I haven’t done day-and-date reviews for individual comics in a while. I get my books mail-0rder nowadays for financial and convenience reasons and I only rarely will pick up a book off of the rack. Usually it’s when I have some spare cash laying around and want to give something different a chance. Today I got some issues that I initially passed on because I didn’t have the cash for them in my budget at the time.
AVENGING SPIDER-MAN # 9
STORY BY Kelly Sue DeConnick
ART BY Terry Dodson, Rachel Dodson
COLORS BY Edgar Delgado
LETTERS BY VC – Joe Caramagna
COVER BY Terry Dodson, Rachel Dodson
PUBLISHER Marvel Comics
Next week sees the first issue of Carol Danvers’ turn as Captain Marvel. This week gives us a sort of primer as she teams up with Spider-Man in a fun little issue written by Kelly Sue DeConnick, who will be handling the ongoing series as well. I have said that while I don’t consider myself one of those “shipper” fans, I would totally support Peter Parker and Carol Danvers as a couple. Their banter and flirtations are often a delight to read, especially if they’re written by someone who gets the voice of those characters individually. Kelly Sue does. She’s one of the writers at Marvel who can seemingly write any character with ease and put them into a story that is fun and breezy in a more classic tradition that eschews the post Bendis style that seems to find its way into every book no matter who is actually penning it.
Avenging Spider-Man # 9 feels like a classic issue of Marvel Team-Up in all the right ways. The story centers around Peter and Carol going for a flight in Carol’s new junker of a plane when they find themselves caught in a dispute between a young lady who has had a brush with the law and a private security firm trying to bring her in. It is a fun read and a welcome change from what I’ve been reading from Marvel at the moment. I’m hoping that trend continues with the ongoing series. Kelly Sue has set the stage for something that could easily be just as good or better than the last volume of Ms. Marvel which I enjoyed from end-to-end.
REVIVAL # 1
STORY BY Tim Seeley
ART BY Mike Norton
COVER BY Jenny Frison, Craig Thompson
PUBLISHER Image Comics
SYNOPSIS: For one day in rural central Wisconsin, the dead came back to life. Now it’s up to Officer Dana Cypress to deal with the media scrutiny, religious zealots, and government quarantine that has come with them. In a town where the living have to learn to deal with those who are supposed to be dead, Officer Cypress must solve a brutal murder, and everyone, alive or undead, is a suspect. A beautiful “farm noir” that puts a new twist on the zombie genre, created by NYT Bestselling author TIM SEELEY and acclaimed artist MIKE NORTON.
Tim Seeley has made a name for himself on Hack/Slash and I bought this based off of that reputation alone. I haven’t been following his run on Witchblade, but this seemed more up my alley. Revival seems like it fits more into the mold of Image comics like The Walking Dead in that there is definitely a lot of world building being done but the core of the series is going to be centered around the interactions of our main characters. The danger with something like that is that you have to give people something to like. I wouldn’t say that Seeley’s character work is the best thing about Hack/Slash. The characters there are somewhat thin but the reader is still able to connect. In this series, Seeley has severely stepped up his game. Right off the bat we are given small looks at Dana and her personal life that make her immediately relate-able. She has family issues aplenty as well as personal issues relating to her own personal successes. This is one of the best first issues of a new comic I have read since Chew with regards to getting a sense of character.
Revival is definitely worth a look. It isn’t just another zombie book. To even use that term in association with it is somewhat misleading. This is a horror book, to be sure. I’ll even admit that parts gave me goosebumps. It’s been a while since I’ve read something that did that. Aside from the character work, Seeley has done a great job setting the mood here. Mike Norton’s illustration of the gore really hammers it home as well. I think this one could very well be one of the best things to come out of Image in a good long while.
So there you are. Go buy those things. You won’t regret it.
You know what came out in theaters ten years ago? The first Spider-Man movie. It has only been five years since Spider-Man 3 hit screens. That seems like a short turnaround for a reboot on a major franchise. But I suppose it had to happen. No way was Sony going to let such a cash cow sit on hiatus just because Tobey Maguire and crew didn’t want to play ball. They wanted to make sure that they were getting their money’s worth with the character. That’s why we got this reboot. Money. It’s not about an artistic vision or building a world the way the Marvel cinematic experiment has been, though those films have been an exercise in aggregating money as well. This is a film about maintaining possession of a character first and foremost. Does that mean that it isn’t a good movie? Not at all. In fact I’ll go out on a limb and say that I enjoyed this take on the character more than I did in Sam Raimi’s trilogy. What I have to wonder is if this film will have its merits overshadowed by the circumstances of its own existence.
While the film is in no way connected to the Marvel cinematic universe and the Avengers franchise, the tendency in those films to mine more from the Ultimate universe of comics carries over here. Many elements of Brian Michael Bendis’ work on the title finds its way here. At the same time, there are just as many elements taken from classic Spider-Man stories of the sixties and seventies. Even the look of the Lizard is taken from the silver age rendition of the character as opposed to the current animal-like interpretation. The current look, which seems to evoke more of a crocodile appearance, a sharp contrast to the original appearances which retain more of the human features of Curt Conners which seems to be what the filmmakers were going for in their adaptation. I know there have been some comments about the design being evocative of the Super Mario Bros film goombahs but judged within the confines of the film it works well.
The quickest rundown I can give of the movie is that everybody does their respective parts very, very well. I didn’t have many doubts about Andrew Garfield or Emma Stone. Having seen their recent filmography I knew they were going to do well. I had a few more reservations about Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben and Sally Field as Aunt Mae. Martin Sheen gives the film a bit of gravitas that it might have lacked otherwise. He makes the role his own, he really does. Sally Field doesn’t really get the chance to do anything at all. I can’t say that she disappointed me because she really didn’t get the chance. Denis Leary does a good job as Capt. Stacy, giving him a real sense of blue collar weight that works for the character and even though his arc is somewhat truncated, his presence in the film works to fill the hole left by a lack of J. Jonah Jameson, as shoehorning in the Daily Bugle would have made the movie seem overly bloated.
There are honest points to be made for this one being the best Spider-Man film to date. The interplay between Peter and Gwen is excellent, the action scenes are impeccably filmed, the cast is about as top notch as you could hope for and while the origin story is repetitive the makers of the film were able to differentiate it from the previous trilogy enough that you’re never bored. That was my biggest reservation about the film; that the origin would be so dull that it would overshadow anything that may have made the film worthwhile. I’m happy that I was wrong, as the streamlined take on the death of Uncle Ben as well as the nod to the infamous wrestling match are handled in such a way that they feel fresh and entertaining. I really was quite surprised.
I may have said some bad things about the film before I even got a chance to say it but I’ll eat my words and say that I was wrong. The Amazing Spider-Man is well worth your time. Don’t let the lackluster previews fool you, this thing is the real deal.
I’ve been reading The Avengers on a monthly basis since a little before Bendis pulled the whole Disassembled thing. Looking back on it, that’s a lot of time to invest into a title. Couple that with the fact that I stuck with Bendis’ handling of the team through both the New and Mighty Avengers titles and then the “Heroic Age” relaunch and that’s a lot of time spent reading his take on the franchise. I’ll admit that for me, Bendis is the name I will probably always associate with Avengers. I’ve gone back and read most of the pivotal runs and I think only Kurt Busiek’s run matches it in density and enjoyability. Though there are some classic Silver Age moments that I quite enjoy.
I had to drop both of the Avengers titles shortly after the relaunch because of monetary issues. A lot of really good books got chopped, actually. But with the movie recently in theaters I thought it would be a good idea to re-examine some prominent Avengers stories once again and so here we are.
The 2010 volume of Avengers begins in the wake of Marvel’s “Siege” storyline where Norman Osborn’s reign as the leader of SHIELD/HAMMER comes to a close and the status quo reverts to something more akin to what longtime readers were familiar with, this time with Steve Rogers in the role previously filled by Nick Fury and assembling two separate Avengers teams. This volume deals with the more “traditional” Avengers featuring Iron Man, Hawkeye, Thor, etc. with holdovers from the previous volume of New Avengers in Spider-Man, Spider-Woman, and Wolverine.
The book still maintains much of what made Bendis’ run on the first volume of New Avenger such a success, ie. his dialog. He’s especially gifted at writing witty banter and makes good use of characters like Hawkeye, Spider-man, and the more garrulous members of the team. This time around however, there is less focus on grounded street level action and the plot is driven by BIG ideas that the Avengers series seem to thrive on. In this particular volume, we get a broken timestream and alternate realities. We get classic Avengers villains like Ultron and Kang. It’s everything longtime fans of the book should love.
The principle complaint against the book is that Bendis cannot write with his trademark style and manage that sort of plotting. I would argue that this isn’t true. Working with John Romita Jr, the layouts and flow seem to work as well as they ever have with a story of this type. While the artwork does seem more sketchy and rough around the edges than I would really like out of Romita, he does a serviceable job making sure that Bendis’ story comes to life on the page.
My major issue with these six issues is that the book does seem to have too much going on for its own good. The chaos in one timestream seems to suck the energy from the parallel plot and as such the story reads somewhat uneven. It’s not a bad story, it just isn’t very even. In regards to assembling a new team, the book sets up the new status quo quite well. We get a very good idea of what the book is going to do very quickly. You just have to decide for yourself whether it is up your alley.
Here’s Marvel’s obligatory press release:
CULVER CITY, Calif., July 1, 2010 – After a comprehensive worldwide casting search, Andrew Garfield has been chosen to portray Peter Parker when Spider-Man swings back onto the screen in 3D on July 3, 2012. The new film will begin production in early December directed by Marc Webb from a screenplay by James Vanderbilt. Laura Ziskin and Avi Arad will produce the film from Columbia Pictures and Marvel Studios.
Today’s confirmation culminates what has been one of the most eagerly anticipated casting announcements in recent memory. Bloggers, pop culture speculators, and everyday fans have pored over and analyzed every conceivable online rumor in an attempt to discover the identity of the next actor to play Peter Parker. Garfield will immediately begin preparing for the coveted role.
The Spider-Man franchise is one of the most successful in film history and the three previous motion pictures have collectively grossed more than $2.5 billion in worldwide box office.
On selecting Garfield, director Marc Webb said, “Though his name may be new to many, those who know this young actor’s work understand his extraordinary talents. He has a rare combination of intelligence, wit, and humanity. Mark my words, you will love Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker.”
Commenting on the announcement, Amy Pascal, co-chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment, and Matt Tolmach, President of Columbia Pictures said, “Spider-Man is a classic superhero — a young man who balances his responsibility to serve humanity and crush evil with the shyness and normalcy of someone struggling to find himself. The role demands an extraordinary actor. You need someone who can magically transform himself from Peter Parker into Spider-Man. An actor who will depict the vulnerability of youth and the strength and confidence of a legendary figure at the same moment. We have found that actor in Andrew Garfield. From the first time we saw him in the upcoming film The Social Network, to his glorious screen test, which floored all of us, we knew that we had found our new Peter Parker.”
Producer Avi Arad added, “I’m incredibly excited about Andrew Garfield. In the Spider-Man tradition, we were looking for a smart, sensitive, and cool new Peter Parker who can inspire us and make us laugh, cry, and cheer. We believe we have found the perfect choice to take on this role and lead us into the future.”
Producer Laura Ziskin said, “We are thrilled to have Andrew Garfield for this new incarnation of Spider-Man under Marc Webb’s direction. We were fortunate enough to meet with a group of fantastically talented young men. In the end, we all agreed that in addition to being an extraordinary actor, Andrew had the right mix of humor, youth, and pathos, along with an underlying sense of strength and power necessary to bring Peter Parker and Spider-Man to life on screen.”
The selection of Garfield was revealed at a press event in Cancun, Mexico for international journalists attending a media tour promoting upcoming films from Sony Pictures Entertainment. B-roll footage of the announcement will be available via satellite later this evening — see uplink times coordinate information below.
Garfield is fast becoming one of the most respected and sought-after young actors working in the industry today. In a short career, spanning only five years, he has already been directed by, and starred alongside, some of the greatest names and received a BAFTA for a role that won him international praise.
Garfield most recently worked with director David Fincher on the upcoming film The Social Network. He previously starred for Spike Jonze on his robot love story I’m Here, which premiered at Sundance this year. He plays the lead male opposite Keira Knightley and Carey Mulligan in Mark Romanek’s Never Let Me Go, due for release later this year.
Other notable screen credits include Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus playing opposite Christopher Plummer, Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell, Jude Law and the late Heath Ledger, Robert Redford’s Lions For Lambs, where he starred alongside Redford, Tom Cruise and Meryl Streep; Revolution Films’ “Red Riding Trilogy – 1974” directed by Julian Jarrold, where he lead a stellar cast including Rebecca Hall and David Morrissey, and his unforgettable portrayal of a young ex-con in John Crowley’s “Boy A,” for which he earned the best actor BAFTA in 2008.
Garfield’s career began in theatre and in 2006 his performances in “Beautiful Thing” (Sound Space/Kit Productions), “The Overwhelming,” and “Burn / Chatroom / Citizenship” (Royal National Theatre) won him the Milton Shulman Award for Outstanding Newcomer at the Evening Standard awards and the Jack Tinker Award for Most Promising Newcomer at the Critics Circle Theatre Awards. Other notable theatre credits include “Romeo and Juliet” (Manchester Royal Exchange) and “Kes” (Manchester Royal Exchange), for which he received the Most Promising Newcomer Award at the Manchester Evening News Awards 2004.
Never seen anything he’s done, so I’m reserving judgement. I’ll just say that I would have preferred Donald Glover. That is all.
The Spider-Man Wedding : A Treatise on the Dynamic Nature of the Ever-Shifting Comic Book Status Quo and the Reactions It Produces
Last night I watched my friend get married. Today I feel compelled to write about the demolition of Spider-Man’s marriage by the One More Day storyline. I know it’s been a long time since that particular story arc actually occurred, and that in the two and half years since it transpired we’ve had about five years worth of Spider-Man stories condensed down on us in the Brand New Day format. The fact that we have had so much happen in the Spider-Man universe since the deal with Mephesto ended his marriage is one of the factors that has helped Marvel quietly settle it’s readership into the new status quo. We as readers have mostly adapted to the point where Mary Jane no longer being a regular part of Peter’s life doesn’t register on our radar unless explicitly shoved in our face, ie. whenever Mary Jane shows up and makes cryptic references to the past that never was.
My feelings on the dissolution of the Spider-Marriage are fairly simple. I think that in the context of the story, it was poorly executed, but in the realm of comic-books, where fluidity is the name of the game, I cannot condemn it any more than I can condemn the death of Captain America or the Heroes Reborn debacle, or the Clone Saga for that matter. In the end, the events of One More Day are only as permenant as the popular writers of the day choose to make it. If tomorrow Geoff Johns jumped ship to Marvel with a plan to reunite Mary Jane and Peter, you bet Quesada would bow to his whims because he knows it would garner massive media attention and sales. That’s what it all boils down to, commerce. While comic books are an art form, they are also a business. Joe Quesada made a business decision based off of personal preference. There was no malice intended ot the fans in his action, simply a desire to run the creative side of the Spider-Man franchise that was more in line with what he envisioned as an Editor-In-Chief.
I think that the main reason for the uproar over the end of Peter’s marriage, aside from the qualms with the manner in which it happened, is that the majority of readers for Spider-Man grew up with Peter Parker and Mary Jane interlocked and inseparable. To them, Peter without Mary Jane seems like an incomplete machine, a muscle car without an engine. I’m sure anyone who picks up a Spider-Man book in the aftermath of the One More Day storyline would argue that Mary Jane has no more right to be the definitive Peter Parker significant other than Carlie or any of the other new characters introduced after the end of the marriage at the hands of Mephesto.
I think this all boils down to how in the world of comics, due to the fluidity and ever-shifting organic nature of the medium as a whole, events that add an edge of finality are basically a timebomb. Graduation from High School for teenaged heroes, marriages, deaths, children, etc. These elements serve the purpose of allowing the character to grow, but at the same time put up roadblocks that will eventually have to be dealt with. It’s a paradox in every concievable way.
I think this is why I, along with many other readers, are being drawn to series that have a finite run, with a clear beginning and end. You don’t have to worry about important developments being reversed in a series like The Boys, or The Walking Dead because their nature will not allow for it. Superhero comics do not seem to have that advantage. For long-running serialized characters, there will be change after change and then reversion. For every step gained there will inevitably be two steps back. This isn’t to say that serialized superhero comics are somehow inferior to limited-run series, but the fandom associated with the DC/Marvel superheroes will always encourage this sort of behavior.
My overall contention with all this is that there seems to be an overwhelming negativity when it comes to any change made to a mainstream character. I am simply saying that instead of grousing about it for two and a half years, enjoy the progression of the story that comes in its wake and patiently wait for the eventual return of the status quo that you enjoyed so much. And if you simply can’t handle the things being done to the character in between, find another title that doesn’t cause you so much mental anguish.
After all, comics are supposed to be fun.
Yesterday while working in the shop, a discussion formulated about this blog and my attitudes toward certain writers or characters. The conversation inevitably led to the question, if I were writing for DC or Marvel, what character would I most like to write and who says I could do any better than the people writing that title at this very moment.
The real truth is that while I absolutely adore the characters of DC and Marvel, I don’t have any true aspiration outside of perhaps a childhood fantasy wish fulfillment scenario to write those characters. I don’t think I’m particularly well suited to writing in that particular field. Not because I dislike serialization or don’t think that I have stories that fit the characters, because I do, but moreso because I would rather self-publish a book entirely of my own design in the mold of fellow Houston writer/artist Terry Moore, or have an original creation published through Image or some other publisher.
I am in fact working on the script for such a series, though I don’t know how I plan to publish it. Either through the same company that I used to print my first novel or to shop it around to publishers like Image. I suppose I need to get an artist on board first, as that would be a major part of getting the thing published in the first place.
But back to that original question, if tomorrow I got a call from the people at Marvel or DC and they said they wanted me to pitch them a story for a character of my choosing, who would I choose to write? Everyone here should know how much I absolutely love Batman. I mean, the first film I can remember seeing was the 1989 Batman movie with Jack Nicholson and Michael Keaton. I’m currently wearing my “lucky” bat-symbol boxers as I type this. But I don’t think that I would be able to take the reins of Batman either in his main book or even in an ancilliary mini-series due to the fact that there’s too much hovering over my head in terms of expectations, and I fear that immediately following my run some big name writer would erase my work with the stroke of a pen and all my writing would have been for naught. And were I to do a mini-series it would likely be regarded as insignificant and passed over.
The same goes for characters like Captain America or Spider-Man over at Marvel. I’d be so intimidated by the legacy of those characters that putting my name on the book would render me into a quivering neurological mess.
So who would I like to write?
Over at DC, there’s only one choice:
That’s right damnit, Power Girl.
Why? Because I love fun characters, and PG is one of the most fun DC has to offer. I feel like she has been written extremely well by some really talented people, especially the current creative team, whom I will be sad to see depart with this week’s issue # 12. That having been said, there is plenty of room for expansion on the character. I think that there are many writers who are two quick to see what’s been done with her and reduce the book to a one note joke or they don’t know what to do with the character at all.
I would like to take hold of Power Girl and expand on the great work that Jimmy and Justin have done, and bring her to prominence in a way that makes it hard for her to be ingnored in the grander scheme of the DCU. Essentially do for her what Marvel has done for Ms. Marvel lately. Her book may not have been a mega-seller but it did raise her level of recognition and ingrain her into the rest of the shared universe, making her a central character. PG may be a member of the JSA but she’s not popping up in other books simply because she’s such a public figure in the whole of the DC universe.
In the grand scheme of things I suppose most of the characters I would most enjoy to write would be the ones who have been written well in the past but aren’t really very prominent when you look at the progression of the shared universe as a whole. Over at Marvel I’d love to write She-Hulk, Wonder Man, and I’d really like to try my hand at The Runaways even though I know that the internet would condemn my writing before a page ever hit the stands.
Will any of this ever come to fruition? Probably not. I think my teeth gnashing towards Geoff Johns has essentially black-listed me there at DC, and I’ve been fairly vocal about my displeasure with Marvel from time to time. I’ll have to publish my own horse-crap from here until the end of time.
Such is life.