Friday, February 10, 2012

Talking Trades Double-Header: Spider Island and The Dark Knight: Golden Dawn

Spider Island
Dan Slott knows Spider-Man. The Spidey mythos has never been stronger. Since Brand New Day, when the entire Spider-Man history was wiped clean, Slott has written some interesting stories and revamped the series to much acclaim. Spider-Island reads like a blockbuster film. There's a good story and pacing, a fun catch, and plenty of action. This event shows that Slott can take unpopular villains and an “epic” idea and make them work.

Humberto Ramos illustrates Spider-Island very well, Ramos has a style that conveys emotion very well through body language.

The two main villains in the story, who are revealed in the prologue issue, are the Jackal and the Spider Queen. For those who are unfamiliar with them, the Jackal is the mastermind responsible for (the admittedly badly planned) Clone Saga. The Spider Queen is best known for her role in the 'Disassembled' arc of Spectacular Spider-Man. While these two weren't well received, Slott manages to make good use of them. I was hesitant to believe he could make this work with them, yet he does, with great effect.

Peter Parker's life has never been more chaotic. He somehow finds time to be a New Avenger and help the Future Foundation all the while patrolling the streets of New York. His job is about to get a whole lot harder, suddenly millions of New Yorkers get Spider-Man's powers. With “Spider-Island” under quarantine, it's up to Spider-Man to figure out how they started, and how to reverse it before things get out of hand.

Slott's pacing is perfect. Even newcomers would, with a little effort, be able to follow this story. There's a lot of superheroes featured in Spider-Island, and Slott uses them very well. There's plenty of funny banter between everyone and my favorite subplot involved Venom, who I have never really cared for until Rick Remender started writing him. Ramos' artwork is great. He has a unique style that has genuine facial expressions and body language.

Dan Slott has crafted an entertaining entry into the Spider-Man corner of the Marvel universe. Overall this is well worth looking into if you've ever been interested in Spider-Man, a solid four stars out of five.

The Dark Knight: Golden Dawn
The Dark Knight: Golden Dawn is a curious beast. This five issue limited series, collected in this gorgeous oversized hardcover, has very detailed artwork and a great premise, yet the execution and writing is subpar. David Finch, writer and artist,tells the story of Batman trying to find an old childhood friend, Dawn Golden. This story takes place just before Flashpoint.

'Golden Dawn' starts out very strongly, we get a sense that a thrilling detective story is about to unfold. Instead, we get demons being unleashed upon Gotham. While I knew that there were going to be occult elements, I didn't know they'd be so heavily featured. This is where the Golden Dawn fails, Finch has too much going on at once. There's quite a few subplots that never get resolved. Gaping plotholes never get answered. It felt like Finch couldn't decide on a tone for the book. The supernatural elements could have been good, yet Finch handled them poorly. Batman's monologues are written well, but the banter between the characters, especially the demons, have subpar writing. To put it simply, this story could have been better.

The artwork is very good. Finch draws action very well. His environments are detailed and characters expressive. The appeal of this deluxe edition is to see his art in an oversized format. The demons he drew looked frightening and menacing. For fans of art, this might be worth looking into just to appreciate the artwork.

Overall, Finch promises much in the beginning yet fails to deliver. Instead of a clear and concise story about Batman trying to stop demons from taking over Gotham, all the while rescuing his childhood “sweetheart,” we get a confusing and poorly written mess. If Finch ever gives a Batman story another go, I will definitely look into it. Batman: The Dark Knight: Golden Dawn isn't worth looking into, maybe even hardcore Bat-fans might find little to love here. Two stars out of five.

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