Posted in: Comics | Tagged: , , , , , , ,

Live From The Comic Shop – Superior Spider-Man, Superior Foes Of Spider-Man, Buck Rogers And Trillium

Superior Foes 2Hannah Mears-Shannon writes from Conquest Comics in New Jersey;

[*Spoilers have been kept to a minimum, but proceed with caution]

When Superior Foes of Spider-Man launched (with Nick Spencer and Steve Lieber), it set the tone for taking a quizzical approach to the motivation of what are essentially the petty criminals within the Marvel superhero universe. But even petty criminals, within that zone, have their nominal super-powers that may or may not stand up to the higher pantheon of even more impressive heroes. These guys are jockeying for the big time, supervillain status, and that makes them a little like low-grade mobsters pursuing their own angle. Their bravado, their hard-luck moments, are interesting in a particularly human way. This week Superior Foes returns with Boomerang's own machinations, flawed though they may be, underway in Issue #2.

Superior Foes 1Enter the Punisher! This conflict is way out of Boomerang's league, no question. But as he comments, it's not the Punisher, but the "stupid meetings" of his villains league that are bringing him down. Worse, a committee meeting about how Boomerang's team can become the "Sinister Six" again since they're down a team member. The dialogue is one of the most attractive qualities of the comic, actually, with these bottom-feeders shouting things like "You're stupid!" at each other on a regular basis. Bail hearings, heavy drinking (in style), and the assignment of a new parole officer fit to make Boomerang heave keep the story, and the humor, moving. Readers are likely to develop an even softer spot for Boomerang than they might have in Issue #1. He just wears you down with his real-life-is-hell sob stories. If there was any question about whether Superior Foes was really a compelling addition to the Superior line, the comic is rapidly establishing its place. It's readable, it's funny, and it definitely keeps superhero stories from getting too glossy and too epic as a whole.

Superior Spidey 2Meanwhile, in Superior Spider-Man (with Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos) things are definitely heating up for Ock/Parker while he keeps both Mary Jane and Ms. Marconi in the lurch (and interesting duality to say the least and many are very happy lately with Marconi's redemptive role trying to keep Ock/Parker on track, he's facing academic disciplinary measures (time to break out his best suit and most earnest good boy impression), and most significantly, he's battling what he doesn't understand in the new Hob Goblin. The underdog villains aren't that tough for him to handle except in large numbers, but pitting one supervillain against eachother gives readers the sense that this is where the series has been heading all along. It raises the question of whether Ock can defeat his former self, really, when he's facing off against some big guns, big wits, and most importantly, technology. Here he's "messed with the wrong nerd" and the brains are coming out of the woodwork to rock his world. Doubts, deep doubts and moments of reflection for Ock counterbalance his extreme ego mania in the past nicely. It only takes a hero role to get under all that mental armor, triple coated in self-assurance.

Buck 1Buck Rogers #1 hits the stands from Hermes Press drawn and written by the great Howard Chaykin. You could bounce a quarter off those jaw-lines, and the colors are both sharp and eye-candy glossy. This "combat veteran" is a working man at heart, and he engages in plenty of skull-cracking aerial combat to start the book off with an energy-boost. Rogers is established as a World War I flying ace, drawing on his past experiences as metaphors for his more current sci-fi conflicts with a fair amount of commentary on terrorism and the history of global conflict. This is shaping up to be a relevant Buck engages with the roots of conflict itself. The issue sets up conflicts with rival gangs and air pirates but also repeatedly hints at the bigger picture of subtle manipulation by Buck's real foe, The Han. Buck and his team emerge as a force surrounded on all sides by pretty aggressive odds against them, but what fighting man's story would be complete without terrible odds and the need for some brain power and planning to get the upper hand? It's a strong start for Buck Rogers, complete with eye-catching black and white concept art by Chaykin included in the issue as back-matter. This is one to keep an eye on.

Trillium2The much-anticipated Trillium #1 is probably one of the hottest books this week, told in a flip-book reverse read style that meets and overlaps mid-way. One look at Jeff Lemire's cover and let's face it, it's a must-buy. It's part of Vertigo's rather ferocious re-entry onto the stage (though it was always there, this is definitely the Defy directive), and hinges on the elusive "Trillium" species of flower being harvested on distant colonies. To state the obvious, Nika and her female compatriots are a very welcome addition to a sci-fi storyline, and though her mother issues are classic comic book fodder, they aren't a throwaway element since they engage with the dangers and aspirations of space-travel. AS Nika Temsmith engages with the largely unknown alien race in possession of the Trillium flower, her boldness venturing into the wilderness sets her up as a latter-day pioneer. Trillium may well be, essentially, a "suspense" comic in the vein of 2001: A Space Odyssey, but it remains to be see how darkly underlined the tensions in the story will get. Brace yourself for some psychedelic experiences in "Chapter 1: The Scientist", counterbalanced by the reverse "Chapter 2: The Soldier".

Trillium1This is an excellent duality to establish between character and the definitions of a pioneer role in the comic. Talking too much about "The Soldier" chapter will inevitably lead to mega-spoilers, so I'll refrain, but an Incan treasure, plenty of grim massacres, and a strange face-off will pretty much raise the kind of questions that will necessitate that you reach for Trillium #2, and you may even stew a little in the meantime. Lemire's artwork has that unique emotive quality due to his finely etched lines that helps build the "suspense" factor in the work, not to mention his adeptly applied watercolors to help evoke worlds that must be both exotic and highly textured for the reader.

This week's comics open plenty of new doorways in storytelling, for Superior Foes and Superior Spidey, heading further up and further in (to quote Aslan the lion), whereas Buck Rodgers lands us in the thick of it, and leaves us to handle our pleasant disorientation and get involved in the action. Trillium's likely to engage both your curiosity and your emotions, in that order, and establishes that a double-chapter approach works. This leaves you wondering if that's going to continue in the series, or what creators are watching to launch their own similar experiments based on Lemire's grasp of the form. Happy Reading.

Buck 2I've been writing LIVE from Conquest Comics today! Thanks for the company and insights guys. There's nothing like an LSC to keep you plugged into comics and make sure you get what you are passionate about for your own collection.

So special thanks to Conquest Comics in New Jersey. You can find their Facebook page here. They are currently dominating POP vinyl collectibles with their White Phoenix exclusive.

Hannah Means-Shannon writes and blogs about comics for TRIP CITY and and is currently working on books about Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore for Sequart. She is @hannahmenzies on Twitter and hannahmenziesblog on WordPress. Find her bio here.


Enjoyed this? Please share on social media!

Stay up-to-date and support the site by following Bleeding Cool on Google News today!

Rich JohnstonAbout Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
Comments will load 20 seconds after page. Click here to load them now.