Superman Adventures, Marvel Universe Ultimate Spider-Man, and… more…
Nevs Coleman — 08-Jul-12
Previously in Defenders/JLI:
Darkseid has possessed Professor X, in order to unlock the full force of Onslaught. Having devastated The Negative Zone, Asgard, New Genesis and The Bottled City Of Kandor. Darkslaught’s rampage has brought him face to face with the only force that can match his raw power, Thanos, armed with the Infinity Gauntlet. The assembled throng of both the superheroes can only watch, helpless as they are to do anything about the two cosmic lunatics. As they raise their fists at each other, Time suddenly stops.
Frozen by the Phantom Stranger, accompanied by the Watcher.
‘This must end,’ intones the Watcher. ‘If either of them win, they will unleash The Anti-Life Equation. One of them will destroy all that is. Stranger, I cannot interfere, but I beseech you, you have the power to take them from this plane of reality. Make it so. For the sake of these humans who have sacrificed, who’ve struggled and fought and died. This is the moment to pay them back.’
The Phantom Stranger holds time… Turns to the Watcher… and grins.
Suddenly, the Watcher’s head explodes, his giant skull crashing in bits, drenching the assembled throng of heroes in brainjuice. A lump of skull crushes Sally Jupiter, She-Hulk and Emma Frost in one fell swoop. Then the Stranger manipulates the headless, blood soaked body of the Watcher into jumping up and down on a barrel of cats. And Nuns. And Cheryl Cole.
Meanwhile, Dr Doom, who’s been enjoying a bit of a gang bang of Aunt May and Ma Kent with his dogging chums Mysterio, Chemo, Rhino, Captain Boomerang, Amanda Waller and Poison Ivy, gathers his Dark Avengers of Dark together.
‘Soon, Reality will be rewritten. We, The DADs, stand ready to control the world with my plans, but first, let’s have a chat about our feelings. Then I’ll probably shout a bit.’
Back on the moon, the remaining superheroes watch in horror while Darkslaught and Thanos still are trapped.
‘Can I save the heroes?’ asks The Phantom Stranger. ‘Can I? No. There is no saving any of you. You had your chances. I believed in you, and you let me down. I was the last child who believed in what you came to represent. Long after you stopped. You were meant to inspire, but you failed.’
The Stranger removes his hat and mask to reveal he is….
‘It could have been amazing forever. A New Golden Age. You’ve had so many chances, So many Wars, Invasions, Crises, Sieges, and you never learnt. Well, your time is done.’
He walks up to Spider-Man. ‘Don’t you understand? YOU WERE THE BEST OF US, AND YOU SOLD US ALL OUT! FOR AN OLD WOMAN!’
With a wave of his hand Peter suddenly realises everything that’s happened to him, rebirth, his robot parents, Norman Osborn, Doctor Octopus, Ben Reilly, Kaine, Gwen Stacey, Flash Thompson, Harry, Johnny Storm, Uncle Ben…
And Mary Jane.
‘YOU WERE MEANT TO MOVE ON! BUT YOU COULDN’T GROW UP, COULD YOU, PETER? Well, this is Mephisto’s world, now. All of it. His fingers in the best of us. Because he got you. And there’s no coming back. For any of us.’
And Superboy-Prime released Darkslaught and Thanos.
And on Earth, Mary Jane Watson’s heart broke a second time.
And then there was nothing.
Next month, we go to the comic shop, and Marvel has one comic on the shelf. It’s by Ty Templeton. It’s called Marvel Universe Ultimate Spider-Man. Next to it is Superman Family Adventures by Art Baltazar, published by DC. And we all lived happily ever after.
No? Well, fair enough, because there seems to be an effort to stop patronising younger readers now. (You remember them; the audience Superman and Spider-Man were designed for in the first place.) To put out really entertaining superhero comics, at a reasonable price, that can be read of themselves, with no need to buy other issues to understand what’s going on.
And you know what? They sell. Really well. I know this because I can’t really recommend much of DC or Marvel’s output to kids anymore. I mean I really can’t. I read most of their output of a week and I have no clue why any of these people are acting like maniacs. Except Omac. I loved Omac. But I recommend these books, and people love them. It’s a nice feeling to be able to recommend a Spidey comic to someone.
Superman Family Adventures is an absolute joy. My long-suffering editor is well aware how excited I get when I come across some lost gem like Seduction of the Innocent or Harvey Kurtzman’s Help because, well, most of the new stuff just doesn’t have that ‘thing’ for me. Hard to define, but it’s a wave of joy and love when you read the comic and see how much love has gone into it. Or silliness. Silliness also works.
Superman Family Adventures is created by the super talented Art Baltazar, also responsible for the amazing Tiny Titans comic. I’m starting tothink this guy might be the future. While most things in the DCU look like a bad Wildstorm comic circa 1995, I’m hoping his clean, hilarious energetic storytelling will be heralded as an inspiration down the line, the same way Adam Hughes or Bryan Hitch are now.
If you’re the kind of person who needs to know exactly which of the 52 Earths this comic happens on, then you’re wasting your time. Superman Family Adventures brilliantly takes all the elements of the Superman history and makes them, well, super! Recommended for fans of Streaky The Supercat.
Probably the best Superman comic published since All-Star Superman, and a preview can be read here.
And then there’s Marvel Universe Ultimate Spider-Man.
As regular readers of my WordPress page know, I was done with Spidey. After the 545 incident, I never looked back. Not Romita Jr, Humberto Ramos, Dan Slott, Mike McKone, Bendis, nor anything could get me to buy a Spider-Man comic again. In my head, Pete let Aunt May die, went off with Mary Jane into the sunset and that was it. I’ve been looking at every issue since as some kind of Earth-2 project fan-fiction thing. Like Fifty Shades Of May or something. But then, you know, Ty Templeton! Stig’s Inferno! Justice League! Elseworlds 80 Page Giant! Batman: Black + White! Man’s awesome all sixteen ways from Sunday.
And, er, I’d read everything else in the shop that day. I mean, I was rereading issues of Savage Hawkman to see if they’d make any sense this time. So I figured, heck, why not, if nothing else I’d have a new joke.
Here’s the thing, though.
It’s brilliant. I mean, really fun. Same deal with using all the known tropes of the mythos without getting hung up on silly stuff. It’s incredibly simple, but also somehow psychedelic, using recent colour manga techniques to tell great, fun stories. It’s actually oddly reminiscent of the recent Strange Tales project that Marvel put out. And honestly, I’d rather younger readers were exposed to madness than grim violence every month. It also features Marvel Mash Up, which is hilarious, and how they snuck a Hawkeye bathroom joke in there, I’m dying to know.
It’s the best thing Dan Slott’s had a hand in, with the possible exception of his run of She-Hulk, and a preview can be found here.