A Week in Ink: Issue No. 46

On February 28, 2012

Teen Titans No. 6

From the Scarlet Speedster to his prepubescent counterpart Kid Flash, this week the DC Universe is rife with conflict for every supersonic superhero capable of breaking the sound barrier.

Though Wally has his own icy demon to fight in the form of Captain Cold, Teen Titans member Bart Allen has a much larger problem on his hands, namely the complete and utter destruction of every living cell in his body, one by one.

Writer Scott Lobdell has taken a series that typically caries little weight or substance and through the use of internal strife, tenuous teamwork, and palpable stakes, transformed the teenage team into a competent cornerstone of the revamped DC world.

Lobdell takes the plot one step further this issue by bringing a new threat to a team already on the brink of its own destruction. His name is Grymm, and by the initial looks of the character and his insatiable psionic powers, he is everything the team will learn to fear in the coming issues.

The introduction of Virgil Hawkins, renowned more in the superhero community as Static Shock, has interesting implications as the student scientist shows definite interest in taking up the mantle and fighting alongside his pre-adult peers.

While Lobdell's writing still has room for improvement, a clear, focused story arc has appeared among the explosive start of the previous issues, and with so much riding on the successful containment of Kid Flash, there's almost nowhere to move but forward.

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man No. 7

In his short seven-issue lifespan Miles Morales has gone from comic's youngest usurper to the Marvel world's greatest underdog guided only by the hand of the wall-crawler's most talented ink-slingers, Brian Michael Bendis.

Morales as a wide-eyed hero-in-training has been a breath of fresh air to an increasingly stale universe, and though not every web he spins is perfect, the amateur approach comes off as believable and thought-provoking.

Bendis is at his best in "Issue 7," as he writes about a hero without a mentor, a kid fighting a man's war, and beyond the shadow of a doubt Morales is growing into the role he was born to lead.

But Bendis isn't alone however, his artistic team of Chris Samnee and Justin Ponsor work well together to create a renaissance of earlier art worthy of the Todd McFarlane legacy. Mixing a palette as rich as the setting sun, the team continues to produce some of Spidey's most stunning works yet. While most of the team's work is worthy to don the cape and cowl of their predecessors, the series' action panels are still a bit bland, an easy fix for a team so capable.

Ultimate Spider-Man builds momentum by placing Morales in clear conflict with his unenthused family members, first with a father unimpressed by his talents and then with his uncle, an up-and-coming super villain known by most as The Prowler.

Though Morales has some serious spandex to fill, he's slowly coming into his own. And while the audience may still mourn the loss of New York's wittiest wall-crawler, his prepubescent counterpart may just have it in him to please both critics and skeptics yet.

Chew No. 24

With Chu being incapacitated for the foreseeable future, his daughter Olive is at the mercy of former partner and cibopath Mason Savoy.

Savoy, as notoriously smart as he is brutal, has won over Chu's daughter and is currently tutoring the one shot Tony has at stopping what could be the world's biggest threat.

Everything writer John Layman writes has an inherent depth and an invisible plot behind it, "Chew No. 24" being no exception. Every minute detail Layman writes falls perfectly in line with the larger picture and although readers were only given an appetizer in the past four issues, Layman's main entree will surely be worth the wait.

Layman and his crew do well to never take themselves to seriously, a trait often overlooked and undervalued in the competitive world of comic writing. Everything from this issue's introduction of a xocoscalpere to the blatant sculpting of Butters from hit Comedy Central show South Park, each and every issue has been vacuum-packed with small visual Easter eggs.

With Chu's daughter developing powers beyond that of anything her father or mentor possess, there's little stopping Savoy from accomplishing total control over his ex-FDA, cibopathic partner.

As Image Comics enters its 20th anniversary, series like The Darkness, Invincible, Witchblade, Chew, and their creative teams continue to make the company as key of a contributor today as it was nearly a quarter of a century ago.

While the series isn't a comic for every ink-loving taste palette out there, for a comic priced at the sub-standard value of $2.99, Chew is an absolute steal for those willing to dine and dash with Layman.

Email: arts@ubspectrum.com

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