This was a packed week of releases as we started the final month of 2021. I was honestly surprised with how big my pull list was when picking up my comics on Wednesday. There were so many comics that I just had to review as many titles as possible. So along with the other comic book releases I did a full review for I also wanted to make sure to tackle both Amazing Spider-Man #80 and Detective Comics Annual 2021. These are two big releases that have plenty to be said about. So let’s get into these two big titles from Marvel and DC Comics.
Writer: Cody Ziglar
Artist: Michael Dowling
Colorists: Jesus Aburtov and Erick Arciniega
Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6.5 Night Girls out of 10
The Good: Amazing Spider-Man #80 does a much better job in in showcasing Ben Reilly as a superhero with Kraven the Hunter is a much better villain than Morbius the Living Vampire. Kraven was a believable challenge that showed how over his head Ben currently is. It was a humbling conflict which even though Ben was able to overcome Kraven it was not a complete victory. How this experience impacts the way Ben operates as Spider-Man will be key in making the Spider-Man Beyond direction be more than just a gimmick.
The lack ambiguity towards the Beyond Corporation being positioned as antagonist was refreshing. It is certainly something that could end up turning against the Spider-Man Beyond direction. But at least for now positioning Beyond Corporation wanting to completely own the Spider-Man name and targeting Miles Morales because of this opens the door for what could be a very interesting story on multiple fronts. The importance with this development will be not just going all out with the Beyond Corporation being evil as this decision in Amazing Spider-Man #80 could be bad for the direction’s longevity.
Michael Dowling was solid throughout Amazing Spider-Man #80. He made the most of the Kraven story giving him the opportunity to create some fun visuals as Spider-Man experienced something similar to Scarecrow’s Fear Toxin effect. Specifically having Ben experience a similar nightmare to what Peter Parker experienced in an earlier issue added a lot to where his character is at this point in the story.
The Bad: Though the developments with the Beyond Corporation was interesting the dialogue that Ziglar wrote for Maxime was extremely stiff. It feels like Ziglar is trying but failing to make Maxime have a similar aura to Lex Luthor over in DC Comics. There just isn’t that credibility with Maxime or the rest of the Beyond Corporation staff to pull that off just yet. The characterization of the Beyond Corporation employees is certainly something that needs to be improved on quickly.
Overall: Amazing Spider-Man #80 was a solid story that presented a true challenge for Ben Reilly to overcome. More stories like this where we see Spider-Man fight Kraven will help Ben gain more credibility as the permanent person carrying the mantle. If the Beyond Board writers can improve the writing of the supporting cast of this series then Spider-Man Beyond could be a big success when all is said and done.
Writers: Mariko Tamaki and Matthew Rosenberg
Artist: David Lapham
Colorists: Trish Mulvihill and Lee Loughridge
Story Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6.5 Night Girls out of 10
The Good: Detective Comics Annual 2021 is a much more effective aftermath issue that deals with the fallout from Fear State than the Batman: Fear State Omega issue we also got this week. The simple addition of Nightwing to the story goes a long way to provide greater context to the major conflict that Fear State was. Here we are presented with Batman and Nightwing representing an old school and new school way of thinking, respectively.
That philosophical battle provides a lot of the intrigue for this annual that is building up the story that will be told during the Shadows of the Bat weekly event in this series. Through every conversation had Tamaki and Rosenberg are able to give reason for both sides of the argument. This may divide fans because of how Batman and Nightwing are presented. But it is interesting to see Nightwing being the bigger picture guy through all of this as he is looking at things more from a mental health perspective. Meanwhile we see Batman being focused more on just limiting crime and Arkham Tower helping with that. It gives more of a real world aspect to the direction of Gotham City that fits well with this corner of the DC Universe to explore.
David Lapham’s artwork was really the biggest revelation of Detective Comics Annual 2021. This is my first experience with Lapham’s art style and it was such a great fit for the Batman world. He does an especially great job with showing how differently Batman and Nightwing conduct themselves as superheroes. That added to the clash of philosophies they have in this issue.
The Bad: The thing that did not work with this set up for the Shadows of the Bat event was the portrayal of Batman. It felt like a huge step back from the way Bruce Wayne has been portrayed throughout 2021 in the main Batman series. This version of Bruce Wayne comes across as someone who did not go through the experience of Joker War and Fear State. The way Bruce both in and out of the cowl is written reminds me more of the No Mans Land and Bruce Wayne: Murderer.
Which makes the decision of Bruce embracing Arkham Tower being brought just not be something that seems like he learned from the experience of Joker War and Fear State. Everything he said to Miracle Molly and others just goes away as he is back to his old way of thinking to keep the status quo of Gotham City. Hopefully there is more to Bruce’s future post-Fear State than this because it is not the step forward Batman should get.
This issue also did not sell me on investing in a weekly event that Detective Comics will be telling with Shadows of the Bat. A weekly event is a huge investment and as much as I love reading stories with the entire Batman Family involved I have to tap out on this series. It just not the story I’m looking to read in this format. Rather I’ll likely wait to read Shadows of the Bat when it comes out as a hardcover.
Overall: When the focus was on Batman and Nightwing’s dynamic Detective Comics Annual 2021 was at its best. Their different perspective on what the new Arkham Tower represents spotlights how we are going to see the Batman Family tackle the status quo for Gotham City. But while there is intrigue there Detective Comics Annual 2021 did not sell me on investing in a weekly event that Shadows of the Bat will be with so many other notable comic books releasing at the same time. I’ll wait for the trade collection of this event instead.
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