After penning a hundred issues, Stan Lee turns the reigns over to writer Roy Thomas (at least for a couple of issues) and there's a perceptible changeAfter penning a hundred issues, Stan Lee turns the reigns over to writer Roy Thomas (at least for a couple of issues) and there's a perceptible change in the storytelling quality.
Seeking to cure himself of being Spider-Man in order to have a normal life, Peter Parker downs an untested serum, falls into a deep sleep (in which we are treated to a summary of Peter Parker/Spider-Man's life up to now) and wakes up with six arms. Horrified by what he's done, Peter scrambles to find a cure all while battling new threat Morbius the vampire and the return of the Lizard.
Another arc centers on Flash Thompson's return from Vietnam and the fall-out from his attempting to do the right thing for a group of villagers. The arc starts well for Flash but quickly goes in an entirely less than politically correct direction for the remainder of its run.
Then Spidey and company are off to Antartica to find Ka-Zar's forgotten world and deliver a photo feature that will save circulation at the Daily Bugle. (Interesting to see that newspapers were having issues with circulation back then and not just as we continue to explore the digital age). Gwen Stacey tags along as a model, which complicates things when Peter has to go all Spider-Man to battle Kraven the Hunter as well as various prehistoric beasts that inhabit the area.
Honestly, this storyline feels like an excuse for the artists to give us Gwen Stacey in a bikini, much to the delight of Peter and Jolly Jonah (who tags along to make sure his money is being well spent). At multiple points in this collection, I found myself wondering at the angles taken by artist Gil Kane for various characters. One memorable panel seems to want to give us a view of what it looks like up the nostrils of Robbie Robinson, the Bugle's long-suffering assistant editor.
It's clear that the storylines here aren't going to mined for adaptation for the silver screen (though we did get a re-telling of the Morbius story and the six-armed Spider-Man in the 90's cartoon). It feels like this is Spider-Man on autopilot, complete with all the drama of how being Spider-Man is ruining Peter Parker's life and relationships. Seriously, the guy can't be happy for more than two consecutive panels. I knew as soon as we saw Gwen in the bikini that Pete's life was about to take a turn for the worse.
Knowing what's coming up in a few issues (20 or so at this point) makes this collection feel a bit less essential than others in the Masterworks series. It feels a lot like we're treading water and waiting for the next big development for Spider-Man or possibly the introduction of a new, great villain or foe.
The eleventh edition is my least favorite of the collected Amazing Spider-Man series I've read so far. ...more
Stan Lee always wrote his comics as if each issue was someone's first entry into the universe of that particular hero or team of heroes. So there areStan Lee always wrote his comics as if each issue was someone's first entry into the universe of that particular hero or team of heroes. So there are times reading any collected edition of his works that you may feel like the story is repeating itself a great deal or going back to reflect on the origin of whatever hero or team he's chronicling.
And while that happens a bit in this collection of The Amazing Spider-Man, it's hard to find a few gems from a creative team that was firmly in a grove at this point. Collecting issues 88 to 99 of the original run, Spidey does battles some classic and not-so-classic foes all while Peter Parker's life is upended by his decision to continue being Spider-Man. The collection includes a couple of pivotal events in the life of Spider-Man from the death of Captain Stacy to the infamous drug addiction storyline that Marvel had the courage to print without the endorsement of the comic code authority. Re-reading this story now, it seems a bit light-weight and a bit like something you'd see on a daytime drama. But looked at through the prism of when it was published, it's downright revolutionary and hard-hitting.
The three-issue run that concludes this collection finds Harry Osborne becoming addicted to pills (what exactly he's addicted to isn't quite specified) in his attempts to keep up in college, Mary Jane Watson and the expectations of his father. Throw into the mix that Norman isn't feeling too well and his about one step from transforming back into the Green Goblin and you've got a classic mix of Peter Parker real-world angst coupled with a superpower dilemma for Spider-Man.
Sure there are a few less than stellar stories in here, but the good stuff more than outweighs the forgettable stuff. It's not quite as high on my list of Spidey favorites as the classic run of Lee and Steve Ditko, but it's still awfully good and well worth enjoying again....more
My first thought when I heard Marvel was producing a new series centering on Hawkeye was that it was a marketing thing to cash in on the heroes' new-fMy first thought when I heard Marvel was producing a new series centering on Hawkeye was that it was a marketing thing to cash in on the heroes' new-found popularity thanks to the cinematic universe.
But then I heard the buzz that there might be more to this than meets the eye. Add in that the new series is written by Matt Fraction, author of the brilliantly subversive Sex Criminals comic books and the series had my interest.
So when my local library got in the first collected edition of the new Hawkeye, I picked it up.
The series begins by addressing the "why does Hawkeye warrant his own book" question straight on. While he doesn't necessarily have any superpowers, the question of whether Hawkeye is a hero or not is addressed and answered by the end of the first issue. The other five issues in this collection continue to address the nature of Hawkeye's hero-ness, along the way throwing in a few good jokes and motivations that give the character some depth and vulnerability. Turns out Hawkeye is just as conflicted about his role as a hero as any of us would be -- provided we were expert marksmen with access to all types of body armor and various arrows. One fun sequence finds Hawkeye in a car chase trying to find the right arrow to stop his pursuers.
I found myself enjoying Hawkeye a lot and curious to pick up a few more collections to see where things go next.
When the best thing you can say about a comic book cross-over event is -- well, at least the art was nice, you know something isn't quite working. OrWhen the best thing you can say about a comic book cross-over event is -- well, at least the art was nice, you know something isn't quite working. Or maybe that this particular cross-over event isn't your cup of tea.
Collecting the six-issue run of Star Trek/Green Lantern: The Spectrum War, this limited run series is not two great tastes that taste great together. In one reality, the Green Lantern corp has just been wiped out by some evil force. Rings of various colors hop over to the JJ Trek verse and assign themselves to familiar faces in the final frontier.
Adventure ensues. Along the way, there's a massive battle between all the various colors of the spectrum and the planet Vulcan comes back from the dead, complete with zombie Vulcans.
And yet for all of this, I couldn't help but feel that I'd arrived late for the party and missed some important details that reduced my enjoyment of this crossover event. It could be that my familiarity with Green Lantern is limited to what I've seen in the DC cartoons and the big screen version of the character with Ryan Reynolds. I hope that those who are more versed in Lantern lore will get more of seeing why various rings chose certain characters that I missed here. And I suppose if I recognized any of the Green Lantern pantheon of foes beyond Sinestro, I might have felt a bit more drive and drama to the battle to save the universes.
Instead, what I felt for much of this collection (beyond the first issue) was confused and uninterested. The third issue does little more than tread water as we set up things for the return of zombie Vulcan and Scotty inventing his own power ring.
In all honesty, I can't necessarily recommend this one to a casual fan. It feels like we've got a shoehorning of the JJ-verse Star Trek characters into a Green Lantern event mini-series. And it's one that left me as cold as General Chang's bones in space at the end of this story.
In the interest of full disclosure, I received a digital ARC of this comic book in exchange for a fair and honest review....more
IDW's re-imagining of certain episodes of the original (and still the best) Star Trek has been hit or miss. This latest installment, collecting issuesIDW's re-imagining of certain episodes of the original (and still the best) Star Trek has been hit or miss. This latest installment, collecting issues 46 - 49 of the on-going series is no exception.
The collection starts off with a re-telling of one of my favorite installments from classic Trek, "The Tholian Web." As with other re-imaginings of episodes from the original series, I find myself torn between wanting the story to be as faithful as possible to the original story and somehow offer me something new to make it feel like it's worth my time to spend reading this version of the story. Unfortunately, this telling of the Tholian storyline doesn't really succeed on either level. The new twist is that in the re-imagined universe, the NCC-1701 has the ability to separate the saucer section. So the Enterprise is in two pieces, trapped in the titular web, which I suppose should double the drama. Instead it merely isolates the characters who need to be working together to get out of this region of space.
The story also misses the opportunity that the original took full advantage of -- giving us a really good Spock/McCoy storyline while Captain Kirk was presumed dead. McCoy takes himself out of the equation early in the story, which isn't necessarily a move I can see our ship's doctor making under the circumstances.
The next story is an original one called "Deity" and sees Sulu tapped to lead an observational mission on a planet where the inhabitants have descended from birds. Of course, things go awry and the technology meant to keep our landing party cloaked fails, thus violating the Prime Directive all over the place. Meanwhile, a ship has shown up in orbit that is threatening things -- or is it? This is the most discouraging of the stories included here simply because it has some potential, very little of it realized. Some of this comes down to the artistic choice made for the bird inhabitants. Maybe it's the sports fan in me, but I found it hard to take the aliens seriously when they look like the San Diego Chicken. Another part of it is that the story feels a bit derivative of Next Generation's "Justice" (only without the scantily clad natives to distract us) and that it's stretched to run over two issues.
Finally there's a one-shot story involving every doctor who has appeared in the Trek universe working together to stop a contagion that turns people to stone. It's a nice idea and it's fun to see Crusher, Pulaski and Bashir working together on the problem as well as the older JJ-verse version of McCoy running around. And yet as much as I complained about "Deity" feeling stretched out, I kept feeling this one was rushed to keep the page count to one issue. It's frustrating that the story I wanted to spend more time with is the one that feels like it's getting the most short changed.
All in all, the eleventh collection of the rebooted Trek comics is more misses than hits. But odds are I won't give up on the series just yet. I have a feeling the comics may be used to set up some things for next summer's Star Trek Beyond.
In the interest of full disclosure, I received a digital ARC of this collected comic from NetGally in exchang for an honest review....more