Adam Graham's Blog: Christians and Superheroes

February 20, 2021

Book Review: Spider-Man: The Gathering of the Sinister Six (Audiobook)

Spider-Man: The Gathering of the Sinister Six Spider-Man: The Gathering of the Sinister Six by Adam-Troy Castro

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


The first of the Sinister Six trilogy of text novels by Adam-Troy Castro finds a sinister "Gentleman" gathering together the Sinister Six, but one of them-Mysterio is launching a deadly plot of his own against the acting community.

I have to admit that this book did kind of pull the rug out from under me. Initially, at the start of the book, the focus was on the Gentleman, his cruelty, and his plan to take on Spider-man for reasons unknown, as well as to destroy the city and somehow reap a handsome profit. The story then shifts to a suicide attempt by an aging actor who has been being tormented and then succombs. We then learn it's part of a much broader plot by Mysterio.

Still, what we get is a very enjoyable novel. It manages to capture the spirit of comic book characters including J. Jonah Jameson and Flash Thompson and makes them very three-dimensional. I also appreciated the return of a hero who'd fought alongisde Spider-man in the 1970s for the final act and how he was fleshed out. Comic continuity is used intelligently, so we know enough what had come before without getting bogged down. In addition, the side and original characters are well-crafted as well, and Castro either had some solid knowledge of show biz or did a ton of research.

I'm also a huge fan of the Mary Jane-Peter Parker marriage, so it's great to read a book with that intact and to see how they interact. Mary Jane is well-handled and well-treated as a character, which is better than many comic book writers gave her.

While I listened to the modern well-narrated recently-released audiobook, listeners/readers should be aware that this book is a product of the times it was written in: the mid-1990s. Honestly, this book would be two thirds as long if everyone had smartpones and could access YouTube and IMDB.
Still, if you accept that, this is a fun ride that does justice to Spider-man in novel form.





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Published on February 20, 2021 09:51 Tags: 1990s, spider-man

February 19, 2021

Book Review: Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen: Who Killed Jimmy Olsen?

Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen: Who Killed Jimmy Olsen? Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen: Who Killed Jimmy Olsen? by Matt Fraction

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Someone's trying to kill Jimmy Olsen...a lot of people are trying to kill Jimmy Olsen, but one in particular sends him into hiding and in search of who is really behind what's happening to him. Along the way he's going to meet friend and foe alike as he seeks to find out the truth.

This book is a hoot as it pays tribute to all of the insane whackiness Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen has gotten himself into, in many ways hearkening back to the Silver Age of comics. It's filled with all sorts of outrageous over the top characters and situations, and humorous adventures. They even find an effective way to recast Jimmy in the 21st Century media culture...as the insane over the top vlogger whose constant antics draw enough worldwide advertising hits to keep business coming to the Planet.

That said, the book is hard to follow at times. It jumps in around in time and location and it can be hard to ell whether it's just doing an homage over a situation is plot-relevant. Still, because the book doesn't take itself too seriously, it doesn't matter quite as much. It's a whacky fun read and if that's what you're in the mood for, this will hit the spot.



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Published on February 19, 2021 19:20 Tags: jimmy-olsen, superman

February 13, 2021

Book Review: Fantastic Four by Waid & Wieringo: Ultimate Collection, Book 1

Fantastic Four by Waid & Wieringo: Ultimate Collection, Book 1 Fantastic Four by Waid & Wieringo: Ultimate Collection, Book 1 by Mark Waid

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This book collects the start of Mark Waid and MikeJo Wieringo's run on Fantastic Four.

The book kicks off with Issue 60, which is a one-shot overview of the Fantastic Four and the sort of things that they do and experience. They've hired a marketing guy to help promote the team and he's trying to figure them out. Given that Waid admitted a lack of interest in the characters coming in, this character feels a lot like self-insertion, like he's speaking for how Waid understands the group. It's still an interesting read.

Issue 61 finds Ben murderously outraged about the latest Yancy Street prank and we learn who was really behind all the pranks we'd seen for 40 years prior. Sue sends Johnny to stop Ben and plans to make him more responses.

Issues 62-64 is the ʃ£πt¡Σπ storyline in which a character made up of computer code emerges and starts going after the non-Reed Richards members of the Fantastic Four. This is a decent enough story with a solid conclusion that allows Reed to shine.

Issues 65 and 66 is the two part, "The Small Stuff" story with Johnny in his new role managing the company's corporation deals with someone who wants to buy unstable molecules and Ben and Reed deal with an interdimensional insectile creature in the Baxter Building. The Ben and Reed plot is fine and some bit of B-plot comic relief, but it's the Johnny plot that ultimately makes this interesting and gives some needed character moments.

The book also includes Avengers #400. I think the only reason I can think for for the inclusion is that it was written by Waid. It's an effective celebration of 400 issues of the Avengers that provides a satisfying end, though all we get of the Fantastic Four is a cameo.

Overall, this was not bad. Waid brings a nice perspective to the Fantastic Four, appreciated them as a family and introduces some fun ideas. I look forward to reading more.



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Published on February 13, 2021 16:19 Tags: fantastic-four, marvel-comics

February 8, 2021

Book Review: Avengers: Vision and the Scarlet Witch

Avengers: Vision and the Scarlet Witch Avengers: Vision and the Scarlet Witch by Steve Englehart

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This book collects the very busy Avengers Annual where the Scarlet Witch and Vision are married, and then collects their four-issue mini-series.

The annual is decent, although there's a lot going on and it feels like there's a lot you'd miss if you're not up on all the ends and outs of 1980s comics.

The mini-series doesn't tell a complete story in and of itself, rather it teases what a series might be like. Issue 1 is kind of a standard affair with them moving into a house on Halloween and hijinxs ensuing. Issue 2 is more interesting in that it brings back the Whizzer who was at one point assumed to be the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver's father. Wanda doesn't have the heart to tell him the truth and they try and help him free his actual son from an institution with tragic results.

Issue three features Wonder Man, from whom Vision's personality was drawn, coming to help a wounded Vision out. Issue 4 features a visit to Pietro to encounter Magnetto and learn a key fact about the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver's life.

Overall, this is a solid volume. While it's not spectacular and there's ongoing arc, it nonetheless discloses some key moments for the character and is a worthy read for Marvel fans.



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Published on February 08, 2021 22:56 Tags: scarlet-witch, vision

February 6, 2021

Book Review: The Adventures of Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty

The Adventures of Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty The Adventures of Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty by Fabian Nicieza

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This book contains two Captain America mini-series.

The first is the Adventures of Captain America, which is a 1990s retelling of Cap's origin and earliest adventures with a lot of details expanded. Overall, this was a likable story with solid art, particularly for the era that managed to mostly remain consistent with what had come before. While not every change worked, I thought most did. This is a fun look at a little less experienced Captain America.

Captain America: The Newspaper strips is an attempt to rectify the lack of Captain America newspaper strips being published during the golden age of comics like Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman were. This works fairly although the art definitely more reflects the style of the early 2000s when it was written rather than the 1940s. I also felt the plot wasn't that great, particularly given that this was the only story that would told like this. Still, it's a nice read if you're a fan of the Golden Age cap tales.





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Published on February 06, 2021 00:26 Tags: captain-america

February 4, 2021

Book Review: Young Justice, Vol. 3: Warriors and Warlords

Young Justice, Vol. 3: Warriors and Warlords Young Justice, Vol. 3: Warriors and Warlords by Brian Michael Bendis

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This book collects the final eight issues of Young Justice. The plot with Superboy in the last volume is taken care of in the previous volume and then we get a bunch of individual issues that fill in continuity.

Overall, this wasn't bad. The art was pretty consistent and the stories had some interesting moments, but this didn't go anywhere and it was a little frustrating that a big defining for the team happened outside the book I was reading. This was okay, but I hope Young Justice returns with a bit more focus.



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Published on February 04, 2021 00:11 Tags: young-justice

January 30, 2021

Book Review: Event Leviathan

Event Leviathan Event Leviathan by Brian Michael Bendis

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


The Leviathan Event isn't a bad idea. There's a new shadowy threat called determined to bring order at any cost. Lois Lane decides that what's needed to solve the case is to bring together the DC universe's greatest detectives. This is good...in theory.

The problem is that this is a case of way too many cooks. There are simply too many detectives running around, essentially clustered together in large groups, with some dominating and some just contributing enough banter that we can say, "Yeah, that character was in this comic."

Instead, we get a lot of build up and a few plot points about how dangerous Leviathan is and it's hard to care about any of it. The solution to the case is unsatisfying which makes this a pretty disappointing miss for Brian Michael Bendis.



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Published on January 30, 2021 22:39 Tags: leviathan

January 29, 2021

Book Review: Marvel Masterworks: The X-Men, Vol. 7

Marvel Masterworks: The X-Men, Vol. 7 Marvel Masterworks: The X-Men, Vol. 7 by Steve Englehart

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Set after the X-Men went into reprints and before Giant X-men #1 made them legends, this book collects a guest appearances by individual X-men in Amazing Spider-man and the Incredible Hulk, and also multiple X-Men guest-starring in Marvel Team-up.

The comics are okay. Marvel Team-up #4 is probably the best story and the X-men do take the lead since Spidey's out of commission for most of the book. The Beast's solo series is not bad, but what he was going through felt very derivative of what the Incredible Hulk's set-up. Still, it's worth seeing in order to find out how the classic Hank McCoy changed to his more beastial form. Although his changing of color from gray to blue is not well-explained.

It's not terrible, but you can see why the X-men were in a no-man's land.



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Published on January 29, 2021 22:58 Tags: the-beast, x-men

January 25, 2021

Book Review: Spider-man: Miles Morales, Vol. 3

Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Vol. 3 Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Vol. 3 by Brian Michael Bendis

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This book collects seven issues of Miles Morales' Spider-man. The first half of the book features Miles' mother learning about his secret identity. I thought his mom's reaction to this was very realistic and had a nice human element to the story. This also leads into a teen hero facing off against Hammerhead and then Miles coming after him. Bendis put some thought into Hammerhead and the complexity of organized crime fighting heroes in the Marvel universe. All the other supporting characters are very well-written and characterized.

Then the book takes an odd swing with Miles going off to Japan in an effort to find himself. The story is interesting for what it does, sets up a big battle as well as a potential future for Miles that I'm not necessarily thrilled with. Still, this is a solid collection.



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Published on January 25, 2021 23:49 Tags: brian-michael-bendis, miles-morales

January 23, 2021

Book Review: Batman: Detective Comics, Vol. 4: Cold Vengeance

Batman: Detective Comics, Vol. 4: Cold Vengeance Batman: Detective Comics, Vol. 4: Cold Vengeance by Peter J. Tomasi

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This book collects eight issues of Detective Comics by Peter Tomasi:

This starts out with the titular story, "Cold Vengeance" which ties into Lex Luthor messing around with things and giving villains gifts. In this case, Mr. Freeze is given a chance to cure his wife Nora. This doesn't go quite as planned and there are a number of good turns along the way. This story was definitely entertaining.

Then we get the one shot story, "Orphan" guest written by Tom Taylor that deals with problem at an orphonage named for Bruce Wayne's mother. This one packs an emotional twist and Robin (Damian Wayne) is involved and gives another dimension to that relationship. It's simple and heartfelt.

Finally, we have the two-parter, "Dead of Winter" which involves someone strange pagan rituals around Christmastime. It's a good seasonal tale that while not great, is still a fun read.

Overall, this is another solid book in a good run for Detective comics.



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Published on January 23, 2021 23:31 Tags: batman, mr-freeze

Christians and Superheroes

Adam Graham
I'm a Christian who writes superhero fiction (some parody and some serious.)

On this blog, we'll take a look at:

1) Superhero stories
2) Issues of faith in relation to Superhero stories
3) Writing Superhe
...more
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