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Mel’s Muses: The Amazing Spider-Man #698, The Shadow #8 and The Avengers #34

Over a dozen titles landed on my bedside table last week. And with that many issues, I think I’d better start with the musings right now, but as usual, a fair warning of MAJOR spoilers ahead and trust me, this first one is a doozy.

The Amazing Spider-Man #698. Writer Dan Slott was hyping about this issue weeks before its release, tweeting to retailers to order extra copies and warning advance readers not to send out spoilers. Those who got their hands on a preview issue, well, some heaped praises while others issued deaths threats to Slott. Needless to say, my expectations were high.

Alright, first up the big spoiler. The bed-ridden and dying Doctor Octopus has somehow managed to switch minds (and memories) with Peter Parker several issues back and it’s only towards the end of this issue do we find that out. When and how the switch took place, we don’t know yet. That plus the fact that this long-running title is going to officially end with issue #700, and then a Spidey title, Superior Spider-Man, is gonna take its place on the racks without Parker under the mask, well, you can sort of see why some longtime fans aren’t exactly happy with Slott. But hey, that ain’t an excuse to send out death threats to a writer. Hell, there’s never ever an excuse to send death threats to any writer. Period.

So did it live up to the hype? To me it did, it’s definitely a story you would want to re-read it at least twice. Quite possibly the best Spidey cliffhanger in the last decade and I liked how that all sneaked up on me. The first four-fifths of the story really lured me in with how bright and sunny our title hero’s life has become until we find out it’s actually creepy old Doc Octopus in Parker’s body. Richard Elson’s art seemed solid and although not as striking as Humberto Ramos, it still did a good clean job in capturing the story.

Slott has mentioned on Twitter that the next issue features the most disturbing scene he has ever written. I’m betting that it’s gonna involve the good Doctor still in Parker’s body doing the deed, or as I like to call it burying the one-eyed snake (or tentacle in this case) with Mary Jane. So yah, I trust Slott to deliver a Spidey saga worthy of the lead-up to that milestone issue #700, and would recommend this issue as well as the next two to all comic book fans.

The Shadow #8. I was initially a little disappointed when I found out that Garth Ennis wasn’t writing this like he did for the first six issues. While Ennis gave us an explosive 1930s storyline that reminded me of a cross between the Shadow and Indiana Jones, writer Victor Gischler has our pulp hero doing a very nice impression of James Bond while embroiled in the 1937 Spanish Civil War.

Aaron Campbell’s art doesn’t disappoint either. He nailed the era pretty good. I thought every page has got that 1930s vibe to it. Campbell also did the art for issues #1 to #6 which saw most of the action taking place in the Pacific as the Shadow went after a small army of Japanese soldiers. Nice to see Campbell take on some European urban landscapes for a change.

Al in all, a good enough read for me. It has got almost all the elements I’m looking for in a classic pulp fiction comic book. A femme fatale, mysterious bad guys, trusty sidekick, countries on the brink of war, a hero who shoots to kill and George Orwell! Yes, THAT George Orwell the writer. Shows up in the last panel and it looks like he’ll be playing a huge role in the next issue too. Now I gotta go Wiki and read if Orwell was really in 1937 Barcelona!

The Avengers #34. So after almost 10 years and over 230 Avengers-related comics, writer Brian Michael Bendis takes his leave of the title and like every good kid, he returns all the toys back to the shelf the way he found them. What I mean is, he who made a bunch of radical changes to the Marvel universe is more or less undoing them all just before he leaves the title.

In the Avengers vs X-Men mini-series, we already said good-bye to the effects of the House of M saga as hundreds of new mutants showed up again in the Marvel universe. Here in the Avengers title, Wonder Man is once again a good guy and the Wasp (as expected) shows up alive and we all end with a nice cozy big Avengers party.

What I wanna say is why can’t Wonder Man remain a villain or why can’t the Wasp stay dead (for at least a couple more years)? Yes I know, everyone pretty much agreed that the Wonder Man-as-a-villain annual story sucked but that doesn’t mean the idea sucked. Maybe in the hands of another writer like Jonathan Hickman, we could get a good story out of it.

Well, there’s still next year’s big Marvel crossover event by Bendis, Age of Ultron, to look forward to. Now what are the odds of some permanent changes coming out from that saga?

Cavalock

Melvin Yong has worked way too long in the media and advertising industry. He now spends his time with his family, writing short horror stories and playing lots of board games.

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