This week it’s the next installment of the lead up to DC’s Metal with Dark Days:The Casting, and the mystery of the Miles Morales’ Marvel Universe counterpart continues with Spider-Men II!
Dark Days: The Casting #1 (DC Comics)
Dark Days: The Forge brought up a whole lot of questions for the upcoming Metal event from DC. From showing a new back-story for Hawkman, to revealing that Batman has one of the “tuning forks” the Monitor used to try and reconcile the multiple universes in Crisis on the Infinite Earths, The Forge had a lot of crazy reveals, but not a lot of context for them. With The Casting, it falls on Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, and their trio of artists (Jim Lee, John Romita Jr, and Andy Kubert) to maybe, just maybe start making some connections to the upcoming Metal event.
Now, there are some revelations in The Casting, but not so many that you won’t feel the need to read Metal next month. Picking up right from the end of The Forge, this issue finds Batman continuing his search for the mysterious metal that he’s found inside of different weapons and metahumans in the DC universe. At the same time, Green Lantern and Duke Thomas (no, he still doesn’t have a codename), are attempting to figure out why the Joker is locked away in the Batcave. As Joker taunts them with clues to the mysteries around them, he begins attacking the device that Batman has been working on to help him figure out the origins of this metal. Of course, Batman arrives in the knick of time and takes out the Joker, and gets Green Lantern and Duke to help him start up the machine again. But nothing happens…..or does it?
More so than The Forge, The Casting goes to great lengths to offer some back-story for the upcoming Metal event. Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV offer some pretty wild revelations for the history of the DC universe, and for the most part, their reveals make a lot of sense and are pretty cool. The two work extremely well together, and offer a very solid lead in for the upcoming event, which seems to be an almost Lovecraftian take on the DC universe (which I am VERY into).
On the art side of things, we have the same three artists as the ones that worked on The Forge. Now usually three artists on a single book would be a cause for alarm, but when those three artists are Jim Lee, Andy Kubert, and John Romita Jr, it’s not that big of a deal. Or at least it shouldn’t be. While none of these artists are bad in The Casting, the fact you get them for only a handful of pages at a time really hurts the narrative of this issue. Once you get used to Jim Lee’s style, you then immediately jump over to John Romita, Jr’s, sometimes within the same scene. While it’s admirable of DC to try and make this issue work with three of their most in demand artists, it’s just too jarring to really get into. A better result would’ve been splitting the issue into “acts” and giving each artist one of them.
Despite the weird art decision, The Casting is still worth your time, and if you are planning on picking up Metal next month, I’d argue that it’s necessary. While Snyder is great at setting up new storylines for readers, I doubt he’ll have time to get into the back-story of the Nth metal in the event like he has with these two specials, so if you want to know the most you can before the event, you should definitely pick this up.
Spider-Man II #1 (Marvel Comics)
Years ago, Spider-Men hit and brought Peter Parker and Miles Morales together. It was pretty big deal; especially since Marvel previously made it well known that the regular Marvel universe and the Ultimate Universe were never, ever, going to cross over. But, now that the Ultimate universe is no more and Miles Morales is living in the “regular” Marvel universe post Secret Wars, the release of Spider-Men II, again written by Brian Michael Bendis and drawn by Sarah Pichelli, is in a weird spot. Can you make this series work now that we have Peter and Miles teaming up more often in the regular Marvel universe?
Yes and no. As much fun as it is to see Peter and Miles hanging out together and fighting crime, the magic is a little lost now that both characters are in the same universe. Bendis’ script has fun mocking this point a little bit, but it just reminds you that Marvel hasn’t really explained how Miles made his way into the main Marvel universe in a clear way. That being said, the main point of Spider-Men II isn’t why Miles is in the same universe as Peter, it’s about the mystery of the OTHER Miles Morales who existed in the 616 universe before Secret Wars smashed all the universes together. And even in that regard, we don’t get a lot of forward momentum. This issue is strictly an opening issue for the miniseries that sets up the adventure for our two Spideys.
Now usually I’d be a little ticked off over something like this, but I have to admit, there’s a certain charm to the way Bendis has Peter and Miles bounce off one another. While it’s frustrating to find this issue only barely start to get to the main plot (Peter and Miles come across a weird portal like the one from the original Spider-Men, and a weird looking Taskmaster comes out), the real strength of this issue is Bendis’ dialogue for both characters. It’s pretty damn wonderful, and makes up for the slow moving plot of this issue.
Also making up for the plot is Sara Pichelli’s art, which I’ve sorely missed on Miles’ Spider-Man series. There’s plenty to like in this issue for fans of Pichelli: from an awesome battle between Peter Parker and the Armadillo to hilarious scenes with Miles and Ganke at school, Pichelli once again proves that she’s one of the best artists in Marvel’s stable with Spider-Men II. Hopefully she’s finished enough of the book to prevent any major delays, but at the same time, I also hope she doesn’t get to the point where she has to rush.
While Spider-Men II isn’t quite as compelling as the original, there’s still a lot to enjoy with this opening issue. It also helps that this issue can be read without any knowledge of any of Peter or Miles’ adventures, or reading the previous Spider-Men miniseries at all, which his a pretty rare feat for any comic. What it may not have in plot, Spider-Men II makes up for it with characterization and charm, which is fine enough by me for this issue.