Markley’s Fevered Brain: Guns, Hockey, Mutants, and Spiders

Wayne Markley


by Wayne Markley

Over the last few weeks I have been reading a number of graphic novels and trade collections, four of which I am going to review in this blog. There is a mix of brand new work by Jeff Lemire and collections of classic X-Men and Spider-Man material, and a collection of 1980s DC classic, Marv Wolfman’s Vigilante. All of these books are quite good, for different reasons. I do find it interesting from a marketing point that both the Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man and the Vigilante are being sold by the writers of each book, Peter David and Marv Wolfman respectively. At the time these stories were first published they were not published as “Marv Wolfman’s Vigilante” or “Peter David’s Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man”. I am not sold that ether creator’s name is enough to sell more copies of these books, and I suspect there is more, in both cases, reasons for branding the collection (such as the Complete Mark Waid Flash, Geoff Jones Flash, etc.). It’s also a way to group a set of stories together for the collection, so it is not the Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man (so what, another Spider-Man collection), but this is a special Spider-Man collection as it is all of the stories by a specific writer, Peter David. Anyway, on to the specific reviews of these titles. I have listed these books alphabetically not by any rating judgment of how good they are.

Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man by Peter David - The Complete Collection

Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man by Peter David – The Complete Collection


Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man by Peter David-The Complete Collection was just released by Marvel. This is a massive tome coming in at over 450 pages and collects all of Peter David’s work on this title. It reprints Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #5-23 and Annual #1. David is joined by variety of artists, but most notably (the late) Michael Wieringo, Roger Cruz, Todd Nauck, Scott Eaton and others. This was an interesting read as I had not read these stores before and the Spider-Man in the stories is not the traditional one. In these stories the focus is more on Peter Parker as Spider-Man and the lighter side of his personality is the main focus. There are a number of jokes and gags mixed in the action in these stores, as well as some of the aspects that Peter David played around with in his other work, like an alternative future, where Uncle Ben lived but Aunt May died and Spider-Man became a movie star instead of a superhero. There are also a number of villains such as the Hobgoblin from the 2211, Sandman, Mysterio and others. These stories also take place during the whole Civil War story where Peter revealed his identity to the world. What I did like is Marvel added a page explaining that between the two stories where the revelation took place so the reader was not completely baffled as to why the sudden change in the storyline. I also cannot overlook the whole sub-story of Aunt May dating Jarvis from the Avengers, which was very entertaining. I also found it interesting that Spidey’s costume kept changing, from the traditional blue and red to a red and gold costume with spikes that came out of his wrists, to the famous black costume. I was also struck how much of what happened in these stories was later used in the Spider-Verse storyline from a few years ago, which led to the introduction of Spider-Gwen and the recently concluded Silk. As with any Peter David material, these stories are easy to read and move at a quick pace. They are filled with drama and very good pacing, and as I mentioned, quite a bit of humor. I enjoyed this collection as these were stories I had not read in the past and these were a different take on the classic character, still obviously Peter Parker, but slightly askew.

Roughneck

Roughneck


Roughneck is the new graphic novel by Jeff Lemire and it is published by G13 (a division of Putnam Books). It is written and drawn by Lemire and I can say off the bat it is very moving. It is a story about human interaction, a messed up family, and a retired hockey player who is past his prime but cannot seem to let go of the urge to brawl. The lead character, Derek, is a retired NHL Hockey player who has retired after excessive violence and has moved back to his home town in Northern Canada. He has some fame in the local town as a former NHL player, but he really does not care about it and he has very little to show for it. He has a small circle of friends and he is constantly getting into fights around town. After his younger sister comes to see him the drama really takes over and the story really starts to move quickly. This story reads more like a slice of life tale more than many of Lemire’s other work, but I think it really works on that level. By the time I got to the end I was emotionally moved and really felt for all of the characters in the story. While I am not the biggest fan of Lemire’s style of art, it works with this story and I did love how sparingly he used color to tell the story, in terms of showing shifts in time and to accent certain events. This is not a book for the superhero fan, and it is also far more accessible than Sweet Tooth or Trillium, but it is a fantastic read.

Vigilante by Marv Wolfman Vol. 1

Vigilante by Marv Wolfman Vol. 1


Vigilante by Marv Wolfman Vol. 1 collects the re-imagined version of the character from the pages of New Teen Titans and not the western based hero from the 1940s and 1950s and from the Seven Soldiers of Victory. This version of the Vigilante was former District Attorney Adrian Chase who, after his family is killed in an assassination, decides to takes on the task of fighting crime without the constraints of the criminal law system. Adrian takes down crime is the most of violent ways, at least in the beginning. In the early issues the book is fairly violent and killing seems ok. But, half way through this collection, Adrian dies, briefly, and comes back still as the Vigilante, but slightly less violent and no longer willing to kill. While I enjoyed reading this book quite a bit, it did strongly remind me of Marvel’s Punisher. Sort of a cleaner version of Garth Ennis’s run as almost all of the stories involve mobsters and urban crime with an occasional super villain thrown in, such as the Electrocutioner. The art is by Keith Pollard initially but he is quickly replaced by a variety of artists, including Joe Staton. Overall I thought this was a good read with lots of action and drama. I hope DC collects all 50 issues of this character’s run. This first volume collects New Teen Titans Annual #2 (the Vigilante’s first appearance although Adrian Chase appeared in the pages of New Teen Titans prior to that) and Vigilante 1-11.

X-Men Epic Collection: Second Genesis

X-Men Epic Collection: Second Genesis


X-Men Epic Collection: Second Genesis is labeled Vol. 5 of the X-Men Epic collections but it is really the first volume of the X-Men as we know them today. It reprints Giant Sized X-Men #1 and X-Men #94-110 and other appearances from the time period such as Marvel Team-Up #53, 69-70, Iron Fist #14 and 15 and the rarely seen material from FOOM #10. Almost all of these stories were written by Chris Claremont with Len Wein who actually created the current lineup of X-Men (Wolverine, Storm, Nightcrawler, Colossus, Cyclops, Banshee, etc.) and contributions from Bill Mantlo. The artwork is mostly by the last Dave Cockrum with John Byrne on Marvel Team-Up and Iron Fist. While these are not necessarily the best X-Men stories, these do lay the groundwork for what was to come. You get to read the X-Men coming together, see the villainy of everyone from the Juggernaut to Eric the Red, and sees the introduction of Phoenix, the Starjammers and Alpha Flight. The next volume the X-men (Epic Collection 6) really hit their stride, when Byrne joins the team as regular penciler and co-plotter. This book is a great read as it is a primer as to what the X-Men would become over the next 45 years. It was fun to revisit these classic stories that I have not read in decades.

That wraps it up for this time out. Four very different books by very four different creators. A mix of brand new material and reprints of classic material from different time periods and different publishers. Have you ever read these books? What did you think? Did you enjoy them? Hate them? I would like to know. I can be reached at MFBWAY@AOL.COM or on Facebook at Wayne Markley. Everything I have written here is my opinion and in no way reflects the thoughts or opinions of Westfield Comics or their employees. Coming soon I will be looking at a slew of new number ones from Image and at Marvels current event, Secret Empire. What are your thoughts on all of these Image number ones and Secret Empire? Let me know and I will include your thoughts in a future blog. As always…

Thank you.

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