Monday, March 31, 2008

Good Stuff Concerning Spider-Man

I know I seem to keep hitting sour notes when I talk about Spider-Man in this blog. But hey, Marvel's given me a lot to talk negative about. That being said, I made this blog entry just so I can talk about some of my favorite things involving Spidey.

The Spectacular Spider-Man


This has become one of my favorite cartoons to watch since the series premiered on March 8th. The creators of the show really seem to get what Spider-Man is all about without making things seem forced (like Brand New Day). There is a lot to like about this series. You know those instances in the comics where there's a half mask on Peter's face? That's been shown twice within the series thus far. Simplistic character designs allow for smooth animation. When Spidey is web-slinging through the city it looks fantastic. Sandman's transformation sequence in this past Saturday's episode was jaw dropping stuff, the kind you wouldn't expect from a Saturday morning cartoon.

The plot and the pacing in this series is excellent. You ever hear a guy by the name of Greg Weisman? He worked on a little cartoon called Gargyoles. Not much of a surprise that Spectacular Spider-Man borrows pacing and plot development techniques from that series. Within the first episode we already see the Doc Ock, Sandman, Norman Osborn, and the Rhino before they become super criminals. Hobbie Brown and Glory Grant are even students at Peter's high school. OK so those two didn't go to school with Peter in the comics but they aren't shooting for direct adaptations. Anyone that's a fan of the comics and has read stories from the Lee/Ditko, Lee/Romita era will geek out at the stuff they've done here. It really is awesome.
Many seem to think this show is geared towards kids. Those that think this don't know Greg Weisman. This guy's writing has always been on the level for any age group. Kids will love Spidey swinging around and fighting bad guys as will adults but some of the writing is goes beyond your average cartoon show, much like Batman: The Animated Series. One of my favorite conversations in the show comes from Peter and Betty Brant when he's getting his first pay check. Peter asks Betty how she can work with a guy like J. Jonah Jameson.

Betty: Mr. Jameson's a decent man, down deep.
Peter: We talking Marina Trench deep or Dante's 9th Circle deep?

Absolutely hilarious.

Really, if you aren't watching Spectacular Spider-Man, you are missing out on quiet a show. I don't care if you're 9 or 59. If you love Spidey than this show is for you. 10 years from now i think this will be the definitive Spidey cartoon.

Marvel Adventures Spider-Man


These standalone Spidey stories make for really good reading. I picked up the trades of MASM vol. 6 and 8 but my fav issues by far are #36-37. Issue 36 has Harry Osborn (dressed up as the Green Goblin) breaking his dear old dad out of prison. Harry has always wanted his father's respect but by the end of this tale he realizes that is just isn't worth it. It was an interesting take on the father-son Goblin scenario.

Issue 37 has Peter taking martial arts class to prepare for a fight with Flash Thompson. Why would Peter even need to practice martial arts when he could easily clean his clock? To keep from giving away his secret identity, but even when you don't take that into a count, it really is cool to see Peter learning how to fight outside of his usual style. The art in this issue is among the best I've seen in this series. If you're looking for old-school Spidey done right in comic book form, MASM has you covered.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

One More Say/Same Old Day

The specter of One More Day seems unavoidable. I can't go to a Spider-Man message board without being reminded of it, as some forums have become a somewhat nasty place to discuss Spidey related things depending on which side of the camp you're on. In January I'd written a lengthy rant expressing everything I had to say about the what I felt was one of the worst Spider-Man stories of all-time. There was also some stuff in there about Brand New Day and while I originally wasn't going to post it anywhere, I decided to throw it up here in my blog since the horrors of both stories seem inescapable. As the saying goes, "Its my party and I'll cry if I want to." If you're pro-OMD/BND, you probably won't like what I've got to do. If you're anti-OMD/BND or you don't care either way, make yourself comfortable and enjoy my rant.

Stories with a Married Spider-Man Suck!

Well, this is what Joe Quesada thinks, anyway. Its no secret that the man has been against Spidey being married. He's been very vocal about it on numerous occasions. Joe feels that Peter being married takes away from the character, hurts the books, and makes Peter harder to relate to. As a 26 year old single man, I've never had a hard time relating to Peter. He's always been this hard luck guy that despite having spider powers, has to deal with the problems that come with everyday life. The only difference was, he had a loving wife by his side and while it wasn't perfect, I'd say Peter and MJ's marriage was a very beuatiful thing. Now I know all about the adventures of solo Peter. I've educated myself by reading reprints of all of Spidey's early adventures and though they may be old, some of them are still some of the best Spider-Man stories I've ever read. That being said, I've read a lot of good stories where Peter was married. In fact, Spider-Man being married has always been one of my favorite aspects of the character. For all the hardships he's had in his life, why shouldn't he be given a break? Last I checked, even every man characters caught some of those, no matter how scrubby their luck.

Despite Joe Q's disdain for the marriage, he has stated that splitting Peter and MJ up would "be even worse." You'd think that with words like that, he'd have no intention of screwing up Peter's married life along with continuity. That's what I thought it wouldn't be the first time I was wrong. When I'd heard about One More Day and what the story would deal with, as a huge supporter for the marriage, I feared the worst for Peter and MJ, and unfortunately the worst thing that could happen did and then some.

Deal with the Devil

Now I don't know a great deal about Mephsito, but I do know a character that's supposed to represent the devil when I see one. Mephsito is for all intents and purposes the devil of the Marvel universe.

When Aunt May was dying from a gunshot wound meant for Peter due to his revealing his identity to the world in the Civil War storyline, Peter does everything he can to save her. Not only can Dr. Strange not be of service to Peter, neither can any of the other countless powerful beings in the Marvel universe. But Mephisto can save May! Let's stop right there for a minute. How is it that with everything Dr. Strange is capable of he can't save May but the prince of darkness can? I just don't understand that at all. Then you've got a city crawling with other super powered beings and none of them can help. I guess Joe Q just wanted everyone's hands tied so only the devil would be able to do anything. Mesphisto is evil incarnate. Why would he be interested in doing a good deed? He has his own motive for helping the Parkers, of course. He'll save May at the cost of Peter and MJ's marriage.

All his life, Peter has been raised to be a responsible person. We all know the words that have been echoed throughout Spider-Man's career through Uncle Ben; with great power, comes great responsibility. Part of being a man, being an adult means being responsible enough to deal with the consequences that your actions have caused. Peter's whole reasoning behind saving May was not noble. It wasn't really even about keeping May among the living. Peter didn't want May to die because if she did, it would be on his conscience, because she was shot due to his actions during Civil War. He said the guilt of having to deal with that would "break him in two." The Peter Parker I've know never would have stricken a deal with the devil and for such a childish reason. It really is insulting to see Peter written in such a way that goes against everything he stands for. Uncle Ben, Captain Stacy, Gwen Stacy, Peter has blamed himself for all of these deaths and he's managed to keep moving. Why should it be any different with May?

Mephsito gave Peter and MJ one day to think over his offer, as shown in part 4 of OMD. Of the two of them, MJ was the only one really shown to even think about saving their marriage and letting May go. The way Peter acted, his mind was pretty much already made up to kiss his married life goodbye because he couldn't take anymore guilt. Yeah, sure Peter was crying when the deal was done and all but as I said before, the way he was written, you'd think he didn't give two craps about his marriage. And MJ is actually the one who, impulsively, accepts the devil's deal first. This doesn't strike me as the strong willed MJ I've read about for so many years. To me, both Peter and MJ come off as characters just caving in to the easy way out. It really is just sad.

Let's not forget May's feelings on this. She lived a good, long life. Do you honestly believe she would have wanted Peter and MJ to sacrifice their marriage for her sake? Seeing as how May is a very sefless person, I doubt it. If she knew what Peter was doing she would be totally against the idea. Provided she wasn't being written out of character like poor Pete and MJ.

Divorce Wouldn't be Right

I've already said that I'm a big fan of Spidey being married, but if Marvel had to do away with the marriage, why not choose a method that would fit him more, like say, divorce? Many others have also wondered this. Well according to Joe Q, it wouldn't look good if Spidey got a divorce. Oh, but making a deal with Satan is? That's a stupid argument if I ever heard one. Joe Q doesn't want Marvel hero's to smoke. He also doesn't want Peter having sex outside of wedlock because it also wouldn't look good. But a deal with the freaking devil is fine and dandy? Sure, why not? I mean, we all know the devil is such a swell guy. There isn't a single deal you can make with the devil that won't have server consequences, something I'm sure Peter will find out later on but probably won't remember what bonehead decision he made that's causing him so much grief due to Mephsito making him forget he made the deal.

J. Michael Stracynski did a magnificent job on writing Peter and MJ as a married couple that in truth, I'd find it insulting if either one of them would want a divorce. With everything MJ has been through since being married to Peter, her wanting a divorce would make her seem weak and take away everything that was built up to make her so strong. Oh wait, deal with the devil. Too late.

Too Much Editorial Influence

OMD was supposed to be JMS sendoff to his six year run on Amazing Spider-Man. Instead it seems like a kick in the crotch. His response in Internet interviews make it pretty clear that he was not happy with the way OMD was concluding. He even wanted his name taken off the last two issue of the story but Joe Q talked him out of it. Most fans probably wouldn't have like JMS' ending to OMD either as it still would have split up Peter and MJ, but it probably would have made more sense and probably be far more acceptable than the debacle we ended up with.

It's abundantly clear that Joe Q's hand stretched far too much in this story. He was willing to go to any length, to any means necessary to end the marriage, because he felt it damaged Peter as a character. This is an abuse of EIC power at it's finest. In trying to make Peter appeal to younger readers (with all the garbage that took place in OMD and looking at some of the stuff in Brand New Day, I'm wondering just who Joe's target audience is), he's managed to alienate quiet a bit of longtime fans. All this so he can have his version of Peter. All it costed was Peter's integrity. Hero's don't make deals with the devil and no amount of "it was all for his aunt" argument is gonna make it any better. Joe really should have left this story to JMS.

It's Magic. AKA Retcon Gone Wrong
When Mephsito erased Peter and MJ's marriage it screwed with a ton of continuity. Joe Q says all the previous stories happened. Pete and MJ were just never married. Peter unmasked during Civil War, yet no one remembers who was under the mask. Um, explanation please. It's magic. Harry Osborn has returned from the grave. The reason? It's magic. What's with all the magic tricks? Well that's Joe Q's reasoning behind everything. No, I'm serious. Anytime you have to say it's magic and that you don't have to explain things, you know there will be problems with the stories and someone screwed up. It's just very unprofessional. Just trying to wrap your head around how everything fits will give you a migraine. This is the type of stuff you'd expect from DC, not Marvel. Looks like Joe Q can't criticize DC on making lousy retcon decisions anymore. This is arguably right up there with the Superboy Prime retcon punch.

And we're really supposed to buy "all the stories happened, Peter and MJ were just never married"? Is Joe Q flipping serious? We're supposed to believe that just because he said it? You can't just swap the word "wife" for "girlfriend" and expect everything to stay the same. It just doesn't work that out that way. Without going into too much detail, I can already know that some stories could not have happened. Or they did happen, but magic wiped them out of existence or altered them. More editorial mandating at work so the writers can take the quickest route to have single Peter Parker, without any regard for how crappy the story turns. Feh.

The "New" Status Quo

After Peter and MJ finish their deal with Mephisto, Peter wakes up alone... in his old bedroom in Aunt May's house. At the end of the first issue of Brand New Day there's a two page spread detailing "the new status quo." There's not anything new about "the new status quo." Not a thing. Peter is living with his aunt, broke, jobless, and obviously, single. I'm sure Pete will have a job and be in his own pad soon enough but I've still got some beefs with Marvel's new direction for Spidey. In fact on the two page spread of "the new status quo," they encourage readers not to dwell on the past. There's so much irony in those words because that's exactly what Marvel is doing. Joe Q keeps talking about moving forward with Spidey now that he's no longer married. Moving forward? That's funny because it seems to me like Marvel just hit the reverse switch on Peter's life.

Now that Peter's solo again, they can take him in countless "new" directions. Yet they choose a path that was chosen for him decades ago. His potential new love interests? I've already got a good idea how those will turn out. The woman will hate Spider-Man, putting some type of strain on the relationship. Peter's supposed to show up for a date but some business as Spidey delays him. Woman gets upset and dumps him. Or he goes on a few successful dates but he's late for a few of those dates or just doesn't show up at all because he's got business in his blue & red tights. Then said woman dumps him. Sound familiar? It's all been done before, why would I want to read about it again? Quite frankly, after reading stories with a married Peter for so long, the idea of giving him new love interests, to me, sounds stupid, especially when I know none of them will succeed. If you already know how things are going to play out, who really cares? The story of Peter's-doomed-to-fail relationships is one of the many played out plot devices I no longer wish to see.

So basically, what we have here is Spidey made single so Marvel can tell the same tired old stories from "the good old days." I love the old Spider-Man stories as much as the next guy, but let's be real here: this isn't 1972 anymore. If writers can only make Peter broke, unsuccessful in love, constantly have trouble with his web-fluid/web-shooters, leave his aunt May oblivious to his life as Spider-Man, then they need to be shown the door. If you're gonna place the word "new" on your book then do something new with the character.

Peter also seems to display far less intelligence and common sense than what he did before he made a deal with Satan. I'm trying to think of when Peter has been portrayed as such a bumbling idiot who can't even catch a common criminal and I'm coming up empty. The Peter Parker in Ultimate Spider-Man, and Marvel Adventures Spider-Man is written a million times better and is much smarter than in moron running in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man. The aforementioned books are also the superior Spider-Man titles at the moment. If you want a good Spider-Man title, I suggest you look there along with Spider-Man Family and Amazing Spider-Girl.

Peter made a deal with the devil had didn't have to suffer any real consequences for his idiocy. Although, living with his aunt, constantly being broke and now being a loser, could just be Mephisto's way of shafting Peter on the deal. I'd say Peter did mess up when he made that deal except the readers seem to be the ones paying for his mistake. As long as the devil doesn't show up in the other Spider-Man titles (Joe Q, Mephisto, take your pick), I'll think those books will stay safe.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Recent Purchases

It seems that whenever I got to my comic shop, I always walk it with more than I originally planed to get. Last week was no exception.

I had my comic shop hold a copy of the John Romita Jr. 30th Anniversary Special because there weren't many left. JR JR is one of my favorite comic artists. Would you believe I didn't like his art style when I saw it in the Spider-Man books in the '90s? Its true, I just didn't dig the man's pencils at all and thought Mark Bagley and other artists that did Spider-Man were worlds better. My opinion of JR JR changed when I started reading Amazing Spider-Man again in 2002. His art really grew on me and I now hold the opinion that he draws a fantastic Spider-Man. His work from the '70s-'80s looks a lot like his dad's. Of all the men that have emulated John Romita Sr.'s Spidey, I think JR JR is one of the few to really nail it, the other man being John Buscema. As much as I love his older work, I think its great that he's developed his own style. You rock, JR JR!



My comic shop had a single copy of Spider-Man/Kingpin: To The Death. Originally released in 1997, this one-shot graphic novel is penciled by the legendary "Jazzy" John Romita Sr., which was a major factor in my decision to pick it up. I LOVE JR's Spidey art! Even after seeing a plethora of other artists do Spider-Man (and do a terrific job), Romita Sr. still has one of my top favorite takes on the web-head. This book was also written by Stan "The Man Lee, and plotted by Tom DeFalco, who is IMO, one of the best men to ever write Spider-Man. I haven't read it yet, but I've flipped through it a few times and it looks like an interesting tale. Three of my favorite people in comics on Spider-Man? Sounds like a good deal to me.



I'm trying to build up my collection of Spidey titles from the Lee/Romita era, and my 7th book comes in the form of Amazing Spider-Man #59. Silver Age comics have really dropped in price because this baby was only $13.95. Even without my 10% discount, the book cost chump change. There were a number of different issues I could have gotten, but I decided to go with this one because Mary Jane is on the cover. I love MJ. Just look at her on that cover. Is she fine or what? I'd never give that up. To bad Peter did. *coughcoughSISSY-MAMA'S-BOYcoughcough*

And then we've got Amazing Spider-Man Annual #17. This was an issue I'd been wondering about for quiet a while. I thought Roger Stern wrote the story, but he just plotted it. Bill Mantlo is the one who actually wrote it. Roger Stern is another of my fav Spidey writers but Bill Mantlo has also put out some good Spider-Man stories. Mantlo delivered another solid Spidey story and I'll be submitting a review for this one to SpiderFan so the rest of the world can hear of the goods in detail.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Caught In SpiderFan's Web

What's this? Some positive related Spider-Man talk in this blog? Hey, even I need to change my tune every now and then and the latest happening in my life is just too good to keep quiet about.

I've been a reader of SpiderFan.org for about three years now. In my opinion this is the go to site for Spider-Man reviews, news, raves and editorials. What could be better than reading the site's content? Helping make the site's content!

There are a tons upon tons of reviews at SpiderFan, but when I looked through the comic database, I didn't see one for Spider-Man Mythos, a one-shot story which is a retelling of Amazing Fantasy #15. I e-mailed the site editor, and after a few back and forth messages, I submitted my own review for Spider-Man Mythos. Not only did he like my review, he gave me the mini series With Great Power to review right away. I wish I could have seen my face when I read his e-mail reply of him giving me the great news.

How does it feel to be a contributor for SpiderFan? Does Spidey feel fantastic when he's out web-slinging? It feels AWESOME! A writer should be able to describe any situation but I'm drawing a blank as to really describe how I feel. I'm so overwhelmed with joy. A big thank you to Jonathan Cooper, the site editor of SpderFan for letting me contribute reviews to the site. It really is an honor and a pleasure.

As for what I thought of Spider-Man Mythos, well you can check out the review for it here. But if you don't wanna read through all that, I can just tell you right here that it is an amazing comic. I don't care if you can quote every word from the original Amazing Fantasy #15, if you're a Spidey fan, you need to have Spider-Man Mythos in your collection. It is hands down, one of the best Spider-Man comics I've ever read. It updates the original story without screwing anything up.

Interestingly enough, I came very close to just letting the comic sit on the shelf. Matter of fact, I did for a good few months. My comic shop was down to one copy and I had no idea what the comic was about. It helped catch my interest that Paul Jenkins's name was on the cover, but I was still afraid I might not like the book. I am ever so grateful I took a chance and bought it. I didn't like the book, I loved it.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Worst Thing

Sometimes it sucks to feel really passionate about something. Spider-Man is a character I feel very passionate about. Sure, I may not have read every comic he's stared in, but I've considered myself a fan of the web-head since the mid-late 1980s since Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends. So it really is only natural that I'd get all bent out of shape when Amazing Spider-Man, the character's flagship title goes down hill. Notice the cover for ASM #50 to the left, there? Pretty cool cover, huh? It's actually one of my all-time favorites and I think it is rather appropriate for what I've got to say.

Do you know what the worst thing you can do to a comic character is? You could kill of his best friend, wife or all of his loved ones and while that would be a pretty unspeakably horrible thing to do, it wouldn't be the worst thing. No, the worst thing you can do is make a reader stop caring about him. That's how I feel about the Peter Parker/Spidey in the pages of ASM. I do not care about him whatsoever. He can be impaled by a goblin glider, hit by a bus, dipped in acid. If these things happened before Brand New Day, I'd probably show some sympathy for Pete. As things are now, however, I'd just shrug my shoulders, maybe even laugh.

I wasn't there in the beginning when Spidey first swung into the world because in August of 1962, I wasn't even a fetus yet. However, I was able to catch up on my Spider-Man history thanks to Marvel's Essential titles so I have had the pleasure of watching Peter grow. Growth really is an amazing thing. Peter has grown much in the last 45 years he's been in print. When he awoke to a new world in ASM #545, I was under the impression that Peter was 19 or 20, because he was sure acting like it. At first I thought Peter was only acting like an idiot for the final pages of the book (although to be fair, he was acting like a dipstick throughout all of ASM #545), but as I read more and more issues of Brand New Day, it became clear that the Peter I'd watched grown had had his emotional maturity set back decades, literally.

Now I'm going on 27 years of age in July and according to Marvel, Peter is 25 so I'm not much older than he is, so forgive me if I sound like a crusty old fart. Joe Q has talked about moving forward with Spider-Man with the erasing of the marriage. He talked of moving forward, when he did the exact opposite and moved Peter backwards. That, my friends is not progress, that's regression. Seeing Peter broke, living with his aunt, and act the same way he did in '70s-'80s is pathetic and insulting for someone who's already seen him evolve past this stage in his life.

Joe Q seems to think Peter is or at least should be a "lovable loser." Loser? Ouch. Why would Marvel's flagship character be describe a loser? Seriously, who would want to sell that? I've never really thought of Peter as a loser. Lovable yes, but a loser, no. Peter has had to deal with real life issues and he's had a lot of rotten luck. That doesn't make him a loser. Well in the current Brand New Day pages of ASM, he is a loser, but there's nothing lovable about him.

Not only do I no longer give a rat's butt ox about Peter, I don't care for his supporting cast either. Aunt May has once again been reverted back to the clueless idiot she was years ago. When she knew Peter was Spider-Man that added so much depth to her character and her relationship with Peter was taken to a whole new level. After reading about May being strong enough to bare the knowledge that her nephew is Spider-Man, having her not know about it again is just stupid. Are the writers going to fall back on the old "Aunt May can't know I'm Spider-Man, the shock would kill her!" routine? Give me a break.

Joe Q got the version of Spidey he feels is needed (or the one he was trumpeting the loudest about) but I've already read about this version and I've no desire to read about him again. There are some people out there that like the "new status quo" but I'm just not one of them and let's be honest, there's really nothing new about any of this. To move forward requires taking a step forward, not twenty steps backwards.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

No More Big Events, Please

Every year DC and Marvel come out with some colossal, world-shattering event to shake things up in each company's fictional universe. I haven't really been into DC's events but I did follow Marvel's over the last few years. I was there for House of M, Civil War, and World War Hulk. This year Marvel's big event is Secret Invasion. DC's is Final Crisis. Brian Bendis is handling Secret Invasion while Grant Morrison is doing Final Crisis. Despite the fact that both men are award winning writers, I just don't care. I've had it with big events in comics.

My lack of interest in huge events probably stems from the having following three years of Marvel events. I admit that I did enjoy House of M, though I think I can see why the words "No more mutants" would peeve quiet a bit of fans of the X-books.

Civil War as another one I got a kick out of. In all honesty, I do believe that if we had super heroes in our own world, they probably wouldn't be allowed to run around like lose canons. Yeah, the conclusion of Civil War may have sucked, but it was nice to see the super hero community split right down the middle and the aftermath of this event can still be felt and seen in the comics to this day.

World War Hulk was basically and old-fashioned super hero brawl, but the Hulk lost sympathy points from me when his actions made him out to be a villain after the third or fourth issue. Marvel EIC, Joe Q also said WWH was going to "rival Civil War in impact." I was skeptical of this at the time I'd read those words and upon seeing the results, I know now that Joe Q was talking out of his butt, hyping up the company's big event. Rick Jones was left in critical condition at the story's end and there was a lot of damage done to New York (just another typical day there), but near as I can tell WWH has done little to shake up the Marvel world the way the previous events did.

With Secret Invasion everyone will be playing the guessing game to find out who is a Skrull. Lately the little aliens have been popping up all over, strutting around like they own the place. If Black Bolt and Elektra turned out to be Skrulls who else could be walking among the Avengers, X-men, Fantastic Four pretending to be an ally when they've really been plotting against them all along? It actually isn't a bad concept, but it's also grounds for the biggest retcon device ever, which could lead to some of the stupidest story-telling and explanations this side of One More Day. I've seen the checklist for tie-ins for this event and if you want to know everything that's going on, you'd better be prepared to shell out when this event kicks off.

Final Crisis. You know what happened the last time DC had a Crisis? Some villain got a nasty case of PMS, punched reality and Jason Todd got resurrected. Oh yeah, and some other stuff got screwed up. Think about that for a moment: Superboy Prime punched reality and dead people come back. To paraphrase one of my fellow forumites at the shorkyuken.com forums, "He gave that girl a black eye."

To be fair, I've never read Infinite Crisis but I've heard enough that I have no interest in reading it. The same goes for 52. I've heard enough to get headaches when people talk about the convoluted things that have taken place in these events. This really is the type of thing that has kept me from getting into a lot of DC books. It doesn't help DC's case much when the company feels the need to drop event bombs on an almost weekly basis.

I don't mind mind-blowing events from time-to-time but this once a year thing has really gotten stale. Does a comic company's entire universal foundation have to be shaken each year in the attempt to tell a good story, or fix things that some may have felt were wrecked? I don't think so, but then, I'm not the big wig behind a huge comic company so what do I know? Oh and if you think this is DC's "Final" Crisis... PAHAHAAHAHAAHHAAAAHAAA!!!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Getting Your Spidey Fix

Disgusted with the events of One More Day and not feeling "the new status quo" of Brand New Day? Join the club! That guy who struck a deal with the devil in Amazing Spider-Man #545 must have been a Skrull because there's no way the Peter I know would do something like that. Despite ASM being turned into a sub-par book, Spidey is still my favorite super hero and I'm not going to drop the wall-crawler completely. If you want a Spider-Man fix, there are plenty of other options outside of ASM.

Ultimate Spider-Man

Reading about the adventures of an adult Spidey is (well, it was at one point) great and all but there's a lot to like about the Ultimate version of the web-head. Peter isn't as squeeky clean as his 616 counterpart but he's still a likable guy who always tries to do the right thing. I really enjoyed the Ultimate versions of the Green Goblin and the Hobgoblin and while I'm sad to see them go, I'm looking forward to the other foes Spidey will face. Like any other comic book, some stories are better than others but for the most part, I've found USM to pretty solid.

Marvel Adventures Spider-Man

I'm guessing this was Marvel's attempt to bring in new reads for Spider-Man. Kinda makes you wonder why they even bothered to screw with the natural order of things in the current Amazing Spider-Man titles. But I digress. MASM is similiar to USM but it leans towards the elements of 616 Spider-Man. Most stories wrap up in a single issue and are light hearted, entertaining reads, which will appeal to those that miss these type of tales in a day where many writers feel they have to blow us away with mind-shattering events. Unlike the Marvel Age line, which reimaged the classic Lee/Ditko stories, these are all new adentures. The issues are in the 30s right now but if you want to start at the begining you can pick up the digest books. Volumes 1-8 are already avialable.

Spider-Man Family

What started as a one-shoot magazine has now become an on-going book. SMF is over 100 pages long, features two brand new Spidey stories in each book and repints some old classics and some stories that are not-so-classic. I say that not every reprint is a classic because SMF #7 has Venom: Lethal Protect #1. On the major plus side, it also has Spider-Man: Death & Destiny #1 in there. The newer stories in SMF tend to be on the sunny side. SMF #6 paid homage to a classic Thor story in which goldylocks was turned into a Frog. Then you've got stories that hit a serious note like SMF #5. The clonclusion of a Spidey/Dr. Strange team-up divluges that a friend of Morbuis is dying and the vampire was willing to do whatever it took to save him, even endangering the lives of others. The resolution to this is akin to the way One More Day should have ended. Anyway, each issue of SMF is thick so there's a lot ot read and most of it is good.

Trade Paper Backs & Digital

Over the last month or so, I've been reading a lot of Spidey TPBs. I missed the begining of J. Michael Straczynski's run on ASM so I picked up ASM: Coming Home, which was a freaking awesome read. I also bought Spectacular Spider-Man: Countdown, a five part Spidey/Doc Ock story, which is unlike any other story that features Doc Ock and kept my interest from start to finish. What I'm getting at is, if you haven't already done so, now is an excellent time to catch up on Spidey stories of the past you may have missed. For as many years as I've been a fan of the web-head, there are still a plethora of great stories I've yet to read. The line of Essential books has always been one of my favorites. The earlier Spidey stories are still among some of my fav and since Brand New Day is basically ripping off older Spider-Man tales, why not just read the originals?

You can also get the Spidey in disc form. The Amazing Spider-Man Collection has over 560 comics in it. It has ASM comics from 1963-2006 and all the ASM annuals. Just make sure you get the ASM Collection and not 40 years of Amazing Spider-Man. 40 Years of ASM doesn't have the annuals.

Bargin Bins

I went to my comic shop a few weeks ago and looked through the $1 bargin boxes. I found Spider-Man/Human Torch #1, Spider-Man/Human Torch #3, Untold Tales of Spider-Man #4, and Spider-Man: Blue #6. Take some time out to go through the bins, you never know what you may find. I was recommended Dan Slott's Spidey/Human Torch mini series by some of my pals on the net and I was miffed that I saw all but the first issue. Imagine my surprise when I saw Spidey/Human Torch #1. I just saved myself time and money from buying the trade.

The Amazing Spider-Girl

This book casts the spot light on Peter and Mary Jane's daughter in an alternate universe. She's got all the teenage hangups you'd expect from a girl who tries to juggle a normal life along side being a super hero. If you need another reason to start reading this book it is written by Tom DeFalco, a man who is more than capable of writing a character in the spider family since he's had two distinct runs on Amazing Spider-Man. The artwork is by Ron Frenz, who worked with DeFalco on his first ASM run.

Spider-Man will be a character I continue to read about despite the fact that I don't much care for what Marvel has done to him in the pages of ASM. I may end up rereading stories I've read in the past. I might find great stories from the past I never knew about. No matter what happens, I'll still be reading about Spidey even it isn't in the pages of the flagship book. I encourage all other fans out there that don't like the Marvel's editorial decision to do the same.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

We're All Nerds, Really

There a many people in this world that know the ins and outs of World of Warcraft, Star Trek, Star Wars and Magic the Gathering. These people are often labeled as "nerds" for knowing what many would consider far too much information about said forms of entertainment. I'm gonna let everyone in on a little secret: we're all nerds. Everyone on the face of this planet is a living, breathing nerd.

Don't believe me? You don't think that you too can be a nerd? You're in denial. Being a nerd extends far beyond the reaches of possessing vast knowledge about Frodo and his pals from the Lord of the Rings trilogy. There are all types of nerds. A person that knows everything there is to know about Friends. I'm positive that there are more than a handful of people that can quote some of Joey's funniest lines and remember the exact episode those lines came from. These people are Friends nerds. Then you've got comic book nerds that know every inch of Spider-Man's history. These guys would be Spidey nerds. People that are well informed on computers? They know the name of every part, model type and all the other pieces that I can't even remember as I type this. Nerds.

What about people in the music and singing business, like say, the judges on American Idol? Most would call them experts but that's really just a polite way of saying they're nerds. One might ask "How can they be nerds?" Better question, how can they not be nerds? I'm guessing many don't see them as nerds because most would say knowing a lot about music would make them experts, where as knowing how to play a good game of Yu-Gi-Oh! would make someone a nerd. Somewhere along the line someone decided to substitute the word 'expert' with 'nerd' and the world has been running with it ever since. To me, there really is no difference between the two. We're all nerds in some form or another. Me, I'm a Spider-Man nerd, a video game nerd, and a nerd on other things that currently escape me at the moment.

You know there's really nothing wrong with being a nerd. I've got a friend who owns the first four seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation on DVD and probably knows more about that series than I ever will (and for the record, TNG is the best Star Trek series.) Nerds are cool people and without them, I think many of us would be lost on a lot of things. God bless, nerds.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Spider-Man is Spectacular!!

The Spectacular Spider-Man premiered on Kids WB today at 10 AM. I caught about 6 minutes of the first episode where Spidey tangled with the Vulture and the Enforcers. I watched all of the second episode where the web-head had his first encounter with Electro. What do I think of this new Spidey cartoon? I love it! But you probably already knew that by the title of this blog entry.

The animation is nice and fluid, light years ahead of the '90s Fox Spider-Man cartoon series. Among some of my favorite scenes were when Spidey was battling villains (Vulture, Electro, Enforcers, take your pick) and web-slinging around New York. These scenes were quiet spectacular and yes that pun was intended.

Peter's interactions with his class mates were also well-done. I particularly like him walking out on Liz to fight Electro because she was ignoring his attempts to tutor her. Get this, I actually like the Gwen in this series. She isn't like the Gwen from the '60s-'70s era comics, which doesn't bother me in the least. Despite the fact that Peter is friends with Harry Osborn, Gwen seems to be Peter's best friend and you could see her getting jealous when she saw Peter tutoring Liz. Back to Liz, she may seem like a shallow cheerleader at first, but by the end of the second episode, she already begins to develop some feelings for Peter. The series has just begun and already two girls like Peter. Bring on Mary Jane!

My mother also watched the premier and she noted that Spidey looks skinny. I told her that in the early stories from the '60s, Spidey didn't have the muscled out physic he has today. I'm not sure if the character designers were taking their cue from early Steve Ditko Spidey tales or from the Ultimate Spider-Man line, but I think they made the right choice by not making a teenage Spidey ripped.

Spectacular Spidey also has some topnotch voice talent on board. Josh Keaton is someone until now, I was not aware of, but after hearing him voice Spidey/Peter Parker, I'd say he's perfect for the roll. The Vulture sounded every bit as good as his black and red costume looked. I had no idea the man playing his voice was none other than Robert Englund. For the uninitiated, he played Freddy Krueger in the Nightmare on Elm Street movies. I instantly recognized Electro's voice as Crispin Freeman, a man with a huge list of anime credits to his name. I can't wait until the Chameleon (voiced by Steven Blum) and Captain Stacy (voiced by Clancy Brown) make their appearances!

So there you have it! I'm already digging this new Spider-Man cartoon and it just started. For the first time in a long time, I have a reason to turn on the TV at 10 AM. Excelsior!

Friday, March 7, 2008

I Dream of Writing

My father told me almost ten years ago that I was really good at writing. At the time, it was something I'd never thought about making a living out of. Like most teenagers, I probably wasn't sure what I wanted to do with my life at that point. What my father had said really stuck with me so I continued to write, but from that day on, I'd always have the thought in mind of writing for a living.

So here I am, going on 27 years old and what do I have to show for my dreams of writing? Sadly, not too much. Of course I acknowledge that it's also my own fault for slacking off (hey, I'm a human being, I get lazy. It's part of what we do.) But it hasn't been a total waste. I did write for a few fan sites over the years and I've improved my writing a lot. When I look at the stuff I write now compared to what I wrote years ago, I can't help but smile like a big flippin' idiot.

What I want to write about has also changed. Originally, I just wanted to write about the video game industry but I took interest in other things over the last year. I'm in the middle of a fan-fiction love story (yeah, I like fan-fics, sue me.) I've done some plotting for a super hero parody story that I've yet to finish, and thanks to the guys at spiderfan.org I've take an interest in writing comic book reviews and editorials about Spider-Man related things. If someone told me my writing interests would branch out this much years ago, I probably wouldn't have believed them.

I know the profession I've chosen is not an easy one to break into. This is something a lot of people shoot for. Imagine my surprise when I found out that at least four of my co-workers also enjoy writing. In a world where so many people say you should go into work with computers (no offense to all you computer junkies), it really is nice to see that there are others out there who share my particular interests.

The road to breaking into writing probably won't be easy, but hey, what worth having is easily obtained? Maybe one day, you'll be reading about a Spider-Man story I've been thinking about putting in the comics or about the crazy exploits of my own creation, Powerful Man. Like someone wise once said, if you want something bad enough, you will get it.