After taking a small break I’m back to do a bit of catch up to do some quick reviews for this past week’s releases. To get back into the flow of things I am going to be reviewing Amazing Spider-Man #88 and Batman #120. Both these comics are taking Spider-Man and Batman in completely different directions. The results thus far has varied. So with that in mind lets see where these key titles for Marvel and DC Comics go next.
Writer: Zeb Wells
Artist: Michael Dowling
Colorist: Bryan Valenza
Story Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
The closer we are to the Beyond Era for Amazing Spider-Man the more we’ve seen the not so hidden secret that the Beyond Corporation is not benevolent come to the forefront. And if you ever thought the Beyond Corporation had Ben Reilly’s best interest in mind Amazing Spider-Man #88 confirms that is not the case. This issue fully thrusts Beyond Corporation, specifically their leader in Maxine Danger, in the full antagonist role.
In going full villain route with the Beyond Corporation Zeb Wells explores what it means for characters to have their own agency. Both Ben Reilly and Dr. Ashley Kafka as clones are questioned if they are truly people with free will. While they are given the perception of choice everything both characters do in Amazing Spider-Man #88 is based on how Maxine Danger and the Beyond Corporation don’t see them as people. Ben and Dr. Kafka are simply tools to improve their business dealings.
This leads to the debut of the Queen Goblin be something that turns into mix results. On one hand Queen Goblin’s creation is a perfect example of how the Beyond Corporation is like any other company and will use previous ideas to make it their own.
Unfortunately, the timing is what negatively impacts this reveal. Because while the Beyond Era has taken up fourteen issues of Amazing Spider-Man we haven’t really spent a lot of time with seeing Ben’s character be developed. He’s been mostly a shell of a character that when he makes the “surprising” choice of taking Janine away rather than stopping Queen Goblin you aren’t left feeling anything. He is just doing what he’s been programed to do, which just further emphasizes how he hasn’t really been a fully developed character for this to feel like a payoff to his character arc.
The only hope to improve all of this is that now that Peter Parker, Mary Jane Watson, and Felicia Hardy are being brought back into the fold things will improve. Which just speaks this era of Ben Reilly as Spider-Man has not been carried by the current title character but other characters. Hopefully the next few issues of Amazing Spider-Man improve the Ben aspect of the series.
Writers: Joshua Williamson and Karl Kerschl
Artists: Jorge Molina, Mikel Janin, and Karl Keschl
Colorist: Tomeu Morey
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10
It’s rare to see Batman completely unprepared in any given situation but that is exactly the corner that Joshua Williamson is pushing the Dark Knight into. With how Bruce Wayne is at a point where he no longer has all the resources possible at his disposal Williamson is maximizing this status quo by bringing in Abyss and Lex Luthor. This makes a much more compelling Batman as he really is left in a spot where you don’t know how things will turn out for him.
That spot makes Batman entering a fight against Batman Inc and Abyss confident he can win stand out even more when its clear he can’t. That makes the big twist ending that Lex Luthor leads towards by revealing Abyss is part of the new Batman Inc turn the dial of interest in what happens in Batman #120 up. Its endings like this that gets you into reading the first two issues of Williamson’s run to pay attention to Lex’s dialogue even more. It all brings into question where Lex will be positioned in the greater DC Universe along with all the questions of what Batman’s own status quo will be after all this.
Also credit to both Jorge Molina and Mikel Janin for finding a good flow between each other’s art style. Both artists make adjustments so that you don’t notice the changes in styles. Which leads the focus of the art to be more on the greater mystery around Abyss and Batman Inc. And it is really the artwork that gets you into the mind set of the mystery that Williamson is having unfold in the story.
The Batman and Mia Mizoguchi story by Karl Kerschl is a great example of how a back-up story can enhance the value of a comic book. Kerschl takes full advantage of the page count he gets to make Mia a compelling Robin that gives the role and the idea of how the Dynamic Duo work together a fun vibe. Mia’s energy makes even the monster-of-the-week bad guys for the back-up story fun to read. Already two issues into this back-up story and I’m already left hoping Mia becomes the new Robin. The potential is unlimited with her in the role.
Overall, Batman #120 delivers a compelling reading experience with both the main and back-up stories. Joshua Williamson, Jorge Molina, and Mikel Janin are doing a great job keeping both Batman and the reader on their toes with every reveal to the mystery around Abyss and Batman Inc. Meanwhile, the back-up story by Karl Kerschl has elevated Mia Mizoguchi’s character that you are left hoping she permanently becomes the new Robin. Combining all of that this is another can’t miss Batman comic.