Posted - June 15, 2014 : Updated : August 24, 2015
Amazing Spider-Man v3 1
of the first issue of this 3rd volume of Amazing Spider-Man made me really reluctant to read the comic.
It's because of Peter's face. What is that? Dorky, goofy, comical? Parker is supposed to be a genius, he looks like an idiot here. The thing is, the powers that be at Marvel, meant for Peter to look this way - this is a cover after all - of the first issue of a new series, no less - not some inside panel that an editor can overlook. Hmmm, maybe the younger fans would like it, to another eye it might be interpreted as 'playful' maybe? Even fun? If you're put off as I am by the cover, I suggest you ignore it. I read the comic and this is a good, solid issue.
It is, in fact, a comic book in several parts:
Part the First: Lucky To Be Alive
"Lucky To Be Alive" opens with the origin of Spider-Man, a tale that was first told in 1962 and has been retold countless times in the comics, several times in the movies, and I don't even know how many times in animations. With that, I dutifully read it trying to suppress a yawn. Wonderfully, there were two surprises. First, is the insignificant, yet interesting, detail that Peter's radioactive bite wound both burned and glowed - I was under the impression that it was just the average insect bite until Pete started feeling the effects. Second, is the very significant incident of a second recipient of the radioactive bite. A heretofore unrevealed female has also been bitten the same day as Peter by the same spider. No more is said of this after that, but Dan Slott has definitely planted the seed for a future storyline here. Come to think of it, this first issue is spent
planting a lot of future storylines.
We learn that while Doc Ock had control of Peter, he had (1) completed a Phd, (2) started a company, (3) made the previously disabled Aunt May walk again. Ergo, Otto Octavius was the superior Spider-Man.
What's the best way to prevent a Peter Parker-centric storyline to collapse on itself? Super-villains. In this case, sexy ones. Enter: The Menagerie.
This panel could have been so much better. The villainess on the right, Pandamania, looks good, specially with that really great show of super-strength. The leader, the one on the left, White Rabbit - I couldn't even tell she was supposed to be a rabbit until much later; and that unfortunately drawn pocket watch, placed right there, in that particular spot in front of her hip, makes here look like she's wearing diapers. It just throws off what could have been a really good panel. The Penguin-inspired umbrella blaster made me smile. It's nice to know that Marvel has access to DC's props.
Another great detail is the attempted heist of the Faberge eggs.
Wads of cash in bags are so cliche.
Just as the issue was beginning to take off, it crashlanded again with this panel.
When Peter had to borrow DDs costume, that was funny, this one is just sad - and hideously drawn, I think.
Later, Peter, who has been remiss in attending to the company that Doctor Octopus created for him -that's how it is isn't it? - gets a little lecture from Jay.
Spot on. Employees can be less than enthused about the 9-to-5 but when a person creates a company its most likely in pursuit of a dream. Jay is right, what could be more important? Little does Jay know he isn't talking to the person who created the company.
Now the story segues over to Doc Ock's lady love, Ana Maria:
I have two first names, and I know a lot of people with two first names but I've never used both my names in referring to myself or heard anybody else do that either, so to see Ana Maria referring to herself as 'Ana Maria' is a bit weird. It would be more natural for her to refer to herself as either Ana or Maria.
With Amazing Spider-Man 2 hitting the theaters, the choice of Electro as a villain comes as no surprise. We are treated to this wonderful panel of Electro unleashing his powers.
Now its time to look into J. Jonah Jameson. Mayor Jameson has been forced to resign. In a fit of anger, he does this:
How many of you, during an angry moment, have ever smashed a flat screen tv or anything of comparable worth? If you have, then congratulations, you're rich. The rest of us, no matter how angry we get, we don't touch the expensive stuff. You have to have money to fly into this kind of rage.
So Peter is stuck with the company. Not only that, he is stuck with taking over Doc Ock's formidable scientific workload. This panel shows us pretty much how Peter reacts to all this.
Now that's confidence. Peter knows he's smart and reacts appropriately. A person with no confidence in his brain power would be sweating buckets or looking to sell at this point, or, most likely, both.
I love the shot of Parker Industries' Spider-Man related projects
Next up, Menagerie again with a much better panel than the last one:
Marvel history alert: Gypsy Moth is not a new villain - she was a part of the first Spider-Woman series; that was either the early eighties or late seventies. Skein? Gypsy Moth is a much better name. All told, I really like this Menagerie panel.
Another thing I notice is the Spider-Man one-liners are 'off'. Off meaning unfunny. I mean: ". . .Motif, mo problems. . ."? In response to a statement from White Rabbit about the Menagerie having a motif? That was just painful.
Nearing the end of this first part, we get a nice shot of MJ.
Part the Second: Recapturing That Old Spark
This part is about Electro.
I first came across the super-villain hangout called The Bar With No Name in the pages
Brand New Day
. I think its a great idea. What I don't like about this visit, to the bar, now, is this:
Supposed villain with an 8-Ball for a head. That just sucks.Yes, yes, everybody goes around in tights, but an 8-ball for a head?! I'm not even going to dignify this by asking what his power is.
Incidentally, the art for this part of the comic reminds me of Shaky Kane's "Bulletproof Coffin" art. This level of quality cannot carry itself on its own - like, for example, Lee,
Perez, or Coipel art - it has to have a good story underneath it. And just like that, the dialogue shines through:
A hack would have the bartender say something like "No fighting" or "Take it outside" or some other unimaginative line but that piece of dialogue reflected a bartender who knows his business and writers - I'm looking at you Dan Slott and Christos Gage - who respect their work; and therefore, I will respect it too.
There is reference here to the uber-powerful Electro initiating a huge escape from the Raft. I'v e read those New Avengers issues way back. It's nice to know what happened to Electro after that.
There might be no honor among thieves, but, evidently, there is a sense of gratitude.
Here's another fine detail:
When other people are thinking about their careeers or global warming and such things, I find myself theorizing on Electro's powers. Here we learn that its not always "full on" but has to be built up. That's a good detail because, if you think about it, electrical powers are really on the upper scale of the super-power list.
This part is literally about kicking back in a bar and reminiscing. Very laid back, then we get a bit of a shock with this panel.
What is that? Are all those people dead because of Electro? Looks like the light-hearted bar talk has come to an end.
I was talking a while back about seeds being planted for future storylines. This part is one of them, it ends with Electro having a major bone to pick with the Wallcrawler.
Part the Third: Crossed Paths
This third part begins with the brutal attack of Otto Octavius as Spider-Man on Peter Parker's sexiest girlfriend ever: The Black Cat.
Not letting up on the shock panels it follows up with an equally heinious shot of Felicia Hardy mopping up in prison.
I've read up on those old issues of Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man, and I know that Ms. Hardy, not wanting to do a deal with the devil, went for something a bit worst: a deal with the Kingpin. That deal gave her powers, real powers. So with that, what's Felicia doing mopping up in prison?
Short answer: power dampeners. Yup.
Later on, the power goes out, the power dampeners go off, and we have a very angry Black Cat out to get the Spider. Yet another one of those infamous seeds for future storylines.
My only hope, is that when it comes time to to tell the full tale they get a really good artist because the Black Cat drawn right is worth many times the price of admission.
Part the Fourth: How My Stuff Works
Welcome to the space-filler part. Drawn in the cartoony tradition of Fred Hembeck - no, that is not a complement.
To match the Archie comics art we have the appropriate subject matter: Spider-Man's powers and abilities.
I take issue with the statement that Spider-Man can leap three stories. Three stories? I don't think its three stories. I think Spidey is more powerful than that. I think he should be more powerful than that.
Then we come to the part of the web-shooters, about how they used to be organic for a time then mechanical again. If the comics didn't 'kiss ass' to the movies so much we don't have to have this elaborate explanations.
That's it, let's get out of this part and hope that, in the future, Marvel confines stuff like this to their free MacDonald's promos or things of that nature.
Part the Fifth: Homecoming Sort Of
This part is to promote Spider-Man 2099, who has an upcoming new series.
I know nothing of Spider-Man 2099 because I've ignored all previous comics about him but this part has got me interested.
First of all, it opens with a breathtaking panel by Will Sliney:
Just look at the details on that. The crisp linework.
Then we get more interesting details, like Spider-Man 2099 isn't in 2099. He's in the current time period. Nice.
As I said, I'm not familiar with him, so references to powers like 'acceleration vision' has me curious.
So Spider-Man 2099 rescues what seems to be a damsel-in-distress from a trio of thugs. Here he is punching them out.
Marvel has good costumes and bad costumes. This is one of the good costumes.
Entertainingly, this part ends with a sort of cliffhanger. Remember I referenced the victim as "seems to be a damsel-in-distress"? Well, she is royally pissed at being rescued. Why? Don't know. This part ends without explaining it.
For some insane reason, I think that's a great way to end this part.
Part the Sixth: Kaine
This part is about Scarlet Spider and is a promo for the upcoming New Warriors series.
I find the concept of 'The Other' particularly interesting.
Kaine is a product of the Clone Saga event that nearly destroyed the Spider-Man comicbooks in the 90s. He's all about how we react to feeling abused and threatened and feeling worthless, about how our choices at that moment define our life at that moment. The Other symbolizes the evil choice in such an instance, the giving in to the pain and anger.
This part gives us a treat at the end; a wonderfully done panel of the New Warriors.
Part the Seventh: Amazing Reality
This part addresses the question: What if during Spider-Man's early days smartphones were already widely used? No kidding. Here's that famous wrestling match being recorded on a mobile.
Notice how the art for this part approximates the Ditko art of the early Amazing Spider-Man issues?
So if Spidey's brush with Pro Wrestling was ever recorded and uploaded to UTube(?) how many hits would it get? Answer:
Personally, I think that's on the low side. 'Gangnam Style' got two billion hits in total for heaven's sake.
That kid with the smartphone is some kind of Peter Parker-level genius and he's rigged up his own gear -
yet another seed for future storylines; in this case Amazing Spider-Man 1.1. That's right, not 2 - one
Bonus Part: Inhuman
This part is free, so who am I so say no? Besides, I've always had a soft spot for the Inhumans - always a great read and this part is no exception.
So the Terrigen Mist has been unleashed on both sides of the Atlantic and latent Inhumans are discovering that they are, well, that they are latent Inhumans.
But before we get into that, just check out this beautiful panel of a Norwegian street by Joe Madureira.
Getting into the superhuman,or rather, Inhuman, part of the , eh, part, we come across Lash.
For a while there, I thought this was my favorite X-Man, the Beast. No its Lash - I'm pretty sure the Beast can kick this guy's ass.
Lash not only looks great but he adds to the ever-growing Marvel mythos by coming from a place called Orollan. Orollan is an Earth-based - as opposed to the former Moon-based New Attilan - Inhuman colony not under the sway of Black Bolt. They have a sparse supply of Terrigen so everybody can't be exposed to it - just a select few. Because of that, the Orollan Inhumans practice a sort of 'Terrigen elitism' that dictates that not all are worthy of the change brought about by the Mist. Interesting. I just love how deep Marvel lore becomes as time goes by.
Speaking of Black Bolt, here is a wonderful panel of him and the equally awesome Medusa.
Costume by Kirby right? After all this years the King is still the king.
The Inhumans are Marvel's ultimate statement about unity in spite of physical diversity. I mean, Lockjaw looks like a giant bulldog but he is as 'human' as the other Inhumans. Here's another one, Eldrac:
Eldrac looks like, and is mistaken for, a piece of infrastructure, but he is, in fact, an Inhuman with 'gateway' powers. Here he is transporting Medusa.
As the tale progresses we meet Dante. Dante is young and single but he has an ailing mother and a pregnant sister with a dead husband. He makes the hard choice to sacrifice what freedoms should have been available to him to stand by them. Here's what he has to say about family.
"... You get it. You step up. You grow up . . .". That's a great line and its reality for a lot of us.
Don't have enough of Medusa? Remove the word balloon on this panel and you've got a wallpaper-worthy spread.
Wow. And that's the first issue of Amazing. Lots of great art. Tremendous amounts of stuff for future storylines. Lots of shameless plugs for other Marvel series, but really good ones. Overall, I really enjoyed the variety this issue brought. I think this is a great start to the further adventures of one amazing super-hero.
Posted - June 16, 2014 | Updated : August 26, 2015
Amazing Spider-Man v3 1.1
Learning To Crawl Part One
So why is this numbered 1.1 instead of 2? Because this is a flashback issue taking us to the early days of Spider-Man.
Oh no! That beautiful cover lured us into a story that we already know, right? Yeah, but not quite. There are some very nice subtle surprises in this issue.
The hype around 1.1 is that they retconned a new villain into Spidey's early years. You might have heard referrals to Clash. Well here he is.
This panel is pretty much the only time you'll see the costumed Clash in this issue. It's the very last panel of 1.1, which means Clash comes into the picture next issue, in Part Two.
The story begins right after the death of Uncle Ben. Very early on, I'm struck by some beautiful panels from artist Ramon Perez (any relation to the Perez I wonder?).
Here is Peter, walking a lonely road, contemplating the death of the only father he's ever known:
The big, red spider over the shadow not withstanding, the layout of this panel, and Ian Herrings choice of colors, conveys the mute loneliness of one Peter Parker very effectively.
Another Perez panel is even better. It's a very simple scene: Spidey climbing up the side of Aunt May's house.
What is it about this panel? Is it the form of the tree? The tint of the sky or the reflective windows? It's just right, just wonderful to look at.
Considering the subject matter, there is an appropriate funereal mood to the opening of this story. Then we get these five curious panels:
At first, I thought this was a miss, a flaw in the script. Ben Parker had just been killed the day before, it is the next morning, and May Parker is preparing breakfast with a smile on her face? After some thought it began to dawn on me how brilliant these series of panels are.
Of course Aunt May is preparing breakfast as usual; what better way to subconsciously deny the death of Ben Parker? This is denial that confronts Peter on this tragic morning. A brave front put on by her Aunt to show that she simply does not accept the situation. The last panel shows us that one can only erect so many walls to deny an incoming sea.
The real core of this issue is an open ended debate on the life, the character and the legacy of one Ben Parker. And the debate starts with this panel.
Good old Uncle Ben died without leaving any money to his family. Question: Is he still good old Uncle Ben? Is a man still good if he doesn't provide for his loved ones? Much later, we have this panel right after Ben Parker's funeral:
Peter is holding green bean casserole, tuna casserole, sweet potato casserole - maybe every casserole ever invented. Each tray of the stuff given by a family friend that Uncle Ben helped out, sometimes financially, paying a mortgage here, a hospital bill there. So Uncle Ben spent for all these people but didn't even leave enough for his family to pay for his funeral. You may have a different opinion, but from where I am, good old Uncle Ben, such a font of wisdom in Spider-Man lore, indeed the source of
the oft-quoted "With great power comes great responsibility", is, himself, an irresponsible deadbeat. Suddenly, Amazing Spider-Man 1.1 is starting NOT to look like a mere rehash of a tale we're all familiar with.
Not to put too much of a damper on things, let's go over to Aunt May for a spot of wisdom that I personally know to be true in my own life; I'm almost sure you'll agree it is true for you too.
The universe provides.
No panel throws me back to the Ditko-era Spider-Man more than this one with Spider-Man and Maxie, Spidey's agent. I think its the way Maxie's face is drawn. The girl is one of Maxie's clients.
Ever notice that when we panic it's almost always because a lot of different pressure sources converge on us? It's usually not just one thing. Almost all of us can handle just one thing going wrong - we focus on it and keep our cool. But if another blaze sprouts up somewhere else when we're firefighting, well, that's a lot to handle. Peter has not one, not two, but three major fires: The death of his Uncle on his conscience, the lack of money plagueing his family and his sudden role as the man of the house at fifteen years old. So when Maxie does something totally harmless like call him a "hero". we get this:
This is no indestructible god from Asgard; no super rich playboy indistrialist. This is Spider-Man. This is us.
Here's another great reality.
Something you enjoy, the moment you have to do it in near-desperation to survive; it becomes a chore. Drudgery. How true; the pressure ruins the fun.
The smallest panel with the biggest message in this issue? This is it:
This is a dream that has been thrown out there by millions of people billions of times but it has almost always never come true: To be able to look into the bully's eye and know that, without any doubt whatsoever, that the bullying is over. This is the huge thing that is happening in this small panel. Dream come true.
I've shown you Peter Parker losing control, it's only fair that I show you another side of him.
Peter Parker alone, talking to his departed Uncle. But no, he's really talking to himself. Voicing out a sentiment that is all but universal to every man and woman who stands as a breadwinner. There's something poignant, sad and brave about these two panels. In fact, the same can be said about the whole issue. And that's a great way to end this review.
Posted - June 17, 2014 | Updated : August 26, 2015
Amazing Spider-Man v3 1.2
Learning To Crawl Part Two
Issue 1.2 continues the flashback to the early years of Spider-Man. But where exactly are we in those early years?
This issue provides clues to the timeline. Here's the first one:
The Vulture. The one following him is Clash, ignore him for now, he's new - a retcon. Here's another hint.
Note how nonchalant Spidey sounds at not being allowed into the FF? Later he'll admit how much the rejection really
got to him. Now for the last clue:
The rejection by the FF and the appearance of the Chameleon happened back in Amazing Spider-Man #1 and the Vulture tangled
with Spidey in issue #2. Both circa 1963.
So here we have the sonically-powered Clash revealing himself to the public.
Definitely not the silent type. The glory-hound speech reminds me of Syndrome from the Incredibles - even the white costume reminds me of Syndrome.
It's only fair for Marvel to copy from Pixar, after all, the Incredibles were clearly copied from the FF. So all's fair.
Peter has his regular after school sessions with the school psychiatrist? Or is it a guidance counselor? Doesn't Peter go to public school? They have this kind of service? Anyway, during the session, this comes out:
Peter Parker is clearly referring to the recent rejection by the FF. He's more hurt than he lets on, which makes sense, to an 'outsider type' like Peter it takes a lot to muster the courage to join any group, so rejection is that much more painful.
Clash is the alter ego of one Clayton Cole known to some as "Creepy" Clayton Cole. The cognomen is telling, Clayton is an outsider looking in - just like Peter - and that makes what Peter will later do to him that much crueler. Here he is with an invention.
Strangely, in spite of the "Creepy" cognomen, Clayton reminds me more of Tony Stark than Peter Parker. There is a "showy" quality about him.
So the classic encounter with the Chameleon happens, this issue, thankfully, doesn't waste precious pages rehashing what was published back in '62. Peter is back in his room, Aunt May is right outside the door, very concerned, Peter tells her not to enter, then this happens:
Don't you just hate it when someone has a key to a door that you can lock? It's a huge pet peeve of mine - never mind if that person is ultimately respectful, like Aunt May, the point is, she can barge in at anytime if she wants to. The fact that Aunt May always has Peter's key in her pocket is even more vexing.
This panel reminds us that this retro issue incorporates 21st century technology
It's a crazy mix, this panel. Look at the police uniforms, those are mid-century. The laptop and those uniforms don't really belong in the same time period. Marvel apparently had to include the tech and the up-to-date cultural references but they had to include snatches from the classic 60s comic too. No complaint here. It's a pretty wild mix that's fun to read.
Here's a flaw in the script
The reason for this whole scene is to bring home the point that Flash, like Clayton, is an early fan of Spider-Man. Except, Flash, the jock, is shown here hanging out with the nerds and making chummy comments. How likely is that?
My expectation is that Clash is just like Syndrome from 'The Incredibles'. A glory hound who wants the satisfaction of one-upping Spider-Man. Not quite. He wants to beat Spider-Man but with a twist.
Clash counts browny points in social media - he wants web notoriety and is willing to pay for it. He'r really relatively harmless until Peter makes a wrong move.
Clash paid for an hour of Spidey's time to create a video of him beating Spider-Man, said video to be uploaded later for Clayton Cole's benefit. It's a business transaction that Peter doesn't honor. It's very disrespectful on Spider-Man's part, not to mention unprofessional since this is a contract gig. I think Clayton Cole, who started out as more of a showbiz type is headed for traditional super-villain territory and the fault lies with the Spider.
There are some action scenes here but nothing worth showing. I complemented Ramon Perez for some beautiful panels last issue but his action art, at least in this issue, doesn't look as good as his location shots last issue.
Looking at Peter's situation at school, an administrator wrongly assumes he has been beaten up by Flash, and the school official does the old, stupid, shake hands with each other routine.
As you can see, Flash threatens Peter and Peter is very affected.
My reaction is: What gives? You're Spider-Man, so what if you're being threatened by the school jock? I'm beginning to realize that its not about the physical threat. It's an acceptance thing. Flash can no longer beat him up but not all the Spider powers in the world can ever let Peter belong.
The big surprise for me here is coming to the last panel and reading "To Be Continued". What the?! There's a third issue? They better wrap it up, this little time travelling trip is getting a bit stale.
Posted - June 17, 2014 | Updated : August 26, 2015
Amazing Spider-Man v3 2
Why Electro? Because of the 'Amazing Spider-Man 2' movie, of course.
So back in issue 1, we were shown that on the day Peter was bitten, a girl was also bitten by the same spider. And she makes an appearance here, although still remaining very mysterious. Some things are revealed though. First, she knows Peter is Spider-Man. Second, she has vhs tapes of Spider-Man's battles which she studies and third . . .
. . . she has organic webs! They seem to be generated through her skin. Her little trick with the light switch shows that she's no newbie. Big question: What has she been doing all this time? And just like that, the question just flies off into the aether with no answer forthcoming - at least not in this issue.
Meanwhile, Peter tries to gently break the bad news to Ana Maria that her lover Doc Ock is no longer, well, no longer around. This is tantamount to telling Ana Maria that her boyfriend has died, so I'm expecting an explosion followed by sobs. Obviously, Ana Marconi is made of sterner stuff. She reacts in two ways. First:
Plausible, but not something I would do myself. In moments of crisis I tend to just sit there expending every ounce of my energy trying to prevent what seems to be an eminent internal collapse. Yes, I'm a wuss.
Here's Maria Marconi's second reaction:
Now this I can relate to. I'm the kind of person that a good long walk keeps me sane from time to time.
Let's leave this melodramatic scene to meet up with Electro. Last time we saw this guy his power went haywire and he blew up a prison, for the second time. This was the first time. Evidently he managed to regain consciousness and is now walking the streets of New York. He rings up an old girlfriend who graciously welcomes him in.
". . .Come in and plug in"? I thought this was a general patronage comic.
Look at the pics on Francine's walls.
You just know this girl collects "Superior Foes of Spider-Man". I wonder if she, you know, invites all the members of the Sinister 6 to "come in and plug in"? I love her, she's a naughty girl
Peter meets up with the Avengers and has to explain why he's wearing pants over his costume.
See this piece of dialogue? Of all the heroes in Marvel, DC, Image, Top Cow, IDW and the long defunct Crossgen, only Spider-Man gets to say something remotely like this - okay, maybe Ambush Bug.
Here's the best panel shot of the Avengers in this issue.
Cap is on the floor because Spidey punched him, something about Flash Thompson/Venom. I don't fuly understand though - the perils of missing out on back issues..
Peter was thoughtful enough to bring the cookies Ana Maria baked and I am loving how Spider-Woman is loving those cookies.
Back to Electro. Francine kisses Electro and his out-of-control powers apparently kills her.
Electro blames Spider-Man for this. How angry will you get if somebody did something to you and now you can never, ever get laid? Electro must be in a murderous mood at this point.
The fight is on! And artist Humberto Ramos treats us to two gorgeous fight panels.
Electro reminds me of the LSH's Lightning Lad in this second panel.
Here's something I've never seen before: Electro flying off like the Torch, only its lightning not fire.
More revelations from the Black Cat who is off to the side watching the fight. Back in issue 1 the Black Cat was incarcerated, but an opportune power outage allows her to escape. That power outage, it turns out, was caused by Electro. This time, the Black Cat uses her luck powers to allow Electro to escape from Spidey.