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If At First You Do Not Succeed

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For as long as comics have been around, creators have been creating distaff versions of their popular male heroes. In the early Golden Age, Hawkman had Hawkwoman, Doll Man had Doll Girl, and Bulletman has Bulletgirl, just to name a few and, for the most part, these women were romantically linked to the main hero.

In the late Golden Age, the big two—Batman and Superman—got female counterparts. In the 1950s, the Dynamic Duo received a pair of potential paramours in the personage of Batwoman and Bat-Girl. Superman would receive a perky female cousin called Supergirl.

As comics grew older, female versions of successful characters appeared to protect potential copyrights. Spider-Woman and She-Hulk were created partly for this reason. And during this time, the female offshoots moved away from any connection to the main character. Yes, Jennifer Walters was a cousin to Bruce Banner, but Jessica Drew was neither a relative nor a potential love interest to Peter Parker.

Spider-Man is like Batman in the fact that he has had a number of female characters sharing his name. Jessica Drew shared the Spider-Woman name with such winners as Julia Carpenter, Mattie Franklin, and the villainous Charlotte Witter. None of these characters were quite as popular as either the original, Jessica Drew, or Spider-Man himself. You’d think Marvel would learn their lesson, but they are going through the same thing with Spider-Girl.

The original Spider-Girl was May Parker, the potential/alternate future daughter of Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson. She first appeared in the pages of What If…? #105 in 1998 (pretty close to when the Mattie Franklin Spider-Woman debuted) and proved popular enough to get her own series.

However, she was not popular enough to continually support her own series. Spider-Girl made frequent brushes with cancellation, having letter writing campaigns from its loyal, if small, fan base save it from the comic book graveyard on at least four occasions.

One of the potential threats fans of Spider-Girl identified was a character called Araña. The character was named Anya Corazon and made her first appearance in 2004’s Amazing Fantasy #1. She was given spider-like powers by an organization called The Spider Society and was called upon to act as their agent. She soon spun off into her own series, too.

May Parker fans believed that Araña was created to be a replacement for Spider-Girl. However, Araña’s series lasted only 12 issues, and the character became a supporting character in a variety of other series.

Unfortunately, Spider-Girl’s luck ran out this year, and her series was cancelled and after one final one-shot, she left store shelves, presumably forever.

This week gives us a new Spider-Girl series starring a renamed Araña as the main character. The logic of this is baffling to say the least.  A character who lasted well over 100 issues but was never quite that successful is replaced by a character who barely was able to last 12 issues. A character with a direct connection to Spider-Man is cast aside for one whose connection is tenuous at best.

If Marvel is thinking that they now have a Spider-Girl series that will be a success, they should guess again. I think this installment will fair as badly, if not worse, than the ones that came before it.

Also out this week:

Nightmaster: Monsters of Rock #1:

Most modern fans will know Nightmaster only from the late, great 2006-2008 series, Shadowpact, acting as that team’s ipso facto leader. But his origins go all the way back to 1969 and his debut in the pages of Showcase #82. It was there that DC created the character, one that would marry the worlds of rock and roll and sword and sorcery the way only a group of middle-aged men, like the ones working at DC at the time, could. 

The character has never risen above the ranks of a guest star or team member since that first appearance. But he’s getting another chance in the spotlight this week. This one-shot details Nightmaster trying to rescue his Shadowpact teammates from an evil wizard while trying to shake an annoying hippie who is a fan of his civilian, rock star identity of Jim Rook.

Adam Beechen (W), Kieron Dwyer (A), DC Comics, $2.99, One-Shot.

RPM #1:

12 Gauge Comics has developed an interesting stable of writers from the realm of television and movies. And these are celebrities, writers and directors that appear to take a hands on approach. Now, a celebrity who lives in two worlds is about to join their stable, a man who is as at home on the New York Times Best-Seller List as he is in the wrestling ring. That man is Mick Foley.

Revere Windsor is a one-man UPS. His job is to deliver packages from one location to another safely, securely, and quickly. Aided by an extraordinary sense of vision and a beautiful company watchdog, his latest job involves moving a package from Boston to Miami. But considering that both international criminals and the national security agencies want what he’s carrying, the trip is going to be harder that usual.  

Mick Foley & Shane Riches (W), Jose Holder (A), 12 Gauge Comics, $3.99. Four-Issue Miniseries.

Hack/Slash: Trailers Part 2:

Tim Seeley was in an awkward position. He was a creator who was stiffed out of his earnings by his boss while at the same time being a boss who stiffed his employees out of their money, although, the latter had a lot to do with the former. Seeley was one of the creators who didn’t get paid for his sales on Hack/Slash while at Devil’s Due due to their financial difficulties. Unfortunately, the fact that he wasn’t getting a paycheck kept him from paying the artists and colorists who worked for him.

Seeley, to his credit, is trying to make this right. He’s taken higher profile work at Marvel and published anthologies like this one in an attempt to pay the money that he owes. So, if you buy this graphic novel, not only are you getting never-to-be-reprinted stories from the likes of Gail Simone and J. Torres, but also helping some creators get their long overdue paychecks.

Various (W), Various (A), Image Comics, $6.99. Original Graphic Novel.

Batman: The Return #1:

Finally, the moment you have been waiting for since, well, Batman actually “died,” has arrived. Bruce Wayne’s road home has come to an end, and his hopscotching through time is over. He is finally home. What will happen to the man who took his place—Dick Grayson? What will Bruce have to say about his son Damian’s actions while he was away? And what changes will he bring with him?

Well, future solicitations have indicated that there will be a number of Batmen incorporated under Bruce’s leadership. But if you want to find out how this status quo is established and what are the reasons behind it, it’s a can’t miss for all Batfans out there.

Grant Morrison (W), David Finch (A), DC Comics, $4.99. One-Shot.

Grandville Mon Amour:

Bryan Talbot might not be a household name in many comic book reading households, but he is revered as a genius by those who are familiar with his work. He doesn’t put stuff out all that often, but when he does, it earns rave reviews from critics and his contemporaries.

This week, the second installment of his Grandville trilogy is released. It is an eclectic mix of styles—anthropomorphism, steampunk, alternate reality and science fiction. This time around, Detective Inspector Archie LeBrock tracks his nemesis Edward “Mad Dog” Mastock to Paris. But how can LeBrock stop a stone-cold killer when no prison can hold him? And will the demons from LeBrock’s past bring him down before he even gets started?

Bryan Talbot (W/A), Dark Horse Comics, $19.99. Original Graphic Novel.

Vertigo Resurrected: The Extremist #1:

The Extremist was one of the weirdest and most thought-provoking series ever published by Vertigo. The story involved a woman who is compelled to follow in the footsteps of her assassinated hit-man husband and was a psychosexual commentary about the submissive nature of violence. It was sexual without being sexy, kinky without being titillating, and was said to be ahead of its time.

That last thing will be put to the test this week as the 1993 series—one of Vertigo’s first—gets “resurrected” by the imprint. Audiences didn’t really respond to the shocking and boundary pushing story the first time around. Will it find an audience now? Or will it still be too hot for comic readers to handle?   

Peter Milligan (W), Ted McKeever (A), DC/Vertigo Comics, $7.99. One-Shot.

Thunderbolts #150:

Juggernaut, the Ghost, and Crossbones are Thunderbolts. They are bad guys trying to make a clean break. But some people really don’t care about these guys trying to reform, they only want their revenge. This would be trouble under the best circumstances, but considering that those revenge seekers are Thor, Iron Man, and Steve Rogers, that takes a powder keg and turns it into a neutron bomb. 

There are great ways to celebrate an anniversary issue and there are mindbogglingly amazing ways to celebrate an anniversary issue. This one falls into the latter category. In addition to the slobberknocker in the main story, you’ll also get character bios, reprints and a bunch of other stuff. Can you say, “must buy”?

Jeff Parker (W), Kev Walker (A), Marvel Comics, $4.99. Ongoing Series.

Days Missing: Kestus #1:

Gene Roddenberry could have just rested on his laurels. After all, he was the genius who created Star Trek, a franchise that has entered the pop culture consciousness, garnered legions of rabid fans, and has changed the face of sci-fi for generations to come. But he didn't stop there. So prolific was his creativity that even after his death, concepts he came up with were still brought to life.

This series is a sequel to the successful Days Missing series of a few years ago. The Steward, the man who has the power to make important days in history go missing, is back, and now he has met his match. Kestus is just as powerful as he is, only not as noble in his use of his powers. All The Steward has known is about to come undone.

Phil Hester (W), David Marquez (A), Archaia Entertainment, $3.95, Five-Issue Miniseries.

Ethan? #1:

There are many different theories as to what happens after you die. Some believe in a Heaven, some believe you get reincarnated, some believe your spirit could be trapped on Earth and you may exist forever as a ghost and some believe there is nothing except black nothingness after we pass on. The only way we will ever find out is when we die.

Ethan would really like to find out for himself. See, he was murdered. But instead of moving on to whatever lies after, he is stuck in an endless loop of his final moments on Earth. If he can solve his murder, he might be able to break the cycle. However, each time he starts the loop, he loses a little bit more of himself.

Alessandro Apreda (W), Fabrizio Fiorentino (A), GG Studio, $2.99, Ongoing Series.

Grant Morrison’s 18 Days:

Liquid Comics was what was supposed to rise out of the ashes of the defunct Virgin Comics. Now, almost two years after the closing of the latter company, Liquid Comics partners with Dynamite Entertainment to bring us one of the most eagerly awaited graphic novels, one that many feared would never see the light of day.

In the waning days of Virgin, it was announced that Grant Morrison would be offering his own reworking of the ancient Sanskrit epic Mahabharata. This would not be a direct translation of the epic, but would be filtered through Morrison’s uniquely shaped world view. Mahabharata is a multi-generational saga of war that is one of the lasting Asian myths. Add Morrison to the mix and you have something fans of the author should definitely pick up.  

Grant Morrison (W), Mukesh Singh & Liquid Comics (A), Dynamite Entertainment & Liquid Comics, $24.99. Original Graphic Novel.

God Machine:

Over at Marvel, Satan, or the extradimensional being that most resembles Satan, is in the business of breaking up relationships. In this graphic novel, Satan seems interested in reuniting a pair of lovers separated by death. Is this a kinder, gentler version of the Prince of Darkness, or is there something else going on?

Guy Salvatore is mourning the loss of his girlfriend Sith. As he is trying to piece his life back together and move on, he is visited by an old man named Satan. Satan tells Guy that Sith is not dead but only a prisoner of another dimension called “Dream Worlds.” Satan tells Guy that only he has the power to breech the barrier to the Dream Worlds and rescue Sith. But at what cost?

Chandra Free (W/A), Archaia Entertainment, $19.95, Original Graphic Novel.


Hellboy: Double Feature of Evil:

Anytime Mike Mignola and Richard Corben get together on Hellboy, you know that it will be good. So there is really nothing I need to say here. My job is done. Unfortunately, if I really did stop here, there would be a whole lot of white space here that would look funny, so allow me to further entice you into buying this one-shot.

You get two, count ‘em, two stories here. Both are about evil houses looking for humans to kill. One is a house that wants to eat people. The other is a pagan temple that is on the lookout for pagan sacrifices. Each is gruesomely nasty in its own way and each needs to be stopped before another person is killed. Enter Hellboy.

Mike Mignola (W), Richard Corben (A), Dark Horse Comics, $3.50. One-Shot.

###

William Gatevackes is a professional writer living in Mamaroneck, NY with his wife Jennifer and daughter Vanessa. He also is a comic reviewer for PopMatters, has written for Comic Foundry magazine and is the comic book movie editor for Film Buff Online. Links to his writing can be found at his website, www.williamgatevackes.com.

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  • CA3

    CA3 Nov 28, 2010 at 11:18am

    Wasn't there a Radio Comix title called "Monsters of Rock"?

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