Reviews of trade paperbacks of comic books (mostly Marvel), along with a few other semi-relevant comments / reviews.

21 July 2009

Spider-Girl Presents Wild Thing: Crash Course

Collects: Wild Thing #0-5 (1999)

Released: November 2007 (Marvel)

Format: 128 pages / color digest / $7.99 / ISBN: 9780785126065

What is this?: The future daughter of Elektra and Wolverine has “adventures.”

The culprits: Writer Larry Hama and penciler Ron Lim

Before you ask or make a joke, there are two things I need to say about Spider-Girl Presents Wild Thing: Crash Course:

  1. It does not make your heart sing.
  2. Nor does it make everything — or anything — “groovy.”

Crash Course was part of Marvel’s now completely defunct M2 universe, which imagines the Marvel Universe one generation into the future. So there were many second-generation heroes, led by Spider-Girl, Spider-Man’s daughter. The eponymous Wild Thing, nee Rina, is the result of the improbable coupling of Wolverine and Elektra. As a setup, I can get past this, although like most of the M2 universe, like a lot of Spider-Girl’s ideas, it reeks of an abandoned ‘90s plot. So writer Larry Hama had his work cut out for him making the setup work. Unfortunately for Hama, he doesn’t quite succeed. Hama was an excellent choice for the job, having just finished a long, defining run on Wolverine, and Wild Thing offered a chance to do similar stories with new twists — the same except different.

Spider-Girl Presents Wild Thing: Crash Course cover But that’s not what we get here; what we get are Rina’s uninteresting high school experiences, complete with a rich alpha female and a boy she has a crush on but barely notices her. Neither is interesting. I’m unsure what to make of Rina’s home life; both her parents are around, but it’s impossible to tell whether they’re with each other or who lives with Rina. Part of me thinks she lives with her upscale mother, while Logan lives in the woods in a fort made out of empty beer cans with Molson bottles forming the windows. But that’s my imagination; on the other hand, I’ll wager that image is more interesting than anything in Crash Course.

The action sequences aren’t anything to write home about either; it’s bog standard dullness, with none of the excitement either of her parents bring to a battle. The less said of her “psychic claws” (huh?), the better; the claws are only supposed to affect the mind, and although they leave no trace on clothes or the landscape, they have no trouble affecting humans, mindless creatures (but I repeat myself), demons, or robots. It smacks of the ‘90s X-Men cartoon, where Wolverine had to wait to fight robots to cut loose because the audience would be too traumatized if he used his claws on living villains. Rina similarly slashes with no consequences.

That isn’t her greatest problem, though: she’s simply not original. Her costume is too entirely close to her father’s to be an homage. Her villains are borrowed from her parents — Wolverine, mainly — and the only original villains she fights are a kidnapper with an armored suit and roller skates and a robot that seems borrowed from the Silver Age Fantastic Four. I half expected Reed Richards to pop out of the ether on Doom’s Time Platform and ask Wild Thing to stop poaching their villains.

The costume is Ron Lim’s problem. The penciler turns in a workmanlike performance that seems to come alive only when Wolverine was on the page. Given that the X-Men were still big in ’99, perhaps he was auditioning for a Wolverine or X-Men gig. Still, the art tells the story, even if it’s not desperately interesting.

Wild Thing #2-5 each carries a J2 (son of Juggernaut) backup written by Tom DeFalco with Lim on pencils. These are forgettable; the J2 series didn’t interest me, and the backups are smaller while retaining the same lack of interest. If you desperately needed to know what happened to J2 — his reunion with his father, the original Juggernaut, for instance — here it is. For the rest of the populace, there’s only one story that particularly works, with Juggie Jr. dwelling on unrequited love without realizing someone’s interest in him.

I can’t even say Crash Course has missed opportunities. It’s just dull. There may be potential in the character, but I don’t care. This is just one of the steps on Hama’s painful descent from an excellent writer toward Howard Mackie-dom, and Ron Lim being merely professional isn’t going to save it.

Rating: Marvel symbol Half Marvel symbol (1.5 of 5)

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