1 out of 5
Mark Waid is a funny, smart dude, no doubt about it. I first noticed him on his JLA, which had me both laughing out loud at points, as well as surprised by the frequent dotting of some science snippets, which, while maybe inconsequential wikipedia snippets, helped to elevate the heroics a tad. James Robinson has shown a penchant for snarky humor, but he otherwise tends to bring a serious , grounded streak to books to ground them. Putting these two together seems like a good balance, and a good way for Marvel to have taken its first foot in its short-lived original graphic novels – hardcover books by premiere teams featuring their heroes, outside of main continuity. Y’know, kinda like prestiges back a decade ago, and Marvel Graphic Novels and whatnot a decade prior.
For Waid, there’s a flip-side to his abilities: when nothing reigns in his humor, the man is damned chatty, cluttering up his pages with unnecessary banter that starts to stretch his pun-ny fun into dad jokes territory. Spider-Man, known for his banter, is all Waid needs to indulge that…
Robinson’s role in ‘Family Business’ is harder to parse, but there’s a realistic tone used by Spidey’s adversary in the book – Kingpin – that keeps the villain from spouting typical villainy epithets, and while his ultimate plan is stupid “lemme steals stuff” badguy bullshit, the way he (initially) goes about it seems more fitting for a grimmer tale. Which this ain’t.
I imagine the goal with the OGN was to do a mile-a-minute, planet-spanning adventure. Who might the best artist be for something so fast moving and dynamic? A painter, right?
Gabriele Dell’otto, like almost every paint-based artist, is great at glory shots. He’s not so great at detailing quick moving action with the requisite energy across panels, and when it’s cluttered up by Waid’s excessive babble, it’s even less motivated looking.
Family Business kicks off with Peter… meeting his sister! In an OGN that we know won’t connect with regular continuity! So that sort of ruins any impact of that. We can spend time wondering the How or Why of the situation, except it’s rather telegraphed up front by Kingpin’s machinations; and besides, Waid’s / Robinson’s focus is on forming a familial bond, which just feels hollow. Pete gets wrapped up in some business tying in to digging up some buried treasure, which is surrounded on all sides by the most hackneyed of plotting nonsense, that would be rather spoilery to mention. But let it suffice to say that there’s no part of this that doesn’t encourage a spit-take questioning of Why?
Rian Hughes’ book design is undeniably handsome, but the content is a mix of predictable, silly, and boring to look at and read, with every plot element coming across as forced. As a final-ish nail in the coffin, the backmatter – script to art pages – matches the wrong script page to the art on the first page, so, sure, charge me $25.