Jun 12, 2019

Spider-Rama: Amazing Spider-Man #22

Welcome to Spider-Rama! Each Wednesday, Ben and Duy will look at a Spider-Man issue from the very beginning, in chronological order, and answer questions for various categories, inspired in large part by one of our favorite podcasts, The Rewatchables by The Ringer. Our goal is to make it to Amazing Spider-Man #200. Will we make it? Grab your Amazing Spider-Man Omnibus or crank up your tablet to Marvel Unlimited, and then tune in every Wednesday to find out!

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #22
Spider-Rama
by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko

Spider-Man fights circus freaks... the Circus of Crime!


POINTLESS TRIVIA

BEN:  More and more of the printed fan letters are from college students.

DUY: In the shared universe department: Peter Parker goes through some of Hank Pym's latest biochemical papers.


WHAT'S AGED THE BEST?

BEN: I love how often Stan has characters use the adjective “useless” as an insult toward other characters.

DUY:  "In a sleazy hotel room, in a shabby hotel, some sneaky sinners are startled by the sight of a sparkling spider signal!"



WHAT'S AGED THE WORST?

BEN: The circus?

DUY: This?


BEN: Similarly, this:


DUY: So if this were retold today, Python coming onto Spidey would show him having more of an internal struggle to resist, right?

BEN: I think they’d play that up more.

NITPICKS

DUY: This does not look like a headpiece. It looks like half her head has been cut off.



BEN: Showing her robot brain.

FAVORITE PANEL

BEN: I remember a few fan letters criticizing Ditko’s rendering of feet, so this seems like an inside joke.



DUY: The "Sleazy hotel" one makes me laugh so much I'm going to post it twice:


WHO WON THE COMIC?

BEN: The Clown. Just kidding, no one won in this comic.

DUY: Princess Python, I guess. This comic sucked.

BEN: That's it for Spider-Rama this week.

DUY: Thank you, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko—

BEN: —for telling us we aren't the only ones.

Leave us a comment below or on our Facebook page. See you next week!

Jun 10, 2019

Season-Ticket Concepts

There are generally three elements that will entice a potential reader into buying a comic; the concept, the creative team, or the character. For me, if two out of the three are satisfied, than I’m definitely going to check it out. Three out of three is when it seems like it was made specifically for you as a reader. However, for every fan there are those creators, characters, or concepts that are appealing enough on their own to make you buy a comic. Today, I’m going to list my top “season ticket” concepts.

Back Issue Ben's Top 10 Season Ticket Concepts
Ben Smith

Sportswriter Bill Simmons came up with the idea of a “season ticket actor” to describe an actor that was an automatic purchase for you any time they were in a new movie. (For the non-sports fans, season tickets are when a fan purchases an entire seasons worth of tickets in-advance, so they’re sure to have at least the option of attending every home game of their favorite team.) For example, if you’re such a big Denzel Washington fan that you will automatically see any movie he’s in, he’s a “season ticket” actor for you.

If we apply this to comic books, there are probably certain story ideas you like so much, you’ll buy any new comic with that concept, regardless of character or creative team. You may not keep buying it, depending on the quality, but you’ll give it that one automatic chance or even stick with it longer than you would have in any other situation.

Here’s my list of 5.

5. CROSSOVERS



The pinnacle of crossovers were the early DC and Marvel crossovers, but there have been many fun ones over the years. It’s always fun when the Ninja Turtles meet Usagi Yojimbo, or The Punisher Meets Archie, or Transformers and G.I. Joe. Universewide crossovers that I’ve loved are Secret Wars, Acts of Vengeance, and Civil War. There’s inter-title crossovers like Maximum Carnage and Spider-Island. I won’t deny that the big event crossovers have been overdone in recent years, but there have been plenty of fun stories that have come out of crossovers.

4. THE MULTIVERSE



I wasn’t always the biggest fan of multiverse stories because my first thought when it comes to alternate universes is DC’s, and I find theirs boring. Yet, in recent years, stories like Spider-Verse and Turtles Forever have shown the possibilities of several established versions of a character meeting each other.

3. THE M.A.S.S. DEVICE



The G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero cartoon may not have done much well, but they did master the art of the globe-spanning multi-team adventure. Usually there was some device or rare elements scattered across the globe, forcing the Joe and Cobra teams to split up and fight each other in extreme environments, like the ocean, arctic, or jungle. It was perfectly suited to the strengths of the toy line, which had specialist characters for any climate. In comics, this was the staple of Bronze Age Justice League comics under Len Wein. The Avengers/Defenders War did this, along with JLA/Avengers and many more.

2. THE OVERMATCHED HERO


I love when a hero suddenly finds themself head-to-head against a villain they didn’t plan for, a villain they probably shouldn’t be able to beat alone. It’s a staple of Spider-Man comics, with the best example probably being Nothing Can Stop the Juggernaut. Other examples that come to mind are Katara alone against Azula in Avatar: The Last Airbender (or Aang vs the Fire Lord for that matter) or Nova against Annihilus in Annihilation. This can also be the last hero standing story, like when Batman was the only Justice Leaguer left against the Hyperclan.

1. IN THIS ISSUE, SOMEONE DIES



Death has certainly become an overused story device in comics over the years, but I have to say, it still works for me a lot of the time. The deaths of Gwen Stacy and Barry Allen remain my two favorite stories, but even recent deaths like Captain America, Spider-Man, or Johnny Storm have made for some great stories, or at least a great moment. Iron Fist was a pretty dumb death, but it affected me all the same. Phoenix, Vindicator, Harry Osborn, Jason Todd; there have been many classic comics based on the death of a major character, and I’m there for it every time.

Jun 5, 2019

Spider-Rama: Amazing Spider-Man #21

Welcome to Spider-Rama! Each Wednesday, Ben and Duy will look at a Spider-Man issue from the very beginning, in chronological order, and answer questions for various categories, inspired in large part by one of our favorite podcasts, The Rewatchables by The Ringer. Our goal is to make it to Amazing Spider-Man #200. Will we make it? Grab your Amazing Spider-Man Omnibus or crank up your tablet to Marvel Unlimited, and then tune in every Wednesday to find out!

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #21
Spider-Rama
by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko

Spider-Man and the Human Torch feel the sting of The Beetle!


POINTLESS TRIVIA

BEN: Villain appearance count:
  • The Vulture: 3
  • The Chameleon: 2
  • Doctor Octopus: 4
  • Electro: 2
  • Kraven the Hunter: 2
  • Mysterio: 2
  • Sandman: 2
DUY:  This is the eighth Human Torch appearance


WHAT'S AGED THE BEST?

BEN: I don’t if I would consider it a good thing, but Peter is definitely starting to get a lot angrier.

DUY:  I think it's part of what makes him so relatable that early on. He's a teenager!

BEN: It's so unique too. Superman wasn’t ever angry. Not even Batman was angry at the time.

DUY: This relationship would be such a big part of Dan Slott and Ty Templeton's Spider-Man and Human Torch: I'm with Stupid, which is a series I can't recommend enough. You get so taken in by it too, because it's Spidey's series. I think if we told this story from Torch's point of view, it'd be interesting. Spidey must seem so mysterious.

BEN: I remember thinking it would be cool if Slott got a chance at a Spider-Man ongoing.

DUY: And it was, Slott got me back into reading Spider-Man after a long absence.

WHAT'S AGED THE WORST?

BEN: Including the annual and Amazing Fantasy, the Human Torch has appeared in 8 out of 23 Spider-Man comics, over a third. I do enjoy those two together, but it’s getting a bit excessive. This comic felt like an issue of Strange Tales. And Betty and Dorris were in an epic showdown to see who could be the bigger “wet blanket” girlfriend.

DUY: This pose has aged the worst.



NITPICKS

BEN:  Seriously, it takes three seconds to shout “The Beetle has Dorrie!”

DUY: Why does Dorrie fix Peter a glass of Coke? I know they're kids, but they need to sit around her sofa for a Coke? Also, Betty calls Aunt May and she's wearing an apron and she's in the middle of cleaning. Can't we ever catch Aunt May like watching TV or something? And finally, Betty's one to talk about Peter maybe kinda dating someone else when she's been openly seeing Ned.

FAVORITE PANEL

BEN: Poinng:


DUY: This is a pretty awesome shot:


WHO WON THE COMIC?

BEN: The Beetle, because I completely forgot he started as a Human Torch villain.

DUY: I guess he needed a home after The Human Torch's solo feature in Strange Tales was cancelled.

BEN: That's it for Spider-Rama this week.

DUY: Thank you, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko—

BEN: —for telling us we aren't the only ones.

Leave us a comment below or on our Facebook page. See you next week!

Jun 3, 2019

Season-Ticket Creators

There are generally three elements that will entice a potential reader into buying a comic; the concept, the creative team, or the character. For me, if two out of the three are satisfied, than I’m definitely going to check it out. Three out of three is when it seems like it was made specifically for you as a reader. However, for every fan there are those creators, characters, or concepts that are appealing enough on their own to make you buy a comic. Today, I’m going to list my top “season ticket” creators

Back Issue Ben's Top 10 Season Ticket Creators
Ben Smith

Sportswriter Bill Simmons came up with the idea of a “season ticket actor” to describe an actor that was an automatic purchase for you any time they were in a new movie. (For the non-sports fans, season tickets are when a fan purchases an entire seasons worth of tickets in-advance, so they’re sure to have at least the option of attending every home game of their favorite team.) For example, if you’re such a big Denzel Washington fan that you will automatically see any movie he’s in, he’s a “season ticket” actor for you.

If we apply this to comic books, there are probably certain writers or artists you like so much, you’ll buy any new comic they work on regardless of character or concept. You may not keep buying it, depending on the quality, but you’ll give it that one automatic chance or even stick with it longer than you would have in any other situation.

I’ll be splitting my list up into 5 artists and 5 writers.

(For the purposes of this list I’m going to be limiting it to “current” writers and artists. I know current is highly subjective, because legends like Walt Simonson, Frank Miller, and Bill Seinkiewicz are still going strong, but they’re legends. I have a career pass for them.)

5. SEAN PHILLIPS
5. ED BRUBAKER



Ed Brubaker would rank much higher if he was still doing regular superhero work, but as it is, I’m always going to be interested in whatever the next project is for him and Phillips.

4. TOM TAYLOR


I absolutely loved his run on All-New Wolverine, and his start on Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man is giving me my monthly Spidey fix right now, so he’s got my attention moving forward.

4. ED McGUINNESS


I love his big popcorn action movie style, to the point I’m always disappointed when the story doesn’t hold up its end of the bargain. The bigger the better for him.

3. CHRIS BACHALO


It took me a while to develop an affinity for his style, but now he’s an automatic buy for me with every new series he works on.

3. GRANT MORRISON


I’ve had my ups and downs with Morrison over the years, mostly due to how annoying his most rabid fans can be. I do think he’s a bit overrated, but he’s always interesting. I like his superhero work a lot more than I like his creator-owned books. Bottom line is, when I read an announcement like “Morrison is writing a Green Lantern series,” I’m all the way in.

2. DAVID AJA


The second Aja wants to return and do another superhero comic, I’ll be right there ready to buy it on the day of release.

2. WARREN ELLIS


Ellis is my favorite current writer, the only thing keeping him from the top spot is that he only periodically returns to write a superhero comic, which is my preferred genre from him.

1. SARA PICHELLI


I love her style, I love the comics she tends to work on. I’m always interested in seeing what she’s doing next. She’s my favorite artist right now.


1. BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS


Bendis certainly has his flaws, but he’s the first writer I gravitated toward when I started reading comics again in 2001, and I’ve kept following him through every phase of his career since. However, the thing that really drove this home for me was when he moved to DC and took over Superman. I actively do not like Superman. But it being Bendis, I gave Superman and Action Comics a shot and they’re probably the two books I enjoy the most right now on a monthly basis. That’s quite a feat.


May 29, 2019

Spider-Rama: Amazing Spider-Man #20

Welcome to Spider-Rama! Each Wednesday, Ben and Duy will look at a Spider-Man issue from the very beginning, in chronological order, and answer questions for various categories, inspired in large part by one of our favorite podcasts, The Rewatchables by The Ringer. Our goal is to make it to Amazing Spider-Man #200. Will we make it? Grab your Amazing Spider-Man Omnibus or crank up your tablet to Marvel Unlimited, and then tune in every Wednesday to find out!

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #20
Spider-Rama
by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko

J. Jonah Jameson’s hatred of Spider-Man goes too far, and the Scorpion is born!


POINTLESS TRIVIA

BEN: First appearance of the Scorpion. Ned Leeds leaves on an assignment to Europe. He is murdered in Germany many years later.

DUY: Ned Leeds would be revealed to be the Hobgoblin many years later, only for it to be retconned and revealed that the real Hobgoblin framed him even more years after that. However, by narrative rules, the fact that he showed up soon after the Green Goblin did would make him a suspect at the current point we are reading.


WHAT'S AGED THE BEST?

DUY: Sometimes these credits are really funny.



BEN: The panels of the Scorpion getting his powers are reminiscent of Steve Rogers in those original Captain America comics.

DUY: This is kind of ahead of its time. I can't think of DC doing tight shots like this.


BEN: Traces of Steve actually being a horror and suspense comic artist who transitioned to superheroes.

WHAT'S AGED THE WORST?

BEN: Stillwell abandons all morals and scientific responsibility pretty quickly for a big payday.

DUY: Sadly, I don't know that I'd agree with you on that aging badly...

NITPICKS

DUY: Spider-Man really has the dexterity and artistic ability to make a 3D bat out of his webbing? And also, this panel would now be seen as out of character. Spider-Man would follow Jameson.


BEN: Is Ned the most oblivious guy ever in this panel?

DUY: The fact that it's easy to pull one over on Ned is canon from the beginning.

FAVORITE PANEL

BEN: Mine is this:

DUY: Why do people hate thought bubbles? This is hilarious!


BEN: Not gloomy enough. Rorschach would never think “hooray” to himself.

DUY: This is another thing that's kinda lost to some readers today too. I remember a poster on CBR always saying that he went by what was on the page; the fact that a character could be lying isn't going to cross his mind unless it's explicitly said. Here Peter is clearly lying to Betty's face, but even if we removed the thought bubble, would we really think he was sincere?

BEN: I wouldn’t, but I see how someone could.

DUY: I would argue that we should always consider that a character might be lying.

WHO WON THE COMIC?

DUY: Depending on how you look at it, it's either Spider-Man by default or Jameson for adding another layer to his character. I tend to think it's a misstep, but it's not as big a misstep as what would happen a few issues later.

BEN: So Jameson goes too far in this issue, why is it that readers don’t hold it against him going forward? He’s too much fun?

DUY: That's basically what it is. We like him too much, so you can't send him to jail or actually turn him tnto a full-on villain. Jameson would take another 20 years in real time to come clean about creating the Scorpion, too, in Roger Stern's Spider-Man run, I think. Remember, this is a storytelling genre where it doesn't matter what Magneto did in the past; people want him to be good. So if he's turning over a new leaf, people will forgive him. Jameson's thing isn't a big deal, relatively.

HEY, WHAT HAPPENED TO SPIDEY'S INVENTIONS?

DUY: So the resolution of this issue is actually in stark contrast to a lot of the earlier issues. Spider-Man used to use his scientific knowledge to think his way out of stuff. In this case, Stillwell had provided the antidote for the Scorpion's condition. Stillwell dies, the serum goes wasted, and Spider-Man physically just beats the hell out of Scorpion.

BEN: At this point it seems like the spider tracers are his last invention, but he begins to use them more and more.

DUY: I might give it to this one just for kicking off the silly bonuses, like "How Stan Lee and Steve Ditko Create Spider-Man!" Enjoy!

DUY: That's it for Spider-Rama this week.

BEN: Thank you, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko—

DUY: —for telling us we aren't the only ones.

Leave us a comment below or on our Facebook page. See you next week!

May 27, 2019

Season-Ticket Characters

There are generally three elements that will entice a potential reader into buying a comic: the concept, the creative team, or the character. For me, if two out of the three are satisfied, than I’m definitely going to check it out. Three out of three is when it seems like it was made specifically for you as a reader. However, for every fan there are those creators, characters, or concepts that are appealing enough on their own to make you buy a comic. Today, I’m going to list my top “season ticket” characters.

Back Issue Ben's Top 10 Season Ticket Characters
Ben Smith

Sportswriter Bill Simmons came up with the idea of a “season ticket actor” to describe an actor that was an automatic purchase for you any time they were in a new movie. (For the non-sports fans, season tickets are when a fan purchases an entire seasons worth of tickets in-advance, so they’re sure to have at least the option of attending every home game of their favorite team.) For example, if you’re such a big Denzel Washington fan that you will automatically see any movie he’s in, he’s a “season ticket” actor for you.

If we apply this to comic books, there are probably certain characters you like so much, you’ll buy any new comic with them in it regardless of creative team or concept. You may not keep buying it, depending on the quality, but you’ll give it that one automatic chance or even stick with it longer than you would in any other situation.

To me there is a distinct difference between a favorite character, and a season ticket character, though there will obviously be some overlap. I’ll attempt to point out the differences as I go through my list.

HONORABLE MENTION: TRANSFORMERS

I’m very specifically a fan of the ‘80s versions of the Transformers, and I’d like to think I’ll always give any new comic featuring that general rendition of the characters a chance, but I’ve found the IDW Transformers comics so consistently underwhelming that I don’t know if they can make my list anymore.

10. IRON FIST


Iron Fist is one of my favorite characters, and I will always try any new solo comic of his that comes out, but I always expect it to suck. Only the David Aja series has been great, the rest consistently disappoint, so it ranks here.

9. MOON KNIGHT


This is the inverse of Iron Fist in that, I wouldn’t consider Moon Knight one of my favorites, but I’ve enjoyed his comics more often than I have not. I like his costume design (especially when it’s soaked in blood) and his multiple personality disorder. He’s basically a crazy and more violent version of Batman.

8. HOBGOBLIN


This is for the Roderick Kinsley version of the character. I’ve always said fans have created a false equivalency between Roger Stern’s original Hobgoblin and Roderick Kingsley. We never knew who the Hobgoblin was when Stern was writing the comic; he was a good character because of Stern. It just so happens that when Stern left the series, the character progressively got worse and it was revealed that the subsequent Hobgoblins were imposters. So when Stern returned to reveal Kingsley was the original Hobby, it made it seem like those two aspects were connected, when it was really just Roger Stern being great. Regardless, I’ve liked what they’ve done with Kingsley as the Hobgoblin in recent years enough that he still makes my list.

7. DOCTOR DOOM



Doctor Doom is my favorite villain, and I love when he appears in any comic other than Fantastic Four, oddly enough. He’s the biggest threat the world has ever seen in any other series, but somehow has the hardest time beating Reed Richards. I don’t like Reed, so I’m going to skip reading that most of the time.

6. MORGAN LE FAY



The next three characters are pretty much interchangeable. I will get any comic they guest star in, and I would love it if they ever got their own solo series. I’ve said it before, I love fictional witches. Morgan adds time travel and Arthurian legend to the mix, and a tumultuous romance with Doctor Doom. She’s much more unrelentingly angry than the next character on my list.

5. KARNILLA THE NORN QUEEN




My love for Karnilla is exhaustively documented. I will still always be excited when she pops back up.

4. THE DAUGHTERS OF THE DRAGON


I love Colleen Wing, so this mostly applies to her, but I do enjoy her partnership with Misty Knight also. They are very similar to the comic they spun out of Power Man and Iron Fist, combining kung-fu craziness with street-level crime. I prefer when it gets extremely crazy or extremely gritty, and there’s not many comics that can succeed on that spectrum.

3. SPIDER-MAN


Spider-Man is my favorite character, so you may be asking yourself, why isn’t he ranked first here? The answer is there is just way too many Spider-Man comics that come out every month for me to possibly want to try them all. But I will almost always give the flagship title, Amazing Spider-Man, a chance. The creative team really has to be completely boring me for me to not get Amazing. Anytime that’s the case, I’m looking for an ancillary title to pick up the slack.

2. THE LEGION OF SUPERHEROES


This counts for any Legion team book, or any solo Legionnaire series, or even when a Legion member guest-stars in another DC comic. I love the Legion of Superheroes so much I will always give any new title or appearance a chance.

1. X-23



I don’t think I’ve ever read a X-23 solo series I didn’t like. There are a few storylines here or there, but as a whole, every volume has entertained me. Tom Taylor’s run on All New Wolverine is my current favorite, but Marjorie Liu had a great run, as well as Mariko Tamaki currently. There’s something about her story, having been created to be an assassin, but rebelling against her programming, that I find endlessly appealing. In many ways, I think she fills the role Wolverine used to occupy in his early appearances, as the killer trying to be a better person and atone for past sins. Writers have consistently made Logan much more bloodthirsty over the years, so Laura has stepped in and taken that redemption story. Plus, I always get a kick out of characters that are confused by emotions.

Who are your season ticket characters? Let us know in the comments.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...