Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Will the real Spidey please do what a Spider can! (pretty please)

I just finished reading Ultimate Spider-Man 121. Prior to that, I read Marvel Adventures Spider-Man #38, and in both books the 15-year-old Spider-Man, acted responsibly, intellectually, and heroically, three things that are inexplicably lacking in the post BND-Amazing Spider-Man.

In Marvel Adventures #38, the young Peter used his scientific knowledge to defeat Swarm, and in Ultimate Spider-Man he (in seven short pages) beat the stuffings out of Omega Red (who, I believe, in the Main Marvel Universe has given the X-Men a serious run for their collective monies). Meanwhile, in Amazing, Spidey has let a pair of non-powered street muggers escape, hasn’t had a solid win over a single bad guy, torn his uniform, lost his web shooter, and, well, you get the point.

It isn’t that either of these books are being written brilliantly (which is not to say that they are not being well-written, they are), it is to say that there is way too much editorial interference being exerted on Amazing. What we are seeing in Amazing is a perfect example of the old adage that too many cooks spoil the broth. Management should see this, step back from the mix, and trust the very talented creators that they’ve hired to work their magic.

I realize that this current approach — at its core — is supposed to be a “Back to Basics” approach, but it simply isn’t. It is the worst sort of fixing what ‘ain’t broke. I still say that I would have loved to have experienced a Post-Civil War Marvel Universe where Spidey was on the run. I still feel that we were cheated out of a slam-bang punch-out between Iron Spidey and Iron Man (Stark wouldn’t have had a chance). I still think that Dan Slott’s most amazing “fix” to the Spidey’s identity woes (as depicted in the brilliantly-written Avengers Initiative #7) was inappropriately and cavalierly tossed aside too quickly (although I spoke briefly with Dan at the recent NY Comic Con and he told me that that will still figure largely into what is to come, I can hardly wait).

Finally, lest someone read the above and think that I’m mean-spirited or simply a nay-sayer, that is so not the case. I love this character. I have always had (and still do) a huge fondness for Spider-Man, and I really don’t need him to be written “my” way. I would love for him to grow and evolve as a character. What I object to is that the current editorial team simply won’t allow that to occur. It is as if they that want to see him stuck in some weird 1960 time loop that will simply not allow the character to evolve and achieve his true potential.

I can only hope that editorial and/or management will ultimately see that allowing this travesty of a storyline to end, and let Peter Parker come back from whatever pocket-universe Limbo/Hell in which he is currently trapped. For I know the truth. The Peter Parker I know would NEVER had made a deal with the devil, not to save Aunt May, not to save MJ, not to bring back Gwen from the dead. He is one of the most morally straight characters ever conceived; and the deal with the Mephisto so completely goes against the fundamental core of what drives this character — “With Great Power, comes Great Responsibility” — there is nothing responsible about dealing with the Prince of Lies, for any reason. Ever.

Think I’m wrong? then pick up a copy of Avengers Classic #11, read the back-up story (an encounter between a young Spidey and a newly-revived Captain America) and then tell me I’m wrong. You won’t be able to do so. This short piece is as wonderful a story about Spidey as I’ve ever read, and supports my own personal theory that Spidey is my generation’s Captain America.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Spider-Fan of the year award goes to...

Hey, I thought I was a serious Spider-Man fan, but even I’m willing to admit that I’m a piker as compared to this guy.

This seems to be real to me, and not a Photoshopped piece. but, who knows?

Bad Funnybook Films

Yeah, yeah, I know it is almost redundant to say “Bad funnybook film,” but Entertainment Weekly has gathered together a list that is undeniable the worst of the worst:

You can check out the list here. If you can come up with others, feel free to ad them.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Love and Capes

A couple of years ago, I discovered a way cool Indie comic entitled Love and Capes. over the past couple of years I’ve managed to snag a couple of issues of the comic due to Free Comic Book Day and have always throughly enjoyed the book.

Well, this past weekend, I managed to run into Tom Zahler the creator/writer/artist of the series at the NY Comic Con. As I was able to tell by the type of book he creates he was a very nice guy, and we got to chat for a couple of minutes. While I was there I acquired a copy of his lovely book and yep, I enjoyed that one as well.

Tom is writing what is ostensibly a cross between a superhero book and a romance book, cast as if it were a TV SitCom. The series is a really wonderful slant on superhero life all done up in a unique perspective. The series centers around The Crusader (Mark Spencer), a Superman-like character (hiding out as an accountant in the “real” world, and his interactions with his girlfriend Abby Tennyson. All of the other superheroes and supervillains in his world are all essentially modeled after mainstream characters from the DC and Marvel universes. However, we don’t so much get to see the superheroics of that world as much as we get to read about the lives that they all lead.

Back in the ‘80s I had a conversation with Keith Giffin who expounded on how The Justice League could be made for TV. His concept was to treat it as if it were the TV show, Barney Miller. That is to say, the JLA would simply never leave their HQ. Whenever it came time for them to catch the bad guys they would exit the stage, have their superheroic fight off-camera, and then return with the bad guys in cuffs. (he then hilariously detailed how Flash and Hawkman would go to capture Mr. Freeze, only to return with Flash frozen in a block of Ice and being wheeled in with a hand truck “Put him over in the corner by the heater until he melts”).

Zahler writes Love and Capes just like that. Sure we get to see some superheroic stuff, but this is mostly like reading Terry Moore’s Strangers In Paradise. it is all “relationshipy” (not that there is anything wrong with that).

The series is light-hearted, delightful, and way more fun than I’ve had in comics since the start of Back In Black. So, as you can tell, I’m really enjoying this series, and I wanted to tell everyone that they should deluge Tom’s site to purchase back issues. I love all of his delightful “insider” references (like the Ditko hands bit in the right).

The thing that made me pick up the comic initially (besides the whole “Free Comic Book Day” thing, was that the issue that I recall picking up first had “The Arachnerd” in it. Obviously the character is Tom’s take on Spidey, so you had me right there. Needless to say, I came for the Spidey spoof, and stayed for the wonderful story,and I’m not at all sorry that I did. Now I just need to acquire more copies of it for myself.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Who watches the Watchmen?

Now I’m as big a fan of Alan Moore’s Watchmen as is anyone, and I’ve been looking forward to the prospect of a Watchman-themed movie for like a decade or two, so when I saw this way-cool link, I thought it was fun, and interesting, and wanted to pass it along to all of you folks.

It seems that Zack Snyder, director of the upcoming movie adaptation of the wildly popular comic, is inviting you to create a advertisement for a fake product — if it’s good enough, it could make its way into the movie.

So, as video is a bit out of my league, I figure I’d turn this over to all of you.

Knock ‘em out!

Quit Monkying around with my heroes

First they were heroes, then we wondered “What I..” Next up we saw them as zombies, now apes? that’s right, Apes. No, this is not DC from the wild wacky ‘60s where they loved apes to death (ours, not theirs). Sure, sure Gorilla Grodd was fun and all, but I can’t help but to think that what set Marvel apart from DC is that while DC was filling their pages with silly “comicbookie” kinds of things, Marvel was setting their heroes in the real world and giving them real problems.

Now the reverse seems true. While I’m not entirely sure what is going on over at DC, we are getting stuff like this...

Simian Superheroes Coming to Comics With Marvel Apes

Marvel Comics will soon publish Marvel Apes, a mini-series set in a universe where heroes like Iron Man and Wolverine are hairier, toothier and infinitely more likely to check each other for body lice.

(via Underwire)

All of which brings me back to my original question. With all of the alternate Earths floating around the Marvel Universe these days, why did they have to go and screw around with the Mainstream Spidey? Wouldn’t have been simpler to have just spun a new Spidey off (resurrect Scarlet Spider, perhaps? Stan Knows that he still has plenty of fans and supporters!)

Ah well what do I know?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

I just flew in from Chicago...

...and boy are my arms tired!

Yeah, yeah. I know that it is a hackneyed old line, but I’m a hackneyed old man it actually does apply. You see, I was not here all last week as a new client of mine spirited me off to Dallas, TX for the week to work on-site for a leadership meeting for their client (long hours, crazy-busy, lotsa werk). To backtrack for a moment, The week prior to last week I worked local for that same client, then on Sat I got picked up and flown out to Dallas. The meeting was Monday through Thursday, with me arriving back home Thurs Night around 10:00 p.m.

The following morning I got up and caught an 8:00 a.m. train into NYC for the NY Comic Con where I remained for the entire weekend. I got home Sunday night for a house full of relatives and a Seder meal. Monday and Tuesday brought a frantic attempt to meet a deadline in producing a newsletter for a long-standing client and getting acclimated back into my (so-called) “real” life. That newsletter off, I can now begin to post again.


For my first post I wanted to talk about what a crazy-good time I had at the NY Comic Con. The people who put this on are getting better and better at it every year, and this one tops last year as to what was available, and how it was staged. I came away with a metric tonne of giveaways as well as very way-cool contacts. I'll be talking about this stuff soon enough, but I just wanted to check in with all of you good readers to let you know that I haven’t forgotten you all, and I’ll be posting comic-related stuff very soon.

Oh yes, as you can see from the image at the top of this post. I too am a Skrull.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The War of the Independents

Many of you have heard about Dave Ryan’s The War of the Independents. This is a pet project of Dave’s that (i suspect) grew out of Marvel’s Civil War Event.

Personally, I have only seen a couple of the penciled pages and a poster image or two, so I really don’t know much more about it than all that. Still, one thing that I do know, is that my own characters The Wülf Girlz, will be appearing in the series (something I have probably have mentioned here a time or three).

Anyway, the reason that I bring it up today, is that I became aware (on Dave’s ComicSpace page) that some folk have been developing War of the Independents banners that can be placed on their own (or other’s) web pages, to promote the event.

Well, just today, I built my own banner, and I’m putting it up here. Feel free to download and link either to this post, to Dave’s ComicSpace Page, or to the official War of the Independents Webpage. That would be totally cool.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

In Quest of a(nother) No Prize

As many of you all know, Marvel Comics has a long-established history of awarding a No Prize to fans who either spot an error in a Marvel Comic, explain away something that appeared to be an error, or for Marvel Zombiesim far and away beyond normal fannish activities.

I have two No Prizes (Yes I am a Marvel Zombie Geek-a-zoid.)

Well, in Amazing Spider-Man #555 Spider-Editor Stephen Wacker steps into the Letter’s column (Hey! A letter’s column! I had almost forgotten that these used to appear in virtually every issue of every non-reprint Marvel comic!). Anywho, this issue included an appearance of Dr. Strange, and Wolverine who (along with Spidey) are New Avengers, and hiding out in Doc Strange’s place in the Village. The part of this scenario that is odd, is that not only did Doc recently bow out of the team, the team itself relocated to new digs owned by Danny (Iron Fist) Rand, and that after both of those events, Spidey changed from his Back-in-Black dudes to his classic Red-and-blue jammies.

Well, Mr. Wacker graciously ‘splains that rather than launching into his own reasoning, he is throwing open the doors to fans to set the record straight and to give an “official” continuity timeline of what was going on. To that end, I figured that I toss in my two cents (before they discontinue the penny). Needless to say, I just shot off a version of the rest of this post to the Spider-Offices.


I dove into this task of explaining the presence of Dr. Strange, Spidey (in his red and blues) and Wolverine hanging out in Doc’s Greenwich Village home) headlong, and worked up this entire complex scenario that involved Dr. Doom’s time travel platform (as recently seen in The Mighty Avengers #9–11), pocket universes, trickery by the gods themselves, unorthodox deals with other-worldly demons, nefarious subterfuge by global-spanning intelligence organizations (as well as their self-serving villainous counterparts), Machiavellian manipulations by world leaders with hidden agendas, secret intergalactic invasions…and that’s when it hit me!

It was all as plain as the nose on my face. There on page 16, panel 1, Spidey makes a revealing comment to himself. He says (and I quote) “B-but I remember how ridiculous a blue hoody looks over this costume. I doubt a Yankees jacket would be much better…”

A Yankees jacket? A Yankees jacket?

It has long been established that Peter (like his beloved Uncle Ben before him) is a Mets fan (I refer you to Peter Parker: Spider-Man (Vol. 2) #33). Not to mention that he grew up in Queens (the home of Shea Stadium — where the Mets play). No self-respecting resident of Queens would root for the Yankees! Which can lead us to only one conclusion.

Spider-Man is a Skrull.

Now I’m not saying that all Yankee fans (or even all Yankee players) are Skrulls, (but it would certainly explain quite a bit about their years of championship teams).

Hence, after careful consideration I have to go with the only answer that makes any sense. Something that John Byrne once said. “They’re ALL imaginary stories.” Or, in the words of our current editor-in-chief…

It’s magic, we don’t have to explain anything.

Can you say Whoopsie!

I’ve been reading comics for quite some time, and while I haven’t (obviously) read (or seen) all of them, I have seen quite a few. Until today, I never saw what I’m about to show you (unless it occurred as an April Fool’s joke). If you look close, you can see that there are (apparently) not one, but two issue # 17s of Amazing Spider-Girl. (The Real ASG #17 appears to the left)

That’s right, two. (ASG #18 appears to the right)

No, not a single issue with a variant cover (a practice I have always hated, you know how many times I’ve purchased the “variant” thinking it was a new issue? Too many) be two separate issues.

Also, this is not a volume 1/volume 2 scenario, it is a flat-out typo. The wrong number is on the cover (I can tell because the issue is correctly numbered in the inside indicia. Will that make this a valuable collector’s item or just an interesting oddity is anyone’s guess (also, will Marvel choose to reprint it with a correct number on the cover?) Don’t know. (The “fake” ASG #17 appears to the left)

Anyway, it is kind of fun, and helped brighten my day a bit. (right after it made me crazy for 10 or 15 minutes while I attempted to sort out what was going on with my collection accounting practices.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

For whom the Bell Tolls

Hey, did you folk hear about the suit against DC comics by the heirs of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster? If not, check this out. A buddy of mine turned me on to it yesterday. Meanwhile a local author named Marc Tyler Nobleman with whom I’ve been chatting recently, has authored a children’s book on these two comicbook creators. He has bloged about this a couple of times (at least once over here).

Personally, I’m looking forward to reading his book, (Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman), is due out later this year.

Further, you can only wonder how this will shake out for guys like Steve Ditko, the heirs of Jack Kirby, and other comicbook creators who developed now-hot properties under “work for hire” contracts. This looks interesting, to say the least.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Don’t try to adjust your set

No, this isn’t an episode of The Twilight Zone, this is your real life. or rather your Post-BND Spider life. Heaped on top of all of the other indignities that we've been forced to endure (no marriage to MJ, Harry is dead/not dead, Spidey can’t seem to catch even the most bumbling of muggers, and the randomness of slowly-eroding, previously-established continuity). The most recent indication of which is that in ASM#551 wherein Peter sells a photo to the new owner of The Daily Bugle, for two grand, and Peter thinks that should just about enough to make a batch of web fluid.

Apparently since continuity no longer matters, no one recalled that back in Sensational Spider-Man #0 (1996) has Ben Reilly able to prep a new batch of webbing for $16.50 and some trash he scavenged from a nearby dumpster. While I realize that I don’t expect every aspect of the previous 45 or so years of continuity to be recalled, but really...

Now, (in Spider-Man Family #8, of all places) we are being forced to endure the indignities of generic, badly-written plots. To be sure, previous issues have all read better than recent issues of Amazing, but that level of quality seems to be slipping with this most recent issue of Family. In this issue, we have two new stories (both retro-fitted into Spidey’s past)

The first one has Spidey and Iron Man teamed (obviously timed to help promote IM’s up-coming movie) where the two heroes go up against rogue sleeper robots built by Stark’s dad in a Cold War era to act as doomsday protectors against a Russian invasion). At the conclusion of the story there is a cute nod to the “ideas” that IM has to improve Spidey’s costume (which naturally became the Iron Spidey costume). The second story (where the real sloppiness occurs) has Peter and Bobby Drake bumping into each other in Manhattan, and then both racing towards the same restaurant (with their respective dates — peter, interestingly enough, with Gwen not MJ) to be the ones to get there to make the last table.

The story is OK, only it feels like something that was left over from a previous script and then doctored to fit into this retcon. (Spoiler alert) the story ends with both Bobby and his date, and Peter and Gwen arriving at the restaurant only to discover that Ben Grimm is already there with his date (presumably Alicia Masters). The appearance of Grimm leads some to believe that perhaps this story was originally crafted with Johnny Storm not Drake. (Spoiler alert over).

Bobby in the city at this time, (and with a girlfriend), racing for a restaurant against Pete simply doesn’t ring true, especially considering that Bobby and Peter have never met (in spite of the fact that Spidey and Ice Man have met (most notably in X-Men #s 27 & 35, and Marvel Team-up V1 #4. Still, as civilians, these two individuals simply never met (unless there is some rectcon about which I know nothing). Plus, let’s make sure to mention that Bobby is younger (by a couple or three years) than Peter.

I’ve been reading Spidey stories for quite some time, and I’ll be honest, near as I can recall, the first (and only) time that Peter (willingly) revealed his secret Identity to any other hero was to Johnny Storm in Spider-Man Human Torch #5. (before you all go off the deep end, in that issue Spidey revealed to Torch that DD, Wolverine, Dr. Strange and (probably) Prof X had all figured it out with their powers), and he did tell Black Cat (she has played both sides of the law, and even though they were partners for a while), but given that she has been on both sides of the law (depending on her use in in the story), she really can’t be considered the straight and narrow “hero” type.

And yeah, there is MJ and Aunt May (who both knew his identity by this time), but still, Pete willing letting another hero into his privacy circle was a big deal (According to New Avengers, only six or seven months old by this time) we see that both Spider-Woman (Jessica Drew—whom he met in her comics in #s 20 & 29) knew his identity as did DD (which we just established here). Also, obviously so did Cap Who recruited Pete into the New Avengers after the breakout on the Raft (Cap mentioned a SHIELD file, so it is probable that SHIELD (Nick Fury and perhaps others) knew as well.

So I suppose that after all of that perhaps Bobby could have known, but it is more likely that someone (the writer of the editor of SMF #8) half remembered that MTU issue, and simply tossed it in to make the story
work.” Needless to say, for me, it simplyjavascript:void(0)
Save Now didn’t.

I can’t wait for this entire sordid episode to be over, but I seriously shudder to think what travesty will follow. I fear that it can only get worse.

Oh yeah, if I’m shown that I’m wrong (in that Bobby did know Pete’s secret identity), I’ll be happy to apologize in this space.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

It’s Good to be Published

Well, if you have been stopping by here any time recently you just might have noticed that there are some subtle changes in the framework of my Blogspace. As I’ve mentioned, I have a couple of new short stories that have been recently published. Both Psychosis! #3 and CAG #7 are due out this month, and both contain stories of mine in them.

The first, Psychosis! #3 contains the long-awaited follow-up story (a prequel, actually) to my story Never Judge a Book... (Psychosis! #1). I would tell you more about this little tale, only that will give away too much of it. Suffice it to say that it is once again lovingly rendered by Matt C. Ryan.

The second story has been even longer in a holding pattern (if you can believe it). It is a continuation of my legendary Renegade Press espionage thriller series, Agent Unknown. This particular story is a new tale of two new agents from the same top-secret intelligent organization. This series is set squarely in the present day, and has a much harder edge to it. It is painted by Chris Torres, and you really have to see it to believe how striking it is on the page.

I seriously have waited a very long time for both of these comics to hit, and this is really only the beginning, as I have more stuff waiting in the wings. Both comics will be available at the CAG & GWP tables at the NY Comic Con 2008 If you are in the neighborhood of the Javitz Center on April 18–20, stop by and say hello!

(Oh, in case you are wondering, both books have flip covers, that’s why there are four covers up here for two books; the second cover for CAG is courtesy of our good buddies over at the Filament Factory.)

Spider-Van, Spider-Van, friendly neighborhood...

OK, OK, you get the rest. Just a bit of silliness before we get to more serious matters:

Looks more like a Ram to me.
(from CollegeHumor)

And before you ask, no, it isn’t mine. I only wish it was!


Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Comics Values Annual 2008

Just like the swallows returning to Capistrano, so too do the funnybook fans return to their comicbook shops (except funnybook droogs do it weekly instead of annually, but you get the point).

At any rate, this is a good thing, because once a year (for the past 14 years or so) I get to contribute to the Comicbook Values Annual (the past decade or so as the features editor, and one of the three co-authors, along with Alex Malloy and Stuart Wells). Well, this year is no different than previous years, because I contributed again, and have been rewarded with my copies of the annual tome.

That’s right folks, CVA 2008 is now out and you can rush out and pick up your very own copy (or, if you want an autographed copy, let me know, and I'll see what we can arrange).

This time out we have a wonderful cover by Mark Sparacio (who has done the last couple of covers for us), of This year’s hot Marvel Comics film, Iron Man. Plus we have an interview (conducted by your humble narrator), with None other than the Award-Winning SF Novelist, Orson Scott Card (who wrote both Ultimate Ultimate Iron Man and Ultimate Iron Man II.

Whelp, that’s it for now. Enjoy