Saturday, May 31, 2008

Outnumbered

Rhino, Shocker, Sandman, Electro, Vulture, and Doc Ock. All of them were defeated by Spider-Man when they fought him solo. So they go with the strategy of strength in numbers. Today's episode of the Spectacular Spider gave us "Group Therapy," the first incarnation of this shows Sinister Six.I don't mean to sound like an overeager fanboy, but it really is hard not to say good things about this cartoon because in each episode, I always get reminded of why this is the best animated version of Spider-Man. Both of Spidey's fights with the Sinister Six were amazing. Even with the black alien costume, he took a nasty beating when he battled the Six for the first time. To Spidey's dismay, all of his previous methods of disposing of his enemies didn't work here, leaving him to find another way to win. Spidey actually retreated to go home and rest after his first fight. Before Peter fell asleep, he wished he could wake up and the Sinister Six would be beaten. Seems Peter's new suit is into granting wishes because it did just. I for one was really hoping they would incorporate one of my favorite elements from the Alien Costume Saga from the comics; the suit taking Peter out for web-slinging and crime fighting while he sleeps. During Spidey's second fight with the Six, he didn't say anything, not a wise crack, not a grunt, not one word, and that's when I knew he was asleep. Not only did the suit beat the Six for our hero, it also took pictures and e-mailed them to the Bugle in time for the next edition. So that's a good thing, right? Sounds a little too convenient. Even Peter had to wonder about the suit.

The interactions between the members of the Sinister Six was pretty much what I expected. They were able to work together but you could tell tensions were rising among them on more than one occasion. Doc Ock being the leader of the Six was icing on an already delicious cake. There isn't a more qualified maniac in that group. And like many suspected, when sleeping Spidey took out the other five members of the group, Ock was the last man standing.

Eddie Brock has terminated his friendship with Peter, evident by his harsh words towards Peter in the beginning of the episode. He even wished ill will towards Peter, expressing his desire for him to lose something. Ouch. Yes, Eddie, let the hate flow through you. In a surprising turn of events, Eddie took Mary Jane out on a motorcycle ride. It started off well enough at first but it quickly spiraled downward. Eddie's tone was quite disturbing when he was telling MJ about Peter and Eddie's past history together. Add that into Eddie's reckless driving and you've got one frightened MJ. After demanding Eddie stop, MJ got off and said that whatever faults Peter may have, he's more of a man than Eddie will ever be. MJ may be a bit of a flake and a party girl, but she's still a good judge of character. The creators of the show had said that Eddie has some issues and it looks like they came to surface in this episode.

And who remembers aunt May nearly passing out in "Persona"? We all knew something was going on with her. Peter was so busy fighting the Sinister Six that he didn't get the messages left by Anna Watson that his aunt is in the hospital. He still thinks aunt May is sleeping at home. It isn't until MJ shows up at the front door and tells Peter his aunt had a heart attack. Yeah, things are only gonna get even more interesting from here.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Tom Beland on Spidey

Many comic writers have had runs on Spider-Man lasting several years. Tom Beland has only done a handful of Spider-Man stories but from what I've read, he's still in the big boy's league.

The first story by Beland that I ever read was the 2006 I Heart Marvel Web of Romance. Marvel was selling a ton of Valentine's Day special issues with the company's various characters. Now I despise Valentine's Day as much as the next guy. Greeting card companies and any other stores that profits from this day make a killing and let's admit it; Sweetest Day is the ugly cousin of Valentine's Day that some peon invented to to get some extra bucks. All that side, I felt a need to pick up Web of Romance because it stared my favorite couple, Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson-Parker.

In this story Peter is struggling to come up with a gift for MJ on Valentine's Day. MJ has more clothes than most people know what to do with. Anyone that's been reading Spider-Man is also well aware that MJ has some of the sexiest lingerie you've ever seen, so that's out. Peter also doesn't want to do the usual candy and roses bit, because really, how many times can you do that before it gets old? MJ had a blast playing around with Peter's web-shooters in this story in the beginning. At the time, he had no use for them because organic webbing was all the rage. Later on it finally dawns on Peter what to get his wife. With Tony Stark's help, he modifies his old web-shooters into bracelets that still function as web-shooters. Best gift ever, anyone?

Tom really knows how to write MJ. As J.R. Fettinger, founder of SpideyKicksButt.com said in one of his articles, the MJ in Web of Romance in the kind you hardly see much of anymore. She's a little goofy here, but in a good way. She has no problem paling around with guys in this story and she's fascinated with Peter's web-shooters and thinks its incredible that he invented them when he was a teenager. The Peter/MJ moments in Web of Romance are all kinds of awesome, but the rest of the book is also rock solid. Spidey exchanging witty banter with Mandrill after he's defeated him at the start of the issue, Spidey helping out his fellow Avengers in a fight against Dragon Man, really there isn't a down spot in this book. You may come for the Peter/MJ scenes but not only will you stay for those, you'll stay for everything else as well.

Tom is also one of the few comic writers who isn't stuck in the past, believing Spidey should always be single, blaming what was "wrong" with Spider-Man on the Spider-marriage.

The second Spidey story that I've read from Tom comes from Avengers Classic #11, a side story titled "Along Came a Spider." This story takes place in the early days of Spidey's wall-crawling career. In a fight with Electro, Spidey sprains his ankle and just as sparky is moving in for the kill, good old Captain America steps in to save Spidey's bacon. What follows is a good old fashioned super hero heart-to-heart. Spidey is new to the super hero business and Cap is still adjusting to what is basically a new world to him. I think Cap and Spidey play extremely well off each other in this story. Even though Spidey is a bit nervous in the super soldier's presence, he still retains his wit and takes in every word of what Cap has to say.

No catastrophic events, no end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it scenario. Just plain old, simple, heartwarming story telling, the type that's nearly extinct because of the overabundance for shock value in comics these days. Hey, I like the aforementioned stories as much as anyone else but I really do think the comic industry could benefit from more stories like these.

I've seen some of Tom's post on message boards and he sounds like an all around great guy. He really gets Spider-Man and isn't trapped in the mindset that MJ can only be seen in lingerie, worrying about Peter, or whining because Peter has to go out as Spider-Man. I'd love for Tom to get placed on the Spidey books someday but even if he only chimes in with a side story, that would still be 26 different flavors of cool.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Spidey Stories I've Yet To Read

The entire Lee/Ditko run? Read the whole thing. The Lee/Romita era? Check. The Death of Gwen Stacy and the first Clone Saga? Every word and the rest of Gerry Conway's run on Amazing Spider-Man. Yes, sir, I've read a lot of Spidey stories throughout the years. So what have I missed out on? Actually a lot. I want to read all the great Spidey stories I can get my hands on. These are chief among the ones I really want to check out.

Spider-Man vs. Juggernaut from Amazing Spider-Man #229-230

I have almost every issue from Roger Stern's run on ASM collected. His origin story on the Vulture, the death of the first Tarantula, his original Hobgoblin story, all terrific stuff. It kills me to not have read the two part story where Spidey goes up against Juggy. One of the things I've always liked about the web-head is that he always finds a way to win or stop his opponents no matter how much stronger than him they may be. Spidey's been up against a lot of tough cookies but none of them were unstoppable. This is the kind of threat Juggy is and wouldn't you know it, the X-Men and all the other super folks aren't around to help up. Despite the odds, Spider-Man manages to stop the unstoppable and avenge the injured Madam Web. I know it may not be as epic as Gwen's Death or the Master Planner Trilogy, but but from what I've heard, this is a pretty gripping story, one I hope to experience first hand one day.




The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man, Amazing Spider-Man #248

I have myself to blame for not reading this one. A few years ago when I was picking up old issues of ASM from the 1980s, this was one that I had seen and I (foolishly) didn't pick it up. I haven't seen an issue at my comic shop since. This kid thinks the world of Spider-Man and has collected every news article on our hero. Unfortunately the boy is dying from leukemia and only has days to live. The child's one wish is to meet Spider-Man, a wish the web-slinger gladly fulfills. He even tells the boy that he is Peter Parker and how he lost his uncle Ben. Of course Spidey is still a hero in the kid's eyes.

There was an adaption of this story in Spider-Man: The Animated series, with a girl named Tyena taking the boy's place. It was a two part episode which also brought in elements from the Spidey/Doc Ock story from ASM #53-56 when Spidey got amnesia and joined up with Doc Ock as a result. Tyena is told Spidey's origin story and at the end, Peter reveals his identity to her and at the end, the viewer is told that Tyena is terminally ill. Needless to say, these two episodes were quiet touching and are among my favorite.


Spider-Man vs. Firelord from Amazing Spider-Man #269-270

Another story where Spidey fights a foe who is world's stronger than he is. Guess I'm a sucker for these. If you don't know, Firelord is a cosmic being and cosmic beings in the Marvel world are guys you usually don't want to mess with. Anyway, Firelord has a nasty case of PMS and Spider-Man manages to take it to 11. After a lengthy game of cat and mouse, Spidey cuts loose and beats the crap out of Firelord. Some may find the idea of Spidey beating a guy like Firelord absurd. Firelord is strong but not invincible and I doubt Spidey was pulling his punches like he usually does.


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Amazing Art

There are a lot of talented people out there. Case in point Todd Merrick Novak. Normally I don't make a blog post dedicated to drooling all over artwork (even though art is one of my favorite things), but this stuff was so good I just had to give it a mention. I mean just look at this stuff. Beautiful! Todd does an masterful job of mimicking Steve Ditko's Spider-Man art style.

With art like this, I've no doubt that Todd will go places. If you want to see more of his work, you should check out his art blog. Todd also has stuff you can check out on his ComicSpace page.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Finally

I'm late to post about this, but that's because I didn't hear about it until today. We will see the releases of two long awaited DVD series. Both Freakazoid! and Tiny Toony Adventures will see season one box set releases on July 29th, 2008. Well that certainly took long enough.

I've only seen a handful of episodes from Freakazoid! and though I can vaguely recall what they were about, I do remember that the show was downright hilarious. I'm also aware of the fan following that the show has so I'm sure Freak fans everywhere are pretty stoked for this release.

And what child from the '90s doesn't remember Tiny Toon Adventures? Even when I was a kid I knew the little tykes running around in Tiny Toons were just small versions of the Loony Toons characters. Really, was anyone bothered by this? Didn't think so. Well, Ren & Stimpy show creator John Kricfalusi had some nasty things to say about it, but it isn't like people really gave a rat's butt what he thought. The writing was way ahead of the times and the show hand countless laugh out loud moments. As much as I loved the show as a kid, some of the jokes went over my head because, well, I was a kid, and as a kid, you're oblivious to a lot of things.

Paul Dini, widely known for the excellent work he's done in Batman: The Animated series and other DCAU cartoons worked on both Freakazoid! and Tiny Toon Adventures. Paul and Bruce Timm rank up there with Greg Weisman as some of my favorite writers and story tellers and its great that two of the best series they've worked on are finally getting DVD releases.

Now I have to ask, will we ever see Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures or Megas XLR come to DVD? I mean if Freakazoid! is finally getting released I can hope, right?

Sunday, May 25, 2008

No, Sir, I Don't Want Another

Sigh. As long as this farce they call "Brand New Day" continues, I guess I can't help but say something about it from time to time.

I finally got around to going to my comic shop last week, Friday to be exact. I did my usual rounds of Byrne-stealing for Amazing Spider-Man, reading issues #559-560. #559 actually started off good, but quickly went down the toilet when they had Peter play the part of a papperazo. Now I know Peter is a guy who makes mistakes. He's been making them since 1962. However, this one is just plain stupid as it goes against his character. Peter has always detested papperazos and seeing him as one just to get some money (a lot of money actually) is just bad writing. It was good to see Robbie and Harry pointing out to Peter that what he was doing was bad, but he shouldn't have had to get put in his place by them at all, because he knows better. But hey, Peter hasn't been written in character for a while now so I guess I shouldn't have been too repulsed.

Dexter Bennett was offering a truck load of money for a picture of Bob Carr with his "mystery" girl. Was anyone really shocked or surprised to see the last page of ASM #560? I mean, really, it was so pathetically predictable and telegraphed that anyone could have seen it coming 10 miles away. Yes, Mary Jane is back and she's dating Carr. Now why in the world she's dating a sleaze bag like Carr, I don't know and I don't think I really care all that much. If Peter is being portrayed so horrendously, why should MJ be written in character? And then there's her line at the end, which could be a jab at the fans who detested One More Day (of which there are legions). The fact that they've got her dating Carr could be a jab similar to the one in ASM #546 where Peter's locking lips with some random chick. Like I said, I wasn't surprised to see MJ at all and I actually found her line funny so if this was Marvel's attempt at another slap in the face, it really didn't bother me so I shrugged it off.

The stories in ASM are light hearted but that doesn't make them better, at least not to me. Yes, I enjoyed #560 better than the previous issue, but on the whole, I'm pretty sick of this crap Marvel is trying to pass off as the flagship comic/character. I don't know if I can bring myself to Byrne-steal it anymore. (Yes, they let us do that at my comic shop. They even give us 10% off all comics and 25% off all graphic novels, manga, and TPB, so there. Best comic shop ever.) Maybe this is how some fans felt during the '98 reboot. I wasn't reading the books at the time, but from what I hear it was pretty bad. The only reason I've been reading these stories is so I can discuss it with my fellow fans on the boards and I do give credit when it is due, like the Wells/Bacholo arc, so far, the only good that's come out of this train wreck.

At the CBR forums there's a thread where they call the "new" web-head "Quesada's Generic Spider-Man," a title that seems to fit the character. This is Joe Q's Spidey and he flipping sucks. Where are all the new readers and these gang buster-like sales Joey keeps talking about? Unless down is the new up for sales, I don't think this is what Marvel had in mind when they threw a monkey wrench in the gears.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

This Week's Haul

No new comics of interest were at my shop when I went there on Friday, nor was there anything on hold for me in my file. Perfect opportunity for me to fill in the gaps, and man do I have a lot of gaps to fill.

At first I was going to pick up some old Amazing Spider-Man issues from the early '90s. You know, the stuff that came before the Clone Saga. There were a lot of multi-issue story arcs back then so I decided to head on over to the dollar bins and finally pick of those issues from Mark Millar's run on Marvel Knights Spider-Man. I'd picked up the first two issues a good while ago and this is a story arc I'd been wanting to finish for a long time now. I could have bought the hard cover, but when you can get the actual issues for dirt cheap, you may as well go that route.

Anyway, I was able to get issues #4-#9 for $1 each. Issue 3 wasn't in the dollar bin so I had to pay the regular price for it but I always get to 10% off my purchases, so its all good.


Kraven. Some love him, some hate him. Personally, he's always been one of my favorite characters in Spider-Man's world. JM DeMatties, one of my all-time fav Spidey writers is probably the best man that has ever written Kraven so I doubt I need to gush on how awesome Kraven's Last Hunt is. So getting DeMatties to write the The Sensational Spider-Man '96 Annual, which retells Kraven's first hunt had to be a no-brainer. I haven't read it yet, but I've flipped through it and it reminds me of Amazing Spider-Man #15, vol. 1, the issue where Kraven first appeared. You have Kraven, Chameleon, Spidey, and the usual Peter Parker drama. What more could you want? The fact that the book was rated 4/5 at Spiderfan.org certainly added to my decision to pick this book up. The only thing I'm not too sure about is Shawn McManus's artwork. I didn't dig it in in the Peter Parker: Spider-Man '97 Annual and I'm not too sure if I'll like it here.



Backs issue racks seem to keep smiling on me because I found my third issue of the Franklin Richards one-shot books. It may be a bit bold to say this, but I think the misadventures of Franklin and H.E.R.B.I.E. are one of the best things to happen to comics. Franklin Richards: Fall Football Fiasco has the same oddball antics I've come to expect from this series. There's another Franklin Richards book coming out in August and I've decided to add this series to my file at my comic shop along with Tiny Titians. What can I say? Cute, funny comics rule.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Family Issues

No, I'm not talking about my own family, but the bi-monthly anthology book, Spider-Man Family.

For $4.99 you get a Spider-Man story that usually has Spidey teaming with other heroes of the Marvel universe, some reprints (one of the latest is the excellent Death & Destiny), and a story from Spider-Man J. The new stories are usually pretty good and reprints aren't too shabby either, but I've never cared for Spider-Man J and wouldn't lose any sleep if it left the book.

After SMF #9, the book will be relaunched and the title changed to Amazing Spider-Man Family. My guess is Marvel hopes to boost sales by adding "Amazing" to the title. As anyone knows, Amazing Spider-Man is the longest running Spidey book and the most successful. I'm all for boosting sales of this book as they are not even close to that of ASM, but I'm not too thrilled with the way Marvel is going about it. Get this, they want to include stories from Brand New Day world in ASMF. Ugh.

Marvel has already ticked off a good chunk of the Spider-Man fan base with One More Day/Brand New Day. Many have stopped buying ASM because of it and whether the company wants to admit it or not, the sales of that book have shown a very noticeable decline. My fear is that ASMF will sell even less because outraged fans (myself included) do not want to support Brand New Day. And does BND really need more page space? Good freaking grief, ASM is out three times a month and will soon have an additional book with Brand New Day Extra. And what will be removed to in ASMF to make room for the BND material? As much as I dislike Spider-Man J, I'd rather have it stick around than have BND stories in the book.

For now, ASMF will stay on my pull list because the first issue is already sounding really cool. Still, the BND stuff in the book just rubs me the wrong way and I hope it doesn't last long.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Games I Love

Believe it or not, I do play video games when I'm not reading comic books or posting on message boards. Gaming seems to have taken a back seat to my enjoyment of comics, but it still remains one of my favorite hobbies.

Since I haven't been able to upgrade to a Wii or a 360, my stomping grounds are still done on last generation gaming hardware. This doesn't bother me too much. I do have a Nintendo DS and I'm always done for some old-school gaming, but I really would like to play Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Wii Sports. But until I can afford it, I'm content with what I've got.

Bleach is one of my favorite anime/manga series so I was thrilled to discover that Bleach: The Blade of Fate does the source material sweet justice. This game plays every bit as good as it looks. The fighting is fast, stylish, and the Bankai techniques are just too cool for words. Even the Flash Step (Shun-Po) for the purists has been implemented greatly in this game. Even though I've got everyone unlocked, I still come back to earn more cash to unlock the rest of the extras, or to get a better high score in time attack mode. That, and the game is just plain fun. This game is highly recommended if you dig Bleach, or you just want an awesome DS fighting game.

Even graphic whores will have to shut up about their lust for pretty visuals when they play Geometry Wars: Galaxies. The game is on the Wii and 360, but the DS version is pretty sweet too. If you've never played GW, the premise is real simple. You are surrounded by enemies that increase in numbers as you pick them off. Some planets give you more room to move around, and some planets are really small. If you ever get overwhelmed (which will happen quiet often) you can use one of your bombs to clear the screen but more often than not, you're better off sticking things out because using bombs stops your chain and combo scores. Upgradeable drones help you out along the way and some drones work better than others depending on what planet you're on. I've played a lot of shooters and I consider GW: G one of the best games in the genre.

I'd been out of the Burnout: Revenge game for weeks but came back to it over the weekend. The Burnout series has been one of my favorites since Burnout 2: Point of Impact. I consider Burnout 3: Takedown the pinnacle of the series but Revenge is still a superb racer. Checking traffic (smashing into traffic that isn't on-coming and taking them out) is a lot of fun and the intense rush that comes from driving recklessly is still present in this game. My only real problems with this game is that there are no single player crash or traffic attack modes. Traffic attack is one of my favorite events in the single player world tour mode and the fact that it isn't accessible for solo play outside of world tour really sucks. Still, it really is hard to stay down over that when everything is so solid. And I love the developers for allowing me to turn off songs I don't like. Some of the best songs to drive dangerously to? "An Honest Mistake," and "F.I.G.H.T." Now that's good racing.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Lots of Comics

Over the last week or so, I've amassed a nice stack of comics that I'm working on reading. I just wanted to pimp my Spidey buys so this isn't everything I've picked up.

Peter Parker: Spider-Man #50, vol. 2 has been a pretty elusive comic for me. I've never seen it in the back issue boxes and I was afraid I'd have to buy a trade paper back if I ever wanted to read this one. Fortunately, I found a copy for $1.50 at Half Price Books. Not only is this a double sized issue, but its also written by Paul Jenkins and drawn by Mark Buckingham, two of my favorite guys to ever work on Spidey.

I'd been wondering about Spectacular Spider-Man Annual #8. My comic shop had one copy for $2.75 and I'd been a bit intrigued by the story involving the Gwen Stacy Clone. Someone had posted some pages from this story on the net, which was enough to make me finally drop the chump change the book cost. What really did it for me were the bits where Peter deals with Gwen 2's return and how this affects Mary Jane.
Seems like its been an eternity since I picked up a book in the regular Spectacular line. I scored Spectacular Spider-Man #260-261, which contain parts two and three of teh Goblins at the Gate story. Regrettably they didn't have part one but I decided to take what I can get and for $1.50 each, I'm not complaining. Both covers for these issues are done by none other than John Romita Sr., and he still produces some of the finest artwork in the business.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Spidey, Cat & The Chameleon

"Persona," the tenth episode of Spectacular Spider-Man aired today. In this episode we get introduced to a number of characters and Spidey gets decked out in a new suit!

This isn't my favorite episode but it is a good one and there is a lot to like about it. More of Eddie Brock's anger at Peter is expanded on. Eddie thinks Spider-Man is now a criminal for stealing the alien specimen. In reality the alien had escaped and because Peter had taken pictures of all the commotion, Eddie thinks Peter cared more about getting a scoop than calling the police. Once again, in reality, Peter as Spidey was trying to prevent the theft. When Gwen tries to defend Peter, Eddie says he is "done." Looks like Eddie may have just closed the door on their friendship. That was a nice way of killing two birds with one stone and it will be interesting to see just how Eddie develops from here.
The guy giving the web-head the most trouble in this episode was none other than the Chameleon, setting him up to take the fall for his crimes. This guy has always been one of my favorite villains and he's strictly old-school here. No morphing belt to change his appearance. The Chameleon uses masks and costumes to impersonate people and he gets extra help from Quentin Beck and Phineas Mason, both better known as Mysterio and the Tinkerer (though they've yet to assume those identities.) Steven Blum voices Chameleon and unlike Spider-Man: The Animated Series, he actually talks even when isn't impersonating someone. Chameleon's regular voice is calm, yet threatening, just the way I'd imagine he'd sound.

Spidey exchanges his red & blue costume for a sleek new black one. Now anyone that's read the comics or has seen this episode knows that Spidey's new costume is in fact an alien that has a mind and goal of its own. The aliean costume enhances Spider-Man's spider powers and can mimic any article of clothing. The suit also seems to be subtly changing Peter. Instead of amping up his aggression from the get go, the suit itself worked as a evil conscience to change Peter's mind about telling Captain Stacy about the alien's whereabouts. Very nice touch.

Speaking of Captain Stacy, it was great to see him again. True to his character, he refused to believe Spider-Man had gone bad when nearly everyone else did. Like a real detective, when he got a look at the "Spider-Man" robbing rich folks on the cruise ship, he noticed that he was "too tall." When the bad guys were apprehended, Captain Stacy told Spidey he knew he wasn't a crook, but told him that as long a he wears a mask, people will always wonder about him. Thus, the Spidey/Captain Stacy friendship is formed.

By far, my favorite parts of this episode was the interaction and banter between Spider-Man and the Black Cat. The feline is clearly quite taken with our young hero. She even helped Spidey clear his name by showing him where Chameleon would strike next. When Spidey asked why she helped him out, she lifts up his mask and plants a nice, long kiss on his lips. Words cannot express how much of an amazing job Tricia Helfer does voicing the Black Cat. She sounds, sexy, sultry, every word in the English dictionary you can use to sum up how hot she sounds, she is it. Black Cat was spouting off so much suggestive dialog and innuendo, I thought the FCC was gonna break down my door and take my TV away. "My kitty sense is purring." How the heck did they get away with that? Nice job, guys.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Why So Serious?

I'll bet you were expecting some scribbles on the upcoming Dark Knight Movie or some pictures of Heath Ledger as the Joker. I merely wanted to use the Joker's famous tag line to address some new comics that I've gotten into.

Mention comic books to someone and more than likely heroes like Spider-Man, Batman, and Superman spring to mind. You know, comics that deal with serious, heavy issue story lines. And really, you can't blame someone for thinking like that because DC and Marvel's heavy hitters are what occupy a lot of space in comic shops. I like the serious stuff as much as the next guy and maybe I'd read more of it if I could afford to. However, I can be guilty of forgetting that comic books can also be the source of the best medicine: laughter.

One of the comics available on Free Comic Book Day was Tiny Titans #1. It wasn't one of the freebies I chose to take, but I did read a few of the stories and found them to be pretty amusing. When I went into pick up some new comics on Wednesday, I was pleasantly surprised to see a few issue of Tiny Titans #4 on the table. I picked it up and also found a copy of Tiny Titans #3 on the rack of back issues. Sure, Tiny Titans may be accused of being a rip-off of Mini-Marvels but this is some pretty hilarious stuff so I could care less about those kind of accusations. Anyone else who picks up this book and takes a look would probably agree. I'm surprised Marvel hasn't branched out in full comic book format with Mini-Marvels. It sure beats the single page stuff. Tiny Titans is also easy on the wallet, costing only $2.25 per issue. (Remember the days when comics cost that much? It was only about five years ago.)

Even more surprises were on the back issue rack. I found a copy of Franklin Richards: Happy Franksgiving. I got a kick out of Not-So-Secret Invasion so I decided I'd pick up whatever one-shot book Reed and Sue's kid stars in.

I guess I have a bit of a soft spot for these kinds of comics. I love the more simplistic artwork and you can jump in with any issue. The comics being easy reading also doesn't hurt. I may be getting closer to 30 but my inner child is still alive and well. If you like to laugh, you should pick up Franklin Richards and Tiny Titans.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Famous Last Panel

Last week I picked up Amazing Spider-Man #42. It isn't in perfect condition but it is all one in piece and still readable. Cost me under $16 and I could care less about near mint condition when it comes to silver age Spidey.

In this issue, the main story involves John Jameson getting super powers and taking on Spider-Man. Now as much as I love a good old fashioned slug fest, that isn't really the reason I picked up this issue. In fact, ASM #42 is largely remembered for its very final panel. A certain redhead, who Peter had been dreading a date with finally enters his world. That's right, I'm talking about Mary Jane Watson.

The girl that would nickname Peter "Tiger" was first mentioned in ASM #15. Her name was first dropped in ASM# 17 and in ASM #25, Liz Allen and Betty Brant get a look at little miss bombshell while Peter is off fighting the first incarnation of the Spider Slayers. Her face isn't show to the readers but what Liz and Betty see is enough to make their jaws drop.

Peter did everything he could to avoid meeting MJ. Aunt May meant well, but when your mother or aunt tries to set you up on a blind date, an imagine similar to the atomic bomb being dropped is more than likely what goes off in a guy's head. Peter was ready for the worst but as it turns out, having Peter meet MJ was the best thing aunt May ever did for her nephew. The following panel is one of the most famous in comic book history as is MJ's very first words towards Peter.
This panel has been replicated God only knows how many times. Sketched, painted, you name it, it has been done. MJ didn't just turn out to be another girl for Peter. She was the girl. Peter would later go on to marry her... right? He did marry MJ, didn't he? I mean, I've got the annual where Peter and MJ tied the knot and everything. Eh, its a long story.

My favorite redhead has taken a lot of crap and her marriage to my favorite super hero has been blamed for hurting the Spider books. I'm not sure Marvel fully realizes Mary Jane's impact and staying power in the Spidey books. Every attempt to writer her out has failed and I highly doubt any other love interest they throw in there will work. MJ is to the Spider books what Lois Lane is to Superman books. Marvel will never be rid of her no matter how hard they try.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Spider-Girl's World

Last week during Free Comic Book Day, I picked up my very first issues of Spider-Girl. The books I picked up were #7 and #62 and I found them in the 25 cents bin.

I haven't read issue #62 yet as it is the middle of a six part story arc, but issue #7 was fantastic and served for a great jump on point. Mayday was rushing to prevent a fight from between two of her classmates when she got delayed by Darkdevil and Nova. Darkdevil was testing Spider-Girl as he doesn't think she has what it takes to give her all to the super hero lifestyle. Unfortunately Mayday arrived too late and one of her classmates was sent to the hospital. Naturally this weighs on May's shoulders because she is the daughter of Peter Parker.

My comic shop didn't have any copies of Amazing Spider-Girl #19, so I picked up the last copy that Borders had. In this issue our female wall-crawler meets up with Arana and the two do battle. What do I know about Arana? Nothing, really. I've heard of her but I know jack squat about the character. Not that it really mattered because it didn't hamper my enjoyment of the story one bit, nor did my not reading the previous issues. So this was a good jump on point for ASG. The fight between the two arachnids was pretty cool and I loved Mayday's interactions with the supporting cast.

So yeah, Spidey's kid is pretty awesome. Written by one of my favorite Spider writers (Tom Defalco) and drawn by some of the best artists (Pat Olliffe, Ron Frenz), it would be pretty hard for me not to like Spider-Girl. Like her father, Mayday is easy to relate to (before the One More Day Brand New Day crap) and she has all the typical teenage hangups one would expect. Seeing Peter take a backseat and be a supporting character is different, but a welcome change, since this book is about his offspring and he makes for a terrific dad.

There's been news that Amazing Spider-Girl is only good until issue 30 so I'm really hop the series doesn't get canceled. The book has been faced with cancellation in the past but fans have been able to keep it going so I hope the book pulls through once more. I picked up ASG #15-16 the other day and I fully intend to pick up the original SG series. They've got me hook, line and sinker.

The Goblin Came Back

So I just finished watching "The Uncertainty Principle," the 9th episode of Spectacular Spider-Man. In the words of Spider-Man from "Catalysts," I have to say "Wow. Just... wow."

Ironically this episode takes place on Halloween, the one day out of the year where many people wear masks, which served to strengthen this episode. When everyone runs around in a costume, it can be hard to tell who's who, or who is real and who is facade.

When the Green Goblin's mask finally came off, it was revealed to be... Harry Osborn? The boy's addiction to the green goo climaxed in this episode as he is seen really losing it near the end, throwing his father across the room. He took the formula because he was tired of not fitting in at school, getting good grades and he wanted the love and respect that his father never gave him. The scene near the end of the episode where Harry just breaks down is very moving and was the icing on an already delicious cake.
I'm still not totally convinced Harry is the Goblin. Norman seemed very concerned for his son, but how do we know it wasn't just an act? That being said, even if Harry is the Goblin, I really wouldn't complain because all the episodes the Goblin has been in have been so well done, and this one just topped it all off. I commend the team behind Spec Spidey for tackling an issue like addiction on a Saturday morning cartoon. It never came off as forced and it was very compelling. Bravo, guys.
As always, Peter's mingling with his friends and classmates was a treat. Gwen and MJ were both looking for Peter. Gwen wanted to talk to Peter about Harry, and MJ? Well, who knows what she wanted with our wall-crawling hero. She gave Flash the classic MJ brush off, telling him she's a "free agent." I find it interesting that even though she's a free girl, she seems to have her eyes on Peter. She even flirted with him in this episode, telling him that he looked good in his skin tight Spidey suit, which seem to draw a rather icy look from Gwendolyn. Oooo, looks like we could get those Betty & Veronica moments I've been craving after all, especially since MJ now goes to Peter's school (saw it coming a mile away) and Harry will be out of the picture for a while.

Jameson wouldn't take Peter's photo's of Spidey battling the Green Goblin so Peter took them to the Bugle's rival, the Globe, which lead to the Bugle getting scooped, despite their story of the successful space shuttle landing. Jonah was so furious that he told Robbie to bring Peter to the Bugle and chain him up to make him exclusive to the Bugle. The paper's next headline: Spider-Man, Hero or Menace? Hmmm...

Oh and Black Cat's cameo was great. Totally did not see that one coming. Nice job, guys.!

If that wasn't enough on our plate, John Jameson seems to have brought back an unexpected visitor in the form of a black alien goop. I believe we all know where this is going and my excitement for this amazing cartoon continues to grow.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Wednesday Comics

I went into my comic shop today expecting to get only one comic, but you know what they say about the best laid plans.

Anyway, after I had Marvel Adventures Spider-Man #39 in hand, I saw a single copy of Franklin Richards: Not-So-Secret Invasion. I've never read any of the Franklin stories, but I've heard that they are entertaining light-hearted reads, so I picked up this one-shot.

Despite the fact that little green freaks are all over the cover and that I want nothing to do with Marvel's 2008 big event, outside of the first story (of five short stories), Skrulls take up very little space in this comic. In fact, little Franklin manages to put the smack down on the Skrull that impersonated him in just a few short pages. Franklin even insults the Skrull for being stupid enough to only time him up when Franklin has "been tied up by more super villains than you can count." Forget sending the Avengers to deal with this threat. I say we just have Reed & Sue's kid go after them and call it a day.

The other four short stories, which have Franklin and H.E.R.B.I.E. dealing with ramping lizards, creatures that hatch out of soccer balls, helping under sea creatures, and fending off the Wizard are all had me pleasantly surprised. I like to laugh just as I like to have my jaw dropped when I read a comic, so Franklin Richards: Not-So-Secret Invasion was quiet a treat. I think I'll end up checking out any other Franklin Richards books from here on out. Do yourself a favor and pick this one up.

Another month, another good issue of Marvel Adventures Spider-Man. Really, if you aren't reading this book, you're missing out on some good single story Spidey tales.

MASM #39 has Peter giving an exchange student from Latveria a tour of the city. The Fantastic Four show up and take the kid back to the Baxter Building. Turns out the exchange student is really a highly advanced android sent by Dr. Doom to hack into the FF's computer system and bring back their secrets. With Spidey's help, the FF stop the android and send him back to Doom with information on TV soap operas and the Latverian tyrant is none the wiser.

Call me simple minded, but I really get a kick out of this easy reading, colorful stories. Sumerak writers some solid stories and Ryan Stegman's artwork rocked. I can't wait for MASM #40 because in that issue, he gets to play around with Thor's hammer! I'll be there in thirty for sure!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

The Doctor Is In

The episode "Reaction" aired on Spectacular Spider-Man this past Saturday. Here we see timid Otto Octavius make the transition to Dr. Octopus, or Doc Ock as many people call him.

Quick history lesson. Doc Ock first appeared way back in Amazing Spider-Man #3, vol. 1, 1963. The vile doctor has been one of Spidey's most lethal foes for more than 40 years and as I've stated before, could possibly share the number one spot with the Green Goblin as Spidey's greatest adversary.

This episode did not disappointed. Seeing Otto transform from a humble, obedient scientist to a raving megalomaniac was superb. Anyone that thought this version of Otto Octavius wouldn't make a great Doc Ock should be pleasantly surprised. Peter MacNicol puts some serious bass into his voice to make Doc Ock the egotistical, mad scientist we all know and love. The way Ock moved and used his metallic arms was very impressive. I really liked how each arm also functioned as a weapon (OK, more so than the usual grabbing), and I dig the black color of teh arms. All previous animated versions of Ock's tentacles have been gray, but I think the black works pretty well, especially with the brown trench coat.
As one might expect, Spider-Man had his hands full (pun intended) battling Doc Ock. In both encounters, Spidey was getting slapped all over the place while he did his best to avoid those arms. I cringed quiet a few times when Ock was smashing Spidey around like an angry kid throwing a tantrum.

With any great episode of Spectacular, there was a lot of other enjoyable stuff. Peter's interactions with his friends from school was a treat as always. We got more Mary Jane in this episode and just like the party girl she originally was in the comics, she tells Peter that the two of them are just friends, which deals an emotional blow to our hero's heart. Does MJ like Peter? I think so but true to her character in the '60s, she doesn't want to get too close to him or anyone because of her rough family background.

Rather than stay down bout MJ's dismissal, Peter accepted Liz Allen's invite to Conny Island and he ended up having a good time. Ironically, MJ ended up hanging out with Flash Thompson and the four kids ended running into each other. The two seemed to be drifting apart and I guess this was a long time coming, what with Liz developing feelings for Peter in the second episode. Liz and Flash broke up at the episode's end and Peter felt bad because Sally, being the jerk she's always been, blames Peter and of course he feels pretty bummed because of all this.

Will Peter try to get Liz on the rebound? And what about MJ? As for Liz, kinda hard to say, but I'm guessing Peter will give the girl her space. MJ, well in the comics, Peter's tolerance for MJ's flighty party girl behavior was little to none. Ironic that the very thing that drew most guys to MJ, her party girl persona, was the very thing that repelled Peter. As much as she liked Peter and flirted with him (before Gwen died), he was very much annoyed with this aspect of her character. What am I trying to say? As hot as MJ is she just isn't the serious type of girl (at least not yet) and Peter probably knows he could end up getting hurt if he even attempted a relationship with her. For now, they'll most likely stay friends. If Peter gets to dating Gwen (which I believe will happen eventually) we could see a look of jealousy on MJ's face.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Free Comics

Today was Free Comic Book day, the one day of the year where select comic books do not cost a dime. This was my first time ever taking part in this event, so I was pretty stoked. I even had some trouble going back to sleep at about 7 AM because I was so excited. That isn't a feeling that hits me very often.

Anyway, I checked out the website for this year's FCBD and got a look at the comics. From that list, I'd assumed my comic shop would have everything there, but alas, they did not. I wanted to get Love and Capes #7, but they didn't have it. I wanted to get Comic Book Diner, but that wasn't available either. There was a ton of other stuff I wanted, but my shop limited the number of free goodies you could get to three, and this included the figurines. Would you believe I passed on the Iron Man figure so I could get a third free comic? Tis true.

The three comics, I did get, are as follows: Marvel Adventures Iron Man & Hulk & Spider-Man, Amelia Rules, and Gyro Gearloose. The Marvel Adventures Iron Man & Hulk & Spidey was one of the first free comics to disappear off the counter so I'm glad I was able to nab one. I've been a big fan of Don Rosa's Uncle Scrooge comics so Gyro Gearloose was an instant pick up. As for Amelia Rules, I heard it was good and its something I haven't read before, which was one of the main reasons I was looking forward to FCBD, the opportunity to check out comics for free (without the need to Byrne-Steal, that is.)

I did read some of Tiny Titans, a book that looks to be DC's counter to Mini Marvels. This book contained cute, funny stories about the heroes and villains of the Teen Titans world. It may be a book I buy regularly if it becomes a monthly series. It was another popular book of the day and was gone 3 plus hours I spent in the store.

I suppose I could have went to another comic shop to grab more comics but I just didn't feel like making another trip. Outside of the free comics I picked up, I also bought some super cheap comics, which I will blog about in another entry.

Sure, I didn't get everything I wanted but it was nice to be able to get something and this was one of the few times I'd ever seen so many kids in my comic shop. This is a holiday I could really get used to.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Iron Man Wednesday

So I found out that some friends of mine got some tickets to see the sneak preview of Iron Man on Wednesday. Naturally, I was pretty stoked for the them and was looking forward to hearing about how awesome the movie was after they'd seen it. Imagine my surprise when one of my friends calls me up and asks if I had any plans for Wednesday evening. I wasn't doing anything, one of their friends had to bail for whatever reason so they had an extra ticket and guess who got it?

Despite Iron Man being a major player in the Marvel universe, I knew very little about his origin. Thankfully, I was brought up to speed a few weeks ago by watching a DCompose YouYube video on Iron Man. Thanks to Kevin's video, I knew about Tony Stark's origin and the different Iron Man armors.

So how was the actually movie? Well I was kind of afraid it would bomb as I sat in the theater with my friends, waiting for the movie to start. The moment Robert Downey Jr. started talking, I was sucked in. I really don't know much about Downey Jr. but the guy seemed to emit such a high spark that really brought the character of Tony Stark to life. I laughed out loud many times as did everyone around me in the theater. If I were to sum up Iron Man in two words those two words would be "It rocks!"

As far as origin's go, the movie sticks pretty close to the original Tales of Suspense #39 comic. There's no Vietnam, but Tony is at a weapon's testing sight, gets caught in an explosion and gets captured by the enemy. Being a huge comic book nerd, I got a huge kick out of seeing the original Iron Man costume on the screen. Yes, it's clunky and dull in the color department when compared to it's successors, but seeing Tony kill his capturers in that thing was really sweet!

The supporting cast members also did a terrific job. Gwyneth Paltrow played the roll of Tony's secretary Pepper Pots and even though Tony is a playboy, there seemed to be a bit of chemistry between the two and it was really nice to see that make it on the screen. At first I thought Terrance Howard was cast wrong to play the part of James Rhodes, but after seeing him on screen for a while, it became clear that they really did make the right choice in casting him. Here's hoping we'll see him in the War Machine suit for the sequel.

I don't want to give away too much, so all you really need to know is this: Iron Man is a superb film, one of the greatest movies out this year, and one of the best super hero films I've ever seen. If you're want to be both entertained and amazed, you'll like this movie. Oh and Stan Lee's cameo is hilarious in this film.

I received a free Iron Man poster from a friend of mine that works at my comic shop. The poster is the picture above with the three Iron Man suits Tony wears. Everyone that got to see the sneak preview was also give some free comics. One was the Hulk/Iron Man Sampler, which I already had. My friend gave me his free comic, which was Avengers Classics #3. My favorite wall-crawler makes a cameo in this issue.

You know, I'm really not a movie person. The last time I was at the movie was when I was vacationing with my uncle and that was back in 1994. This just seemed too good to pass up and I had a great time.