I was at the movies over the weekend - although we won't get to the actual film until next week - and I saw the trailer for The Murder on the Orient Express. I initially thought they'd tapped Johnny Depp to play Poirot. That would have been a shitshow, just Depp mugging for the camera like a clown, though my dad's reaction when he found out might have been worth it. He's a big David Suchet Poirot fan. Anyway, here's reviews of some of the comics that arrived late last week.
Cave Carson has a Cybernetic Eye #9, by Jonathan Rivera (writer/story), Gerard Way (story), Michael Avon Oeming (artist), Nick Filardi (color artist), Clem Robins (letterer) - I went with the Michael Cho variant, not because Oeming's cover was bad, but there was a copy with the variant for a little cheaper, and it's still a good cover.
Pursuit of the Whisperer continues across worlds. Cave's eye is hiding on it, watching everything, for what purpose we still don't know. The Whisperer, through the old man it merged with, gives the usual spiel about how much better everything will be when everyone is united under it's control and guidance. Cave and the others get close of for their Mighty Mole to attach, the MM Mk 2's crew, fully on-board with the Whisperer land. There's a fight, Cave's side wins, although Wild Dog survives a freaking machete to the head, takes the Mk. 2, and get dragged into yet another world, of relative giants, one of which the Whisperer controls and uses to pluck our heroes from it's hide and flings them into the distance.
Story feels like it's playing for time. Rivera and Way threw in a few bits about the justifications the Whisperer's followers are duped into making that feel like an attempt to make a point, plus some stuff about rebooted universes and things carrying over from them, but the latter especially doesn't fit in the flow of the story. It's a big, desperate chase and then blurp, here's a page of blah-blah about rebooting universes. Even the story doesn't want to listen to it (and Wild Dog's asleep during the whole thing) because it abruptly shifts to Cave and Chloe arguing in the front seat about whether alternate universe versions of people will care about you, simply because your universe's version did. Which is a pretty dumb conversation. Why would they? You're the kid of some other me, so what? This issue is not a high point for the series from the writing side of things.
Filardi adds yellow speckles to the panels set on or around the Whisperer, or in worlds he's already affected. The characters don't interact with it or notice is, so it's more like interference on our perspective. It's over everything, but not to a distracting degree, just there, evidence of its presence, or influence. The fight scene was brief, and almost entirely focused around Wild Dog fighting that one guy, so there wasn't much sense of place or flow to it, but it's questionable how important it was in the grand scheme of things. They're ants scrabbling around on the back of a whale.
That said, the panel of a blade getting buried in the top of Wild Dog's skull was an attention-getter. For a moment, I completely bought in to the notion they'd killed him off. And the following panel, of him mocking the guy with the blade still in his head (with a background of neon concentric diamonds centered on where the blade is stuck), that worked too. It's an affecting image, even if I'd expect a lot more blood, even just a moment or two after.
Ben Reilly: The Scarlet Spider #4, by Peter David (writer), Mark Bagley (penciler), John Dell and Andrew Hennessy (inkers), Jason Keith (color artist), Joe Caramagna (letterer) - Foolish title, you can't stop those two from fighting. Don't you know you'll only wind up smashed or jumbled, like so many titles before you?
Kaine survives more attempts on his life and heads for Vegas where, in plainclothes, he's mistaken for Ben by both Aunt June and Slate, the latter is back from beating up one of the guys who tried robbing the casino. You'd think even bent cops would prefer you not rip the door off a guy's cell when you aren't supposed to be back there, but I guess there are a lot of bent cops in Vegas. Or doors fall apart quickly.
Slate drags Kaine upstairs to make "Ben" get back to work, which gives Kaine a chance to see everything Ben's up to. He winds up in Ben's lab, Ben's there, tries a sales pitch on Kaine, it doesn't work, they start fighting, including going out a window, which you'd think would attract Ms. Mercury or Slate's attention.
I thought Kaine was bigger than Peter or Ben, as a result of not being an entirely successful cloning attempt. You'd think some people would notice that, maybe not June or Mercury, but Slate, surely, from having fought with the guy a bit. But I think Kaine's died and been reborn a couple times, maybe he shrank in the cosmic laundry.
Hennessy is heavier on the inks than Dell, in that there are pages where the lines on characters' faces seem much more heavily emphasized than others. So the lines on Aunt June's face are more pronounced than they were in previous issues. Sometimes Slate's face is shaded in a way that makes the art vaguely remind me of Stuart Immonen's work. There's still a trend of characters inflicting damage to other people, and the panel being close in on the person being hurt, but very little of the character doing it is visible. So Kaine stomps a guy's hand, or kicks his face, all we see of Kaine is his foot. Which still feels like a way of implying disconnect between the act and the character. Kaine, or Ben, hurting someone, but it doesn't affect them, they don't care, it's just what they have to do (or tell themselves they have to do).
That said, I'm looking forward to what's hopefully a more extended fight sequence next issue. So far the book keeps doing these quick, one or two page skirmishes, before jumping to something else. I don't think they're strictly to keep things from getting too talky, that David and Bagley are trying to highlight some things about the participants by their actions, but it's hard to get into the flow when the fights keep ending just as they start to get interesting.
Also, in the second-to-last panel, I think Keith got it backwards and colored it in as Kaine saying, 'You wanna go? Fine.' when I'm pretty sure it's supposed to be Ben (since Ben is the one who says, "Let's go!' in the next panel.