Adam Graham's Blog: Christians and Superheroes - Posts Tagged "1980s"

Book Review: Captain America: Death of the Red Skull

Captain America: Death of the Red Skull Captain America: Death of the Red Skull by J.M. DeMatteis

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This book shows us the Death of the Red Skull as told in the 1980s by JM Demattens. This was not the final word on the character (who'd be resurrected in less than 50 issues) but it was an event. The book captures that event in a year's worth of Captain America Comics from Issue 290-301. The first three issues and the last issue are probably the best in the book. The first 3 set up the fact that Cap is now partnered with Nomad and engaged to be married to a Jewish lady named Bernie. The dialogue is a tad corny, but the story is enjoyable for what it is. However with Issues 293-299, the story becomes a long slog of melodrama and over the top supervillain speeches. The story crawls with way too many characters operating within the same and chewing up scenery. One character in a coma was in multiple issues with his wife by his bedside and nothing happened to him. It was as if DeMatteis wanted to assure us the character was still in a coma. It had to be maddening to have to wait a month to read a story that went slow and went nowhere.

The story picks up with the actual death of the Red Skull in Issue 300, though this issue also features Captain America being saved by a magic Indian. Issue 301 is a solid conclusion actually as the Avengers come to help Cap with the aftermath. There's a nice moment where Hawkeye comes representing the West Coast Avengers with praise and respect for Cap after their troubled past.

Overall, this book was not a fun read. It has its moments, but its way too long for the little that happens, there are too many characters, and the dialogue is too florid, stilted and soap operatic.

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Published on December 16, 2014 17:17 Tags: 1980s, bronze-age, captain-america

Book Review: Showcase Presents Batman and the Outsiders

Showcase Presents: Batman and the Outsiders Showcase Presents: Batman and the Outsiders by Mike W. Barr

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Batman and the Outsiders finds Batman finding his own Superhero team and quitting the Justice League after the Justice League refused to compromise World peace to go in and rescue Batman's friend, Lucius Fox and by and by he ends up forming his own superhero group, "The Outsiders." Which is composed of two heroes who had been around a while but not quite become star characters (Black Lightning and Metamorpho.) as well as several newer characters.

There are some character moments as well particularly with Katana, Black Lightning, and Halo. What also makes the stories really work is that most of them are two part tales. Given the length of a single issue in this book is 23 pages (+1 page for cover), that gives 46 pages to tell a story which works really well for a comic book.

It should be clear that this book is part of its time when the New Teen Titans and X-men were up and coming stars, Batman and the Outsiders tried to tap into that same market but wasn't quite as good, but that doesn't mean it wasn't without merit.

What is problematic is the Batman and the Outsiders Annual which has the Outsiders battling group of evil metahumans who think they are heroes, but are really tools of a right wing plot It's a plot that goes to great lengths to illustrate how any conservative imagining a liberal conspiracy dominating the media is way off based as proven by this by this left wing biased comic book...Kind of ironic when you think about it.

Other than story, the stories are pretty good. The art by Jim Aparo is well-drawn. There's a bit of decline in quality in the issue Aparo doesn't work. Still, the book works far more often that it doesn't and overall this is a fairly enjoyable collection of comics.

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Published on October 08, 2015 07:00 Tags: 1980s, batman

Book Review: Essential Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man, Vol. 3

Essential Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man, Vol. 3 Essential Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man, Vol. 3 by Roger Stern

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book collects Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-man Issues 54-74, and Annual #3.

This may be the third Spider-man book Marvel was publishing, and the villains may include more visits from second raters like Nitro and Goldbug than fan favorites like Doctor Octopus and Kraven the Hunter, but there are some great Spider-man stories from the early 1980s.

Among the highlights. We get to see the origin and early adventures of Cloak and Dagger, Annual #3 offers closure for the Man-Wolf saga, and we meet one of Marvel's most unlucky villains, Boomerang. We also get a gun control propaganda story in Issue #71. Debra Whitman's mental state comes to fore after her seeing Peter changing leads her convinced she's relapsing to viewing the world as fantasy.

The stories are enjoyable and written by two scribes who know Spidey. The art is good, but rarely impresses, though there are exceptions. Ed Hannigan pencils a couple of really fine title pages. The cover for issue #74 with Debra Whitman trapped by several tiny Spider-man is a classic.

Overall, while the stories aren't necessarily spectacular, they are really good and a worthwhile read for any Spidey fan.

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Published on January 20, 2018 22:20 Tags: 1980s, spider-man

Book Review: Essential Amazing Spider-man Volume 11

Essential Amazing Spider-Man, Vol. 11 Essential Amazing Spider-Man, Vol. 11 by Roger Stern

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book collects Issues 231-248 of Amazing Spider-man, along with Annuals 16 and 17. An overview of the issues.

AS #231 and #232: A solid Cobra and Hyde story. Rating: B+

AS #233-236: The story involes the Brand Corporation, includes Will o' the Wisp and the Tarantual. Rating: A-

AS #237: Stiltman wants respect and to seriously upgrade his supervillain status. Nice character piece. Grade: B+

AS Annual #16: This introduces Monica Rambeau as the new Captain Marvel. Spidey becomes a guest character in his own book. Monica's story is okay and introduces a black female Captain Marvel, but this is probably now how you do that well. Grade: C+

AS #238-239: The story introduces the Hobgoblin and also draws some parallels to the death of Uncle Ben. Good start. Grade: A-

AS #240-241: The Vulture returns and we finally get an origin story that actually makes him somewhat sympathetic. Grade: A-

AS #242: A ho-hum fight with the Mad-Thinker highlights an issue that focuses on Peter Parker's life. Ends with Amy Powell giving him an unwanted kiss, just as Mary Jane Watson comes walk into his apartment. Grade: C+

AS #243: A better character-driven piece as Peter debates whether he should continue in post-grad school. Well-done debate as he weights all options and makes a tough decision. Well-written. Grade: B+

AS #244-#245: A somewhat hu-hum robbery with Spider-man catching the bad guys takes on a whole new level danger when it's revealed Hobgoblin's involved and plans use to stolen information from Osborn Manufacturing to make himself stronge. Has a nice fake-out cover for Issue #245. Rating: B+

AS #246: Learn everyone's Daydreams. Not a whole of surprises, Felicia Hardy's is pretty funny.
Provides s0me character insights. Grade: B-

#247-248a: Spider-man tries to stop a robbbery. Has to fight Thunderball. Hard to care too much this one. Grade: C-

#248b: The Kid Who Collected Spider-man. A tearrific story as Spidey tells all to a kid. A classic Rating: A-

Annual 17: At his high school reunion, Peter finds a classmate who's an up and coming writer who is in trouble with the underworld and tries to help. A very noirish story, hurt a little by a self-righteous ending. Grade: B

Overall, this is a solid read from a good run. Whether Roger Stern's run is the equal of the great runs from the 1960s is another matter, but this book is not only enjoyable in its own right, but contains issues that set the pace for Spidey books for years to come. I only wish Issues 249-251 had been collected, so we could have all of the early Hobgoblin stories in the same book. Still, it contains some very exiciting and fun Spidey comics. Definitely worth a read.

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Published on July 15, 2018 23:23 Tags: 1980s, spider-man

Book Review: Spider-Man: The Complete Alien Costume Saga, Book 1

Spider-Man: The Complete Alien Costume Saga, Book 1 Spider-Man: The Complete Alien Costume Saga, Book 1 by Tom DeFalco

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book collects about six months worth of Spider-man comics across three titles when he returned from the Secret Wars saga with an alien costume.

The actual costume is in all three books but doesn't play as major a role as you would expect, particularly if you grew up on Spider-man stories where the Black costume enhanced his powers. None of that is represented here. The suit is there, but the real twist doesn't come up until the last two issues of Amazing in the book and a little in the last Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-man story. Since the storyline didn't cross much, the best way to look at by is according to the particular magazine:

Amazing Spider-man #252-#258: It begins with Spidey's triumphant return from the Secret War, where all those returning have agreed not to tell the rest of humanity what happened but to tease it at lot so the readers would go out and buy Secret Wars. #258 is a great start to Tom DeFalco's full-fledged on Amazing. However, the book follows with more seeming random villain of the month stuff as Spidey encounters a Football tempted to go crooked in #253, battles the Jack-o-Lantern #254, and faces off against the Red Ghost in #255. There is some connection between these and the ongoing which begins to emerge with #256 when the new Supervillain the Rose hires the Puma to assassinate Spider-man which conflicts with what Kingpin's doing in Petar Parker, the Spectacular Spider-man. We also see Mary Jane re-asserting herself and get a shocking revelation from here. The real core of addressing the costume itself, comes in about half of Issue #258, though that does have some iconic art and it also features the disturbing image of the costume taking Spider-man's body out webslinging without his knowledge.

Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-man (#90-#95); To me, this is the most interesting magazine in the book. The key point is that in order to pull her wait as part of a team with Spider-man, Black Cat acquired superpowers and she got them from the Kingpin. Her powers allow her to change the luck of anyone who attacks her. However, she's keeping a secret from her erstwhile lover Spider-man. The Kingpin is really working a plan, though we don't get to see how it all plays out in this book, but he's manipulating so many figures and is aided by the Answer, a guy who makes a superb henchman known as the Answer. Cloak and Dagger become involved and we leave with the story not quite resolved.

Marvel Team-Up (#141-145 and Annual #7): The Spider-man team-up book is the weak link. Not only doesn't the title address the costume much, it's clear that this team-up title has become obligatory more than anything else. That's not to say the stories are all bad, but qualitywise, it's a bit of a crapshoot. There's a pretty good team up with Daredevil, though it seems to be continuing from previous stories. There's a decent two-parter between Spider-man and Captain Marvel (Monica Rambeau) and Star Fox to save the World and then save an Avenger. Then, there's a fair team-up with Moon Knight. The last Annual with Alpha Flight is a bit dull and tedious, and the final team-up between Spider-man and Jim Rhones which is actually a story to make us feel bad for wailed villain Whiplash is painful to read.

Overall, though the goodness of Amazing and Spectacular covers for the lackluster team up and this is a very solid era for Spidey comics even if the Alien costume seems tenuous at best.

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Published on April 05, 2019 20:13 Tags: 1980s, alien-costume, spider-man

Book Review: Captain America Epic Collection: Justice Is Served

Captain America Epic Collection: Justice Is Served (Captain America (1968-1996)) Captain America Epic Collection: Justice Is Served (Captain America by Mark Gruenwald

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Marvel had created far too many supervillains and so they needed to thin the heard, thus the Scourage arrived, killing off D-league villains and it's up to Cap to stop him.

This book starts out really strong. The Scourage is a great idea. Some of non-Captain America material is pretty good. A Hulk story told in splash pages is a favorite. The Cap stuff is great leading up to the confrontation with the Scourage.r

The rest of the book is still good, but different. This book's Cap is a Captain America who drives around in a van and makes a living drawing comics. In a weird way, he seems to be remakring his life based on the late 1970s TV movies.

Cap has a hard and fast no killing rule which breaks when a terrorist is about to gun down innocent citizen civilians which leads to some very awkward regrets, with Cap one time calling it an "indiscretion."

Yet, there are a lot of fun and interesting things, there's D-Man's arrival, Captain America apparently run into the ghost of the Red Skull, and a moment of truth regarding his wearing of the Shield. Writer Mark Gruenwald took concepts that wouldn't have worked for any other writer, but puts together a really fun and enjoyable narrative.

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Published on August 10, 2019 22:53 Tags: 1980s, captain-america

Book Review: Spider-man: The Complete Alien Costume Saga, Book 2

Spider-Man: The Complete Alien Costume Saga, Book 2 Spider-Man: The Complete Alien Costume Saga, Book 2 by Cary Burkett

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The first Alien Costume saga book, this doesn't tell an all-engrossing tale of the alien costume. At the end of the first volume, the costume was contained by Reed Richards and imprisoned in the Baxter building, although the first few issues of this book (including an annual) appear to have happened before that event.

What you do get here is a lot of good 1980s stuff. You get an Annual of Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-man that delves into Aunt May's past and reveals she went around with a gangster before she married Uncle Ben. Then there's an Amazing Spider-man Annual with the wedding of J Jonah Jameson provided the Scorpion doesn't mess things up. Then there's Spider-man and a round robin group of team-uppers battling the Black Abbott in a few issues of Marvel Team-Up. That book comes to an end with a double length team up with Spidey and the X-men battling the Juggernaut. On top of that, you have the re-emergence of Hobgoblin and you also have the relationship between Spidey and Black Cat playing out as she learns the price of her deal with the Kingpin. Then we have Web of Spider-man #1 and the return of the alien costume.

There are some lesser issues in here, but overall this book is really fun to read. More than a specific storyline, this book captures how Spider-man in three different books was firing on all cylinders and producing iconic and legendary comic stories.

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Published on March 09, 2020 13:34 Tags: 1980s, alien-costume, spider-man

Book Review: Black Panther: Panther's Quest

Black Panther: Panther's Quest Black Panther: Panther's Quest by Don McGregor

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Panther's Quest is a 1980s mini-series written by Don Macgregor who wrote the epic Panther's Rage back in the 1970s. The series was serialized in the weekly marvel premiere magazine which generally featured 8-page installments. The thesis of the story is that T-Challa goes to South Africa in search of his mother, and meets with an informant who has information only to run into militias and deal firsthand with the oppression in South Africa during Apartheid.

There are many legitimate criticisms of the book. It is massively overwritten with lengthy flowery prose serving to tell us about the situation in South Africa and what characters are thinking rather than to show it. It's a decade or more out of date here and it can be very excessive. In addition, much of the story is a diversion. The Panther's Quest is introduced in the first issue and essentially pushed off to the side until the last quarter of the book.

Nevertheless, it's still worth reading. It's a good historical document and has the Marvel Universe dealing with Apartheid head-on. The story is filled with some very real poignant moments. The art by Gene Colan is good, even though he's not at the height of his powers.

The reader should be warned that this is a very difficult book. It deals with a very ugly situation and it portrays the situation and the way people suffer in great detail. The action is often bone-crushing and extreme. There are some dark events in this story involving children, dogs, and a bit of sex slavery. While Marvel gave this book a Teen rating, it really does border on being Mature Readers book.

Overall, if this is the type of story that interests you, it's worth checking out.

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Published on October 10, 2020 22:52 Tags: 1980s, black-panther

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
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