This Week in Comics: July 14 (X-Men, Iron Man, Spider-Man)

I didn't go to the comic book shop last week, which turned out to be the right move, since my local shop didn't get last week's comics until this Tuesday. So Wednesday's trip covered two week's worth of releases, and a nice stack of reading for last night. One thing it didn't include was "Iron Man Legacy". I mentioned last time that I was considering dropping this book from my pull list, and with most books now going for $3.99 (including the last few issues of "Amazing Spider-Man", which comes out 3 times a month, rather than monthly like most other major books), now was the time.

I did replace the book in my rotation with "X-Men", which launched another monthly title last week. Before I get to the issue itself, I need to point out that there are WAY too many X-Men titles on the shelf. I knew I wanted to buy this particularly issue, but finding it among the various titles was absurdly complex, and it had nothing to do with the layout of the store. There had to be at least 14 different X-Men related titles, not even counting the ones that focused on an individual character. I know there are so many X-Men characters that the group is capable of carrying multiple titles, but you're asking a lot of fans when you put out that many books in a month. That can't be good for the industry as a whole.

OK, on to the books.

X-Men #1
X-Men vs Vampires? Fuck yes. When I first heard about this storyline, I knew I'd buy it, no matter who was writing or drawing it or which X-Men were actually involved. And I'm kind of glad I bought it without looking into that last one, because Jubilee plays a major role in the book (fuck Jubilee). Still, I really enjoyed this, because, again, it's X-Men vs. fucking vampires (who, ya know, actually kill people and don't sparkle). Paco Medina's artwork is on point for the entire issue, and the story itself is solid -- not great, but a good first issue for what appears to be a lengthy story arc. Also, Wolverine decapitates a vampire at one point, which needs to happen in every comic book, video game and movie from here to eternity.
Grade: B

Invincible Iron Man #28
I've found that this series works better when you get to read the collected story arc in a trade paperback, rather than reading them issue by issue. Once you have the whole story, these transitional issues -- which feature a lot of talking and almost no action -- don't feel as slow. What I like about an issue like this one is you get a sense of just how much some people (in this case, the people interviewing for jobs) admire Tony Stark the man more than Iron Man the superhero. Tony's a genius in pretty much all things, not just creating suits of armor, and writer Matt Fraction does a good job of conveying that. Still, once in awhile, I could use Iron Man punching something or blowing something up or something.
Grade: B-

Amazing Spider-Man #636-637
These two issues wrapped up the "Grim Hunt" storyline, and I guess the best thing I can say about it is that it's over. It wasn't bad, per se, it just didn't really pack the punch I thought it would. In a complete non-shock, it wasn't Peter who was killed, but one of his clones (and not surprisingly, anything that involves the clones just brings up bad memories for most readers). Sure, Spidey put on the black costume again, and some of his amazing Spider-friends got in on this action, but it all felt like it was going through the motions. In the end, I felt like this arc was too dark to be enjoyable, but not dark enough to be memorable.
Grade: C-

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #12
With characters sticking around for upwards of 40 or 50 years, there are often times when a storyline, or elements of it, gets repeated. Hell, in large part, that's what "The Gauntlet" was about. So when Chameleon showed up in the Ultimate line, on some level you knew the story would involve him replacing a key character and causing chaos in Spider-Man's life because of mistaken identity. And that's exactly what happens in that issue... but Brian Michael Bendis makes sure it doesn't feel the least bit tedious. Chameleon, as Peter Parker, kisses MJ, only the real Peter Parker is dating Gwen (who Chameleon also kisses in this issue). I loved the interplay between Fake Peter, MJ and Gwen, and the scene where Fake Peter confronted Flash was great (and reminded me of Vampire Willow throwing down with Percy in Doppelgangland). Of course, at the end of the issue -- SPOILER ALERT -- Chameleon finds out that Peter Parker is Spider-Man. We don't get a lot of background as to Chameleon's endgame in this issue, nor do we see the real Peter Parker at all (he's apparently still locked in a trunk somewhere), but it doesn't matter because the issue is so fun in itself that you can set aside the larger implications for a month or so. Also, I really like how artist David Lafuente draws both MJ and Gwen. In particular, Gwen looks as hot in this issue as I can ever remember her.
Grade: A

I bought two other books this week that I just want to share quick thoughts on. The Iron Man: Kiss and Kill one shot was a fun book that fans of the key characters (Iron Man, Black Widow, Wolverine) will enjoy. It's a nice break from the ongoing Iron Man stories. Spectacular Spider-Girl #3 does a nice job advancing the story, but I don't see it appealing to anyone but fans of the character (and the twist at the end seems to come out of nowhere and is, in my opinion, wholly unnecessary).

Next week looks kind of light, and would normally be a week I would skip, but Amazing Spider-Man #638 begins the "One Moment in Time" story arc, and I don't want to miss that.