Comic Book Reviews: Spectacular Spider-Man & Afterlife with Archie

‘Peter Parker: the Spectacular Spider-Man #1’

Writer Chip Zdarsky  |  Artist Adam Kubert
Reviewed by Kyle Thompson, The Great Escape

Before I even knew what the term meant, those little boxes they have in comics explaining references were my first introduction to the meta style. In “Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #1,” by Chip Zdarsky and Adam Kubert, those editorial boxes are back, and so is most everything else I’ve always loved about Spider-Man.

This first issue hit all the right notes and felt like a huge change of pace compared to how Spider-Man has been written the past 10 years or so. In trying to have the character evolve with the times, they’ve changed the character for the worse. But not here. In this debut issue, you get Spidey cracking jokes, hanging out with the Human Torch, being disrespected by the superhero community and showing up late to dates. All the classic tropes that make Spider-Man so great, but in a modern setting; he’s trying to crack the case of who’s been hacking Stark cell phones.

It wasn’t a perfect first issue: Adam Kubert’s backgrounds are beautiful, but I didn’t love how some of the actual characters looked. His art can be a bit messy at times as well, but Jordie Bellaire’s coloring does an excellent job of reining it all in. Zdarsky also focused a ton on developing his take on Peter, and not a ton happened in terms of actual plot, but that’s totally fine to me considering this was just the first issue.

Overall, this book shows more promise than any Spider-Man book since Brian Michael Bendis started “Ultimate Spider-Man.” Anyone looking forward to his new movie, and who loved his humor in “Civil War,” should definitely give this book a try.

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‘Afterlife with Archie vol. 1: Escape from Riverdale’

Writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa  |  Artist Francesco Francavilla
Reviewed by Krystal Moore, The Great Escape

Archie and his friends have been having comic adventures for more than 70 years. In that time, things have become a little predictable. The antics take place in the fictional town of Riverdale and usually involve Archie somehow being pursued by various girls and the high jinks that ensue. Then, a few years ago, Archie Comics decided to mix things up a bit. Archie met KISS, the Punisher and a few other pop culture icons that pumped new life into the old neighborhood. But, still, the stories remained firmly in the realm of kid friendly silliness. That all changes, though, when Jughead goes to Riverdale’s resident teenaged witch, Sabrina, in order to change the outcome of a personal tragedy. Thus begins “Afterlife with Archie.”

Immediately upon opening the first pages of this comic, the art lets you know this isn’t a kiddy book. It’s dark and moody, and the action begins in the first panel. I don’t want to spoil the story, but I’ll tell you it starts with a black page that says “this is how the end of the world begins.” Writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and artist Francesco Francavilla are a perfect combination. Being an Archie book, I kept expecting someone to wake up, or for some artistic wall to fall, showing that one of the gang was just writing a horror novel, but to my delight, that wasn’t the way this book goes. It begins at a jog and quickly races to a full-blown, zombie apocalypse that is a joy for fans of the supernatural.

Don’t confuse this one with “Death of Archie” — that’s a whole different story! “Afterlife with Archie: Escape from Riverdale” reprints the first five issues of the comic. There are now 10 issues, so expect volume two soon. What happens when gruesome meets wholesome? Read this book.

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