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Posts tagged “Spider-Man

Last Week’s Pulls

A new Star Trek book hit the shelves! The line is just being referred to as “Star Trek”. Not “Star Trek : This new series”, or “Star Trek :That new ship name” and I’m of two minds about that. Usually a title that’s just ‘ol Star Trek refers to TOS or ’09. You know, Kirk and company. This on the other hand is an ensemble book. It’s a team made up of characters from various series and incarnations, including Captian Sisko, Commander Data, Dr. Crusher, Lt. Tom Paris and Mr. Scott. I can see why it might defy catagorization, yet, I almost feel like I’d like some specific identifier for this series.

Sisko is back from the Prophets, and off on a new mission. He’s assembeled a special team aboard an experimental starship and off we go in search of dead gods.

The book itself is okay. I don’t care much for the new uniforms and don’t understand the current need to give each ship it’s own uniform (Perhaps it’s just because it’s an experimental one, like the Protostar on Prodigy, but it’s still a peeve). Not sure how I feel about Sisko’s return (Even if he is my favorite Captain). And I basically just want to slap the Vulcan. He’s a jerk. I’ll hang on for a few issues though. I’m curious to see where they’re going. Comics often get Star Trek right – sometimes even more so than TV.
 
I also picked up issue 3 of The New Champion of Shazam. I could swear I mentioned this book a few months ago – it’s a Mary Marvel book and it’s been fairly well done. Giving her some intresting character and really delving into her. That’s kind of nice to see considering the “naive little princess” routine DC had been doing with her up until the New 52.
Issue 3 starts off with a funny bit on social media.
 
I liked this. I laughed. Not just at the position it puts Mary in, but also at her flustered response. It’s a good point too – what do we call her? We’ve changed Captian Marvel to just…”Shazam”. Well, actually we kind of changed him to no name at all. But then how do we address Mary, who’s always been “Mary marvel” (The worst code name ever….after Kato that is….) Lady Shazam has a nice ring to it….
 
And then book went full She-Hulk.
 
Once again, the fans are the problem. They’re all critics and trolls and I’m just so tired of it. Fandom is Toxic and if you criticize a gender swap (which neither this nor She-Hulk were, and which NO ONE WAS DOING regarding these characters) then you’re the bad guy of the book. Forget it. I’m done with this title. a shame too because the bits with Darla (and especially the Bunny) have been gold.
 
One of the things I like to tell people is that I was a fan of George R. Martian before it was cool. I’ve never gotten into Game of Thrones, but man, I absolutely devour Wild Cards. I had the trade back in the day and I’ve been absolutely loving the series that Marvel has been publishing. (That’s another one, like Shazam, that I swear I’ve mentioned before but don’t see anywhere on the blog!). We’re up to issue four and I feel like I’m getting a different on-the-ground perspective than I do in the old Epic Graphic Novel or the books. We’re walking through the release of the alien virus, the creation of the mutants and heroes and getting reacquainted with some old friends like Doctor Tachyon and Jetboy and the Sleeper. If you’re a fan of this series from the late 80’s early 90’s, it does the property right. If you are intrigued and just looking for a jumping on point, this series is perfect.
 
Speaking of great jumping on points, there a new Guardians of the Galaxy book out. In a lot of ways, the buzz and momentum for the Guardians has basically ground to a halt, in no small part to both the too-long wait and gap between film entries, and also the news that James Gunn has jumped ship from the MCU over to DC. We may have always understood that Guardians of the Galaxy was always meant to be a trilogy and that Gunn would be bowing out after the third film, but still, this announcement definatley knocks the wind out of Marvels sails. So to generate some interest, they’ve started pushing a one shot holiday special on D+, as well as the new ride at the Disney parks and that makes this the perfect time to release a book that helps to draw you in – especially for a new crop of readers/viewers, who wern’t properly around for the MCU’s Phase two when the original film was released.
 
Guardians of the Galaxy : Cosmic Rweind is named after the ride but it’s really more of a getting to know you story focusing on the movie lineup. No tagalongs like Iron Man or Thor or Venom or Kitty Pryde here… just the core team in a generic battle that’s really just an excuse to visit with the crew. We get each character taking turns doing an interview bit schtick while the flashing back and forth to the fight. It’s fun, and it ‘s charming and it’s a great intro to these characters if you’ve only just heard a bit about them and want to check out the larger world.
 
Over in the Punisher #7 we’ve got Frank facing off with Daredevil which is always a good time. Well at least it SHOULD be a good time. And I mean, those parts of the book are. They really are. The big problem with this story is the flashbacks.
 
I first called them out on this way back in issue #3 The writers here (and there’s three of them listed, so I don’t know who’s contributing what)  have decided to rewrite Frank’s backstory – or at least, reinterpret it . It’s not something I like – this attempt ot make Frank more…evil. More bloodthirsty. It’s distasteful to me. That’s not who the Punisher ever was.  It’s certinally not how he started out, and yet, there we have it back in issue three. A portrayal of a young Frank, already a killer. Already a psychopath.
 
That’s not the Frank Castle I know. And this one they are trying to portray in this issue? I don’t know this guy either.
 
When the series began it’s run, everyone was freaking out about the change of the Skull logo and removing Franks guns and how that would ruin the character LOL! I was largely dismissive of that sort of alarmism. This was never going to be a permenant change, so just treat it as a limited series and if you don’t like it, wait for the next relaunch and #1. It was never anything to really be worried about. 
 
This on the other hand, is EXACTLY what we should have been concerned with.
 
When you make it so that Frank was a psycho BEFORE he went to war, BEFORE his family was killed, then you miss the point. The Punisher is a man pushed too far. It’s a theme we still understood in the 70’s an 80’s. You would still see it in things like the Death Wish films. Even the novel – written by a stauch, proud “bleeding heart” liberal, manages to understand and explore it, despite having an opposite philosophy. In 2022 however, we suffer from a modern sensibility, a belief that we’ve evolved past such things and such highly evolved beings could never be corrupted like this unless they were really damaged from the start. Like I said,  they miss the point and misunderstand the character – especially because in modern America, the very though of a character like this is “problematic”. As such, what is being written here is a vandalization of the character, and I fear it just might do permanent damage.

Need a palate cleanser after that? (I sure did) Deadpool is relaunching again with a story that is extremely okay right up until it kicks in to high gear on the very last page. I’ll be casually keeping an eye on  this one for the time being. And then, just because I can’t stay away, I peeked a look over at She-Hulk #7 this week. All I can say is if you just do MORE OF THIS (and less of everything else the title is doing) you’d have a perfect book.
 
 
Also over at Marvel is that ongoing Spider-man series. Look, I’ll admit I’m not sure how I feel about Spidey on a Goblin glider and the whole working for Norman Osborne is just weird. The kinda murky status quo still honks me off, but here’s a real positive I have to grant. Zeb Wells is REALLY leaning into that supporting cast. He’s building up the rest of the background characters from Black Cat to MJ to Betty Brant and Ned Leeds. he’s got all of these resources and he’s using them to make it feel almost like old times. It’s cool to see.
 
Also like old times, is spending just a bit of time leaving the Hobgoblin a mystery, with misdirect on top of misdirect, leading to a fairly shocking cliffhanger at the end of this book that really left me wanting the next issue RIGHT NOW. That’s some talent there, taking a book that alternately interests and frustrates me but keeps me coming back for more. I feel like I’m back in the Ultimate Spider-Man days again.
 
I also dipped my toe back into Damage Control. The book left me REALLY unimpressed with the first issue, but I wonder if I was judging it to harshly. I’m pretty sure I was expecting something different, but either way, It looks like they really hit their stride now with issue #3.
 
The thing is, while the overall story is fine – throwaway and kind of forgettable, it’s the background gags and visual humor that really make this thing pop.
 
 
Things start off with a story about Thor fighting a giant monster in New Jersey, swings over into an insurance fraud plot, and ends with a kaiju and giant guinea pig. It’s exactly the sort of loony stuff I used to enjoy from titles like Ambush Bug or (1990’s)Slapstick. Seriously, go pick up this book.
 
That’s it for this week. I’m encouraged that I’ve got a couple titles that really have me wanting to come back to them next time. Hope you’ll be here too!
 
 

 

 

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Last couple weeks’s pulls

It’s been a busy few weeks, so I’ve fallen behind on stuff like comics and television, but I finally made it back out to the shop to pick up my pull list,  and a couple of things off the shelf. Nevertheless, my stack was significantly smaller than I would’ve expected.

I’d actually forgotten about the Human Target. It’s been a while since the last issue came out… And seeing this on the shelf made me wonder if I had just missed a few months and the series had wrapped up without me? No. It’s still solicits issue seven at the back, so apparently the title was just paused or late. I’ve got a bone to pick though, with calling this tales of the human target. This is not a human target book. This is a justice league international book. That’s a problem. Not just the branding, but dropping a JLI book into this run, because the thing about justice league international was the book was funny. It was at just the right time, right in the middle of the comics boom, and shortly before the implosion… At a perfect time for an experiment. A perfect time for a silly book that could play with superhero tropes and give us something a little more lighthearted. It worked in that context for a while, but as the market shrink, we would see the pendulum swing back towards adventure and playing it straight with Gran morrison’s JLA.

Human target is not a funny series. And when you drop a group like the JLI into a slightly nihilistic deconstruction, it’s just awful. Justice league international when written as a satire is goofy and silly and fun. But when written as a straight up deconstruction, it makes the heroes look sad and incompetent. It’s just not a fun book.

What’s even more frustrating, is that I was warned. I’ve been enjoying human target, with a quibble here or there, a few decisions I wasn’t big on, but for the most part Tom King has just slightly touched these characters bringing them into visit as side characters in the background.They told me Tom King was up to no good, and I should’ve listened. Because this book right here is no good. I don’t know if it was planned as a bunch of back up stories or a companion piece, maybe something to throw in the back of the tree paper back… Dropping it right here in the middle when you’re already late feels like a misstep. It stops everything dead cold, and quite frankly turns me off enough that I’m not so sure I’m interested in continuing the series. Maybe I’ll just take a peek when it’s over.

Ghost Rider on the other hand continues to be good. It’s an interesting supernatural adventure… And one that’s very much in ghost riders wheelhouse. Out in the wastes we called the devils backbone, there is an annual motorcycle race… At the end of the race, you meet the devil. When you meet him, you can ask a question or a boon or something… And it’s just a cool concept well done. We need more of that. It’s interesting, because you look at some of the faces here, Dr. doom, wolverine, a lot of familiar marvel characters and it makes sense to put them in this context, that’s sort of desperation. It’s almost reminiscent of the secret six story arc about the various villains chasing after what basically amounted to a get out of jail free card, only for hell. I like this. It’s one of the better runs of Ghost Rider I’ve ever seen, and I hope they keep the creep and the quality up.

Over at Iron Man I am again a little confused, because it felt like I missed an issue. No, this is actually going back in time a bit. Before the previous issue where Tony’s captured and fighting for his life, we’ve got a rewind to remind ourselves of his relationship with war machine. That’s gonna be important, because war machine someone coming after him, complete with that black stealth suit that we see painted onto the cover. It’s a set up and a pause and again, I have to note that these sort of stories really do killed him I meant about the title, but at least in this case, it’s done well and stays engaging. Unlike that pause in human target, this issue does a good job of setting up where we’re going next.

And then there’s Batgirls. This title is also in the middle of what feels like a bridge story. We’re kind of done with the last arc, and setting up the next one, which gives us a nice excuse to hang out with the Batgirls for shenanigans. And shenanigans it is. Look, one of things I’m really enjoying here is the character development. You know, I dipped in and out of Cassie‘s Batgirl series back in the day. I was particularly interested in the brief “will they or one day“ with Superboy, and shocked by the whole “getting fired“ storyline. There was good stuff here and there on the cruise ship, things that helped us get to know Cassie, but the entire point of her character is that she doesn’t have any character. She’s basically a blank slate, and it’s harder to develop that and draw it out when you’ve just got her paired up with a mentor like Barbara. Pairing her up with Stephanie, I feel like we see so much more character development here in these nine issues than I’ve seen in the past 10 years with the various appearances in and out of her own series.

There’s also some interesting character development going on over in Spider-Man. We’re starting to see some carryover from the past series, particularly in how they’re handling Norman Osborne. It’s interesting, I’ll definitely give you that. There’s so much here that I like, and yet I’m still not sure if it’s enough to balance out the frustration over what I don’t know. This is one of those titles where I find myself more often than not dipping in and out of i’m not consistent with my reading on this one, simply because without enough information, I just don’t feel committed. The JR JR art isn’t helping me any either, but I’ve looked past that before and the colorists really does help prop him up.

Nevertheless, the writer definately has a handle on Peter’s voice. Spidey is always at his best when the writer gets him and his humor, and I think my single favorite moment in this issue is when the Vulture complains about Spidey telling someone he’s a murderer –

“But aren’t you trying to murder me right now?”

Then there’s She Hulk. Not necessarily a comic, but certainly a comic property. The first episode was OK. I think OK is really the operative word, otherwise some things that I didn’t care for. In particular, don’t let your kids watch the after credit sequence. Dropping that F bomb was a little bit shocking and didn’t make any of us particularly happy. The series has of course gotten the majority of his coverage over Jennifer‘s rant about how she does being angry better than Bruce… I don’t need to cover that here, except to say it was a dumb thing to insert. It’s not compelling, if anything it’s a self-inflicted wound. I can blow it off though, because this Jennifer Walters… She’s not a good person. She’s narcissistic self involved and aspires to victimhood. “She Hulk? That name better not stick. I can’t even exist without being a derivative of the Hulk?“ Well no. You can’t. Because that’s exactly what you are… A derivative of the Hulk. That’s what the character always was! It’s stuff like this it just turns me right off and sours the stuff that actually manages to be funny. I think Mecharandom42 on Youtube put it best – “Stop lecturing me about how bad you have it.” I agree. You office and home are WAY nicer than anything I’ve ever had. It’s just…..*sigh*.

And the funny parts? You’ve already seen all of episode one in commercials basically. It’s not untill we get into part two that we really start to get in to the story, but even then, the pity party continues. Jen is hired by a firm developing a new superhuman division. However, they want her because she’s She-hulk. She walks through the halls, bitter and angry; “I’lll never know if they hired me for my skill or just because I’m She-Hulk!”. No, you do know. You ABSOLUTELY were hired because you’re She-Hulk. And it’s gotten you a massive corner office and high salary. Here I’m just hoping that this is a character arc and that she’s a better person on the other end of this, because right now- she LOOKS like She-Hulk, but the character is still utterly unrecognizable. The Jen Walters I know, doesn’t resent being She-Hulk. Big and green actually gives her confidence and makes her feel beautiful and empowered, not….whatever this is.

Disney/Marvel? In the words of Sam Wilson  – “Do better”.

 


Early July

What took them three months to release Suicide Squad Blaze part 3? I mean, Rogues as well, but I jumped off that train with part two anyhow. 3 months for these black label titles???? *ugh* This isn’t Image comics you know guys! And everyone keeps trying to tell me the comics industry isn’t broken.

It’s strange too . the title actually got a lot worse in the intrum. I know I keep harping on the Amanda Waller as a villain thing, but they REALLY turned her into a terrible person here – off the charts. The story goes esoteric off the charts and gives the strangest Vertigo title a run for it’s money. It’s one of those things – you can go too freaky, too weird, and too edgy. Blaze revs up and goes right off that cliff.

It’s a beautiful fall though. The art is absolutely gorgeous and inspired. Standing alone it’s some wonderful rendering. But for this thing to fall apart here is a big disappointment to me – especially with me digging the first couple issues.

I’d actually completely forgotten that Batman ’89 was still going. I probably should have just waited for the whole thing to wrap up and grab a trade. I still might, now that it’s all over. a trade would look really nice next to my copy of the actual film adaption (By Jerry Ordway – my favorite Superman artist no less!)

It’s genuinely an interesting take on this universe. I’m not sure I would have been happy with it if this had been the actual third film, but then again – I wonder how much like this a film would have been. I don’t feel as much Burton influence as I think we would have seen had he made it. I also remember not being real thrilled with the racebending on Robin when it was rumored back then, but then again, I was similarly disappointed with the recasting of Two-Face when we ultimately got Batman Forever (which I DO really like). Because this exists as an exercise in theory, I think it becomes far more palatable and it’s been an interesting enough read – with the occasional moments of brilliance.

I also checked in with Daredevil. You may recall me pointing out that Devil’s Reign didn’t quite reestablish the status quo that I really wanted, rather redirecting DD into a whole new globetrotting direction – but before we do, it’s time for one last night out on the town in the big apple, busting heads with Spidey. It’s genuinely good. It’s everything I want this title to be. We’ll see where issue two goes, but this one bit of storytelling sure did make a good deposit of goodwill in the bank.

Over at the Punisher though – my patience is just about wearing out. They are doubling down on this garbage about Frank being a trouble kid and trying to retcon a foreshadowing of the Punisher into his ten year old self and ….UGH! Just read my last review. It’s all there.

There’s some cool stuff here once we get past that bit. It’s particuarly interesting to see Lady Bullseye and her companion show up to do battle with Frank…and we may just be seeing the real turning point here where he turns on the Hand. It sure feels like it, but I’m honestly not sure where this is going. For now I’m still on the ride and just enjoying the pretty pictures.

By the way, is anyone else reading Flashpoint Beyond? I grabbed issue three on impulse and then had to go back and read the rest of it. Perhaps it’s got to do with me recently reading through that amazing Flashpoint special ediditon trade, but I really enjoy this. I find most Batman comics from the last decade or so to just be impenetrable, but this actually works for me. It’s a cool continuation in that universe and actually does these characters some justice. Seriously, give this title a chance and see if you don’t dig it.

Speaking if digging stuff…I finally figured out why this current run of Ghost Rider has got me so hooked.

Quite frankly, it’s Hellblazer. This title is absolutely a new version of Hellblazer – but with more motorcycles and chains. (and not THAT many more chains – John got into some WIERD stuff)

It really occurred to me when I was watching the cop who’s pursuing him do magic. Her partner isn’t into it, so it feels cheeky and alien to him, but it’s that sort of mystical edged horror that we’re really seeing here in Ghost Rider. It gives it a freshness of dark delights that just has me totally hooked. It even spills over onto the other characters in the series. This issue it’s Ghost Rider vs the Circus of Crime. Now these guys are fine – but on the goofy side. very 70’s marvel….

This issue is the Circus of Crime like you’ve NEVER seen them before… and they are TERRIFYING.

Batgirls continues to be delightful. Normally I’d be annoyed that Babs is coming in and taking center stage, taking the focus off of Cass and Steph, but man. She’s just so CUTE with Dick. Like, I barely remember what the actuall misson was. I was just there to watch her and Nightwing flirt.
They don’t skimp on the action, never fear. There’s plenty of jumping and punching and foiled evil, but the way these characters are written is just SO compelling and I haven’t ben THIS into Dick and Babs since the ORIGINAL Birds of Prey when it was running simultaneously with the original run of Nightwing. This stuff is ABSOLUTELY back on form. I can’t believe this is one of my favorite comics going right now but is totally is.

The other title I’ve found myself looking forward too every month is the current relaunch of Archer and Armstrong. The books was always a little cracked, but it’s just complete Lunacy these days and enormous fun. Imagine opening the book to see something like this….


Like I said….just really fun. And that’s a lot of what I’m looking for these days. I know we’re only on issue three of this run so far, but it feels like I’ve gotten way more than three issues of reading out of them. I’ll leave you with this image and check back next time!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Last Weeks Pulls 6/22/22

I’ll be honest, I have absolutely no interest in DC‘s Dark Crisis or any of the repackaged 5G that they’re trying to roll out here. They’ve largely made the DCU so unrecognizable to me that it’s off-putting and, the stories just aren’t that interesting.

Still, I wanted to check out the Young Justice story they were doing. Young Justice is one of those titles that I really enjoyed back in The day, because it was just… Fun. It was just interesting. Peter David had been getting increasingly spicy and ideological and a little preachy in his writing around that time, and to see him approach Young Justice with straightforward adventure, centered around teen sidekicks that were actually… Well, teens! It was refreshing. One of the strengths of Young Justice is of course the youth of the cast. DC has a tendency to want to age up kid characters as soon as possible, and it always backfires. Tim Drake Robin, Connor Kent’s Superboy, heck even Jonathan Kent’s Superboy… They’re all more interesting when they’re 12 or 14. Once you bump that up to 19, they’re just another cape lost in the crowd. Young Justice leaned into the fact that these kids were kids, and The title was genuinely fun. I know they’re trying to rope us in with nostalgia, but fun was what I was still hoping for.
 
I don’t feel like I got that here. We get classic costumes, and a lot of member berries, but it’s permeated by the general angst of the DC right now. That is perhaps a complicated way of saying this just wasn’t what I wanted from this title are these characters. And these versions of these characters feel strangely out of place when you drop them in next to the 5G characters… The young Justice cast is really from another time… A time that DC has decided it’s best moved past.

Speaking of something else that was nostalgia bait, they released a new issue of New Fantastic Four. That’s that strange 90s team up between Grey Hawk, ghost rider, wolverine and Spider-Man. I don’t know where these gimmicks are coming from …I don’t know who’s green lighting the stuff… But on the other hand, I’m obviously encouraging them because I keep buying it. It’s an interesting revisit to that era… I’ve always wanted to read more Grey Hulk, so this definitely scratches that itch. It’s also a nice demon based story, kind of in line with what we’re seeing in the current ghost rider run. A bunch of people being mind controlled by some demonic thing and attacking everything in sight. Come to think of it, it almost feels a little bit like what we’re seeing in Worlds Finest as well. In any event, it’s an interesting little story, although I almost wish I’d been a one shot. We get a to be continued… And I’m not sure if this is going to have the legs to go multiple issues or to keep my interest that long. We’ll see what happens.
 
A big surprise for me this month was the Perry White book. Much like New FF. I have NO idea who’s idea was to put this out… A collection of stories featuring the editor in chief of the daily planet… with some hijinks involving Jimmy Olsen as well. But you know what, this was delightful. Way more interesting that had any right to be. We got a team up with Wildcat… charmingly titled “old guys talking in bars”, we get some reprints here and there – I’ve only read about Perry’s super cigars, I’ve never actually seen them. Good to see Curt Swan reprinted and to finally experiences classic story upfront. Not sure how they got away with it actually, considering the anti-smoking sentiment we have in 2022!
No, but seriously, the book is just fun. I’m shocked at how much fun I had with this… But perhaps I shouldn’t be. After all, I’ve always said that one of the great strings of the Superman comics is in fact the supporting cast.

Likewise, Worlds Finest also continues to bring the fun, and man this book is getting crowded. Do you know how we were talking about supporting casts? Worlds finest is increasingly supporting cast. It almost feels like that first run of Batman Superman – Public Enemies with Ed McGuinness drawing… Where Superman and Batman are public enemy number one. All sorts of other superheroes crowding in the edges… it’s a very similar take… and it’s good. I actually really enjoy this version of Supergirl, heck, I enjoy both his version of Supergirl AND Robin! They are extremely well done and complement the main characters very well, and have so much fun chemestry.
This issue is still just a beat down issue, we’re in the middle of the devil controlling other superheroes to take down Superman and Batman. There’s a little more to it, but you get the jest… Now go read the book. I’m absolutely buying this in trade when it comes out. This is one of those stories that needs to be collected… Although I must say, the once a month format isn’t bothering me on this nearly as much as it is Spider-Man.

Of course that’s probably because Spider-Man still a convoluted mess and I don’t know what’s going on. There’s a sort of Spidey saves the day resolution for this issue, and another one of those sort of bread crumbs drops… “What’s going on here?“. Black cat swings by to see Mary Jane for some reason and it’s weird, it’s almost like she’s surprised to see the daughter. “Hmmmm. Cute kid.” You know, that’s remarkably cryptic. Impressively so considering it’s simplicity. 
 
Full disclosure. I miss the days when Nightwing was the best kept secret in comics. Chuck Dixon really had interesting directions to take Dick in, and when the comic got popular it felt like it mainstreamed a little bit more. More editorial dictates and control over the direction it went… It was never quite the same. I have to say, this issue feels a lot like the old Nightwing series… I’m really enjoying watching his relationship with Barbara start to takeoff again. This is something that I see them exploring both here and in Batgirls, and I’m really up for it. There’s not an enormus amount of Nightwing shenanigans going on here though… It’s a fairly simple straightforward story. I picked a good issue to try out with a contained narrative. This area of the Haven is seeing increased crime, and the police are using it as a excuse to hassle the locals. Of course the police force anywhere near Gotham is going to be corrupt, and it turns out these guys are using the crimewave as an excuse to step up patrols and triple the amount of cops in the area. They point out, quite correctly actually, that if there’s increased crime in the area, you need a increased police presence… But Nightwing replies, asking if making these kids feel like criminals is gonna make them feel safe…
 
And this is where the problems begin.
 
The thing is, we had a lot of these kind of stories in both Nightwing and the Batman titles back when Nightwing was a new title. However, this sort of thing takes on a different context in 2002 then it did back in 1997. After the better part of a decade with politicians on a certain side of the aisle demonizing cops, saying they’re all bad, saying they’re all bullies, and suggesting that any sort of increase patrols is just racism… seeing it portrayed here, it’s not nearly as palatable. These can’t be read as just caricatures of villains… The writer is trying to make a political statement here. It’s one that bothers me too, because it’s misinformed, and it’s incorrect. When the corrupt police chief says an increased police presence in high crime areas is going to make people safer… He’s right. And the hero tries to suggest that he isn’t. This is how Giuliani cleaned up New York. This is something that a lot of the poor want in their neighborhoods. Something I definitely want in mine.

Now, of course these bad cops take it a step further, hassling kids playing basketball in broad daylight at noon on a Sunday or something…, But I still feel a suggestion that all police activity is harassment, all cops are bad, and that if they just left it all alone, everything will be all right… After all it’s probably the cops causing all the trouble anyhow! It’s a drag too, because I was really liking this book… Until I got smacked in the face with a large baseball bat labeled “the message“.

On the other hand, there’s absolutely no message in Elvira… Other than cleavage is good.
We take a trip to the overlook hotel this time around, although the names have been changed to protect the innocent… From legal action.
I know I keep saying this, but it’s a ridiculously self-aware book. The best part of it being, Jack Torrance keep speaking in Jack Nicholson quotes. There’s a lot of Batman quotes here, along with the occasional “You can’t handle the truth!“ At one point he confronts Elvira with a “did you ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?“ To which she responds “you wanna get nuts? Let’s get nuts!“ It’s all insanely glorious. There’s a couple of pokes at Kubrick‘s directing style as well, the use of banner slides to tell you which day it is… That sort of thing, and even an acknowledgment of the recent Dr. Sleep film. But the part that’s truly horrifying is when you see what’s written on Jack’s typewriter instead of “all work and no play makes jack a dull boy“. It’s genuinely good stuff, and we can see by the end of this book, that is leading her into her next film… Alien. Once again, I can’t wait.

The thing that is so charming here is that it’s really the best possible venue for the character. Elvira has always been fundamentally a horror host, so dropping her into these movies… It’s really just an extended version of the things that a lot of posts like Zacharly would do, green screening themselves into the movie. Elvira is taking this to a whole new extreme, but it fits. It gives her a chance to be a character, while still retaining her identity as a host.

If you’re a fan of the current ninja Punisher run, You may want to check out Punisher war journal. It’s a nice self-contained story, but it’s a side quest. Definitely something that they’re doing in another book so that they don’t interrupt the flow of the main story going on in the main book. Or journal still evokes a desire for gunplay, and I have to admit, while this is a Punisher story… It’s a Punisher story largely without firearms. There’s a few, but I have to admit I miss them. Then again, props on them for at least giving us a scene or two of ninjas with guns. I understand cinematicly why you never see them using firearms in the movies, but realistically, just like any good spy I would assume a ninja would use any weapon at his disposal… That includes firearms. I think at the end of the day, this is still gonna go down as just one of those “weird“ periods in the Punisher’s history, much like the mobbed up ponytail storyline, or the Demon Hunter one… Marvel’s just not sure what to do with him right now because he’s a little too politically incorrect, but at the same time a little bit too popular to just rest the character. I’d still prefer all of this is the side quest, and alternate universe whatever sort of thing, but I’m still enjoying the ride a lot more than I expected to, so I’m sticking with this.
 
 
 
 
 

 


Last weeks pulls

Worlds finest continues to be my favorite of all the current tiles out there. It’s just good straightforward adventure fare with familiar faces. Superman, Batman and Robin, Supergirl on the flash and Green Lantern… No agendas no personal politics just straightforward storytelling. That’s not to say there’s nothing complex, we’ve got an ark going on here along with various DCU characters coming in and out of the story. It’s just all really good. It’s exactly what I want. I almost feel like back in the days where I was losing interest in Superman and Batman‘s main titles, but couldn’t wait for the Superman Batman issues to come out every month. It was the same way with Spider-Man for a while too. While the main line series was kind of meandering and falling apart, I was very much getting into the late run of ultimate Spider-Man… And even, I guess I’ll admit it, Spider-Man loves Mary Jane. 

Speaking of Spider-Man, I really have weird mixed feelings regarding this new run of amazing Spider-Man. If I hadn’t spent the first week of 2022 basically catching up on the last two years of the Spider-Man comics, I swear I just walked into the middle of a storyline or something. We still don’t really know what the status quo is here, and the opening scrawl admits it. It literally says something has happened in spider-Man‘s life, but doesn’t actually tell us what. It’s maddening, especially since I’m really enjoying a lot of what they’re doing here. The whole bit with tombstone is interesting and fun. Spidey himself is being well written and somebody really understands his voice. It’s funny and sad and good adventure all at once… With a story that is fun enough for me to put up with John Romita juniors thin line nightmare style of art. But I’ll tell you what, I really do need to know what the status quo is. I need to understand what’s happening, and it needs to be soon. You got another issue and a half or I’m out. Still, for the moment….I gotta say – this one panel just sums it up.

 

I’m actually been a big fan of what Dynamite’s been doing over the years. It’s the same model as Dark Horse, lean into licensed properties, but dynamite always seems to pick ones that I’m far more interested in the dark horse ever did. Elvira‘s had a couple of series now, and honestly they’ve been hit or miss, nothing I was really digging, but the new Elvira in horror land has really got my attention. They drop her into an old movie, and she interacts. It’s actually pretty perfect. It’s kind of the thing I really enjoy with horror hosts in the first place! First issue she finds herself in psycho. Psychos got a special place in my heart, especially since I didn’t get around to watching it until I was in my early 40s when they were doing a screening up at the rain palace. I’ve recently screened it for my daughter as well, and this has got it fresh on my mind. It’s well done, poking fun at the tropes, paying respect to the characters, even taking a shot at the remake. I’m really enjoying it, but what’s really interesting for me is the last page.

Elvira escapes the movie alive, and ready for her next adventure. Unfortunately, her next adventure starts in the snow… In a remote mountain resort… With a sinister hotel beckoning in the distance.Yeah, I’m sticking around for a while on this title.

Three issues in and surprisingly enough, I’m still on board with the Punisher. I actually think this would have been a perfect miniseries. Not necessarily the main line title, but a sort of side spin off… It probably would’ve served a character better. Even if it weren’t, advertising it as a mini series kind of assures people that this is just a temporary diversion and things will be returned to the status quo. To his credit, the writer genuinely tried to reassure us of that in the first issue and I respect that. It allows me to settle in and enjoy this interesting exploration of Frank Castle as the leader of the hand. There’s a lot to like here. The concept is strong and smart, and I’m genuinely on board with a lot of what they’re doing.

Or at least, I was until now.

You see that kid on the cover of issue three? The one wearing the captain America mask? That’s Frank. 10 year old Frank Castle is the centerpiece of the story, in response to a question asked to him… “When did you first kill someone?”

 

This irritates me. It’s not the first time that we’ve seen this sort of deconstruction… This attempt to paint Frank as just an inherent killer. A fundamental bad seed. it pops up from time to time, whether it’s in the punisher showing up in the ‘Nam, or the supernatural run where the angels pick him because he’s just inherently the best murderer out there, or even the attempt at Microsoft deconstructing his personality in the punisher max series.

Wherever it happens, I hate it. It shows a basic misunderstanding of the character and his history.

It’s especially prevalent among writers who have never lived through the 70s. People who never experienced The high crime rates and massive inflation and General loss of hope (but buckle up guys, because we’re there again and in 10 years you’re gonna see a whole new crop of storytelling that represents it). They don’t properly remember Bernie Goetz taking up arms and murdering people in a fit of vigilante rage. They’ve never experienced the sort of stagnation that lead rise to books and films like Deathwish. That’s what the punisher is. He’s a fairly ordinary guy who is finally pushed too far and snapped. He’s a person who is a protector as a cop, deeply religious with training as a priest, loving as a father and a husband… Someone who’s had all that stripped away. Those things didn’t keep the killer in check, those things were who Frank Castle was. The killer is the aberration, not the good man. It always frustrates me when the riders get this wrong. It’s not enough to put me off the title, but man it’s frustrating.

Equally frustrating is the ridiculousness of Harley Quinn. That sloppy artwork just kills me, and this book is simply all over the place. Honestly, I just dropped in to check the series out, but I’m dropping right back out. Harley Quinn‘s always been a little wacky, but she’s also been serious and deadly as well. The Harley that I am reading in this book, quite frankly it’s pinkie pie from my little pony.That’s fine, that’s even fun, but it’s not Harley. 

Maybe it’s time for me to just settle back and dig into some back issues instead. Both fanboy expo and Comicpslooza DID happen this weekend after all.

 

 

 

 


Week of 3/16/22 (mostly)

It was finally time last week. The moment I’ve been waiting for, one of my most intense anticipated books in a good long while. Worlds Finest finally hit The shelves. You basically have my attention, just by putting the yellow oval behind the bat symbol. In fact, I really like the general character designs that were seeing for both Batman and Superman here. Very traditional, very much my generation.

What we get, is part one of what promises to be a fun adventure, featuring more than a few familiar faces, all designs like Lex Luthors Super Powers battle armor and traditional Batman villains. It’s all good, it’s all solid, and quite frankly, it’s the first time in a very long time – years – that I feel like I’m sitting down and reading a new comic book that was written for me. I’m really enjoying this already, and I am hard and fast on this series all the way. If DC still offered subscriptions, I’d already be there.

Marvel on the other hand, nothing much on the shelves this week. I took a peek at the Spider-Man title – the beyond side-title that they’ve been putting out with the .2 numbers. It feels like the writers had a whole slew of subplots if they just couldn’t fit into the main book, so they dumped them all here. It feels horribly mismatched and choppy. It’s worth peeking at your friends copy though, just to see what happens when the lizard tries to bite a chunk out of Morbius, and ingests his vampire blood, combining with Dr. Connors on regenerative abilities. There’s a smart idea going on here and it really deserved better placement as the b storyline in the main book.

I’m kind of behind on getting this up, and while I was editing, the next wave of books came out so we’re gonna do two weeks worth of DC here… But then again don’t worry. It’s not gonna take long.

The Human Target is still excellent. Quite frankly, Christopher Chances romance with Ice is just enthralling. This is a tough sell too, because those of us who were around for the heyday of the Justice League International, have a lot invested emotionally in the relationship between ice and Guy Gardner. This book definitely moves us on, creating a new lens to observe that romance through, and leading Ice move on to a new relationship a chance. It also presents guy in a bad light, but does it smartly… In such a way that I don’t resent it. Even though last month was pretty much a filler issue, overall, this series has been just great. I’m gonna miss it when it’s over. I’m gonna miss this take on chance, and I hope we see more of it.
Also in the black label line is the flashes rogues book. This one I’m not so sure how to feel about. It’s in the future, kind of an old man Logan take… I’m hot and cold on it. Not sure if I like it or not yet. I really don’t like that Boomerang is dead (basically my main gateway to the Rogues) though the take on the young Trickster is actually pretty interesting. Not really enjoying Bronze Tiger being cast as a villian this time around though. I’m hoping we see him wrestle with his violence and morality, the way John Ostrander used to so intelligently write him. The whole thing is a real jumble that has me off balance.  I’m willing to give it one more issue though.

I even took a peek in this week’s Harley Quinn.
 
Um…. what has happened to this title?

The art is AWFUL. It’s so wierd and loopy and cartoon and it just feels cheap.  Also I know that they’re kind of trying to sell Harley as a hero these days because of her popularity, but really I feel like she’s lost a lot of her edge. The Harley Quinn I know wouldn’t be heading to jail trying to be cute and avoid any confrontations. The Harley I know would saunter in with a joke and a cute smile, and then stab a chick. Ugh. Such a disappointment.

On the other hand, Marvels infinity comics have been blowing me out of the water for the last couple weeks. One of the more interesting bits was marvel meow… A story about what happens when Black Widow and Bucky drop their cats off to stay with Captain Marvels flerkin.

It goes about as you would expect, and it’s really cute as a fun little one shot. Of course, even as I’m writing this, my daughter has informed me that it’s NOT a one shot… And in fact just A few days ago, they posted part two… where Spider-Man is cat sitting this time.
You know what? This was fun the first time, but comes off as a little silly and excessive going any further. Still, definitely catch up first one.

We did also get a Spider Bot infinity comic. See, here’s the thing, I discovered the infinity comics strictly because of the Jeff the LandShark series. That’s led to some of these other cutesy ones. I’m a fan of that kind of stuff, alligator Loki is probably the only one that’s coming close, but spider bite has its own charm. They’ve actually done a fairly good job I’ve been viewing these little sentient spider tracers with a surprising amount of personality. In the slightest issue, we encounter one with a broken leg… He can’t go on missions because he’s waiting to be fixed, so he stays back to clean the apartment, while dreaming of saving the world from Thanos and marrying fire star. All perfectly relatable!

More importantly though… The single most important innovation and offering from the Disney+ Loki series has arrived in comic form.
That’s right, they put out an Alligator Loki comic book! Thor stumbles across our scaly friend as he tumbles out of a portal, and in an attempt to bond with this version of his brother, he takes him to an asguardian amusement park. It’s just the best thing ever. I don’t know what delights me more. Watching poor little alligator Loki try and hold on as they ride the roller coaster, or just the sight of him in one of those across the chest baby harnesses as Thor carries them around. Seriously. It was my absolute favorite thing all last week.

I do feel weird that all of my Marvel  reading this week has pretty much been the online stuff, but they’re genuinely doing some good stuff here in these infinity comics and it’s worth hopping the pay wall to check it out.
 
My last pick this week was ShadowMan. Did you even know they were still doing this book? I mean it’s in its fifth or sixth version of the character even within this current reboot, and they’re leaning heavily into the whore. There’s some good stuff here, especially if you’re a voodoo fan like I am.

There’s an interesting approach to the Shadow Man, trying to treat him almost as a priest rather than just a warrior or a superhero. This is interesting, it’s a good and natural evolution of this character as we have added progressively more voodoo and horror elements to the series over the last couple of decades. Here we find him battling the incarnate spirit of the Deadside, in attempt to prevent the land of the dead from merging with the land of the living. I feel like I just saw a bunch of the story in Legend of Korra, but it remains solid. It’s one of those though that I think I might rather wait for the trade then chasing down individual issues. I’m still a little lukewarm on this version. I like it, but I feel like it needs more. Honestly what this really needs is a good supporting cast… I was so hoping that this dead side goddess would end up being Jack’s old housekeeper Nettie. I’ve been keeping with the sort of slight paranoia and twists that we used to get from the book. There’s still a solid foundation here, what it really needs is someone with a good long-term vision – I mean five years or so who can create a supporting cast around Jack figure out a good nightmare and bring back some recurring arch enemies. (in the previous issue, we got a brief appearance by master dark in Sandria and I was so excited for half a millisecond until they just use them as a throwaway villain… Such a bummer!)

foodThat’s it for comics.

Now. How about television?

The Food That Built America is back on, and I am enjoying that, there’s definitely some stuff about Dairy Queen in Carvel that I never knew. There’s a new show with Adam Richmond on after it too – Adam eats the 80’s which explores lost and changed food and candy from the 1980’s it’;s been far more interesting and fun that it has any right to be. It’s a good thing too, because I had an opening in my TV schedule  –  Superman and Lois was on a break last week and the Flash… I don’t know what it is the season. I almost feel like the mandate is “show the flash as little as possible“ after these last two episodes. I mean it’s fun to see Barry trapped in the locked down police station and I guess they’d have to take away his powers to make that work, but seriously. We’re getting two or three minutes of costume time each episode and I feel like I’m back in the 80s again where are these type of programs we’re still trying to pretend they weren’t superhero shows.

Maybe they’ll do better this week. Both The Flash and Superman and Lois should be available on demand by the time I get home tonight….I’ll let you know next week!

 

 


Week of 2-22-22

Could whoever is running the control board over at Superman and Lois turn down the “soap opera“ dial a few notches please?

Seriously, that’s most of what I observed this week. A sort of soap opera filler episode. The daughter found out about the affair Lana‘s husband had. This of course, ruins her quinceanera. Elsewhere, there’s drama between Superman and the General who thinks he’s in cahoots with Bizzaro, that’s why all but one of his team is dead… And Lois‘s partner meet up with the cult leader who slips her Mickey. Honestly, it’s just so soap opera it hurts. I know we’re gonna get past this, but I remember these kind of long stretches in The Flash as well… where it would kind of forget that it’s a superhero show and go full CW.

On the other hand, I don’t wanna complain too much. It’s still the best version of Superman I’ve gotten in ages, and man if they haven’t made Bizarro just terrifying. Like I mentioned last time, that’s no mean trick. We too often see Bizarro as a goof, a clown, and this one is anything but. This one is absolutely a stone cold killer with a chilling warning that war is coming.

Nothing much else on television, although I did check out a couple of comics this week. Nothing great to speak up there as well, it must be filler week for DC. Human target was really one of those stock filler issues as well, with a meeting between chance and Martian Manhunter that primarily occurs entirely in chances head. It does very little to develop the characters and nothing to forward the plot. Same thing with Spider-Man… Although in fairness, Peter is back in costume and getting back in action here, teaming up with Ben Riley. It’s more a penultimate story than it is a real driving force. That is to say, nothing to write home about. I’d really like this arc to be over soon please? Maybe get back to a status quo Spidey for a bit huh?

The one thing that I did find interesting this week was Devils Reign : Villains for Hire. The Kingpin, now mayor of New York, is doing the whole thunderbolt thing. Incomes USAgent basically offering his services to try and keep these villains under control. I’ve always enjoyed USAgent, and this is a prime example of why. He doesn’t have the virtue or moral fiber of captain America, but he definitely has the drive and the earnestness. When it comes to Truth, Justice and the American Way (hey, that’s catchy!), he’s a true believer. It’s a nice little side step. It can’t really stand on its own, but as a sort of sidequel, it’s one of the better ones.

 


Last Weeks Pulls (Week of 1/26/22)

I’d actually intended to talk this week about Nick Spencer’s run on Spider-Man last year. About how much I really appreciate him and his contributions to continuity. The man knows his stuff, and fixed one of the greatest problems in Spider-Man continuity, specifically that of the Stacy twins. But he also added in some new twists both with Mephisto and his relationship to Spider-Man on a grander scale, as well as the curse he laid on the Osbornes and how that figures into the whole overarching mythology. Good stuff. Pity it’s so gloomy and the read was such a downer. I’m glad I saw these changes made, but I didn’t enjoy reading it… And that’s really what you’re going to Spider-Man for isn’t it?

Transitioning into this new “beyond“ story line featuring Ben Riley taking over for Spidey again… I mean it’s just the aftermath of the clone saga again mixed in with a dash of corporate superhero themes that I’ve already seen a thousand times in both the Avengers and Youngblood. And of course, we’ve gotta find a good excuse for REAL Spidey to be out of the way, so radiation poisoning and hospitalization will keep Peter Parker tucked in a hospital bed until we need him again, right?

In Amazing Spider-Man 87, Peter is actually up and about. In fact, we’re going into something more of a learning curve storyline. Peters doing the superhero equivalent physical therapy, with black cat and Captain America trying to train him back up to Spider-Man levels of skill. I feel like I should hate this, but actually…

One of the big problems I feel Spider-Man has developed is we’ve lost a lot of what makes Spider-Man unique. There’s a plethora of various clones and copycats and spider people running around now. It’s not just SpiderGwen or Miles Morales, at one point during that Spencer run, we had both of them as well as Silk, and red Spider Woman and black Spider Woman and a couple others I didn’t recognize all doing stuff in the same story… There really wasn’t even enough room for Peter, much less any of his actual supporting cast. Thing is, the best superheroes are really enhanced and uplifted by their supporting caste people the ordinary, unpowered folks that surround them, and the more I read of modern Spider-Man the more I miss that. Stories with Mary Jane and Flash and Harry hanging out. JJJ and Robbie Robertson and Betty Brant up at the Bugle, Aunt May back home sharing the latest gossip from Anna Watson. Spider-Man had a rich and colorful supporting cast and I feel like they’ve been pushed out. That’s one of the things it was nice to see here. Black Cat was one of the first people that an unconscious Peter responded to in the hospital, and watching her recruit Captain America to help bring Spidey back up to speed… I feel like we’re getting a real Peter Parker story. I feel like we’re getting shenanigans with old friends, not to mention the single best Spider-Man costume ever!

More than anything, I had fun reading this. I haven’t had fun reading I knew Spider-Man comic in a good long while, and this is a welcome return to form.

Interestingly enough, there was a side story released last week as well, black cat and Mary Jane. The Hood showed up to try and force Black Cat to retrieve his lost hood and cloak… The source of his power. Otherwise he’s going to kill Peter and Mary Jane. Black Cat agrees, and demands MJ goes with her. She suggests that she’s part of the crew. It’s all a bluff to get Mary Jane out of danger, figuring that even in his incapacitated state, Peter’s spider sense will go off if he’s in any real peril and he’ll be able to take care of himself. What unfolds next is a really great one shot adventure. Equal parts heist, con, and superhero romp. MJ and Black Cat have a surprising amount of chemistry together, and again, it’s this supporting cast thing… It really plays well. Another title that I am surprised I liked so much.

A book I wasn’t surprised I liked last week was Human Target. Tom Kings actually doing a great job on this, and he and his artist have figured out how to handle Christopher Chance. They’re telling the story almost with a 40s and 50s detective throwback flare. Don’t get me wrong, this is firmly set in 2022, and really well meshed into the DC universe, especially the Justice League International that I remember so fondly from the 90s. But Chance himself has the swagger of a James Cagney, and the burgeoning romance between him and Ice has been surprisingly charming.

With the first issue being the actual job, standing in for Lex Luthor to prevent an assassination attempt and ending a poisoning, Chance is four issues in now to trying to figure out who it was it slipped the poison into Luthors drink… The poison that’s slowly killing Chance. I generally like the Human Target. Everybody has a different take on him, but this one may just work the best for me. It’s true to the character, and it’s still a nice travelogue through the DC universe.

I’d probably be remiss if I didn’t mention superman 78, which ended last week. And I’ve gotta admit… I want more. I get that this is necessarily just a six issue miniseries, never meant to go on any further, but man, I’d love to see a whole i’d probably be remiss if I didn’t mention Superman 78, which ended last week. And I’ve gotta admit… I want more. I get that this is necessarily just a six issue miniseries, never meant to go on any further, but man, I’d love to see a whole collection of miniseries like this. The story never stopped entertaining me from beginning to end, and has just enough fan service to keep me delighted, while maintaining A sense of the Superman that I really recognize. It’s not even that it’s specifically that Christopher Reeve Superman, it’s just the good old-fashioned, Boy Scout, big blue, big red “S” Superman. It’s a traditional, late 70s 80s portrayal, sort of thing that still bled into the late 80s and 90s John Byrne Superman that I really connect with. I’m waiting for this collection to come out in a trade so that I can swap out my individual issues for one big book. It’s very possibly my favorite thing to come out last year…

Well with the exception of Jeffrey the land shark of course!

 


Xmas Avengers!

Costume

 

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Doc Ock!

Costume

I made this Spidy background a while back – it’s about time I got my Doc Ock in it!

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Guardians of the Galaxy 3

What Guardians 3 SHOULD be….

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Doc Ock

CostumeThis is one of those outfits that’s just gotten better as the years have gone by. It’s still one of my favorites just for the way it messes with your eyes…..

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Image

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Spider-Man

definitive

My personal definitive way of drawing iconic characters

Spidey’s got to be skinny. I mean he’s got muscles, but they shouldn’t show.

I always liked how Erik Larson drew him, skinny, with the flexibility of Tod McFarline but not so cartoony. Spidy’s suit seemed darker during Larson’s run and I like the idea that the blue part is so dark it’s almost black.

spidy pencils spidy inked spidy color

 


3 Dev Adam (Three Mighty Men)

fff

captainIn an attempt to stop the evil Spider-Man’s organization smuggling from Mexico into the US, those respective governments enlist the help of Captain America and El Santo!

This was actually my first exposure to Santo, but it makes more sense if you already know him as a folk hero. Still, this is a little nuts, and Spidey is extremely evil in this, with eyebrows as big as the day is long and a fiendish mustache under that mask.

This one has been in circulation for ages now and shouldn’t be too hard to track down, but if you don’t want to spend an hour and a half slogging through it, just hit the highlights on YouTube!

captain2


Spider-Man loves Mary Jane

bestmj2

I first discovered this at a Target in a tabloid edition. It was the first mini series (four issues) and cost about $5.00. I grabbed it thinking it was Spidey related and I’d save it for my daughters.

I never expected to get hooked.

See, Mary Jane is a tough sell for me. She’s far too often superficial, vacuous. Kirsten Dunst’s portrayal of her in the Raimi movies is a perfect example. I hate her. I know it’s the Nerd-gets-the-girl cliché, but I just can’t stand her.

This series takes a different approach. It’s the Spidey universe through the eyes of a High School MJ. She still lapses into superficiality sometimes but you can see there’s more there and it’s a really great look at the Spider-Man story from a different angle.

The characters are all there, Flash is still a jerk, Harry is a bit of an amalagam of the comics and the movies (which, to be fair, NEEDED to happen) and Peter Parker is a bit more a nerd than usual. Makes sense from MJ’s POV. Liz is actually a lot spunkier than I recall and Gwen Stacy is portrayed as a bit of a spaz. The differences work though and somehow, Sean McKeever  REALLY pulls it all together in this engaging package that I just couldn’t put down, finding myself eagerly awaiting the next month’s issue.

The initial four-issue miniseries, Mary Jane, originally intended as an ongoing series, began publication in June 2004 under the Marvel Age imprint, a line of comic books by Marvel Comics aimed at younger readers. a second four-issue miniseries, Mary Jane: Homecoming, which began publication in March 2005. Unlike the first series, Homecoming was not published under the Marvel Age imprint, but as a regular Marvel Comics title, because Marvel Age had by then been restructured into the Marvel Adventures imprint. a second four-issue miniseries, Mary Jane: Homecoming, which began publication in March 2005. Unlike the first series, Homecoming was not published under the Marvel Age imprint, but as a mjregular Marvel Comics title, because Marvel Age had by then been restructured into the Marvel Adventures imprint.

Unfortunately the series ended with issue #20 when McKeever left for an exclusive DC contract. An attempt was made to revive it but it never felt the same. The last series was cancelled after five issues. I jumped ship after two. A real drag for me as well, because for two years this WAS my Spider-Man title. It was the only one I was getting. Better than anything going on in the flagship title.

Still you can find the first and second series in digest form and I really recommend them. I’ve even see the first one at the Library in the Manga section. You may want to check it out first before deciding if you want to commit to hunting down the last twenty issues of that third series…(but trust me…you do!)


The Marvelous Adventures of Gus Beezer

best893487-1I always liked this title but it suffers far too much from comparison to Calvin and Hobbes. This isn’t Calvin and Hobbes, it lacks the satirical wit that was aimed at adults. This is far more kid driven – but it’s GOOD kid driven.

Gus is a little boy with an active imagination who loves comic books and superheros- of course t he big difference is that he lives in the Marvel universe where there actually ARE superheros!

He sometimes lets his imagination get away from him and it begins to intrude on his real life…playing with his sisters jump rope and pretending she’s the lizard…

It was a fine series and was reprinted in tabloid size under the Marvel Adventures banner  to be sold in Targets but never went any further than it’s original four issue run. You may find some of these still floating around. It’s worth it just to see his tirade at J. Jonah Jameson over his Spider-man editorials…..gus2


Japanese Spider-Man

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imagesHow do I describe the insanity that is Japanese Spider-Man? Basically in the 70’s Marvel licensed the likeness and name to a company called TOEI and said “Do whatever you want with it”.

And they did.

This Spider-Man is a dirt bike racer in his secret identity. Spidey uses supercharged race cars and a giant robot to do battle with Power Ranger-like villains.

Of all the foreign rip-offs I could cite, this is by far the most fun. it’s commercially avalible,  though a region 1 DVD is hard to find, but I’ve also seen it on YouTube.

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The Amazing Spider-Man 2

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So yesterday we ran this strip over at Violent Blue.

Amazing Spider-Man 2

I don’t want to hate this movie.

1I really questioned whether I would review it because the problem is this can not possibly stand up on it’s own. This is  the second film in the Amazing cycle and it’s inevitably going to draw comparisons from the Rami cycle. The second Rami movie is the best of all the Spider-man movies ever. More to that point, I have no problem saying it’s one of the greatest Superhero movies ever made. In fact it was just on TV over the weekend (capitalizing on the release of the new film) and it absolutely holds up.

I liked Garfield as Peter Parker in the first film. I thought Toby was a better Spidey though. More light hearted and fun. I hoped Garfield’s Spidy would grow on me, especially since they got the costume right this time. Sadly, it was the opposite. His Peter has gotten more grating and that stupid Bronx accent (is it meant to be queens? It doesn’t sound queens to me) really gets ramped up here and drives me nuts. Not as bad as the Dancin’ Toby sequences in 2 and 3, but not fun.  Peter is too moody. Too brooding. This isn’t Batman. Spider-Man looks best in the sunlight and happy.

2I also don’t buy the Peter/Harry relationship. This needed to be addressed in the first movie. Harry belongs with Peter from the word go, bringing him in cold in the sequel just feels tacked on. What a coincidence Peter just happened to be friends with the richest kid in New York….

Harry’s completely unlikable in this by the way and that’s a shame. The tragedy of Harry Osborne is that he’s not a bad guy, he’s been twisted. If you’re not rooting for him to rise above it, then it doesn’t work. And I’m not. I don’t like this Harry.

He’s not alone though. I HATE Aunt May here. God she’s useless in this series. She’s pathetic…nothing more than a dialogue delivery system. May is supposed to be a dichotomy – old and frail with a shocking amount inner strength that can’t be measured. I mean, they couldn’t even be bothered to put a white WIG on Sally Field!

Look, I have issues with the Rami cycle. I never liked his casting of Kristen Dunst and never really liked his version of Peter Parker. I think his inexplicable need for every villain to have some sort of relational connection with Spidey was ridiculous. But for the most part….for the most part he got it right. Aunt May and J. Jonah Jameson looked like they stepped right off the comic page, and their characterization was so dead on that they stole the show. Even though he didn’t have the right look, everything else about the Green Goblin rung true. Norman and Harry Osborne were perfect updates (and they LOOKED related by the way). Rami got  the relationships right. He understood the characters. Most importantly, he loved the source material. He loved the comics. Everything else comes from that.

3I don’t think the current producers love the comics. I don’t think they get it. In fact, more and more of this feels like film by committee. Everyone has input. This movie in particular drops so many names it’s transparent that it’s just designed to be a springboard to other things…and that fails to entertain.

I want to like this. Remember what I said about them really understanding how to use effects? It’s still true in this entry, but this time it’s par for the course. I don’t see anything that really blows me away. They don’t have the goodwill of everything being shiny and new. They had to deliver a great story, but they are trying to do too much to achieve that.

A lot of what I had a problem with the first time around is still there. Actually most of it has been kicked up a notch, such as treating Spidey like a grim avenger. Instead of repeating it all here, I’ll just refer  you to my post on Amazing here : https://argocitycomics.wordpress.com/2013/02/25/amazing/

 

If you haven’t seen it, wait for it to hit redbox or Netflix. Better yet, just pop in the Raimi films and go from there.


Halloween Comicfest

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As I mentioned yesterday, we did the Halloween Comicfest over at Carol and John’s Comic shop.

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hcf_logoLike on Free Comic book Day, publishers release special editions with the Halloween Comic Fest logo on them and these are distributed for free at participating retailers. It’s a way to especially get kids into comic shops these days. I’m still plowing my way through the stack of free comics I got, along with a couple I bought while I was there (I hate just showing up, grabbing the free stuff and leaving. Same as on Free comic book day, we make it a point to buy SOMETHING – even if just a couple issues from the quarter bin or dollar boxes), but here are some of my favorites so far….New_STK621002

Batman : Lil’Gotham.

I really haven’t been into this series. I suppose it’s fair to say it’s not aimed at me. Even worse, Damien is still alive in it and I hat him with such passion it’s unreasonable. There’s also something just ….wrong about cute gothamites. Batman villains just aren’t supposed to be…chibi.

This has some great moments in it though. Damien being completely unfamiliar with trick or treating so he goes and attacks kids in costumes….

it works as a fun kids book and was naturally one of the centerpieces of this years selections.

New_STK622248There was a My Little Pony book this year. I actually made a point to get to the comic shop kind of early In the day just to make sure I could snag this for my girls. Bronys are unpredictable and I could have easily seen this one getting sold out before we could manage to get in the shop. Thankfully, not only did both of my girls get a copy, I even got one myself.  It’s a reprint of one of the stories form earlier this year, but it’s a good bit of the story and nicely scary – appropriate for Halloween.

Interestingly enough, this wasn’t the only pony book out there this year.

New_STK621297Another book called “Vamplets” was out with a kind of “Ghostly Pony” look to it. I almost missed the thing entirely until Maddie pointed it out to me. This and the My Little Pony books are bothe mini comics – about half the size of a normal one. Ashcans we used to call them.  A lot of the kids stuff was set up this way.  Still, fun books and perfect for Halloween.

Next up is Art Baltazar’s new book. I know, I keep gravitating towards the kids New_STK621021stuff, but Ity bitty Hellboy is just not to be missed. I really loved Tiny Titians, and this is just more of the same only with different characters. In fact, I’m not always into Hellboy that much, but this book was too much fun for words.

I did get through the Thor issue they had available and would actually really like to hear someone else comment on it. I’m not a big fan of Thor in the first place – he appeal has always mystified me, and lately a lot of his titles really seem to emphasize the elements of him that I really don’t like in the first place- most notably the big dumb football player personality with the big chin and no neck….and this issue is no exception. It sets up a new story arc about someone or something who is going around the cosmos killing small “g” gods. It’s an interesting enough concept, but with no investment in the character and STK622037_TNa general dislike for beings who refer to themselves as gods or pantheon mythology in general this one really didn’t do a whole lot for me. Sorry guys. Like I said, I’d love to hear someone who’s a Thor fan chime in on this one. If I find something elsewhere, I may reblog it.

My last pick from the pack was Ultimate Spider-Man. This isn’t the actually Ultimate Spidey as in the Ultimate universe, or the Bendis run, this is more based on the cartoon that Disney and Marvel are currently running. I’ve watched it with my kids, it’s okay, and a good attempt to bring Spidey in to the Avenger’s universe. The book is divided into New_STK622038two features, beginning with an origin story, told as Spidey fights off the Shocker. Meh. The second feature where Spidey is shadowing an LMD of Samuel Jackson’s Nick Fury is much more fun. Inside are also a couple of one page gags where they’ve taken a page from the original Stan Lee/Steve Ditko comics and redone the text pull things completely out of context. A really fun book.

Carl and John’s went the extra mile as well, also handing out candy and bookmarks and buttons (with Itty Bitty Hellboy on them). I’m really enjoying Halloweenfest, and I love that it makes Free Comic Book Day come twice a year now!

 

 

 

 


Catching up on autographs

AutographsYou know, I never posted any of the autos I got at the Akron Comic Con last year, and that’s something I’ve really been meaning to do. So here we are. I want to start with the ones from Gerry Conway because they are just my absolute favorites. The fact that I not only have these comics, but have signed copies of them just makes me want to squee everytime I see them.

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Mike W Barr was a delight. I loved his run on Star Trek and especially love his Batman and the Outsiders, so it’s a great pleasure to have them both signed. Id didn’t just go with number ones though, I went with an issue of Trek that was special to me as well….the first one I ever got.

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Tony Isabella created something special in Black Lightning, and I don’t know if we ever really appreciate it enough. I especially loved the 90’s version. They made a figure of it, but other than that, it got almost no attention at all. I never even knew about the series until long after it was over.

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Breyfogal. enough said.

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I’m a fan of Joe Staton’s Green Lantern and have to wonder why he isn’t a bigger personality in the field…It’s not that Dick Tracy is a bad gig, but it seems like he should be doing more.

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Kyle Rayner is another underappreciated character. Polarlizing I guess. I hated him at first too, just because he took the place of Hal Jordan. Once my friend Ben got me actually reading the book though, I really grew to love him and realized my ire was more a reaction to how poorly Jordan was treated in Emrald Twilight. I got Daryl Banks, the costume designer, to sign a couple of great covers both with a lot of characters crammed into them!banks1

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A couple more to throw in here, Cameron Diaz was nice enough to sign a Green Hornet picture for me. Tara Strong signed a collage for me and a pony picture for my girls. Maddie sleeps with it….I kid you not.

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Finally there is…this. How do I properly describe this and the joy it brings me?

About a year or so ago my friend Johnny Em bought an animation cell off ebay. The seller shipped it in this envelope to protect it. As soon as he saw it he thought of me. My wife couldn’t understand why I was so excited over a dirty old envelope. Well you see that Filmation logo on the corner? As in the people who made He-Man? This carried proofs or cells at one time while they were making the series – you can see the notes “young hordak, Sorceress, and (I think) Marlana scrawled up in the corner by the logo. It’;s signed by every person who when through the production phases – each signing off on thier work.Definitely one of the coolest pieces of He-Man Memorabilia I’ve ever gotten!

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Akron Comicon

Okay, I have NO idea what to make of this.

I just heard about these guys on Facebook and I’m interested in going. The thing is, I just drove out to Akron for a comic con that featured Gerry Conway a couple of months ago and well….we all remember what happened there….. ( https://argocitycomics.wordpress.com/2012/07/23/why-i-drove-out-to-north-coas-comic-con-and-didnt-go-in/ )

These guys made it CLEAR they weren’t associated with those guys and really, I want those spidey comics signed. The wife and kids are going away for the weekend and I’m alone at home anyhow, so it’s providential timing . Gonna load up the iPod and hit the road again. We’ll tell you all about it next week (if I can tear myself away from Violent Blue and  my NaNoWrMo project long enough to blog….)


Spidey

This time Maddie asked me to draw her a Spider-Man. We were watching the musical and she decided she wanted to color him. She realized though, that she wasn’t sure abotu the color scheme. Maddie started to look for a guide and realized she had one right in front of her. Maddie grabbed the DVD case and used it to follow the colors. She actually did a really nice job here. The guys over at Violent Blue would be proud


Happy Halloween!

If you’re not sure exactly what is going on, check out this week’s Violent Blue.

The Spider-Man costume is real. What happend is we were given a box of custumes for the girls, and someone threw in an adult Spider-Man costume for me. No mask or gloves, but not a big deal.

Except I was broke.

So I was looking at this Spider-Man costume and trying to figure out what to do with it. I had a costume party coming up and wanted to wear it, but the mask and gloves were a problem. I considered doing the mask in facepaint, but my hair would still be showing. I don’t currently have a bald cap and it just looks band anyhow. I could do a Marvel Zombie, but to be comic accurate, I need a torn up mask. I don’t have an intact Spidey mask, much less a torn one.

Zombies still seemed like a good idea. I was thinking about the “Blackest Night” event DC had done in the Green Lantern comics a year ago. Those zombies weren’t just dead people, the black lantern rings kind of took them and turned them into gruesomely distorted versions of themselves. I came up with the idea of etching the spider web on my face and creating dark circles around my eyes in the shape of his goggles from the mask, then adding my black lantern ring to explain the lack of gloves.

I like it. The makeup was crazy long – over two hours. I could probably chalk that up to me trying out some new techniques. The cuts are cotten, colored with fake blood and the edges cleaned up with flesh tone greaspaint. A little black in there too to dirty it up and make it look infected. I could probably do it quicker now. I also added a little pink to the skin where the cuts join to add some trauma. Over all, I think it works well, and I like the idea of a costume that is in of itself a crossover. I like the idea though, that Taylor is wearing to to cause trouble. I used to wear Doctor Who costumes to Star Trek conventions for that EXACT SAME REASON!

Head on over to see this week’s Halloween hijinks at Violent Blue!