Saturday, April 12, 2014

Amazing Spider-Man OGN Family Business by Mark Waid, James Robinson,Gabriele Dell Otto, and Werther Dell Edera

Confession time:  Spider-Man is my all-time favorite superhero.  Not just my favorite Marvel Comics superhero, but my all-time, all-inclusive superhero.  And he has been since I bought my first Spider-Man comic: The Amazing Spider-Man 261.

Another confession: I didn't really buy it.  Not with my own money.
But I DID beg for it sufficiently enough to warrant my father giving in and then shelling out a hard-earned 60 cents.  Was that really a lot of money back then?
Back then, with 60 cents, you could probably buy a better kid than me.  Maybe two of them.  Odds are at least one if them wouldn't whine about mowing the yard.

But I digress.

Spider-Man: Family Business is not only very easy on the eyes, but it is an incredible read.

There was a time, not too long ago it seems to me, that I wouldn't have identified myself as a Mark Waid fan.  He had written some things I'd liked, but just liked, not loved.  I liked his run on Flash.  I thought his Captain America was pretty good.  Kingdom Come was amazing.  Fluke?  Out of all those Crossgen titles I tried, Waid's Ruse was my favorite, but still not enough to really make me think of myself as a fan. L.E.G.I.O.N., Ka-Zar, Impulse... nothing seemed to stick out and say look at me. They were just "ok" comics in my opinion.  And there was nothing wrong with that, it just wasn't enough for me to include him in my favorite writers list.  Don't act like I'm the only one who has a list like that living in your head.

Then I read his Fantastic Four with Mike Weringo on art and remember being really impressed.  At the time the FF was a place where creators, stories and art went to be unnoticed.  It was the anti-flagship Marvel title despite being it's first.  Still, I couldn't, or wouldn't, give this dude his props.  I chalked up my affinity for his FF run to the amazing talents of Weringo.  (I've reread that series recently and boy was I wrong... it was truly FANTASTIC.)

Then I read Waid's Empire series.  The one where the villain analog of Dr. Doom won, and took over the world?  I think I might have been one of the few reading it, but this is where Waid started to become one of my favorite writers.  That book was amazing, and definitely needs to be read by you if you haven't had the opportunity.  Then came Irredeemable, and Daredevil, and Incorruptible, and Indestructible Hulk, and The Incredibles, Rocketeer, The Unknown, his work on Amazing Spider-Man, Superman: Birthright, and the immense undertaking of 52.  After so many incredible stories Mark Waid is sitting pretty high on my list of great writers, and deservedly so.

So this book was an immediate purchase for me just for Waid's name on the cover.  I've only ever really enjoyed James Robinson writing his series The Golden Age and Starman.  Everything else I've read of his has fallen short for me, making me wish for more Starman, or for a creator-owned project from him.  I think I might just be mad at Robinson for not giving me more Starman.  It seems personal to me.

The art in this book is stunning.  Dell'Otto is a beast!  The guy's artwork just exudes such a fantastic cinematic flair that makes it easy to trick your mind into believing you're watching a great film.  It's deep.  It has this great depth to it, that allows you to feel like it lets you in... like you're watching from inside the panels, and not holding a book or a tablet.

This is what I love about comics!  The writer comes up with the dialogue and pacing, the artist shows you the panels, the perspective, the beats of the story, but a big portion of the work in telling that story is still your responsibility!  All the action transpiring between the panels, the actions that tie the story together, that only takes place in your head.  Along with giving a voice to those characters, makes the act of reading a comic a bit of a creepy, intimate experience, and one that has always made comics my absolute favorite medium.

The actual story within Family Business revolves around Peter Parker's family: his S.H.I.E.L.D. super-spy parents, and another estranged member of the Parker clan.  I won't spoil it, but it seems like a "oh no they shouldn't do this" kind of moment and storyline, and not something I usually enjoy, but it just works here in this story.  It works because Waid makes you feel empathy for the new character, for Peter, and for their situation.  It works on every level.  By the end of the book I wanted more, and that's the best compliment for a story I can think of.

Also, to be clear, this is a Peter Parker story.  The actual Peter Parker, not ole Doc Oc, and it feels great to read a story featuring Peter again after the lengthy break we've had.  I'm really enjoying this Superior Spider-Man arc and I don't really feel like it needs to end this soon, but... it was nice to see Peter again.

I give the Spider-Man: Family Business OGN my highest recommendation.  It's made for Spider-Man fans, Marvel Zombies, fans of comics in general, and fans, like myself, of Mark Waid.

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