While reading through the Marvel Masterworks reprints of The Amazing Spider-Man, I encountered the first appearance of a lesser-known Spidey foe, the Gibbon. The Gibbon wasn’t exactly what you’d call even a B-list or C-list level of villain for Spider-Man. Beyond the hook of the Gibbon wanting to be an ally to Spider-Man (mirroring a bit Spidey’s attempts to join the Fantastic Four back in the day), I’d argue there wasn’t much memorable about the character.
So, imagine my surprise when reading this story arc, “Hunted,” when I found myself getting a lump in my throat when the Gibbon is killed off in the issue focusing on him. Somehow Nick Spencer took what was a minor villain in the Spidey-verse and not only made me connect with and care about him, but he actually made me get a bit weepy when he died.
That alone has to be worth an extra star when it comes to rating this arc in the current run of The Amazing Spider-Man. Continue reading
Years ago, a friend shoved a copy of the collector’s edition first issue of this Superman reboot into my hands and said I should make it part of my comic book collection. And while I can clearly recall having the collector’s cover issue in my collection for years, I can’t recall much about reading it at the time. (In fact, I may not have read it on the off chance that I’d bend the spine and decrease the collect-ability value of the comic in question).
Reading this six-issue reboot of Superman thirty plus years later, I’m impressed by how big an influence it had on just about every version of Superman that’s appeared in pop culture since that time. The six issues reflect a lot of the high points of one of my favorite shows of the ’90s, Lois and Clark. Whether it’s Clark’s parents still being around to serve as sounding boards to Lex Luthor being a billionaire industrialist with his own mischievous agenda that he’s upset gets hijacked by Superman’s appearance on the scene, John Bryne’s take still echoes through comics and pop culture today.
In many ways, I kept feeling like what Bryne was doing with Superman was what Brian Michael Bendis did with Spider-Man in the Ultimate Spider-Man line — it was giving a character relevance to a new generation of fans. And certainly, the Man of Steel needed that refresh in the 80’s. This reboot opened the door to many of the other Super storylines to come, including the infamous Death of Superman storyline in the 90’s.
With an introduction by sci-fi great Ray Bradbury, this collection of six issues is a refreshing reboot of one of the iconic comic characters. It’s worth looking at if you haven’t read it before or visiting again if you haven’t read it in a while.
My first thought when I heard Marvel was producing a new series centering on Hawkeye was that it was a marketing thing to cash in on the heroes’ new-found popularity thanks to the cinematic universe.
But then I heard the buzz that there might be more to this than meets the eye. Add in that the new series is written by Matt Fraction, author of the brilliantly subversive Sex Criminals comic books and the series had my interest.
So when my local library got in the first collected edition of the new Hawkeye, I picked it up. Continue reading
Strong Female Protagonist
One of the best aspects of NetGalley is that I get to try things that are a bit outside of my wheelhouse or that I wasn’t previously aware of until I skimmed the latest offerings. It led me to discover the sublime Sex Criminals, Volume I last year and now I’ve come across another gem with Strong Female Protagonist.
This web-comic takes ingredients from some of the main-stream comic publishing events (Marvel’s Civil War springs to mind) and the sensibility of Buffy and other Whedon-verse shows to offer us the story of Alex Green. Once known as Mega Girl and part of an elite fighting force of superheroes, Alex publicly unmasked and is trying to live a normal life. As a freshman in college, Alex struggles with the remnants of her fame, including a professor who holds an obvious grudge against her (and when it’s revealed why, it’s one of the most heartbreaking and moving moments in a story filled with them) and the fact that she can’t stop at fast food place to enjoy a burger and fries without being recognized.
As a deconstruction of super hero stories, Strong Female Protagonist works extremely well. But more than that, the story is a compelling, fascinating character examination of not only Alex but also others affected by the realization that they have super powers. It’s a world where these powers have consequences, both negative and positive. One haunting aspect is a former super villain who has come up with an interesting way to use her powers to atone for her sins. There’s also the fourth chapter of the book that fills in details of Alex growing up and her relationship with his family and the family’s favorite pet. The fourth chapter alone is worth the price of admission for this book, but I’d say it’s far more affecting having spent the first three chapters getting to know Alex and her world. Continue reading