February 16, 2009

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Marvel's President's Day Digital Comic

"Gettysburg Distress" Written by Matt Fraction and Illustrated by Andy MacDonald
"Spidey Meets the President" Written by Zeb Wells and Illustrated by Todd Nauck
Marvel

Marvel is working very hard at innovating online content, probably because at some point they're going to slowly move to digital for most of their stuff. Probably not Spider-Man or the Avengers, mind you, but things (no pun intended) like The Thing or She-Hulk or Mid-Level X-Men Character. Books that are probably great but can't get the sales going would probably find a home with people like me willing to a pay a few bucks a month for the privilege of seeing Damage Control bwa-ha-ha their way through life.

"Gettysburg Distress" is an online only work that, based on the cover, should have been amazingly cool. Unfortunately, it ends up being about as lame as possible, with Spidey and the old Cap tussling 1970s style with robots made to look like members of Lincoln's family (at least I think so, it's hard to tell by the art). Soon cap launches into a speech about hearing the Gettysburg address and the rest of the comic is simply that--Lincoln reading it to the public.

The text even claims that "Spider-Man and Captain America travel back in time"except that's entirely false.

Holy Silver Age Superman Bait and Switch Batman!

It's obvious that Fraction was trying to capture the magic of old Spidey Electric Company comics, except that there's so much winking and nodding going on that he forgot to put a story together along with it. We may never forget the Gettysburg Address, but I have a feeling people will forget this one-trick pony shortly after reading it.

Since I don't know when or if I'll be reading Brand New Day trades, I'll also review the expanded (to add a few gags) edition of the (in)famous Spider-Man meets Obama comic.

Honestly, for a rush job, it's not bad. Joe Biden as geeky Knight Rider fan is funny, John McCain is given a dignified cameo (that even references continuity), and the whole thing is wrapped up neatly and quickly, without taking away from the solemnity of the moment.

The problem primarily comes from what wasn't done--i.e. since the villain is not a superpowered one, why not let Obama take center stage in the takedown, making Spidey unneeded and giving us a chance to reference the Parker Luck? Or why not tie it into Secret Invasion? Or at least a comment of "see why that Registration Act is a terrible idea?"

I'm also not sure what's historic about five covers with essentially the same picture, but perhaps I'm just grumpy tonight.

All in all, the story, even with extra pages, feels like it needed a bit more room to breathe, but again, that's probably a lead-time issue. They'd have been better served waiting a bit and doing this as a 2-part story, perhaps tied to the 4th of July or something.

If you want to check them out, the comics are (for now, they may move this link by the time you read this) available at this link. It's probably worth a look--after all, you can't beat the price, and as Lincoln said, "A penny saved is a penn--" oh wait, never mind.