This week Spider-Man joins the faculty of the Jean Grey School For Higher Learning, and we visit our favorite group of survivors in The Walking Dead!
Spider-Man and the X-Men #1 (Marvel Comics)
Spider-Man wears a lot of hats. It seems like creators thrive on giving the character not just one, or two, or three jobs, but more like seventeen at times. Right now he’s in charge of a company, a member of the Avengers, and helping out in the “inversion” in AXIS. And now writer Elliot Kalan and artist Marco Failla are adding another title to the Wall-Crawler’s long list of superlatives: Guidance Counselor for the Jean Grey School Of Higher Learning, as Spidey joins up with the X-Men in the new ongoing Spider-Man and the X-Men #1.
It seems like a stretch, and it is. In fact, much of this issue has Spidey wondering just how exactly he got into this gig. Apparently Wolverine was suspicious of one of the students being a traitor, and before his death asked Spidey to investigate if anything should happen to him. Why’d he ask Spider-Man? Your guess is as good as mine.
It’s clear from the opening pages that the other faculty doesn’t like having Spider-Man on the school grounds. This brings me to my first bone to pick with this issue: everyone, literally everyone, from the students to Storm and Beast, all take issue with the Wall Crawler joining the school’s staff. While being hesitant to allow a non-mutant on as a faculty member is understandable, some of the character’s (especially Storm’s) reasons for not wanting Spidey at the school seem like a bit of a stretch. It’s almost like Kalan is choosing to neglect the dozens of team ups Spidey has had with the X-Men just so it serves his story.
Another issue I have is Spider-Man’s lack of confidence in teaching. I don’t want to get super fan boy nitpicky here, but Spider-Man was a high school science teacher for a few years, and it was pretty recent. While Spidey’s worries about teaching the class are pretty good for Elliot Kalan’s script, it also flies in the face of continuity for the wall crawler (granted, that may have been wiped out with “Brand New Day”, but it’s never been confirmed or denied if it did).
Speaking of Kalan’s script, it’s not bad, if a little uneven. There are segments that are a little too long, almost like Kalan wanted to get everything out that he could. There are some pretty funny moments peppered throughout the book, but again, there’s some stuff in here that will make Spidey die hards like myself immediately go “wait a minute” and check their Spidey history. Kalan does get bonus points for teaming up Stegron and Sauron, even if they only appear in the last few pages of the book.
Marco Failla’s art is at least better than the script. Failla’s style has a bit of a mix of David LaFuente and Tradd Moore, and it suits the tone of the book very well. Failla’s use of faces and visual gags helps some of the best jokes stick their landings, and I’ll be surprised if he’s not called up to do Amazing soon.
With Wolverine and the X-Men gone, Spider-Man and the X-Men has come in to fill the void. It’s got some pretty big shoes to fill, and unfortunately after reading this first issue it still has some way to go. But it does have the potential to be a really fun book. Hopefully Kalan can reign in his scripts and find a better balance of humor and exposition. Next issue will hopefully have more of Stegron and Sauron, which guarantees a purchase from me.
The Walking Dead #135 (Image Comics)
The Walking Dead is known for it’s slow builds, and this story arc has been no exception. However, with issue 135, Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard start to ramp up the suspense in some pretty surprising ways, and show us that even 135 issues in, there’s still plenty to keep us coming back to Rick and Co.
This issue primarily deals with the fallout of Carl defending Sophia from the two local bullies from last issue. As the scenario unfolds, Robert Kirkman uses it as another example that the worst things our survivors’ encounter isn’t the walking rotting corpses outside, but the people who are closest to them. Yes, you can make the argument that this trope is starting to get old, but I think Kirkman still finds numerous new ways to make this point feel fresh. Hell, he writes the bullies’ parents so well that I found myself getting worked up over how badly I wanted Carl to take them out. We also get some more insight into the world of “the Whisperers”, which will hopefully lead to some pretty awesome moments in the next issue.
Charlie Adlard’s art is as awesome as always, and he really shines here when he depicts the different emotions our characters are feeling. From anger, to shock, and despair, this issue serves as a great showcase of Adlard’s talents with a pencil. The Walking Dead is as much Charlie Adlard’s book as it is Robert Kirkman’s.
Even at 135 issues, The Walking Dead isn’t showing any signs of stopping, and as long as it continues to be this consistently good, I see no problem with it going for another 135 issues. Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard’s zombie epic is constantly surprising and entertaining, and just when you feel like you know where it’s going to go, it’ll switch gears and leave you stunned. While this issue may not have any shocking moments, it’s clearly building to some potentionally huge ones down the road.