Tug's Pick of the Week

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #506 — Click for a Larger ImageThe Amazing
Spider-Man #506

There’s nothing fancy about this week’s pick.  Not the first issue of a new series.  Not a concluding issue to a crossover.  Not a special promo issue.  Nope, this week it all comes down to just plain good comics.  And that’s what Amazing Spider-Man # 506 is all about.

While I’ll be the first person to tell you that J. Michael Straczynski’s run on Amazing has been somewhat hit-or-miss — I’ll also tell you that when it hits, it hits hard (# 36 and # 500 immediately spring to mind).  The latest issue of Amazing marks JMS’s return to writing duties after letting Fiona Avery have a hand at scripting the last story arc (possibly a tryout for her new Amazing Fantasy gig?).

In this, the first issue of a new story arc entitled “The Book of Ezekiel,” JMS brings back (guess who) Ezekiel — the mysterious character with Peter Parker’s powers who was introduced back when JMS first started his run on the book.  Ezekiel has opened a new world for Spider-Man by suggesting that the wall-crawler's powers may not come from the science of a radioactive spider bite — but from the spider itself.  This path has led Spider-Man a bit out of his element.  Ever since meeting Ezekiel, our favorite web-head has been dealing with more mystical elements than he is used to.  In this issue, Ezekiel comes to warn Peter that his toughest challenge yet is coming.  But is Ezekiel really to be trusted?

Apparently, this story arc will be the last for penciller John Romita Jr., who has been on the book for the entire JMS run.  Marvel has had a good habit lately of finding artists who really define a book and keeping them there.  Just as I can’t imagine Mark Waid’s Fantastic Four without Mike Wieringo or Ultimate Spider-Man without Mark Bagley, an Amazing Spider-Man without J.R. Jr. just doesn’t seem possible.  His style and tone have set the bar high for this series, and I hope all those who follow can stand up to the challenge.  Romita has said he hopes to return to the book as soon as he gets a chance.  (If you’re wondering what he’ll be spending his time drawing, check the latest issue of Previews for The Gray Area.  Plus, the rumor mills are reporting a Black Panther project and then Wolverine with Mark Millar.)

So that’s it for this week.  Like I said, nothing flashy — just plain good comics.  Don’t you dare miss it!

Other amusements this week:

NEGATION WAR #1 — Click for a Larger ImageNegation War # 1 – Hey, I don’t mind sitting down and eating some of my words.  Let me just say that I am not a CrossGen guy.  Never have been, I’m afraid.

Only recently have I started giving them more than a cursory glance with Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, which is a heck of a series.  So when I heard that Tony Bedard (writer of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Negation) was writing Negation War, the big universe-ending event, I decided to give it a shot.  I even heard that it was going to be new-reader friendly, which I didn’t believe.  After all, was Crisis new-reader friendly?  Not really.

To my surprise, though, I needed no help understanding Negation War # 1.  Sure, there are a few things I just have to hope get explained in greater detail later, and I’m sure I’m missing some inside info that longtime CrossGen fans will thrill over — but, for the most part, I understood everything that was going down.  Heck, it even got me interested in going back and catching up on older CrossGen titles.  If you haven’t given CrossGen a try yet — or maybe you gave them a lookover once and didn’t like what you saw — you really should pick this book up.  It will change your mind!

Note:  Negation War # 1 actually came out last week but sold out.  We’re getting more this week, so I thought I’d talk about it a little.

MY FAITH IN FRANKIE #4 — Click for a Larger ImageMy Faith in Frankie # 4 – This mini-series by Mike Carey (Hellblazer) and Sonny Liew has been hands-down one of my favorite books so far this year.  It follows Frankie, a normal girl who has abnormal religious practices.

You’ve heard the Depeche Mode song “Personal Jesus,” right?  Well, Frankie has her own personal god named Jeriven.  He looks out for her and generally makes her life a piece of cake — until she starts wanting to date.  Jeriven sees Frankie’s boy-crazy tendencies as a threat that may cost him his sole follower, so he always finds a way to make sure Frankie’s first dates never have sequels.

This is the final issue of the mini, but we still have all of the issues in stock — and hey, if we’ve run out by the time you get here, just ask for the Tug’s Pick of the Week My Faith in Frankie Special, and we’ll order all four issues for you.

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