Travis sez: There's Treasury in Them Thar Comics Stores!

Travis is back with some reviews of comics, because Travis likes writing about comics and I'm foolish enough to let him! Enjoy!

The other week, I picked up two treasury size comics. They were mostly cool, but I had a few issues with one, which I'll get into!

Spidey All-New Marvel Treasury Edition was originally solicited as having the first 5 issues of the new Spidey series by Robbie Thompson and Nick Bradshaw. I assume that because Bradshaw only did the first 3 issues, the contents were changed to only include those 3 issues, as well as the first 2 issues of the new Brian Bendis/Sara Pichelli Spider-Man series, starring Miles Morales. I missed the change on the Previews website, though. It was in one of Marvel's Product Changes updates, buried in one of their info dumps of variant cover artists changes. So I was rather soured on this book from the start, when I noticed the presence of Bendis's name on the cover as I was paying for it. I'm not a Bendis hater, certainly, but that wasn't why I pre-ordered this book.

But how about the actual contents? Well, this Spidey series is one of those that Marvel does every so often, where they update and expand on their early books, in this case the original Stan Lee/Steve Ditko storylines (with the great Untold Tales of Spider-Man being the best and best-known of these update series). We're back in high school with Peter Parker, Flash Thompson, and Gwen Stacy. We see previously untold stories of Spidey's later meetings with villains like Doctor Octopus, Sandman, and the Lizard, although these stories aren't in as tight a continuity as Untold Tales was. We get a modern version of things, with photos posted to websites and more modern looking tech, but overall, these stories could have been told at any point. While they're not mind blowing or particularly memorable tales, they're certainly good stories that are lifted by the amazingly good Art Adams influenced work of Bradshaw. His stuff is really good, especially with how detailed the villains are, like Sandman and the Lizard. The Mysterio cameo is a wonder to behold, especially with all the giant monsters depicted. There are some double page spreads that get lost in the center of the book, and some of the layouts can be confusing. Also, his Flash Thompson is not great, being just a generic douchey guy. His Norman and Harry Osborn become generic as well, with their stylistic hairdos presumably dropped for being "weird looking", but of course nothing is done to thereby distinguish them either.

Thompson's stories utilize inner monologues, and these mostly work well, as Peter is a character that works to have a constantly running narration in his head. There's an origin page that gets reused in the second and third issues with new narration pertinent to the current issue (and thankfully aren't counted as part of the 20 pages of story). It's slightly annoying that Gwen goes from needing tutoring in bio in issue 1 to calculus in issue 2 -- there shouldn't be that much inconsistency in 2 issues!

Colors are by Jim Campbell and Rachelle Rosenberg, letters by VC's Travis Lanham, and those elements of the books are perfectly serviceable.

Also, there's a cute cameo of Dan Slott as a zookeeper.

For the Miles Morales issues, Miles faces off against Blackheart, the son of Mephisto, who seems to be looking different from his appearance back in the Hearts of Darkness Ghost Rider/Punisher/Wolverine book, no? This is after Blackheart has kicked everyone else's ass, so Miles is able to come in and show how awesome he is, by defeating Blackheart with his Venom Blast, an unexplained power he apparently has, and then hoisting Captain America's shield. Because he's so damn awesome.

In another annoying, somewhat meta statement, there's a girl on YouTube that freaks out in delight with how happy she is that Miles's suit gets torn to reveal him to be a person of color. While Bendis is right that Miles should be referred to not as Black Spider-Man but as Spider-Man, this sequence seems too meta and on the nose here.

Also, why does Black Cat exercise to cable news?

The artwork by Pichelli has a sketchy, unfinished look to it, with a lack of backgrounds to it that doesn't benefit the book. I'm not sure how much of this is Pichelli, how much is the ink assists by Gaetano Carlucci, or how much is the coloring by Justin Ponsor. I think Ponsor's colors are detrimental to the story, as they add that same soulless gloss that his work seems to add to Greg Land's stuff.

However, Pichelli does do some nice cartoony stuff, like the Shocker and ... Armadillo, I think, in issue 1, and the flashback to Miles meeting with Peter Parker in issue 2. So she definitely can do some nice, expressive stuff, it's just that it's in a stark, background-less page. Contrast with Bradshaw's work, which creates a whole world with the backgrounds he does. And probably also is why he isn't one that hits deadlines well ...

Overall, the 2 issues of Spider-Man here aren't particularly new reader friendly for those of us not as up on Miles, but they're decently entertaining. They don't benefit from the Treasury format, though. Spidey shines well in this format, so it's a shame that Bradshaw didn't get more issues of this book done.

In other Treasury news, though, IDW put out the Godzilla Treasury Edition, spotlighting the amazing work of James Stokoe. I could just say, James Stokoe doing Godzilla at large size, hell yeah! and be done with it, but I'll expand a bit.

I'm not sold on the new slick cover that this Treasury has, because most IDW Treasury editions I've gotten have had a less slick cardstock cover (if I know my paper stock). Plus, it smells funky. It's true!

The contents are what matter, though. This has the first issue each of Godzilla: the Half Century War and Godzilla in Hell, and both are excellent. I've read the former before, as I got the entire mini of that. It's a fun look at the first rampage through Tokyo that Godzilla went on, through the eyes of a young soldier who would later face off against him many other times. It looks even better bigger. In Hell is a silent comic, where Godzilla fights a doppelganger demon version of himself, and it is glorious.

There are also sample pages that Stokoe did to get the gig, and covers for various Godzilla covers that he's done, and it all looks terrific at this size.

One more note about these formats: the Godzilla book is just about the same height as the Spidey book, but is maybe an inch less wide. Because of the dimensions of most printed comics today, the IDW size works well blown up to this size, bleeding off the sides of the pages. The Spidey book has annoying panel borders on the side, about the width difference of the 2 books here, and all these margins have are borders with lame web designs and little Spider-Man faces in the corners. They don't even number the pages with them, so they're annoying AND useless.

Anyway, if you only get one of these Treasury books that came out recently, get the Godzilla one, as it is awesome and uses the format well. I have reservations about the Spidey one, and it certainly didn't help to have the bait and switch on the contents to sway me, but the contents are pretty good.

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