I did manage to find most of last week's books on Friday, but too late to post anything then. These are the first two books I read, so the ones I was most interested in, then.
Ben Reilly: The Scarlet Spider #3, by Peter David (writer), Mark Bagley (penciler), John Dell (inker), Jason Keith and Jay David Ramos (color artists), Joe Caramagna (letterer) - Well, he's back in his classic duds. Not a perfect costume, but fairly simple, and when in doubt, simple is probably better.
Kaine is not killed by the people with guns, who were sicced on him by Ben, after Rita warned him. Ben has more immediate problems, as Mr. Slate jams a tracer in his neck, and Cassandra lies and says it's also a bomb. Doesn't Ben have a spider-sense? While Ben mulls that problem over, a trio of guys dressed in various Spider-costumes barge into the casino, and right into Mr. Slate, who promptly kills one. Ben, in costume, saves them, and warns them to stop this nonsense. When the one dressed in Ben's old costume criticizes the current one, Ben takes his costume.
One of the reasons I picked up this book was because I figured, with a veteran writer like Peter David, we'd get more subplots involving supporting characters. I'm still not clear if that's going to happen. Ben ran into Mandy, the redhead he rescued in the first issue, trying to get a job as a dancer at the casino. "Aunt June" is still around, shoveling quarters into the slot machines. We learned Mr. Slate has a son.
I have no idea if any of that is going anywhere. I'm still trying to get a bead on Ben. He didn't hesitate to jump and fight Slate to protect remaining two do-gooders. But he was not-so-subtly reminding Mandy she had better get him his money just prior to that. And he tried to have gunmen kill Kaine, who is, admittedly, a multiple murderer himself, albeit a somewhat reformed one. Is this going to end up being about Ben futilely trying to assemble a family around him, because he's trying to do it through threats and conniving?
I liked the coloring most in the scene in the firefight between Kaine and the hired guns. The lighting from the firearms and the bullets was shown as reflecting off Kaine's outfit, and it just looked nice. Not that the colors are muted in the other scenes. There are a lot of panels with dark or muted backgrounds, mostly in the parts involving Cassandra, since she's opted for an atmospheric darkened office.
There's a couple of quick fights scenes, lets Bagley do a little something besides draw people talking. Nothing spectacular in page layout, but some solid work, things flow well. There's a nice contrast between the panel of Ben getting backhanded, which seems almost casual, and the next panel where's he's sent flying through a row of machines. You only see Slate's hand, which means you can't judge his expression or level or exertion, which makes it seem like a very casual slap. Which makes the effect it has all the more impressive. They've established Slate as a pretty formidable physical threat, I'm curious to see how Ben's going to handle that.
The Unbelievable Gwenpool #17, by Christopher Hastings (writer), Gurihiru (artists), Clayton Cowles (letterer) - The impish Gwen who filled in the artists' names on the cover might be my favorite of the lot.
Gwen has stayed in her world, even gotten a job working the counter at a movie theater. But she can see her internal narration boxes, and the title. Gwen tries to figure out how to confirm her suspicions, and settles on thinking a lot so her caption box grows large enough she can reach it. Unfortunately she overdoes it and the box forces her out the window. So everyone thinks she tried to kill herself. Given a few moments alone, Gwen is able to breach the panels, and steps outside something. She didn't exactly break the fourth wall so much as the third wall, the border to the next panel, so I'm not sure where she is at the moment. Suffice it to say, I'm extremely curious where Hastings is going with this.
Also, her experiences working at the theater make me extremely grateful I have never worked in customer service, but I'm grateful for that every day.
So Gwen lives in New York, correct? When she reaches out to touch the panel border, and briefly succeeds before finding herself touching another person's face, everyone on the subway is gawking at her. Would people on the subway actually do that? I was given to understand from other fiction people on New York subways try to ignore everything going on around them. Don't make eye contact and all that. Perhaps not. Or perhaps it's the narrative twisting things to produce a reaction from Gwen. her father has mysteriously become much "cooler".
The various effects are illustrated well, Gwen seeing through the break in the panel she created, into the next several panels yet to occur for example. Or the page of her being launched out the window by her bloated thought caption. I'm a little surprised that in the third panel of the page prior to that, she didn't notice her head was being forced outside the panel borders by the caption, but her mind was kind of running on its own train. It's a nice visual representation of the way your thoughts can get going and prove hard to stop sometimes. Usually don't see it like that in comics, but people aren't usually trying to do that on purpose.