Spider-Gwen Animation!

A snazzy few seconds of Spider-Gwen animation courtesy of someone named Michael Hollister (I think?). Really plays in the Spider-Gwen color palette well and is some fun food for thought. Given they throw just about everything in the Spider-Man cartoons these days (Spider-Ham, Spider-Man Noir, etc), I wouldn’t be surprised if somewhere down the line we get an animated Spider-Gwen appearance.

I really liked Spider-Gwen #1 (the first one) when I read it this year. Check it out!

The Monday Morning Quarter-Bin: How Not to Treat Your Comic (Captain Marvel #13)

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This past weekend I attended the Boston Comic Con. I had a great experience, dressing up as Fantastic Five Spider-Man (from What If Vol 1 No. 1) on Saturday, scoring some signatures on a few books (Frank Brunner on the iconic Man-Thing #1 was a particular favorite), and then on Sunday attaining comic book nerdvana by getting my copy of Amazing Spider-Man #45 signed by Stan Lee. In between all of this I was gleefully raiding the $1 bins and other low hanging fruits; with a wedding coming up none of the “big ticket” items were tempting enough to overcome the hundreds of dollars I’ve had to dish out in the last few weeks. Still, a few good finds were had, including 2001: A Space Odyssey #1 for $1, Dr. Strange #178 (a Silver Age appearance of The Black Knight) for $2.50 (in acceptable condition, at least by my standards), and, from the same guy, Captain Marvel #13 for $1.50.

A 12-center for $1.50?! Surely he must be crazy. I’m a sucker for Silver Age Marvel, and given I could spend the same amount on some X-book from 1995, I decided to partake. I could already see that the front cover had a corner torn off — it was to be expected for such a low price. Still, upon further inspection I found a litany of defects, and given what I paid for it I could only chuckle as I began to make a mental list in my head:

  • Corner torn off.
  • Initials written on front cover in pen
  • Captain Marvel logo partially colored in with pen
  • Water damage on front cover
  • First page has bleeding from ad on inside front cover
  • General wear around all edges of the book. And the coup de grace
  • On the back cover is two coupons to send away for seeds to sell One coupon is cut out (!) and another has a name written on it, matching the initials on the front cover.

After taking all of these into account, I saw this not as a damaged Silver Age issue, but as a piece of somebody’s childhood. Some kid had this book, drew on it, spilled things on it, tore off a piece of the cover lugging it around, and even decided to send away to sell seeds in hopes of the fabulous prizes promised by the advertisement. This comic book lost resale value, but gained sentimental value as it went through life with this kid. He probably got it because it had cool space stuff on the cover, and loved it, or at least gave it a wild life before it was retired and probably sold off as he reached adulthood. So as far as curios go, this is actually more fascinating to me than any damaged comic has a right to be, like a window into someone’s past.

As for the comic itself? Green and white Captain Marvel was always a bit silly to me, and in this he battles the Man-Slayer, a robot he had already defeated in a previous issue. Upon its self-resurrection, its “reserve power” only allows it to function if it denies its evil mission, though Captain Marvel still ends up fighting it off, then going up to a Kree spaceship to confront Yon-Rogg, Captain Marvel’s early nemesis.. There’s inconsistency abound (the titular character is referred to as Captain Marvel, Captain Marvell, and Captain Mar-Vell, as well as Mar-Vell), and it seems like many panels don’t have any background, just the primary characters and perhaps a small piece of the foreground filled in with a solid color for the background. Also striking me as bizarre was the lack of any sort of text bubble on the cover. Usually there’s a text box or some sort of writing hyping up what’s going on inside the book. Here the cover was just a picture, with no words, and it was a little jarring given what I’m used to. Despite this rushed appearance, the art has that classic Kirby-esque Silver Age style, and for all of its other flaws the pages are actually pretty crisp, so it’s definitely an interesting read. My advice? If you find a Silver Age book for $1.50, pick it up. It might not be a “collector’s item” in the traditional sense, but you’ll almost certainly find a place for it in your collection.

The Monday Morning Quarter-Bin: Spider-Man Fairy Tales #4

From Marvel.Wikia

To me, Spider-Man Fairy Tales #4 is the definition of a quarter bin comic. Not in price; it cost me $.50, but in spirit — I hadn’t heard of it before, and only bought it because the cover looks neat and I needed to round out the dollar as I picked up the Mystic Arcana: Black Knight issue to round out my ever-present Black Knight collection. Does it matter that I don’t have the first 3? No, no it doesn’t, because they’re self-contained fairy tales. Here, to accompany my Black Knight, we see Peter Parker, The Knowledgeable Spider-Knight (?). Peter Parker’s father and uncle are noble knights, killed by the villainous Goblin clan led by Sir Norman Osborn (or whatever he’s called — it’s garish green goblin knight armor). As a result, Pete is taken to be raised by the Osborns, and gets “Cinderella’d” in favor of the chosen son, Harry Osborn. Pete hopes to attend the big ball to win the hand of the fair maiden Princess Gwen Stacy, much to the dismay of the superfluously sluttily attired cleaning wench Mary Jane. Eventually Pete finds the armor of his fallen forebears and adopts the spider as his symbol because life’s a web, or something. Long story short, Pete “Cinderellas” the ball, leaving behind a Spidery gauntlet, Pete thwarts the Osborns’ attempts to shoehorn their way into the throne, and King Arthur Stacy (whoa!) and Gwen die in the fracas, Gwen ironically dying saving Pete’s life. Pete becomes a proper knight, with snazzy symbiote-style armor, and Mary Jane continues to be forlorn over her unrequited love for Sir Peter of Parker.

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While it is silly to have Spider-Man as Cinderella, essentially, and having him diss Mary Jane for Gwen Stacy, this is actually pretty fun. The art by Nick Dragotta is clean and reminiscent of Silver Age, and the story is essentially a “What If…Starring”-style story that gets from point A to point B without being dragged down too much by avoiding introducing a million side characters, and taken for what it is, a self-contained one-off for entertainment purposes only, I’d say it’s actually on the good side of the spectrum.

Pure Snazz, from Marvel.Wikia

Spider-Gwen #1 – A Review

I admit it. I got sucked in by the hype. My Facebook feed and the comic sites I visit were all hyping “Spider-Gwen #1”. It’s Gwen Stacy, as Spider-(Wo)Man! Holy moley!

I don’t read too many new comics, but I always have a soft spot for Spider-Man and all things related, and compounding that was how much my girlfriend prefers Gwen Stacy over Mary Jane (based on their characters in the movies) and the fact that Jason Latour will be appearing at the Boston Comic Con this year, so there’s potential for some sweet signage on my issue. With those facets in mind, and with a gift card to Newbury Comics paying for all of it, I decided to take the dive and pick up Spider-Gwen #1.

Would I opt for the regular cover, or spend $2 more on a Newbury Comics-exclusive variant? Well, I liked the regular cover better, so that combined with the sweet taste of savings had me going the standard route. Sometimes covers feel less “monumental” and “iconic” than those of years passed, and it could be because they haven’t been put through the filter of nostalgia yet, but the bold colors, sharp contrasts, and simple pose on Spider-Gwen #1 spoke to me more than a lot of other covers I’ve seen in recent memory (standard cover Amazing Spider-Man #1, I’m looking at you).

The interior art is great, bringing a sense of energy to the whole affair and working in a “cooler” color palette that could help this book stand out on its own. The character design of Spider-Gwen is great, using the familiar Spider-Man elements and bringing some uniqueness to the table without being too cute about the whole thing and looking corny or overdone.

The writing is what sold me on it, as Spider-Gwen brings some of the things I love about Spider-Man into a modern setting. Spider-Gwen’s got jokes and it really feels like a classic Spider-Man tale of yore as she takes on The Vulture in the first issue. Spider-Gwen also has to deal with being spurned by public opinion, as any good Spider-person has to, and deal with the very much alive Captain Stacy, which brings up something I always want to see more of: superheroes having to deal with their parents. It seems too convenient that most classic heroes were orphans (Superman, Batman, Captain America [at least according to the movie], Spider-Man) so actually seeing a heroine have to deal with a parent is refreshing. My only nitpick might be about the MaryJanes sub-plot, if only because most fictional takes on the “meteoric rise of a band” ring false to me, mostly because I’m jaded and think any band that plays instruments isn’t allowed to be famous anymore. That said, the actual story elements of layering Gwen Stacy’s Spider-Woman problems on top of band strife is unique, and it does serve to underscore what my girlfriend has thought this entire time: Mary Jane is an egotist and Gwen Stacy is far better. In that respect, I’ll give it a pass.

My other quibble would be with the alternate-universe trope of “look what these characters are doing in this universe” popping up in the form of Ben Grimm and Frank Castle involved in the police force, but that’s very much in the background and probably more a result of me reading too many “What If?”s and seeing it over and over again.

Overall, I give Spider-Gwen #1 an A-minus. The comedy is sharp, the plot elements are intriguing, and the modernity of the entire thing doesn’t feel forced. Give it a read!

Monday Morning Quarter-Bin: Micronauts #1 (1978)

From Wikipedia

When site admin and contributor Turner told me he had a box of free comics for me to paw through, I was skeptical, a justifiable suspicion as I saw issue after issue covered in foil and 90sness. However in the recesses of this box was a run of Micronauts, As a kid enamored with “Captain Universe Spider-Man” who popped up on trading cards, action figures, and the like,  I knew that Captain Universe, a transient power that bounces from host to host, first appeared in, of all places, Micronauts #8. Wouldn’t you know, there was a pretty sharp copy of #8 in the collection. Only I already had it. Still, I took it anyway, in case it was in better shape than my copy (it was, so there you go). For posterity’s sake, I decided to also take the copy of Micronauts #1, to see what the whole thing was about. Based on a toy line (a fact which is hard to come by in the book itself, which is good for storytelling, bad for marketing), Micronauts features a mishmash of sci-fi characters (including “Bug”, Princess Mari, something called Acroyear, and Arcturus Rann, a space commander) as they band together to take on the autocratic Baron Karza, ruler of the Microverse. Generic sci-fi action ensues as the group evades some low level flunkies (literally named “Dog Soldier”, though not looking like the Beagle Boys) and head toward “the fringe” in their spaceship, toward…EARTH! See ya next issue (not really, I’m not getting issue 2 or any more Micronauts).

One issue this issue raises is…what’s the Enigma Force, and is it the same as the Captain Universe power? The Enigma Force is mentioned by name here by some energy being thing named “Time Traveler”. Some Wiki’s list “Enigma Force” as the real name of Captain Universe, along with naming it the “Uni-Power”. Are they different? Are they the same? Should I keep issue 1 in case it actually is the first real appearance of Captain Universe? The thing is, those same wikis universally list the first appearance of Captain Universe as Micronauts #8, so I’ll probably just stick with that. As for the Micronauts in general…if you like sprawling sci-fi, maybe, but I’ll pass.

The Monday Morning Quarter-Bin: Paradise X #12

 

From Marvel.Wikia

When I found some loose Paradise X issues in a dollar bin recently, it was the culmination of an entirely too long 15 year journey, similar to what I experienced with Venom 2099 in the pages of Spider-Man 2099. When the very first preview of Earth X was packed in with an issue of Wizard all those years ago, I was instantly intrigued by the haggard Captain America and other wacky character designs (wacky character re-designs are half of why I love Marvel’s What If series). The series came and went, and though I thought the designs were awesome, this series came at a time where I was getting out of comics as a teenager (to get into…professional wrestling…more on that at a later date), and so I didn’t pick up any of the issues. Flash forward 9 0r 10 years, I’ve graduated college and have returned home to the geekery of comic books. I pick up the Earth X graphic novel and I’m…underwhelmed. Perhaps I built it up in my mind too much over the years, as the last thing that I was interested in before I “left” comics for a while, but it didn’t do it for me, to the point I even sold the book back on Amazon. A few more years later, I pick up both volumes of the Universe X series, and for whatever reason, I liked it much more than Earth X. I think what stood out the most to me was its efforts to try and tie all of Marvel’s versions of “the devil” into a coherent train of thought, as well as trying to explain why Marvel’s earth is so wacky, and why there are multitudes of “all powerful” devices, each more “all powerful” than the last. If you’ve ever looked at comic book mega-events and thought for a second “why is everything so crazy for this universe all the time?”, Universe X might be worth checking out.

As for Paradise X, while I’m intrigued by Universe X, I’m hesitant to drop $50 or more to try and track down both volumes of the graphic novels. So when I found issue 12, I thought to myself “Hey, this is probably near the end of the series, I’ll just read the end and see what’s been happening.” Lo and behold, we get some of what I liked about Universe X: an allusion to the fact that Galactus is eating Celestial embryos inside of planets when he “eats worlds”, and a plot thread about Excalibur, the sword of legend, and how it fits in the schema of “all powerful” weapons in the Marvel Universe. The overarching plot is about Captain Mar-Vell creating a “paradise”, a purgatory free from death, that is expanding and slowly consuming the universe as its numbers grow. While these plot threads do entice me, I’ll probably hold off for now and concentrate my money on hockey tickets. Tis the season!

The Monday Morning Quarter-Bin: Monday Morning Master Mold (Pt 2)

Last time on the MMQB, I reviewed Uncanny X-Men 246, detailing how the previously anti-hero-inclined Nimrod touched a piece of the Master Mold and became a big giant amalgamated robot, facing off against the Ms. Marvel-uniform-clad Rogue, with Robert Kelly’s wife, Sharon, injured in the initial blast.

From Marvel.Wikia

First off, I love the magenta-hued cover, which plays off of what is to come in the issue, as well as Nimrod/Master Mold’s fuchsia-face. We open with a big ol’ splash page of Havok, Dazzler, and Storm blasting Master Mold. Excellent, this is comics. We get a POV from Master Mold, all digitized, telling us he is having trouble identifying the X-Men. Of note, we get forgettable X-Man Gateway telling Robert Kelly she can’t save his injured wife. I’m sure that’ll go over well with his anti-mutant agenda.

More battling with the giant Master Mold ensues, including a nice panel “looking through dust” at the encroaching robot. The X-Men think they have it beat with some good ol’ fashioned butt-whooping, but it couldn’t be that easy, right?

Cut to Jubilee (pre-90s Jubilee, so no April O’Neil jacket) in Dazzler’s Australian bungalow? I’m not sure, and I don’t feel like researching this plot thread.

The Master Mold reassembles! Drawing from the construction site where Nimrod touched to the piece of Master Mold, the big giant robot reconstitutes itself, bigger, stronger, and better able to adapt to the mutant powers of the X-Men. This cause Dazzler to be knocked into a hole, prompting the ever caring Rogue to remark “Can’t worry about her now, Spunky. Got probs of our own.”

Soon Colossus rips off one of Master Mold’s legs, but it does little, and he knocks Colossus out. Knowing a death knell is needed, Rogue absorbs Colussus’ power (just a bit) and we get this amazing image:

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A tri-amalgamation of Colossus, Rogue, and Ms. Marvel?! Absolutely!! Ms. Roguelossus flies up to space for an orbital fastball special, crashing down into Master Mold from on high (how she didn’t create such a shock as to collapse at least the surrounding city block is another of those comic physics mysteries).

Its severed head now down in the hole containing Dazzler, Dazz attempts to use the Siege Perilous on Moldy, but it takes Rogue with him! Somewhere in this, the anti-hero side of Nimrod takes over again, telling the Master Mold to destroy itself because it’s “mutated” by amalgamating with ‘Rod (Master Mold’s “Prime Directive”, kill all mutants, itself mutates to a Futurama-like “kill all humans” after it realizes humans are the progenitors of mutants, and because Mold itself has mutated, it must destroy itself as well).

Is Rogue still alive somewhere? How will Robert Kelly be affected by the death of his wife in a mutant-related skirmish? Who is this egg-person on the last page? Alas, I’ll probably dip out of the late 80s X-Men timestream for now, so those will have to wait for some other time.

Much like the last issue, this is a “buy it if you can find it cheap” recommend on my part. Big giant robots, stealing powers, and more big giant robots make this a fun issue to read, and the team of Claremont and Silvestri add a sense of credibility to what are ostensibly utterly ridiculous premises.

Giant Size Comic Things Nominated For Liebster Award!

Huge thanks to the crew at Bag and Bored for nominating us for the Liebster Award, an honor given to smaller sites/blogs with around 200 followers or less to help spread the awareness of sites that might be dipping too far under fan radar. We are humbled and excited about this, and we wish all the best of luck to the final winner of this community based award.

As part of this nomination I am to nominate 5 sites that I feel are more than worth a look, and they are to follow suit by not only nominating 5 of their own (separate from the one who nominated you) but also by answering the 11 questions given. I would like to nominate The Nerd Nebula, Kevin Reviews Uncanny X-Men, Geekritique, LFBR LLC, and GeekedOutMovies, all of which I consider friends of the site. Now, on to the questions!

(Answers provided by theslimjames)

Why did you decide to blog in the first place?
My friend, the admin of the site, Turner, was living in Abu Dhabi at the time and we figured this would be a way for us to stay connected over our shared love of geekery, especially Marvel related geekery. I already had theslimjames.com, but I was happy to do something more communal with my friends about a shared passion.

Name three of your pastimes or hobbies.
Collecting comics, especially older comics. I keep my head in the game in regards to new developments, etc, but with decades of back issues for me to swim in (Scrooge McDuck style), I end up pursuing older books over keeping up with newer ones. I recently finished a complete run of every Marvel What If? ever made, and I’m closing in on a complete set of Marvel Two-In-One, as well as the odd Silver Age pickup. Other hobbies include the What If Podcast I started with the crew of Giant Size Comic Things, and cooking/watching too many episodes of Food Network’s “Chopped”.

If you could interview anyone (dead or alive), who would it be and why?
George W. Bush, and I’d only have one question: “Really?”

Do you have any pets? If not, what would you consider getting?
I have a Husky/Corgi mix named Hermione, with a big fluffy neck, googly eyes, and stubby legs. She’s great.

What is your favorite movie and why?
It’s hard to decide, but with honorable mentions going to Monty Python’s Holy Grail and Spinal Tap, I think it has to be Wayne’s World. Even though it’s obviously dated, I can’t help going back and watching it, and continue to quote it forever.

What is your favorite video game and why?
I’m going to shatter my geek cred, but honestly, I’m not huge into video games. I checked out at the PS2, and honestly, my gut reaction is to say Sonic 2 because I can beat it with my eyes closed. However, the Konami X-Men arcade game (the “purple game”, in my mind) is like concentrated nostalgia for throwing in 3 bucks worth of quarters on a Friday night in dream machine.

What is your favorite comic book and why?
Spider-Man will always be my favorite hero, because some reprint of Amazing Spider-Man 45 is what got me into comics, and I’ve always kind of looked like Peter Parker. I have a bizarre fascination with Marvel’s What If series, with short, often ridiculous, stories crammed into one issue. It’s just pure comic fun, and they’re still technically releasing them (annually-ish), so it counts.

What is your favorite Youtube channel?
OSW Review HD, hands down the best wrestling video series on the web today (sorry Botchamania, but IC champ is still good, right?)

If you could cosplay as any character, who would it be and why?
Sticking with my fascination with Marvel’s What If, I’ll say “Venom-possessed Punisher”.

What is your favorite topic to write about?
Deconstruction of the superhero, and, oddly, Arthurian style fantasy.

What’s your favourite fandom?
Comic books, man. Always and forever.

The Monday Morning Quarter-Bin: Monday Morning Master Mold (Pt 1)

For some reason, I’ve always been a fan of the Sentinel overlord, Master Mold. Maybe it’s because he looks like a cross between Galactus and a Sentinel, or maybe it’s because he’s a walking factory that somehow produces raw materials to make Sentinels within his person, but the bigger, more menacing look of the monolithic Master Mold has always made me take pause and go, “Cool.” That being said, his first appearance is wrapped up with early Sentinel tales and in the early days of the silver age X-Men, so that’s out of my price range for the time being. However, I did track down a two issue story with him recently at the Boston Comic Con for a scant buck apiece.

From Marvel.Wikia

Uncanny X-Men #246 has a bold (inaccurate) color scheme for the Master Mold, looking something like a leftover redesign of Megatron or Iron Man. Written by Chris Claremont and drawn by Mark Silvestri, it opens with the Dazzler looking into the Siege Perilous  (ironic because the Boston Comic Con already introduced plenty of Dazzler into my life) and seeing her own death. We also see Nimrod acting as a sort of anti-hero(?) taking out some crack dealers (remember guys, this is the 80s), as well as Wolverine talking about going to do his own thing because that’s what Wolverine does about half of the time in team books.

Another key subplot to this is Rouge dealing with the inner struggle of the absorbed memories of Carol Danvers taking over her body from time to time, including a seemingly out of nowhere salute to veterans plopped into the middle of the book. Meanwhile, Senator Robert Kelly is making deals with Sebastian Shaw (the cad!) while his trampy wife plays provocateur.

To get back to the Master Mold portion of the story, Nicholas Hunter, the anti-hero Nimrod’s alter ego (something I never knew existed until this point in my life), is working at a construction site and accidentally touches a buried piece of the Master Mold, which is enough to cause him to revert to being full Sentinel and become some sort of Master Mold/Nimrod amalgamation, a super-Sentinel, if you would. We close with Master Mold looking giant size, Rogue rocking Carol Danvers’ Ms. Marvel outfit (the lightning bolt one), and Robert Kelly’s wife (Mitzy? Wait, Sharon, it’s Sharon) getting squashed in a limo.

This issue’s a nice setup to what’s to come. We get some characters moving forward (Wolverine), as well as some characters struggling (Dazzler, Longshot having a crisis of confidence, and Rouge wrestling with the specter of Carol Danvers). Throw in some big giant robot, and the character mash-ups of Master Mold/Nimrod and Rogue/Ms. Marvel (mash-ups are something I always like) and you get a solid issue. One last note, Mark Silvestri’s art in this is amazing. Not for any huge splash pages or “redefining the genre” or any somesuch, but for drawing realistic looking characters with realistic hair, in my opinion. With so much hair going on (remember guys, this is the 80s, so the volume’s turned up to 11), it helps you get invested in the characters when it seems like they could actually be real people (right down a quick reference to Wolverine starting to use hair gel). If you can find this one cheap, give it a read.

This is the first part of my multi-part look at Master Mold, in the same vein as my fascination with Venom 2099.