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Good Comics – Part 1

September 1, 2008

Spider-man Loves Mary Jane, Captain Britain and MI:13

Both of these titles are outside the usual CBO discussion area, but they’re on my reading list and since we’re not opposed to Marvel or DC in general, I think both are worth a mention. Also both titles are slightly off centre in their own ways, as SMLMJ is set in its own pocket universe, so isn’t affected by events or continuity, and Captain Britain is something I’ve been after for a while, the UK’s very own corner of the Marvel Universe.

Spider-man loves Mary Jane – Issue 1 – The new first issue of this quirky series by Strangers in Paradise scribe Terry Moore and artist Craig Rousseau gets off to a promising start.

The series was previously written by Sean McKeever who set a particular tone as the majority of the events were seen from Mary Jane’s perspective instead of the familiar Peter Parker’s or Spider-man’s point of view. Terry Moore proves from the first issue that he knows the material and that he knows how to write character-driven stories. Mary Jane feels like a teenage girl and I should also point out all of the characters look their age, not twenty-somethings with giant bazookas pretending to be fifteen. She’s awkward, struggling with family issues, trying to grown up and find her place, determined, flawed, and ultimately human. She feels like a real person. This first issue is the perfect continuation of the story and it is Mary Jane’s first day of school in her sophomore year of high school. All the usual faces are there, Flash, Liz, Gwen and of course Peter, but he isn’t the focus.
This is very much MJ’s story and he just happens to be part of it. The artwork is clean and light, the backgrounds are simple and sometimes just washes of colour, all of which helps to set the tone of the book.

All in all I found the first issue intriguing and curious, with a few seeds planted for future storylines. I want to know more about MJ and as yet I have no clue where the story is going, which is a good thing.

5 word summary – refreshing, bright, character-driven, teenagers.

Captain Britain and MI:13 – Issue 1 – The first issue of this came out maybe two months ago but everywhere I went was sold out, which is good for writer Paul Cornell and artist Leonard Kirk, but less so for me. So I had to wait for this second printing in order to read it. The story focuses on a team of British superheroes and it consists of familiar names like Captain Britain, Pete Wisdom, Spitfire and the Black Knight, but it also has a couple of new faces, one being a Skrull who looks like John Lennon and a woman doctor. At the moment the Marvel Universe is in the throws of Secret Invasion, the big event that was masterminded by Brian Bendis. In a nutshell, shape changing aliens called Skrulls have infiltrated governments and military organisations by killing and replacing key personnel. They’ve also bumped off or displaced various superheroes. The UK is no different and we’ve got dodgy aliens in the Cabinet and the intelligence community. So it’s up to Captain Britain and friends to beat them back, find out what they want in Britain and save the day. Saying much more will give the game away, but suffice to say this first issue is jam-packed with action, nice character moments (including a reference to Captain Midlands, but I’m still waiting for a Geordie Captain, well I can dream can’t I?) which all has a very British feel to it. Since Paul Cornell is from England the dialogue is realistic, but it is also witty, and full of references to the history of various characters. So if you’re in the know it’s great and if not you get enough without it slowing you down.

5 word summary – explosive, English, exciting, funny, inspiring.

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