There’s a lot to cover on Wednesdays. We should know, as collectively, we read an insane amount of comics. Even with a large review staff, it’s hard to get to everything. With that in mind, we’re back with Wrapping Wednesday, where we look at some of the books we missed in what was another great week of comics.
Let’s get this party started.
Batman – One Bad Day: Bane
Written by Joshua Williamson
Illustrated by Howard Porter
Colored by Tomeu Morey
Lettered by Steve Wands
Reviewed by Alexander Manzo
Joshua Williamson brings another strong entry into the “Bad Day” series with this in-depth look into Bane. The massive difference in this issue in comparison to the other villains is that the others were more of justifications or additional lore as to why they continue to do bad things, while this one is more of a redemption story. Williamson shows a more empathetic version of Bane that has surpassed his addiction to venom. Although he is now a wrestling celebrity, with fake matches with “Batman,” he lives a more solitary and quiet lifestyle. Then, of course, Bane is pulled back into a world he thought he escaped, but it’s to finish a mission he’d started with the actual Batman to purify the world of venom and stop it from affecting anyone else. Williamson takes away his brute strength since he is clean of venom. Still, his sheer size and now super intellect make him nearly impossible to defeat, even for a “superhero” standard surviving an explosion from a lab. While it does feel like a mash-up of redemption, revenge, and addiction issues, it finds a way to work and does what a one-shot should do and make the reader want more from this new version of Bane and see what other adventures will happen.
Howard Porter does a great job of keeping up with Williamson’s genre shifts by working the tempo. At the beginning of the issue, we get two pages filled with thirty-two panels. Porter illustrates the wrestling match alongside Bane’s battles with the actual Batman and when he built his physical and emotional armor while in prison. It’s suitable for building an empathetic relationship between Bane and the reader as he sees the tribulations that led him to where he is now. He also does a great job of showcasing Bane’s newfound emotions and internal battles. This feels important for this story because usually, he’d have hidden behind a mask of addiction, and now he’s trying to figure out how to live his second chance at life. Tomeu Morey’s coloring is on-point in building a solid distinction between the panels of the past and current.
Final Verdict: 8.5 – It’s a solid-one-shot story that showcases an ex-addict’s battle with survivor’s guilt after sobering up through the lens of a usual villain.
Dark Web: X-Men #3
Written by Gerry Duggan
Illustrated by Rod Reis and Phil Noto
Lettered by VC’s Cory Petit
Reviewed by Alexander Jones
Madelyne Pryor and Ben Reilly’s demonic invasion of New York City continues in “Dark Web: X-Men” #3. This issue of “Dark Web: X-Men” is focused on fleshing out the X-Men side of the Marvel crossover series. Writer Gerry Duggan is great at finding humor in this series while artists Rod Reis and Phil Noto help make this installment feel grounded. The issue opens with Forge and Synch trying to contain the X-Men’s Treehouse in New York from Limbo-influenced construction tools. The sequence establishes the complicated and silly tone of the issue shockingly quickly.
“Dark Web: X-Men” #3 features vibrant art from both Phil Noto and Rod Reis. Reis and Noto share many similarities in the approach to tone and character design. Switching between the artistic talent in the issue feels like a cohesive shift that is not at odds with the narrative. The sequence recapping Madelyne’s origins was a great page that captured so many moments in time for the X-Men.
Readers have been waiting for the big showdown between Jean Grey and Madelyne Pryor during ‘Dark Web.’ “Dark Web: X-Men: X-Men” #3 finally makes good on the confrontation, spotlighting intricate page design from Rod Reis. Despite the fact that Madelyne has been down this road before, I can’t help but feel sorry for her. The tense facial expressions from Reis evokes a wonderful sense of guilt about the X-Men’s lack of interest in Madelyne over the years. However, it also makes recent issues of “New Mutants” feel particularly haunting.Continued below
One of the most exciting parts about “Dark Web: X-Men #3” is that the issue feels imperative to the ‘Dark Web’ crossover. The final moments where Gerry Duggan resolves Madelyne’s conflict feels earned. It was great to see artist Phil Noto return for the end of the issue to deliver such precise pencils capturing a key moment of this event.
Overall, “Dark Web: X-Men” #3 offers an unexpected resolution to one half of ‘Dark Web.’ I’m curious to see if this same approach is captured in future issues of the crossover in other titles. Gerry Duggan writes the expansive cast of this issue with strong characterization. The art from Phil Noto introducing the next phase of the crossover at the end of the issue is beautiful. The way Rod Reis depicted the intense battle between Madelyne and Jean is another great moment for the issue.
Final Verdict: 8.4 – ”Dark Web: X-Men” #3 offers an unexpected resolution for a key piece of Marvel’s Dark Web crossover.
The Wasp #1
Written by Al Ewing
Illustrated by Kasia Nie
Colored by KJ Díaz
Lettered by Cory Petit
Reviewed by Quinn Tassin
For such a mainstay of Marvel Comics, Janet Van Dyne isn’t a character that’s gotten to stand on her own two feet all that often.“The Wasp” #1 is a big step in remedying that, though it’s also easy to see why Wasp solo series haven’t exactly been dominant forces. Al Ewing’s biggest strength is his reverence for the history of the characters he’s writing and unique his ability to creatively weave it into stories while keeping things entirely fresh. When you bring those sensibilities to something like “The Wasp,” that means the mission statement is to imbue the character’s history with more meaning than it currently has. What we’ve seen so far shows that Ewing may well accomplish that. At the same time, it’s a bit underwhelming to be reintroduced to her background and be confronted with a father, an ex-husband, and a C-tier villain.
While Wasp stories aren’t exactly the deepest well to pull from, Janet herself is still a character with a lot of history and the strength of “The Wasp” #1 is its very full characterization. Janet’s conversations with Jarvis and Nadia are great moments that demonstrate what kind of a person she is- fun, kind, and supportive. The fight with Whirlwind is an excellent showcase for her competence as a hero as she leads Nadia in on-the-fly strategizing and using mental tactics to win. It’s basic stuff but it works well. The ending is easily the most intriguing part of the issue, showing Nadia’s grandfather as the host for some kind of evil entity. It’s exactly the type of deep cut that Ewing excels at spinning into something compelling and now that we’ve got a solid foundation, hopefully some classic insane storytelling will follow.
The artwork is decent, but definitely leaves something to be desired. Everything here is competently done; no moments are bad, there just aren’t any clear highlights either. The fight with Whirlwind is laid out well with a strong sense of geography but it lacks energy and dynamism. The style of illustration is fun and cartoon-like with strong coloring but there’s a sense of expressiveness that’s missing from the whole affair. Jarvis mixing a drink is probably the best moment visually because of its simplicity. This is a style that lends itself well to the more low key moments but falters when the energy picks up.
Final Verdict: 7.5 – A solid, simple, fun issue that could stand to have some more substance