Saturday, December 27, 2008

Meanwhile, back in the Marvel Universe...

Not sure if I’ve mentioned this (recently or at all), but not only do I pen reviews for SpiderFan, but I have recently been tapped by fellow Spider-Fanner Al Sjoerdsma to work on the upcoming Official Index to the Marvel Universe (my contributions begin with issue #2, due out in Feb., ‘09). Well, due to a misunderstanding on my part, I reviewed X-Men/Spider-Man #1. When I realized that my review was premature, I decided to expand it to fit in over at SpiderFan, only, as it turns out Kevin Hollander had already laid claim to reviewing that title. Not wanting to let my review languish in limbo, I figured I‘d post it here.

Comic: X-Men and Spider-Man #1!

Title: The Strangest Teens of All

Over the years, the paths of Spider-Man and the X-Men have crossed many times. In this limited series, we see how one story took place over the course of several years, as events in the lives of these heroic teens are manipulated by Mr. Sinister. This first chapter takes place during the ‘60s when the X-Men were in their New costumes (after the “death” of Professor X), and around the time Flash had just entered in the military, Harry Osborn and Gwen Stacy were both still alive, (he was dating MJ, and she was dating Peter).

The X-Men (Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Beast, Iceman, Angel) are sitting around at the X-Men mansion in Westchester, watching an account of themselves on TV battling the Hulk, while the show’s guest, J. Jonah Jameson, rails on about the mutant menace, and calls for some sort of registration for all mutants. Spider-Man, meanwhile, swings through Manhattan happy as various TVs play in the background with the same program broadcasting. Spidey is happy that JJJ is going after someone else.

He enters his and Harry’s apartment and wonders if he should tell Gwen his secret, while thinking that worrying might give him an ulcer (which it eventually does). The next guest on the show is Kraven who has just been released from prison (after having been tossed there by Spidey), and vows that his next target will be mutants. And he postulates that Spider=-Man is a mutant. The X-Men feel they have to warn Spidey, and head into the city.

After having changed out of his costume, Peter meets up with Gwen and Mary Jane they all head to the Coffee Bean to meet the gang. They enter the café, under the watchful eyes of Kraven. Shortly after the arrival of Peter and the girls, the X-Men (in civies) pull up in Warren’s car and of all the places in Greenwich Village to enter, they go into the Coffee Bean.

Inside, the mutants and Peter’s friends intermingle. Flash, who is in Uniform, as he is either on leave, or yet to ship off to the Army), tries to pick up Jean, and MJ & Gwen flirt with Bobby and Hank, respectively. Harry’s on edge because of MJ’s antics (around this time Harry began taking drugs, and this was clearly part of that storyline). Just as all of the teens are beginning to enjoy themselves, Kraven and Blob burst into the café and attack. As all get-out erupts, the X-Men and Peter use the confusion to change into their costumes.

The heroes force both villains outside and onto the street so as not to endanger the patrons. As the fight rages on, Kraven manages to nick each of the X-Men; drawing blood from each of them. Eventually Spidey and the X-Men manage to subdue the Blob, but Kraven manages to slip away. The Blob dealt with, Kraven in the wind, and the cops on their way, all of the heroes do likewise so as not to be around when the cops show up. Before they go, however the X-Men renew their offer to have Spider-Man join them. He declines stating that he really doesn’t work well with teams.

Kraven delivers five vials of DNA material to Mr. Sinister who has been hiding behind the scenes this whole time. Mr. Sinister indicates that he has plans for the genetic material.

This is obviously a continuity implant story, building on previously-established events from the established cannon of the Marvel Universe. The story seems to play out well, doing a very nice job of tapping into those events, and actually manages to successfully re-establish the feeling of that time. From the excellent visuals and great dialogue you can almost believe that this story was written and drawn back at that time. The inclusion of a later villain like Mr. Sinister, plus the teaming of two older, classic villains (who prior to this never actually met), are both very nice touches.

Summary Rating: 3.5 Webs

Rating Explanation:
Again, this story reads quite well, and does a most-excellent job of recreating that era for this reader.

I’m not entirely certain how this will eventually play out, but this story worked quite well for me, including a bit of foreshadowing with Gwen sitting on a dock with the Brooklyn Bridge in the background.

# # #

As soon as the camera’s battery is fully charged, I’ll post more Christmas photos.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Spider-Presents roll in...

Yeah, yeah, I know that the point of the Christmas season is not the gifts that you get, nor even so much the gifts that you give, but the whole “Peace on Earth goodwill towards men” thing, but hey, I did get a buncha cool Spidey stuff, (and I know hoe jealous this makes you guys), so I’m gonna put it on display here:

First up was this Spider-Man activity book that I received. then, there is this very cook sheet of Spidey stickers (which you can apparently peel and place over and over). Very cool. I’m going to have to see if they work as well as the copy claims). And of course, what would the end of the year be without a calendar for the upcoming year (and for all of you who haven’t already acquired a NovaStar Fantasy art calendar) might want to get their hands on a Marvel Pop-up calendar.

More to come (I have to get some pics of the camera, but the camera’s battery died.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Some early Christmas gifts...

So ‘tis the season to be feeling Mary, er, Merry and already the gift-giving has begun. My CAG buddy James Rodriguez brought me back a little gift of sorts from his recent trip to South America. A Spanish copy of Spider-Man. I have something of a collection of these type of comics. I like to ask friends of mine who are traveling to non-U.S. locales to snag a comic for me, or — failing that — grab a foreign fast-food toy for me. I don’t know why, but both are always cool for me to receive (hint, hint, hint).

Oh yeah, and if you haven’t already acquired your 2009 calendar, you just might want to check out the one that James produced (a visual of it is off to the right side of my blog at the top). Don’t forget to tell him that I sent you over. Head over to his Blogspace and locate the payment and shipping details.

Another gift I received was from another CAG friend, Liz Ortiz. I can’t recall if she scored this when she was recently in Texas or it was simply something that she had lying around her place. She tells me that it is a holder for a videogame system (I don’t remember which, but it it really doesn’t matter, as it is Spidey, and well, I’m enjoying it in my collection now.

While I haven’t yet received it, Chris Buchner (yep, another CAGer) claims to be sending me the Spidey Santa hat you see to the left. He found it on ebay, and well, knows my taste for (the truly odd) Spidey-Stuff. Still, whild I was (obviously) entertained by the Santa Hat, I was truly surprised by this Spider-Man 3 Santa hat.

Apparently with blockbuster success comes whack-job marketing. Well, happy, happy, merry, merry to you all.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!

So we got the first snow of the season this weekend, and well, I want to show you all the view out my front door when I got up this morning.

A closer look reveals so much more:

closer still:

And another view:

Friday, December 19, 2008

Sing, Spidey, Sing!

A while back I mentioned that there was a Spider-Man musical in the works, well, according to Scoop that musical has gotten one step closer to it’s 20010 Broadway debut. Director Julie Taymor has just cast Evan Rachel Wood as Mary Jane Watson.

Julie Taymor the director of the rock musical Across the Universe is reuniting with her leading lady Evan Rachel Wood for the Broadway production of Spider-Man: The Musical. Wood recently told reporters that she will be playing Mary Jane Watson in the show. Plans for Spider-Man: The Musical are to begin production next summer and it will likely be on stage in 2010.

For the rest of the story, go here.

Sounds like fun.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Songs in the key of Spider-Man

A couple or three years ago, a very good friend of mine found a dozen or so versions of the theme song to our favorite web-slinging hero and then burned them to a CD for me. Over the years, I have listened to the CD over and over again. Just recently I had cause to look the theme song on YouTube, and, well I simply couldn’t resist these, and neither will you.

Here is the original Spider-Man theme song, the way we heard it on TV when the cartoon originally debuted:

Here is the way The Ramones sang it:

Now re-interpreted by Weird Al Yankovic:

As sung by The Distillers:

Even Aerosmith took their own whack at the Spider-Man theme song:

The Karmacats (who?) give us a slammin’ version of Spidey’ Theme:

Michael Buble did a Jazz Remix to the theme song:

I know I posted this once before (albeit on another blog), but so long as I was posting versions of Spidey’s theme song, I figured that I’d have to include it again here (for the first time). Courtesy of the Simpsons:

This last one didn’t have embedding enabled, so here is the link.

How Spider-Man 3 Should have ended

My CAG buddy Chris pointed me in the direction of this vid, and, wel, it was too funny not to post here.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Mini Spidey (tape) sculpture

You read that headline correct, a masking tape sculpture. A few years back I was working on-site for a local business and the guy who worked in the next cubical to me liked to make miniature figures out of masking tape. I don’t know how he managed to do it, but apparently this guy does this kind of stuff all the time. He specifically made me this Spidey sculpture for fun, and because he knew that I liked Spider-Man.

If I had any talent in that area, I’d pang it to look like Spidey, but sadly, I’m lacking skill in that area, so I’m going to leave him just the way he is. I shot the pic with Spidey’s foot resting on that matchbook cover (he is leaning on a candle) so that you can get a feeling for the figure’s actual size.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I’ze Gotz Spidey-Fingers!

Yeah, its true, I’m a total Spider-geek. I can’t help myself I really can’t. I went to some local craft fair recently and found this Spider Finger-Puppet. One of the reasons I got it is, because I have two other Spidey Finger-Puppets, only both of those are variations of the classic red-and-blue costume. When I saw this one I knew that I had to have it.

Now all I have to do is find the other two...

One of these days I’m really going to have to photograph everything Spidey that I own.

(Photos courtesy of my daughter Kayla)

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Free Comic Book Day is Coming

Yes, yes, yes. Free Comicbook Day is nearly five months off (Saturday May 2nd), but just today, several of the Gold Comics Sponsors have been announced these comics include the following:

Archie Comics: The "Mighty Archie Art Players"
Bongo Comics: he Simpsons and Futurama
BOOM! Studios: Cars (based on the hit Disney/Pixar movie)
Dark Horse Comics: Star Wars: Clone Wars
DC Comics: Green Lantern (Blackest Night #0)
IDW Publishing: Transformers Animated/G.I. Joe
Image Comics: Savage Dragon #148
Marvel Comics: The Avengers (New and Dark Avengers)
Oni Press: Shonen Jump (Resurrection #0)

I’ve always been a fan of Free Comic Book Days, and well, the 2009 edition will be no exception. More as it comes up.

It’s Starting to look a bit like Spider-Mas

For the last several years, I’ve been setting my Christmas tree up later and later. (One year I literally set it up on Christmas Eve, of course that year it stayed up until almost February.) For the last couple of years I’ve been trying to get it up earlier rather than later. Well. I got it up last night, and well, you can guess what wound up on the tree.

Awww, you guessed, and you just know they look great on the tree itself...

And of course, you just know that I hung my stockings by the chimney with care...

I know that I have more Christmas ornaments somewhere, I just have to locate them. In the mean time, merry Spider-Mas to all, and to all a good webbing!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Rorschach (Lego)

I just found this image and had to share it with you all:

I so totally can’t wait for this flick to come out!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Back when he was cute

I interrupt the funnybook ramblings of this blog to bring you a photo of my son when he was cute (for reasons that will become obvious as soon as you see the pic).

He’s now 17 and a High School senior.

I have a better one of him somewhere wearing a “onesie” proclaiming him to be a “Future Marvel Zombie” I’ll have to find it and send it over to whomever is editing Marvel Zombies this time around.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Funnybooks as Literature

As you all should know by now, I’ve been reading comics since the (very) early ‘60s, which is when I discovered Spider-Man, and made him my own. So when I tell you that after 46 years of following his (nearly) every adventure, that I can be moved to true emotion by a story (and by the plight of characters) that — for all intents and purposes — I have known all of my life (longer in fact than I’ve known my wife), which is something of a big deal if you can understand that.

To be sure, this is something that I really didn’t think that could happen. I mean, sure I still enjoy reading Spider-Man stories (mostly), and I’m never going to get the character entirely out of my system (even during that brief period between the end of ‘95 to the beginning of ‘01 when I stopped collecting entirely, I wasn’t completely over him). Still, it was surprising to me that, well, I could be surprised.

Amazing Spider-Man #574 did just that to me, I found myself becoming emotional involved with what was going on even as the story was unfolding. The story dealt, with not so much Spidey himself, but one of Spidey’s long-time supporting cast members, Eugene “Flash” Thompson. Spidey first met Flash in High School, and Flash always played that typical dumb jock that picked on the hapless (brainy) Peter Parker. This lasted all the way through High School, and most of the way through College.

Eventually Flash enlisted in the army and went off to war (back then it was Vietnam — these days Marvel tends to fudge that topical bit of information as it would make Flash (as well as the rest of the characters) way too old for much of the current audience. Anyway, eventually Flash grew up (sort of) and he and Peter became friendly (they even roomed together for a while). Needless to say, Flash is and always has been something of a jerk. Well in this story, for perhaps the very first time, we gain a real insight into not only who Flash is, and why he is the way he is.

Interestingly enough, even though Flash bullied Peter, he always had a serious man-crush on Spider-Man. This was always dealt with as hero worship, and well, that was that. Only not so much. You see, there was more to Flash, and to his story that we had ever learned — until now. This story reveals all that. It tells a bit more about who Flash is, and why he is motivated to do the things he does.

And it has a surprise ending that I didn’t see coming.

It is deeply moving, and profoundly evocative. If you don’t read comics, you can pick up this particular comic and read it knowing whatever little you know about Spider-Man and his cast that you already know, and it will still be powerful, because while it so totally not about Spider-Man, it is obvious that Spidey is the heart and soul of this matter.

Why? Because what Stan Lee told us back in 1962 was the truth then, and is the truth now...

With great power comes great responsibility.”

Interestingly enough, around the same time that I read Amazing Spider-Man #574, I also picked up Invincible Iron Man #6, yet another comic book that surprised and taught me something. See, for me, most of the time comics are just light reading, escapist entertainment. On occasion, I get some new, interesting, or (believe it or not) even powerful out of them. Today when I read The Invincible Iron Man #7 was one of the latter.

It was there that I learned about Clifton Pollard.
Pollard was a gravedigger working at Arlington National Cemetery earning $3.01-an-hour. In November of 1963, it was Pollard that dug the grave of the recently-slain President Kennedy. The only reason that anyone knows this is because Jimmy Breslin then a reporter for the now-defunct New York Herald Tribune was covering the funeral found and spoke to Pollard. Apparently Breslin was the only reporter in America who thought that the gravedigger’s story might be an interesting read.

Pollard told Breslin that he considered it an honor to open the earth for a slain President’s casket.

Clifton Pollard wasn't at the funeral. He was over behind the hill, digging graves for $3.01 an hour in another section of the cemetery. He didn't know who the graves were for. He was just digging them and then covering them with boards. "They'll be used," he said. "We just don't know when. I tried to go over to see the grave," he said. "But it was so crowded a soldier told me I couldn't get through. So I just stayed here and worked, sir. But I'll get over there later a little bit. Just sort of look around and see how it is, you know. Like I told you, it's an honor."

Say what you want about comics, but as far as I’m concerned they are legitimate literature, and Invincible Iron Man # 7 is one of the reasons why.

The comic was written by Matt Fraction and illustrated by Salvador Larroca. It was one of the best comics that I’ve read this year.

And to think that my father always told me that comicbooks were going to rot my brain. Thankfully, He couldn’t have been further from the truth.