SPIDER-MAN: The Parker Luck by Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos does a good job tackling the fall out from the Superior Spider Man arc in which Doc Ock took over Peter’s body (culminating in Peter returning in Goblin Nation). Peter now has a tech company of his own, but built on tech he doesn’t understand (“Otto was the cyberneticist.”), Black Cat and Electro both want revenge for how “Spider-Man” last dealt with them, Mary Jane’s still done with him (sigh—I still scorn Joe Quesada for ending the marriage) and he has a live-in girlfriend he’s never met. While this is fun, the Black Cat’s transition to some kind of serious criminal threat didn’t work for me.Overall, though, fun, and more thought than the aftermath of these changes usually gets
DOCTOR STRANGE: A Separate Reality collects the Steve Englehart/Frank Brunner run (less than a dozen issues on Doctor Strange in the 1970s). Some memorable stories as Doctor Strange battles Shuma-Gorath, the sorcerer Sise-Neg and the witch hunter Silver Dagger, and I like the handling of magic here. Englehart wanted to take a more mystical slant than when he wrote Strange in Defenders as just a guy who points and zaps things, so this is as much about Strange’s mystical growth as his battles. I particularly like his warning to Silver Dagger that magic isn’t a gun you can just point at someone and shoot (which ties in to this post, and this one). However as the duo started working midway through the Shuma-Gorath arc, the beginning is kind of jarring, though the typical recap soliloquy fills in the backstory well.
MARVEL MASTERWORKS: Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD collects the initial run of the SHIELD series which introduced Nick Fury’s eyepatch (the result of a degenerative wound in WW II), SHIELD, Hydra and the Hydra splinter group AIM. The stories (by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby [cover by Kirby, all rights with current holder]), Jim Steranko, Roy Thomas and others) are a mixed bag: the opening arc with Hydra is impressive, the battle with Mentallo and the Fixer is OK, but the Druid and his cult much less so (also I have a long-standing objection to comics that treat druidism as some kind of generic evil cult rather than a specific faith). And I have no idea what Hydra gains by operating through multiple front conspiracies (AIM, Secret Empire and “Them!”) when it resurrects after a couple of years. The stories also seem vague on whether SHIELD is an American spy agency or an international one. Despite the kvetching, these are a lot of fun, even though they’re definitely not Marvel’s A-game. The volume also includes the Fantastic Four story that introduced war-hero Nick Fury as a present day intelligence agent.