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We hate it when our friends become successful: Graeme looks at a movie tie-in, cries.

Graeme McMillan

SPIDER-MAN AND THE FANTASTIC FOUR #2: Here’s the thing – I really, really like Jeff Parker’s writing, and I really like Mike Wieringo’s artwork but, for the second issue in a row, this product of their holy union falls surprisingly flat. The art is a strange indicator of my feelings about the rest of the book; the first page gives you something that both looks like Wieringo and not like Wieringo at the same time. It’s the fault of the inking, I think… Wade Von Grawbadger’s line is maybe too thin for Wieringo’s work, taking away the solidity and weight of his pencils and – in the third panel, and elsewhere throughout the book – offering up weirdly distorted versions of the otherwise consistent faces Wieringo provides. It’s not that it’s bad, in any kind of scale, but it’s… off, somehow.

The writing suffers from a similar problem. Jeff Parker has these characters down, and the dialogue between characters has just the right tone of comedy, but somehow the story still ends up as curiously uninvolving. What is it? The abstract nature of the threat that seems at odds with the otherwise old-school feel for the book (When Johnny Storm comments, “Man, I’d kill for some Galactus about now,” it’s hard not to agree with him)? Maybe – The relatively action-free, benign threat feels too light and inconsequential for a four-issue series, the kind of plot that would’ve been dealt with in one issue back in the old days (or even today, in a Marvel Adventures book)… and that’s before we get to the contrivances that mean that the main characters aren’t affected by the plague that seems to affect everyone else in the book, even other superheroes, further undermining the weakness of the plot.

It’s a shame; I want this book to be successful. I want this book to work, and to have a million fans who read it and think “Hey, that whole Civil War thing, not so great compared with fun books”… But it’s just not there yet. It’s Okay, but given the people involved, I really wanted it to be much better.

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