August 10, 2018 · 8:16 pm
A decade ago, the controversial “One Day More” storyline saw the Spider-universe hit a ginormous reset button and remove the marriage of Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson from the continuity. Years later, another huge crossover event would, the second (or is it the third) Secret Wars storyline saw the creation of a parallel universe where Peter and MJ are still married and raising a daughter.
Their daughter, May, has similar powers to those of her father. In the wake of an evil overlord named Monarch who seems intent on collecting all the super powers he can get his mitts on, Peter is hopping to stay one step ahead of the latest detection devices for himself and his daughter. But when they get noticed and rumors of the Spider-Man’s return begin to surface, Peter finds himself fighting to defend his family — and now the family wants to join the fight.
The resolution of that storyline encompasses volume 0 of this series and then things really get going on volumes 1 and 2. Written by long-time Spider-writer Gerry Conway, these collection of arcs is a lot more fun than they have any right to be. Having recently revisited Conway’s tenure on Amazing Spider-Man, I wasn’t sure what, if anything, I should expect from these issues. But after trying to read much of the current storylines taking place in the Spider-Man universe, I found these refreshingly easy to digest, straight-forward and welcoming to readers who haven’t memorized every detail of comic book continuity for the past decade. Seeing Peter try to juggle his secret identity along with the demands of the two women in his life to be part of the crime-fighting team gives the story some much needed depth. The second collection even raises the stakes a bit by having MJ become motivated to contribute to the team (tech left over from Monarch lets her share Peter’s powers) and turning to Liz Allen for a new version of the Venom symbiote.
These three collections are some of the best recent Spider-Man stories I’ve read and they reminded me of what it was that I initially loved so much about my favorite wallcrawler.
February 20, 2018 · 4:02 pm
A good book can take places you’ve never been.
A great book n only takes you to places you’ve never been, but has those places linger in your thoughts after the final page is turned.
In the past couple of months, I’ve read two books that have taken me outside my typical worldview and have lingered in my thoughts long after the final page was turned. The first was the much (deservedly so) lauded The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and the other, as unlikely as it may seem, was a new collection of Marvel’s Ms. Marvel comic book, Mecca. Continue reading →
November 30, 2017 · 1:00 pm
=Back to the Future is one of those movies I’ve seen so many times, I could probably recite the dialogue from start to finish. And yet any time I surf past it on cable, I’m inclined to stop and watch from wherever I’ve jumped in until the end.
So when I heard that there was a new series of comic books that filled in a few untold tales from the popular trilogy, I immediately decided to give it a try. Thankfully, the collection includes original movie author Bob Gale as a contributor. And while none of what we get in the collection would necessarily be canon, there are still some fun tales here.
Collecting five issues of stories, this collection has something for everyone. Whether it’s the story of Biff going back in time to the age of dinosaurs or the circumstances of Marty’s first meeting with Doc Brown, there are several winners in the collection. And unlike other media tie-in comics, it’s easy to recognize the characters we’ve come to know and love over the course of three movies. (It’s a pet peeve of mine when the art becomes so abstract that it’s hard to tell who is being depicted in a tie-in comic book).
If you’re a fan of Back to the Future, this is a fun collection that will remind you of just why you fell in love with the original movie to begin with. And if you’re like me, it may even tempt you to dust off the movies and spend some time with a few old friends again.
October 27, 2017 · 8:00 am
Collecting a dozen or so issues from the mid-70’s run, Marvel Masterworks: The Amazing Spider-Man, Volume 14 showcases a successful comic book and character treading water for close to three-hundred pages.
Yes, Harry Osborne finally goes over the edge and embraces his inner Green Goblin. But like his father before him, he will conveniently forget that a)he’s the Goblin and b)Peter Parker is Spider-Man by the time anyone in authority arrives. Harry’s transformation is teased across multiple issues (and I believe they started planting seeds as early as issues in the last collection). But the return of the Green Goblin lacks the emotional punch it could or should have, possibly because the last time we saw Spidey tangle with the Gobin it was one of the high points not only of the character but one of the iconic turning points in comic books.
Other villains include the return of the Molten Man and Mysterio and new threats like the Mind Worm and the Grizzly. Yes, you read that right. Spider-Man spends not one but two issues battling it out with a former wrestler who has an enhanced grizzly bear costume and has decided its time to give J. Jonah Jameson his comeuppance for ruining his wrestling career. And yes, I’ve just re-read that sentence and I know how silly it sounds. The comic book presentation isn’t much better.
Of course, the infamous start of a certain saga that nearly killed Spider-Man as we know it in the 90’s is also beginning here. So, maybe part of my lack of love for this collection of issues is knowing where it will all pay off in twenty years’ time. Or maybe it’s just that writer Gerry Conway’s stories don’t really add all that much to the Spidey canon. Look, I know not every issue from my favorite era of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko were masterpieces. But at least there was always some hook, some threat or some narrative point to keep me interested. That’s not often the case here. These issues feel like they come down to a formula for writing and Conway’s just happy to plug in various characters as we move slowly between battles with that issue or arc’s central villain. It comes down to Spidey meets villain, Spidey gets his you-know-what handed to him by said villain, Spidey as Peter beats himself up about it and interacts with the supporting cast, Spidey goe out and find the villain again and the battle goes Spidey’s way this time. Lather, rinse, repeat.
It’s all so formulaic in nature — and I think reading the issues close together in a collection like this only underlines this. I can’t help but think if I read these monthly as they originally came out (or were reprinted), I might end up enjoying them a bit more. Or be more forgiving of certain tropes that seem to show up issue after issue like clockwork.
This collection is Spider-Man fully on cruise control. And in a collection that features the Spider Buggy (yes, that was a thing!), that’s pretty damn ironic.
January 4, 2015 · 8:31 pm
Scott Snyder has been creating waves in the comic book community ever since he took over as the lead writer for the Dark Knight with the rebooted New 52. After two great storylines, Snyder and his artistic team turn their sites on some of the most hallowed and sacred ground in the Batman canon — looking back on the famous and influential Year One storyline.
And doggone it, if Snyder and company don’t pull off the improbable — telling a story that isn’t designed to replace Year One but instead to enhance and maybe, just maybe tell us another side of the Batman origin story.
Set six years before the current Batman time frame, these first collected issues of Year Zero find Bruce Wayne returning to Gotham City. He’s been declared dead and he’s using that status to fight a one-man war on crime, as headed up by the Red Hood Gang. Despite several people asking Bruce to come back into the light and return to the living, he refuses, seeing his duty to save the city as a vigilante who uses various masks to disguise who he is. Frustrated by his lack of impact, the story chronicles how Bruce goes from a masked vigilante to the Bat. And just when you think the story might be done, things end on a well set-up cliffhanger, ensuring that I’ll be back for the next collection of issues.