Posts Tagged ‘Jerome Opena’

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It’s the general consensus among comics fans these days that Rick Remender is absolutely killing it on his various and sundry creator-owned Image titles, and while his unique combination of four-color personal psychotherapy session/homage to fill-in-the-genre is a bit more hit-or-miss for me as a reader (Deadly Class being the only one that, for my money, never misses) than it is for many , even at their most clunky and heavy-handed titles like Low and Black Science remain thoroughly readable affairs whose earnestness is, at the very least, honest — even when it’s laid on a bit too thick. And he always gets the best artists to work with him, doesn’t he?

The recent wrap-up of Tokyo Ghost (and speaking of the best artists, how about Sean Gordon Murphy’s work on that book?) has left a gap in Remender’s apparently-24/7 production schedule, but fear not : no sooner does that series end than Seven To Eternity begins, which sees our guy Rick re-teamed with his old Fear Agent collaborator, the one and only Jerome Opena.

The idea here appears to be another updating on the Seven Samurai and Magnificent Seven premise, albeit transposed to another planet, with one Adam Osidis, de facto leader of a clan of outcasts, as our chief protagonist. His adversary is the so-called “King Of Whispers,” or “Mud King,” a creature who excels at taking over cities/towns/outposts/whatever by means of the quiet but effective smear campaign coupled with empty to promises to fulfill the deepest desires of one’s heart, so that could be interesting — although it’s hard to see how it’s going to lead to much actual, ya know, combat and what have you.

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So-called “world-building” is the order of the day, then, in this debut installment, and Remender does a decent enough job giving his characters reasonably distinctive “voices” and imbues the proceedings with enough “broad-stroke” descriptions of the alien civilization he’s brewed up in his head to keep you interested in finding out more while eschewing the crass and clumsy “info-dump” at the same time. It’s a tricky balance for any introductory chapter, to be sure, but he manages to thread the needle just fine to start things off, and as we get introduced to our inevitably larger cast and more aspects of their society in future segments, one can only hope he continues to walk the fine line as successfully as he does here.

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I’m not going to kid you, though — the art is the real star of the show in this comic, and Opena has infused his work with a cinematic flavor (right down to movie poster-style covers!) that results in a level of greatness only hinted at previously. You know the old cliches about when you can tell someone is “pulling out all the stops” and “taking it to the next level” and all that shit? Well, in this case it’s absolutely true, and Matt Hollingsworth’s surprisingly vibrant color palette adds the finishing touches to work that is, as you can see from the samples included here, flat-out gorgeous — even, dare I say it, breathtaking at times.

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So, what the heck — count me in. The extra-sized first issue gives you pretty solid value for your $3.99, but even when we get “cut back” to a regular page count next issue, odds are that it’ll still be well worth the price of admission. I have no doubt that Remender won’t be able to resist his moralistic excesses at some juncture in the (probably very near) future, but as long as those aren’t indulged in to the point of subsuming his actual storyline, and as long as Opena continues to absolutely amaze, Seven To Eternity should prove to be a more than welcome addition to your pull list. It’s definitely got a spot on mine.

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So — just a couple of short weeks after I write about , as the title of my piece stated, “Why I Don’t Miss Peter Parker,” and how we should enjoy the comparable “good times” we’re living through vis a vis the “Spider-Man” franchise right now while we can, along comes the inevitable announcement from Marvel that April will see (another) Spidey relaunch, this time bringing back the series’ original title of The Amazing Spider-Man with all-new numbering and ushering in a new era of Peter Parker doing, presumably, the same old thing — namely feeling sorry for himself for not getting every single think he wants all the fucking time despite having the power to do so.

Yawn. You knew it couldn’t last forever.

For a minute there the idea of a new Marvel “Infinite Comics” web series, written by regular Spidey-scribe Dan Slott in tandem with Joshua Hale Fialkov that purportedly features and amnesiac Parker putting his life back together and having no idea who he is or why he does what he does apart from what he reads in the heavily-slanted pages of The Daily Bugle sounded like at least the possibility for a new “wrinkle” in how the Wall-Crawler was depicted was at hand, but you can rest assured that particular plot contrivance probably won’t even last as long as Otto Octavius ensconcing his mind in Pete’s body.

In other words, it’s all going to be the “same old, same old” all over again, and probably sooner rather than later if the wanna-be-joyous (and, let’s be honest, positively awful) cover for the new Amazing Spider-Man #1 by Humberto Ramos (who will also be illustrating the interior of the Slott-scripted book) is anything to go by.  Oh well, at least Jerome Opena’s variant, as pictured below, is a lot less taxing on the eyes —

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And so it’s come to pass that the entire “Marvel Now!” relaunch is already “Marvel Then!,” with all the dramatic and interesting changes to Spider-Man’s life presumably going by the wayside, the brief Wolverine re-launch from Paul Cornell and Alan Davis giving way to yet another re-launch of said character from Cornell (again) and Ryan Stegman, and all the other “Now!” books getting a fresh “.1” numbering system to mark their entry into something called, get this, “All-New Marvel Now!”

Oh, and you can bet all of these new “changes”  will, in turn,  be subjected to the editorial whims “necessitated” by the already-in-the-planning-stages -if-recent-trends-are-anything-to-go-by  “Even All-Newer Marvel Now!” —  or whatever — that we’ll be talking about come this same time next year.

And since the absolute best of the “Now!,” books, namely Young Avengers, wrapped up last week after a mere 15 issues,  I guess  it’s fair to assume that “Now!” probably means “Right Now!” more than anything else.

I’m also afraid that this nower version of “Now!” will probably mean the end of The Superior Foes Of Spider-Man, a genuinely unique, interesting, and dare I say even fun series that deserves much more time to find its audience amidst all the manufactured hype and hoopla the current comics marketplace is positively drowning in. So that’s a real bummer waiting to happen, as well.

Am I pissed off? Obviously. Am I unsurprised? Even more obviously. Am I bemused at the bald-faced hucksterism of Marvel and the disrespect, even disdain, it has for its readership and their apparently-quite-short attention spans? Sure, I guess so.

But here’s what genuinely concerns me above all else — “Superior” Spidey, and “Marvel Now!” in general, biting the dust so quickly is proof positive that marketing trumps everything else in mainstream comics right now — savvy salesmanship holds sway not just over quality writing and art (we always knew that), but apparently  over even basic human decency itself. Consider the following quote from Slott when he talks about how he dealt with little kids he met at comics conventions who were upset about the (cynical and short-lived) “death” of Peter Parker : “To do that for a solid year of my life, that’s the hardest thing I’ve had to do — to look small children in the eye at a convention and lie to them.”

If you listen really closely, you’ll hear the world’s smallest violin playing somewhere in the background here for Dan Slott. Talk about nerve. He’s begging for sympathy from the comics-reading public because he “had to” lie to little kids, when, in fact, he “had  to”  do no such thing. He chose to do it when he chose to play along with the editorial mandate, more than likely initiated by suits in the marketing department, that he “kill” Parker in order to give the Spidey books a temporary sales boost. If his conscience bothered him that much — if he knew that he would lose sleep over lying to kids for a year the way you or I probably would do — he could have quit the book, plain and simple, and refused to play along with this stunt. He didn’t. And now he’s asking for pity from the very same readership he was openly bullshitting? Please.

Obviously, I don’t support the vitriol — even death threats — that Slott was receiving when he “killed”  Parker off , but his own actions show he’s as divorced from reality as those who threatened and berated him were. Nobody forced Dan Slott to play along with this charade anymore than anyone believed it would be permanent. Why go the the extent of lying in the first place, one must wonder, when pretty much everyone knew what the outcome of this whole Superior hustle was going to be, anyway? The only real “debate” going on was over what the timetable for Parker’s return would be.

So here we are again — one failed title reboot that’s part of a wider failed cross-company reboot gives rise to another reboot that will probably run out of gas even sooner than this one did. Spider-Man will slink back into its decades-long post-Ditko creative lethargy, and Marvel will immediately begin angling for the next idea to bump up interest in this and its other books on a  (very) temporary basis. Maybe the Vulture or the Hobgoblin or the Scorpion or Kraven will be the next to don the Spidey-suit. Hell, maybe it’ll be Aunt May. Maybe we can even rotate and let every single character that’s ever appeared in the book become the “new” Spider-Man for a month, complete with their own issue #1.

And maybe it’s high time we all stopped playing along with this nonsense and let Marvel know how we feel about their snide corporate cynicism by keeping our money in our wallets and refusing to play along with their stupid, shameful, sorry  little shell game.