Crimespree’s New Comics Editor Neal Bohl

This is Neal’s first column of what is going to be at least a weekly feature.
We’re looking for a name for it and would like your help.
Send me your ideas for a name for this column and the winner we pick will get some free swag, including some books and maybe a t-shirt.
Send ideas to:
jon (at) Crimespreemag.com

Your average single-issue comic book runs about three bucks a pop nowadays. That’s a lot to pay for five to ten minutes of entertainment. Which is why the titles that I buy are the ones that I know I’ll either want to or have to reread later. Something like the latest fist-fight between the Hulk and the Thing might be a brief diversion, but that’s about it. On the other hand, comics like FLEX MENTALLO and V FOR VENDETTA are ones I can read just about any time and still get something out of them. But this isn’t about books like that. Oh, sure, some might creep in by accident, but I’m not looking for classics here. This is all about the first impressions, the visceral thrills, the unexpected surprises. The fun of going to a comic shop on a Wednesday night and coming home with a bag full of monsters, heroes and strange alternate worlds.

Ratings
Story: How well the issue worked as a story of its own.
Art: How well the art fit the particular story being told. Not necessarily a measure of how “good” the art was.
Fun: An incredibly subjective measure of the number of surprises in any given issue. Bonus points if there’s anything that makes me chuckle or gasp while reading it. Minus points for cliches that the writer and/or artist don’t try to do anything new with.
Continuity: How many other books you have to have read to get everything out of it. With a “1” being a book you can pick up and everything you need to know is between the covers, and a “5” being something that requires flowcharts or a handbook of some kind to fully appreciate.

BOOSTER GOLD #1
DC Comics

Booster Gold has to win the title of “Most Unexpected Character Revivification of 2006”. He went from mostly-forgotten D-Lister to… well, solid B-List, thanks mostly to the excellent weekly series 52. And the first issue of his new ongoing doesn’t squander that good will.

The story picks up a couple months after the end of 52, with Booster still coming to grips with the fact that even though he saved everyone on Earth many times over, he can’t tell anyone about it. But that, of course, turns out to be the least of his problems. The greatest (for now) is that time itself is still broken. And as one of the three people who know about it, it’s up to him to help fix it.

Which leads to the greatest potential strength of the series. BOOSTER GOLD has all of space and time to play around in, a point driven home by the teasers on the last page. Overall, an excellent first issue with the promise of many more to follow.

Story: 4
Art: 3
Fun: 5
Continuity: 4

FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOOD SPIDER-MAN #23
Marvel Comics

Peter David wraps up his run on FNSM with a nice one-off story that takes a break from all the crossovers and movie tie-ins to examine the complicated relationship between Peter Parker and his former boss J. Jonah Jameson. It’s a good send off to a series that was more about Spider-Man’s supporting cast than the man himself.

Also: Best ending line I’ve read in a while.

Story: 3
Art: 4
Fun: 4
Continuity: 2

SPAWN #170
Image Comics

SPAWN has actually been pretty good lately. There, I’ve said it. Which is why this issue was kind of a disappointment. David Hine has a good idea here: A duo of demons finds themselves stuck on Earth after Spawn has closed it off from Hell. So, naturally, they decide to try and open up a pathway back home. Their choice of venue: A fundamentalist Christian “Hell House”.

Great idea, with a whole lot of room to play around. Unfortunately, most of the issue is taken up with the book’s subplots, and the main story never really gets off the ground.

Story: 2
Art: 4
Fun: 1
Continuity: 2

Neal Bohl