Here’s this great new series by Robbie Thompson and Nick Bradshaw focusing on Spider-Man when he was still in high school. He tangles with the White Rabbit, does badly on a pop quiz, get pushed around by Flash Thompson and rescued by Gwen Stacy, and visits Oscorp just in time for an attack by Dr. Octopus. Can puny Parker save the day — and what more terrible menace is now keeping an eye on him?
Verdict: Thumbs up. Fantastic story and art — the art is very reminiscent of Art Adams, by the way, which is definitely a good thing. And it’s always great to be able to revisit Peter Parker’s youth — Spidey’s glory days were definitely his high school years, and while this is modernized quite a bit — the Wall-Crawler takes a selfie of himself and White Rabbit after he defeats her — this story still has the feel of the classic era.
The Totally Awesome Hulk #1
Well, Amadeus Cho, 19-year-old Korean-American smartass, buddy of both the Hulk and Hercules, eighth smartest person in the world, now has gamma-spawned powers of his own. So he runs around the world with his super-genius sister Maddy, beating up monsters (and often getting beat up by them, too), and getting accustomed to how gamma radiation messes with his own rage issues. So is life gonna be all sunshine and bacon cheeseburgers for Amadeus?
Verdict: Thumbs up. Okay, I could take or leave Frank Cho — he draws pretty, but his arrogance always makes me want to find more interesting artists. But Greg Pak writing Amadeus Cho? Yeah, I’m down with that.
The whole country is freaking out about the cat flu, and Boss Smiley and his corporate flunkies have crafted a bill to let them cure the flu, but also give them the right to patent any living organism. President Beth Ross thinks that sounds like bull, and she throws ’em out. The bill gets passed over her objections, but a very wealthy supporter manages to patent the DNA of the corporate goons himself and threatens to sue them for existing. Meanwhile, the former War Beast drone, now calling herself Tina, wants to live her own life and is looking for a new job. Might that include protecting the President from deranged cat-flu worshipers?
Verdict: Thumbs up. Very nice political satire with a cool sci-fi edge. (The comic makes a point that Tina is transgender — which I’m not sure is entirely accurate for an only-recently sapient genderless robot. Personally, I think what makes her really interesting is her embrace of evangelical Christianity…)
Sensation Comics #17
The final issue of this series features a story by the great Trina Robbins. Wonder Woman meets up with the Cheetah, who reveals that the plant that grants her cheetah-like powers is almost extinct — and without it, she’ll die. Diana agrees to fly her to the island where the berries are native and help her harvest the last of them, but her invisible jet is shot down. They discover a mad scientist has been using the berries to transform animals into quasi-human forms. When Lex Luthor sends his goons to shut down the project, a bloodbath ensues. Can Wonder Woman rescue everyone? Can the Cheetah be saved? Or will she become worse than ever before?
Verdict: Thumbs up. The cheetah-human hybrid really is tailor-made for an “Island of Dr. Moreau” pastiche, right? The art by Chris Gugliotti is a bit funky, but I’m really happy to see any and all stories by Trina Robbins, so it’s all good, as far as I’m concerned.
All Star Section Eight #6
The miniseries wraps up with Sixpack getting to hang out with Superman in the Fortress of Solitude. Sixpack confesses that he’s afraid he’s not real, that his adventures are just the hallucinations of a drunk freezing to death in an alley. But Supes tells him it’s all real, shows him a statue of Sixpack as one of the world’s great heroes and… hands him a bottle of whiskey. But just as Section 8’s leader is ready to go, the rest of his team is falling apart. Will there be anyone to save the world from All-Consuming Evil?
Verdict: Thumbs up. The rapid self-destruction of the team is really the funniest bit of the issue, though the hallucinatory Superman telling Sixpack “It’s going to be okay” while handing him a bottle of rotgut is grimly hilarious. Still, I do wish this issue had lived up to the promise of the previous one.