This Week in Comics: Spider-Man, Iron Man and More

Amazing Spider-Man #694
Writer: Dan Slott | Pencils: Humberto Ramos

One of the great things about Dan Slott's run on "Amazing Spider-Man", particularly of late, is how he's found a way to make the two identities of the main character converge. For the longest time on ASM, stories were either "Peter Parker" stories or "Spider-Man" stories. Obviously pieces of each character overlapped with the other, but Slott really finds that perfect way to treat the character as a singular individual. This issue really shows that, with Spidey having what would typically be "Parker" problems (the moment where he shows up to the assembled Avengers and really has no clue what's going on is classic Parker) and Spidey saving the day with science. Visually, the middle of the issue was a feast, with the big action pieces and the whole scene with the plane. Ramos' art has been great for this series. Oh, and last but not least (SPOILER ALERT), no more Alpha. Introducing a "Poochie" to this series, even while acknowledging his "Poochie" status was something of a risk. At worst, it's horrible and makes people stop reading the series. A more likely, but still bad, scenario is that it comes off as a big winking joke and essentially wastes three issues. Instead, it helped the character of Peter Parker grow AND left an interesting lingering story in the background. I don't think anyone's going to put "The Amazing Spider-Man vs. Alpha" among Slott's best arcs, but it's far from his worst and a solid read.

Angel & Faith #14

Captain Marvel #4
Writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick | Pencils: Dexter Soy/Al Barrionuevo

I'm enjoying this series way more than I thought I would. Carol Danvers' "woman-out-of-time" adventure has been, well, fun. This issue brings a solid conclusion to the 1943 arc that's marked the first four issues of this series, but also doesn't jump Carol right back to the present either, which I love. This book is doing a great job of allowing the "new" Captain Marvel to grow and establish an audience without leaning on other popular Marvel characters, and it's doing a great job of it. I can't express how much I love Soy's art style, which makes every page look like a painting. If you're not reading this series, I highly recommend you pick it up.

Invincible Iron Man #525
Writer: Matt Fraction | Pencils: Salvador Larroca

The ongoing Mandarin arc seems to finally be coming to a close, and not a moment too soon. That's not to say this issue is bad. It's not. In fact, it's pretty awesome. It just feels like things too a little too long to get here. This is the fifth issue in the "The Future is Now" arc, which itself is a continuation of the previous five-issue "Long Way Down" arc (and, if you want to get technical, the plot of this arc was kicked off with events that took place in the "World's Most Wanted" arc, which means this is a story more than three years in the making). After all the build-up, this issue gets to the action, which is where Larroca's art shines. The last page looks amazing, and once again has me excited for the next issue in this series.

Ultimate Comics The Ultimates #16
Writer: Sam Humphries | Pencils: Luke Ross

This issue comes out right on the heels of #15, which was released just last week. I honestly expected them to have Captain America decline the presidency, and for a page and a half it looked like that was the direction they were going in, but instead he accepted. And then he kicked ass. And I loved it. Sometimes dark stories -- stories where everything is going wrong and our heroes aren't that heroic -- can be good, but sometimes you just want a story where the heroes kick ass and fix everything and dammit if Ultimates #16 wasn't just a great example of that. How was Captain America able to reunite most of America in like three days? Because he's Captain Fucking America, that's why! The twist at then end was entirely unexpected, though, of course, they could easily redirect in the next issue. Given what they did with Cap, though, I'm hopeful that they won't. The only thing I didn't like about this issue was the media calling him "President Cap". It just seemed weird. I'm pretty sure most media members would address him as "Mr. President" not "President Cap", and the media when reporting about him would either go with "The President" or "President Rodgers." That's such a stupid nitpicky thing for me to care about, but I did.