There is no date specified because one book came out in early November, but I just got it this week. The other two came out in mid-December, one of which I got then, the other also arrived this week. So you figure it out.
Amazing Spider-Man #700.3 & 700.4, "The Black Lodge" by Joe Casey (writer), Timothy Green (pencils), Walden Wong (inks), Brad Simpson (colors), Joe Caramagna (letters); "Cat and Mouse" by Jen van Meter (writer), Emma Rios (artist), Jordie Bellaire (colorist), Joe Caramagna (letterer); "Three O'Clock High" by Clay McLeod Chapman (writer), Javier Rodriguez (artist), Joe Caramagna (letterer) - I picked this up for a few reasons. One, I needed a Peter Parker Spider-Man fix. Two, Joe Casey's written some stuff I liked, and the last time I read Jen van Meter writing the Black Cat, it was my favorite mini-series of the year. third, and most importantly, look at those artists. All very good, all with styles I quite like, who have done work on projects I enjoyed in the past.
The Black lodge turns out to be a clandestine hospital for super-villains, which is an idea I hadn't thought of, but it makes a certain amount of sense. You pay for treatment with proceeds from your heists. Spidey winds up there by letting himself get so badly burned by Firebrand (really? Firebrand? No wonder you let Octavius hijack your body) they can't tell who he is, and assume he's some partner of the comatose pyromaniac. Eventually they figure it out, and it turns into a race against time for Spidey to pull himself together enough to escape before they mention to the other patients who is among them. It's been awhile since I've seen Green drawing actual humans. Mostly it was talking trees, talking raccoons, Mojo, Howard the Duck, aliens, stuff like that. But I think he works for Spidey. He draws him spindly and long-limbed, has him jumping and dodging in positions your average person wouldn't, but he's Spider-Man, he can do that stuff. Plus, the eyes emerging from the shadows of the bandages makes him look a little Unknown Soldierish, which is not a bad comparison to get.
The one other bit I like about the story is how, as the head doctor goes about tipping off the patients, the Shocker refuses to get involved. That's one of those solid qualities the Shocker has, he doesn't care about revenge, he just wants to make money, and he's been at it long enough to know fighting super-heroes is not the way to do that.
van Meter and Rios' story involves Felicia being called in to determine if a wealthy fellow has stolen art which later turned up ruined. Which he does, and she knows it, since she stole some of it for him. As it turns out, the art was ruined by his daughter, who is angry about his divorce, and also fascinated by Felicia. Well, who wouldn't be? Rios draws Felicia well, makes her slim, long and slinky. She just looks and moves like someone who would be good at sneaking into places undetected. There's a moment where she gets surprised in the vault, and her costume stands up on her back, like a cat arching in surprise or fright. Rios does some great work with body language, helping van Meter convey all these different facets of Felicia. A lawbreaker, but only to a point, with a respect for the things she steals. She doesn't tolerate foolish acts, but she respects guts, and recognizes someone who might need a little guidance. You can quibble whether she'd be a good influence, but at least she's willing to try.
The other story was probably the weakest, because I'm not sure Casey insulting his bully in front of all the other kids in school is gonna work out for him long-term. Buddy may simply choose to take revenge when there's no one else around to laugh, although I guess the idea is Buddy really believes Spidey has Casey's back. Buddy's not a victim, and I don't feel bad for him, I'm just not really sure what this accomplished, other than buying Casey another day until the next beatdown. It isn't like Casey was trying to fight back with his fists in the first place, he was just desperate to stop getting bullied and said something foolish. Oh well, two out of three isn't bad.
Captain Marvel #17, by Kelly Sue DeConnick (writer), Filipe Andrade (artist), Jordie Bellaire (colorist), Joe Caramagna (letterer) - Hey, at least I got it before the next series (I'm still convinced it's a mini-series) starts up.
Carol's still coping with the loss of all her memories, and the loss of her apartment. Fortunately, she has her lieutenant, Kit, to help her with the former, and J. Jonah Jameson(!) for the latter. He's giving her the top of the Statue of Liberty as a home, pending her ability to pay rent on it. She's also openly expressing her interest in Frank Gianelli, though he's wise enough to advise holding off until she's perhaps regained a little more of who she is. The downside is a Grace Valentine. She came up with some app (which is collecting data it isn't supposed to be), and was supposed to get a cover feature, but was bumped for one on Carol instead. Hope plays better than absolute objectivism, as the editor put it. She's frustrated, and decides to hack some drones and try to kill Carol to show New Yorkers they're wrong to cheer for/idolize/worship some costumed type. That backfires, though Grace makes an escape. I will say, I understand her irritation with someone telling her 'New Yorkers are busy', as if that explains everything, or anything. I would probably want to hit people with drones after that, too.
I'll admit to being curious if DeConnick will continue to use Grace as some arch-foe for Carol. I'd actually like it if she just became a recurring villain, but not one obsessed with Danvers. Have her decide that ordinary folks are too stupid to see the truth, so why waste time with them? Simply focus on accumulating wealth, power, and acclaim for herself. Could probably contrast the direction that initial bitterness and resentment drove her, with the direction the new Ms. Marvel went by drawing on Carol as an inspiration. Could play it as a "what you get out of it reflects what you put in".
It's odd that even though Andrade still frustrates me with the inconsistent, exaggerated faces, and doesn't always do a great job depicting action sequences (I thought the whole thing with the drones was messy and sort of confusing), this is still the way I think of Carol at the moment, and Andrade's version of the character is the one I think of for this version. But the expressions work for a Carol who seems to be trying to be open and honest about who she is, even if she isn't sure of the answer to that.
Alright, 2013 Year in Review start Monday! I will get it finished on Valentine's Day! Better late than never.