again! Joe and AJ say BROWSE, Alexander says SKIP!
FACE-FRONT TRUE BELIEVERS! Next week’s line-up looks promising! We are going to be covering Unstoppable Wasp #1 and Shuri #1, so don’t miss it!