House of M: Spider-Man (2006)

 

Quote:
“Hope you don’t mind, Goblin, but I brought some of my buddies along.”

 

This book collects the five issue mini-series and was written by Mark Waid and Tom Peyer. I know Waid best from the Kingdom Come mini-series but he has had runs on other DC titles such as Flash and JLA and Marvel titles such as Captain America and Fantastic Four. Peyer was an editor on Sandman but I think this is the first book I have read for which he has a writing credit. The art was by penciller Salvador Larroca and inker Danny Miki. I know Larroca from the Ultimate Daredevil and Elektra and Ultimate Elektra mini-series and I don’t think I have come across Miki’s work before.

Peter Parker has the perfect life. He is one of the most famous mutants on the planet – as a wrestler and film star. He is happily married to Gwen Stacy with a small son and has the rest of his family around him including his uncle Ben. So why would anyone want to dirty his reputation? Who is the mysterious Green Goblin who passes the dirt, in the form of an alternate reality journal, to Parker’s personal whipping boy Jonah Jameson?

Peter Parker is the superhero who gets the roughest emotional ride in the House of M series when his memories are restored. And that continues in this great series from Waid and Peyer in which his real memories are trying to come to the surface and he goes from hero to zero with Jameson’s revelations in the press. The book continues a theme common to a lot of the House of M related series – the so-called dream come true reality created by the Scarlet Witch does not seem like a dream come true in actuality. The only fault that I can find with it is that I felt the ending was a little weak but other than that well worth a read even without any knowledge of the main book.

The New Avengers: Break Out (2005)

 

Quote:
“Why wouldn’t you be wearing underwear?”
“I chafe.””I want off the team.”

Collecting the first six issues of the ongoing New Avengers series, this book was written by Marvel mainstay Brian Michael Bendis with pencils by Canadian artist David Finch. Bendis has had long runs on many of Marvel’s top books including Daredevil, The Avengers, Ultimate Spider-man and has written the lead story on a number of Marvel’s crossover events including House of M. I have come across Fincher’s art before on Volume 2 of Moon Knight.

Luke Cage and SHIELD agent Jessica Drew are accompanying Matt Murdock on a visit to Sentry on the super secure penal facility the Raft when a jail break, carried out by Electro, occurs. Captain America, Spider-man and Iron Man are attracted to the spectacle and are soon joining the others in trying to contain the prisoners as best they can. In the aftermath, Captain America suggests putting together a new Avengers team to investigate the purpose of the break out and help recapture the 40 plus prisoners who managed to escape. In the course of their investigations they are led to the Savage Land, meeting up with Wolverine along the way, and run into illegal, covert SHIELD operations there.

I liked this book a lot. It had a bit of something for everyone – epic battles between heroes and villains, comedic moments between the fledgling team, intrigue and possible institutionally approved illegal activity and conspiracy theories. The book brings the team together and ends at the conclusion of their man hunt for the villain whose escape was being concealed by the mass breakout but it left plenty of loose ends to examine in further issues. I have already placed my order for volume 2 and look forward to more of the same.

The New Avengers: The Trust (2008)

 

Quote:
My name is Parker Robbins. They call me the Hood. You know, because I have a … hood.

 

This book collects New Avengers 32 to 37 and annual #2. It was written by Brian Michael Bendis with art by Leinil Yu for the chapters from the ongoing comic. Bendis has written almost exclusively for Marvel and is probably best known for runs on Daredevil and Ultimate Spider-man. Leinil Yu is a Filipino artist whose work I have seen previously in Silent Dragon from Wildstorm/DC.

On returning from a mission to rescue Echo from the Hand, the New Avengers (the renegades from registration: Luke Cage, Spider-man, Wolverine, Spider-woman, Doctor Strange and Iron Fist with Echo and Clint Barton) are in subdued mood as the body of Elektra reveals that she was actually a Skrull – a race of shape shifting aliens. Suspicion is rife as no one can know who anyone else really is anymore. This is heightened after the plane crashes and Spider-woman steals the body of the dead Skrull. Meanwhile some of the second string bad guys are starting to take advantage of the disarray after the civil war and are organising under the leadership of the Hood. While investigating each other and the fate of the Skrull’s body, the New Avengers unearth a plot to unleash Deathlok against the Avengers.

Set after the Civil War crossover and leading into the Secret Invasion crossover, this book suffers for being a staging post of a much larger story. As with too many of the leading books from Marvel a knowledge of the storylines from the last few years is required to get the most out of this book. The story it tells is entertaining enough without being more than just OK. The highlight of the book for me is a panel in which Luke Cage uncovers the hide out of the bad guys and confronts the Hood while backed up by the Avengers, X-Men, Fantastic Four and other heroes including, in the background, Howard the Duck!

Spider-man: Fever (2010)

This book collects the 3 issue Fever mini-series by Brendan McCarthy and an early meeting between Spider-man and Doctor Strange from Spider-Man Annual #2 by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. Lee and Ditko, of course, require no introduction to fans of Spider-Man or Doctor Strange. I am a big fan of McCarthy’s art which can be found in Judge Dredd and others for 2000AD, Skin (a tale of a thalidomide skinhead written by Peter Milligan) and Rogan Gosh (also written by Milligan) that was published in Revolver and then reprinted in the US by Vertigo.

Fever is a hallucinogenic fever dream in which Doctor Strange goes on a psychedelic quest to rescue Spider-Man’s soul bunch of spider demons from another dimension.

In many ways the story is immaterial. It is only an excuse for McCarthy to give free reign to his art style and create a wonderful trippy book with fantastic depictions of the other dimensions that Doctor Strange must travel through. The main character design also pays tribute to the great Steve Ditko who helped to create both of these characters. Find out more about his motivations for doing the series in this interview with McCarthy.