Sunday, September 28, 2008

Attack of the Lizard

Some people have chosen to wait for the season one DVD set release for the Spectacular Spider-Man's first season. This is understandable. I haven't bought a DVD that wasn't a full season in years as it feels like a bit of a rip off when you only get 3 episodes on most DVD releases (a lot of anime is guilty of this). But I just couldn't help myself. I was in serious need of my Spectacular Spider-Man fix. This cartoon has been one of the best things to happen with the wall-crawler and since I work on Saturdays, I haven't been able to watch it.

I'll get the extras outta the way first. If you're expecting loads of extras, don't pick up this DVD because said extras are pretty bare bones. I picked this up for the episodes. Go in with that mindset and you should be satisfied.

The 3 episodes on this disc, which include Spidey's first encounter with the Enforcers, the Vulture, Electro, and the Lizard, have all been fused into one 70 minute movie. The opening credits are done in an entirely new way from the intro that we've grown to love.

Since this is a DVD, the picture quality is naturally better than what we see on Saturday mornings. I knew things had been cut for time and S&P (standards & practices) reasons but it wasn't until I actually watched the DVD that I realized just how much had been cut. Now most stuff that was cut only takes up a second or two worth of footage, but when you get down to it, a lot of stuff was cut. I could tell when I was seeing new footage because I watched the first two episodes religiously when the first aired back in March (YouTube for the win). A cop actually shot at the lizard and it looked and sounded like actual gun fire. The famous half mask appears in the episode where teh Lizard first appears. I could go into more details, but most things that were cut pertained to the action.

On the whole. I dug this DVD even though it only had the first 3 episodes. Yes, I'll be picking up the next one, Rise of the Super Villains and I'll eventually get the season one DVD whenever it releases. The MSRP was $19.99 but I was able to find it for $14.88 at Meijer and I saw it for $14.99 at Wal-Mart.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Mary Jane Knows & Tells All

I absolutely love issues #257 & #259 of Amazing Spider-Man. Both are great reads and propelled the series forward with some startling revelations.

In ASM #257 Mary Jane drops by to cheer up a Peter and celebrate her finding steady work as a model. Before she can even open the bottle of champagne, Puma, the latest baddie after Spider-Man crashes into Peter's apartment. Fortunately, Peter gets MJ to saftey before Puma makes the place look like a rockin' party went down. MJ hears all the rukus and knows that Peter is in some kind of danger. The girl fights for all she's worth to bust the door open and eventually succeeds, but Peter is nowhere in sight.

Before I go on any further, I'd like to state that the aforementioned scene is one of my favorites in Spider-Man comics. MJ is a strong person. She knows Peter's in trouble and she's concerned about him. She doesn't care what happens to her, she just wants to know what could possibly be harming Peter. Do they make women like this anymore?

Anyhoo, after the fight between Spidey and Puma is over and Puma shows us that although he's an assassin, he does have a sense of honor, Peter returns to his apartment where MJ wraps her arms around him, relieved that he's OK. Peter fumbles for an excuse for all the noise MJ heard, she tells Peter to stop lying to her. This is where MJ drops the mother of all bombs on Peter, and no she doesn't tell him she's pregnant. She's got some info that's going to change things between the two of them forever.

OH. SNAP. I can only imagine the reaction of fans reading this comic back in 1984. This isn't some super villain that told Peter he knows he leads a double life. This is a friend revealing that she's known his biggest secret. Part of the reason Peter keeps his identity a secret is because he doesn't want others to carry the burdern of knowing what he goes through as Spider-Man. Well, Pete, you've just found out that one of your friends has been carrying that burdern for years.

Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz were the team that brought us the revaltion of MJ knowing Peter is Spider-Man. It wasn't a spur of the moment decision. Tom and Ron stated in Comics Creators on
Spider-Man that they'd talked about it for a while and felt that
MJ had known. Call me crazy, but I think things are always a lot more interesting when a friend or family member knows that the main character is a super hero. It made me actually give a rat's about aunt May when she told Peter she knew in ASM #38, vol. 2.

ASM #259 is another milestone issue. Since MJ know's Peter's big secret, she thinks it's only fair that he should know about hers. At first Peter is uneasy about MJ know he's Spidey. He even ponders on trying to convince her that he isn't Spidey, as foolhardy as it may be. Really, the girl knows. Nothing Peter can do or say will convince her otherwise.

I heard about MJ's broken family background but to actually read the issue where she tells Peter about her troubled past, man. It's like getting a story straight from the source. Her mom & dad married right outta high school and had a couple of kids. Gale, the first born. MJ was born four years later. MJ's dad was pretty good as college professor on campus but he wanted more. He dreamed of becoming a great writer. When he couldn't concentrate to produce a good tale, he took out his frustration on his family. At one point, he even struck MJ's older sister. To hide her pain, MJ adopted the facade of a party girl. MJ moved around a lot, but felt the most at home when she stayed with her aunt Anna. During a period she was staying with her aunt, she sees Peter Parker years before they'd meet.

Gale also married young like her parents did. With a second kid on the way, Gale's husband bailed. Guy just wasn't man enough to own up to his responsibilities. MJ's mother died, leaving her and Gale alone. MJ didn't want to give up her dreams to help her family so she ran and has been running ever since.

After bearing her soul to Peter, he knows it wouldn't be right to try and her convince her he isn't Spider-Man. Viewing the redhead in a new light, he's proud to have her as a friend.

These issues are some powerful stuff.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Spectacular Spider-Man Season Two Poster

It's been on the net for a while now and if you haven't seen it, here it is. You can see the returning villains (I knew concrete wasn't gonna hold the symbiote) and some new ones like Kraven and Mysterio. According to Greg Weisman, we'll also see Calypso and Silver Sable in season two. Other goods include a gang war story as well as the Master Planner story. March '09 can't get here soon enough.

Farewell, Toonami

March 17, 1997 was a great day in television history. On this day, Toonami began life on Cartoon Network. I didn't start watching Toonami until early 2002 when my family had gotten cable (for the second time.) Toonami hosted anime hits Yu Yu Hakusho, Robotech, and the very famous Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z, the later having more popularity than the former. I'd heard about Dragon Ball Z back in 1995 and years after that, the name would still be on the tongues of kids and teens alike. I just didn't understand what made the show so epic in the minds of people everywhere. That all changed when I started watching Toonami. My appreciate for Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z is something I owe to Toonami. Toonami was the program block that got me into these shows. I even collected the entire manga series of DB and DBZ. That may not have happened if not for Toonami.

September 20th, 2008 was a very, very sad day for many of us. On this day, Toonami was canceled. Over 11 years of amazing anime and action cartoons brought to us by one of the finest program blocks of all time, if not THE finest program block. My friend Tommy Wilson informed me that Toonami was done Sunday evening and this was shocking news to say the least. I mean, this is seriously depressing stuff. Toonami. Dead. This sucks. This really, really sucks. Granted I haven't had cable for a while now but knowing that Toonami is no more is hard to take.

Toonami hosted great shows, that's for sure. But the things that made up Toonami, Tom (voiced by Steven Blum), the ship and the things that went on onboard the the ship seperated Toonami from every other programing block out there. As great as the Disney Afternoon was, it didn't have jack on Toonami. Some people even thought Tom died, only to be upgraded into a newer model, though the Thomas the Tank model disgusted many viewers.

The promos! Who can forget the sexy promos?! Those promos were done so well that practically any show looked good. Before the show even started you were hyped because the promos were so awesome. Toonami also did music videos, character profiles and game reviews. How many other program blocks do that?

(Sigh) Well, it's been a fun ride. Toonami will be missed. Just hit up YouTube and check out the Toonami promos, music videos and character profiles. R.I.P., Toonami.


My First Spider-Girl Trade

A few weeks ago, I picked up my very first Spider-Girl trade. It was vol. 2 of the first Spider-Girl series in digest form, Like Father, Like Daughter. I missed out on a lot of the first Spider-Girl series so I'm playing catch up.

This book collects Spider-Girl #6-11. Peter doesn't like the idea of Mayday being Spider-Girl so he's taken away her costume and her web-shooters. However, May is still active as her alter ego and it isn't until he sees (and helps) her take action against Crazy Eight and Mr. Nobody that he realizes that his offspring just can't help but follow in his footsteps.

Reading this book introduced me to the aforementioned villains as well as Killer Wat and Spyral. From what I've heard, Mayday has what may arguably be an ever bigger rogue's gallery than her dad. Speaking of daddy, it was great to see him fight alongside Spider-Girl in SG #8. Nice to know he can still rock fools even if he isn't in his prime anymore.

My favorite story in this digest was the two parter in SG #10-11. Spider-Girl takes a trip to the past with Spyral. They end up in the time period where Spider-Man fought the first Spider-Slayer. For you Spidey fans with you geek caps on, this story takes place in the events of Amazing Spider-Man #25. So Mayday got to meet her dad as a teen and see what he was like as Spidey back then. Mayday also got to meet aunt May and her future mother, Mary Jane.

All told, I was pretty impressed with my first SG trade. Now to order the rest of the books and see what else I missed.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Amlost There

Apologies for not making a blog entry in a week. I was in the middle of making a post last Sunday but we had some really nasty 70 mile an hour winds which wrecked havoc on the electricity. Even as I write this, thousands of people in my area and nearby cities do not have power. I had power but my net connection was down. It was restored last night so I can finally blog again!

This past week, I discovered that my comic shop had gotten some major back issues of Amazing Spider-Man. For the first time in my life, I saw a copy of Amazing Spider-Man #2, which shows Spidey's first encounters with the Vulture and the Tinkerer. No, I didn't buy it because the asking price was $199.99. Even with a 10% discount on all comics that I buy, that's still a lot of green for one comic book. Still, it was nice to lay eyes on an actual copy.

I did however, get Amazing Spider-Man #229 and #230 for $2.95 each. Surprisingly, these issues went for a lot less than I expected. These are are the issues were Spidey confronts Juggernaut. Even though I'd already read them on the DVD-ROM ASM Complete Collection, I've always wanted to own actual copies for that price, I'd have been a fool to pass these up.

I have nearly every issue in Roger Stern's run on Amazing Spidey. I've already got both Annuals and I'm just missing a few issues from the regular comics. Almost there!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Hooray for Reprints!

The Green Goblin has often been touted as Spider-Man's deadliest foe. He is what the Joker is to Batman. I wonder if Stan knew back when Gobby first appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #14 that the Goblin would become the menace that he is to Spidey today. What makes the Goblin such an interesting foe isn't the costume. No. Much like Spider-Man, Gobby is such a great villain because the man underneath the suit is fascinating. Norman Osborn is one effed up dude to say the least. He was so annoyed with Spider Man getting in his way that he the battle between the two of them personal. He discovered Spidey's secret ID, revealed his own identity to the wall-crawler and would later go on to make Spidey's life a living nightmare. Gobby not only screws up Spidey's life, he screws up the lives of those Spidey cares about like Flash Thompson or if your name is Gwen Stacy, thinks ain't lookin' too good for you.

I've read every early Spidey/Gobby story except one and it originally appeared in the second issue of The Spectacular Spider-Man magazine, which lead a short life back in 1968. The first issue was reprinted and I picked it up a few years ago. I waited and waited for the second issue to get reprinted but it never happened. Thankfully The Amazing Spider-Man: The Compelete Collection contains every Amazing Spider-Man Annual, even the reprint material of things that already appeared in other issues on the disc. Amazing Spider-Man Annual #9 reprints the story from Spectcular Spider-Man magazine #2, "The Green Goblin Lives!"

This is another story where Norman remembers he's the Green Goblin and sets his sights on telling aunt May her ever-lovin' nephew is Spider-Man. Remeber, this was back when the old girl would faint at the brush of wind, the whole "The shock would kill her!" bit if she ever discovered Peter was Spidey.

Anyway, this story is full of classic stuff, zingy dialog for Stan, jazzy artwork from John Romita and Peter constantly worrying. There's a cool scene where Norman has dinner with Harry, Peter, Mary Jane and Gwen. He taunts Peter about the knowldege of him being Spidey in front of everyone without actually coming out and saying it. This scene was reproduced in the '90s Spider-Man Animated series except Peter was MJ's Man, not Gwen's (Gwen wasn't around.) After throwing some web cartridges in the fire place to cause a distraction, Peter changes into Spidey, Norman dawns his Goblin gear and awaaaaaay they go.

The way Spidey defeats Gobby is... well let's just say it's very 1960s. Using some of the Goblin's own halucination gas, he makes him fear the sight of Spider-Man and the Green Goblin. Norman once again forgets that he's the Gobby and that Peter is Spidey. It was a fun story if a little melodramatic, but then, that's just the way Stan wrote back in the day.

This is one of the few issues where MJ is sporting that stupid haircut she got back in Amazing Spider-Man #64. Even aunt Anna didn't like it! Let's hope it never shows up in the Spectacular Spider-Man cartoon series.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Sasuke Sucks

When I first started reading Naruto in the summer of 2003, I came in at the Zabuza arc. I did not like Sasuke. He was the typical anime character with a huge chip on his shoulder that would sooner on later be taken down a few notches. Now I don't mind characters like this. Heck, I love Dragon Ball's Vegeta, but Sasuke is another matter. Even now where things currently are in the manga, I still don't like Sasuke. The dude absorbs so much of the plot and gets way too much panel time. The manga is called "Naruto," right?
The good thing about hating Sasuke? I'm not a alone. I don't know if zutara-shewolf777 likes Sasuke or not, but in making this short, I do believe she has come up with the reason why Sasuke is such a jerk: he does not have a pair.

Spidey's Popin' Up At Ya!

Last week I picked up a copy of Amazing Spider-Man Pop-Up, "Spider-Man Tastic!" This book is 16 pages of Spidey action that litterlaly jumps off the pages, hence the pop up name. The entire 11 page origin of Spider-Man from Amazing Fantasy #15 is contained in this book, along with spread pages and facts on some of Spidey's most memorable foes (Green Goblin, Doc Ock, Mysterio, Kraven, the Vulture and Electro). This book isn't gonna tell the die-hard Spidey fan anything he doesn't already know but you really can't go wrong with colorful artwork from Steve Ditko and John Romita Sr. The regular asking price for this book is $24.99 but I my Borders had them for $4.99. (Score!) So if you can get it on the cheap, I'd highly recommend it.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

J.M. DeMatteis Speaks

Ever hear of a Spidey story called Kraven's Last Hunt? I'm sure you have. It's only reguarded as one of the greatest Spider-Man stories of all-time, written by one of my favorite Spidey scribes, J.M. DeMatteis.

The Spider-Man Crawl Space did a two-part podcast with Mr. DeMatteis as their guest. He talks about Kraven's Last Hunt, the Clone Saga, the death of aunt May, and the death of Harry Osborn among other things. He seems like are really down to Earth guy and it was great to hear what he thinks about Spidey and his past work on the character. Give it a listen if you're a fan.

Part 1

Part 2

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Superman vs. Goku

Another sweet pic I came across. Don't know the artist, but man, this is one tight pic and it will make a sweet wallpaper.

The topic of Goku vs. Supes has been brought up many times in the past. Some say that Goku wouldn't even need to go to level 3 against Supes. Me? Well, I don't doubt the strength of the most powerful Saiyan, but the Kryptonian isn't exactly a pushover. Superman could probably wreck a couple of planets if he wanted to.

If these ever were to throw down, I'd want to watch the fight from another planet on TV. You've seen how powerful these dudes are. Just imagine neither one of them holding anything back.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Goku and the Gang Return

Have you heard about the upcoming Dragon Ball Z movie? No, not that live action movie that's probably going to suck so hard when reffering to it we'll have to spell hard with an "o." I'm talking about the real deal DB movie. This movie will be animated and written by Akira Toriyama, the father of DBZ. Releasing in November, it's supposed to take palce after the Majin Buu saga. Outside of contributing a few characters like Mecha Freeza in Super Dragon Ball Z and few other bits here and there, Toriyama-San hasn't really touched DB. The series ended for 1995 in Japan and he's long since moved onto other projects. Still, it is nice to see him return to one of his greatest creations and now DB/DBZ fans really have something to be excited about.