Jan 29, 2020

Spider-Rama: Amazing Spider-Man #59

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 #59
Spider-Rama
by Stan Lee and John Romita Sr. and Don Heck

As Mary Jane dances for her first paying job, Spider-Man has to deal with a new mind-controlling threat: The Brainwasher!




POINTLESS TRIVIA

BEN: Villain appearance count:

  • Doctor Octopus: 9
  • Green Goblin: 7
  • Sandman: 4
  • Kraven the Hunter: 5
  • The Vulture: 5
  • The Kingpin: 4
  • Mysterio: 4
  • The Enforcers: 3
  • The Rhino: 3
  • The Lizard: 3
  • Professor Smythe/Spider Slayer: 3
  • The Chameleon: 2
  • Electro: 2
  • The Ringmaster: 2
  • Scorpion: 2
  • Molten Man: 2

DUY: Mary Jane's first thought balloon:



BEN: And second:


DUY: I want to keep track of when exactly her next thought balloon is going to show up. I think it's the relative lack of thought balloons that made her so ripe for retcons.

BEN: And also, Peter and Gwen's first kiss, which she gives after seeing him for the first time since his amnesia episode.


WHAT'S AGED THE BEST?

DUY: I like the idea that Captain Stacy has been investigating Spider-Man this whole time. We know that by the time he dies, he'll have known who Peter is. Let's keep an eye out for when the most likely time is for him to have figured it out.

BEN: Spoilers!

WHAT'S AGED THE WORST?

DUY: I dunno, this has been a pretty unimpressive stretch of comics. I'm gonna mention too that I don't like the way Romita draws webs, where it's more of a net. Ditko drew them as a line with unintelligible scribbles, while we're two decades away from McFarlane inventing spaghetti webbing. But the net-webbing has never really worked for me.

BEN:  It’s clear Heck did more work on some pages than others.

DUY: Also, I don't know how well in the 21st century that Mary Jane dancing for money has aged. Especially with the PS4 game giving her a journalism background and having more agency. I don't want that to sound like I'm knocking women who have such jobs. I know it's a legitimate job and legitimately something they want to do and enjoy doing. But it seems that in 2019, a leading lady would have been given another job.

BEN: She's technically not the leading lady.

DUY: Ah true, I'm jumping in time.

BEN: Aunt May is the leading lady.

NITPICKS

BEN: More of an error than a nitpick, Aunt May’s dialogue balloon is a thought balloon.



FAVORITE PANEL

BEN: Their first kiss:



DUY: Same.


WHO WON THE COMIC?

DUY: I'm going to say Mary Jane Watson here. It's interesting, both she and Gwen are drawn with relatively the same body type, but MJ is just drawn with more sex appeal. At this point it may be her defining characteristic, and that may be good, and that may be bad, but she wins the comic.

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 Wednesday!

Jan 27, 2020

Out of Nowhere! The Top 5 Comics That Made My Decade

You thought the Best of the 2010s lists were over? Well, here's one more from Out of Nowhere!

The Top 5 Comics That Made My Decade
by Migs Acabado

The past decade brought a lot of changes to my life. Most of those changes were good and there were also a few setbacks. In the beginning of the past decade, I was searching for Clone Saga–related articles. There I discovered a comic book website called The Comics Cube. I loved its content and it became one of my favorite websites during that period. Little did I know that I’ll be a part of its team of writers, fast forward to 2016. Through that website I also met some of my very good friends. It is really fun to reminisce our early years hanging out. But that is not what I’m here to talk about today. It's already the start of a new decade. As we welcome the year 2020, I would like to share the 5 comics that rocked my 2010s.

Before we proceed to the top 5, I have some honorable mentions:

  • Tom King’s Batman – Tom made Bruce Wayne relatable to every reader. Before I only care about the scenes involving Batman. But during Tom’ run on the main Batman book, we get to know the human side of him.
  • Mark Waid’s Daredevil – This came out when I was still being introduced to the world of Matt Murdock. It felt like a breath of fresh air since the previous stories that I’ve read from Frank Miller and Ed Brubaker are grim and gritty. Waid’s run brought the word Fun back to DD.
  • The Fade Out – Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillip’s mystery crime thriller about a Hollywood scrennwriter and the dark secrets of Hollywood.


5. Wolverine and the X-Men by Jason Aaron



Back in Christmas 2011, my uncle sent me a Christmas gift from the US, a huge box of random comic books. The first issue of this series was included in that box. I read it quickly and I thought the first issue has a potential. I was right. This is one of the best X-Men comics ever! The writers rarely thrive in portraying the school setting of X-Men comics. But in this run, it was well written. You’ll laugh, cry, get angry, and cheer with all the characters. You’ll feel for most of them even with Toad. The character development of the series was done greatly. Having Wolverine as a headmaster seems to be an impossible aspect to work with but it was one of the highlights of the book. After I finished reading the whole series, it became one of my favorite X-Men comics ever.

4. DC Comics by Geoff Johns



I can’t pick any specific DC book done by Geoff Johns in past decade because I like all that I’ve read. From Aquaman (A comic book that I thought I'd never ever read) to the Watchmen sort of sequel, Doomsday Clock, he doesn’t disappoint. Some of the highlights are making Alfred a badass in Batman: Earth One, Cyborg and the Metal Men kicked ass in Justice League, Superman fighting Doctor Manhattan in Doomsday Clock and crafting the Darkseid War. Geoff Johns may have infinite tricks on his sleeve for every DC Comics Character.

3. Ultimate Spider-Man/Miles Morales: Spider-Man by Brian Michael Bendis


This was my go-to comic book in the 2000s and it continued the trend in the 2010s. This comic book generated a lot of buzz in 2011 with the death of the original Spider-Man, Peter Parker. Then Bendis introduced Miles Morales who went on to become the star of 2018’s Into the Spider-verse movie. I followed this comic book until Bendis’ last issue in 2018.

2. Dan Slott’s Spider-Man


Dan Slott began his tenure as the solo writer of Amazing Spider-Man in the end of 2010. At first, I was not thrilled to have him as the sole writer of the book. I wanted a different writer but he proved me wrong. He gave us a lot of memorable storylines like Spider-Island, Dying Wish, No One Dies, Clone Conspiracy and the very famous Spider-Verse. He also “killed” Peter Parker and have him replaced by Doctor Octopus as the Superior Spider-Man which I think is the highlight of his run.

1. Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples



I am a huge fan of BKV. Y: The Last Man is one of my favorite comic book series of all time, and when Saga came out I became very excited. The story is about two star-crossed lovers who are on the run to save their baby because their relationship is forbidden since both of their respective race is at war with each other. This series tackles family and the place of belonging, not to mention it has a very Star Wars feel. It’s the series that got me very excited every time I see a new volume coming out.

My experience in reading comic books in the past decade was pretty exciting and I can say pretty stacked since I read a lot of books. Although I am now busy with work-related stuff and writing basketball articles for a certain basketball league, I still find some time to keep up with my comics. Reading and collecting comic books is something that I don’t think I’ll be giving up. So come 2030, I’ll do another round of top 5 comic books of the decade.

You may have noticed Miles Morales is on this list twice, so here's a shameless plug for Into the Spider-Verse:

Jan 22, 2020

Spider-Rama: Amazing Spider-Man #58

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 #58
Spider-Rama
by Stan Lee and John Romita Sr. and Don Heck

Professor Smythe returns with an all-new, all-improved Spider-Slayer, just as Spider-Man gets his memory back.



POINTLESS TRIVIA

BEN: Villain appearance count:
  • Doctor Octopus: 9
  • Green Goblin: 7
  • Sandman: 4
  • Kraven the Hunter: 5
  • The Vulture: 5
  • Mysterio: 4
  • The Enforcers: 3
  • The Rhino: 3
  • The Lizard: 3
  • The Kingpin: 3
  • Professor Smythe/Spider Slayer: 3
  • The Chameleon: 2
  • Electro: 2
  • The Ringmaster: 2
  • Scorpion: 2
  • Molten Man: 2
  • Shocker: 1
DUY: We find out Robbie Robertson used to serve in the military, and Stan actually does it in an organic, natural way: John Jameson just asks him if he ever feels like getting back in uniform.




WHAT'S AGED THE BEST?

BEN: Spider Slayers. They're basically drones.

DUY: The nuance given to JJJ in this issue will eventually be the type of nuance that will come to define him.

BEN: He just wants to catch him, not kill him.



WHAT'S AGED THE WORST?

BEN: All apologies to Don Heck, but you’re no Romita, even with him doing the layouts.

DUY: Yeah, much respect to Don Heck, but I... do not like his work.

BEN: Smythe is also defeated by a phone book, which would not work today.




NITPICKS

DUY: Where did Ka-Zar get the rope he's swinging from in the splash page, and how did he get it high enough to swing from it? Did he take a rope, climb a building, tie it there, go back down, and get Spider-Man?



BEN: And Spider-Man's amnesia is cured by cold water, when Ka-Zar fished him out of the lake in the previous issue?

FAVORITE PANEL

BEN:  Mine:


DUY: Wow, Ka-Zar is an idiot. "This civilian is giving me the same vibes as Spider-Man, whose face I've never seen. Oh well!" And here's mine:


DUY: I had misremembered this issue — and really anything involving the Spider-slayers —as JJJ just doing a criminal action for his obsession. It was nice to see that he just legitimately thinks Spider-Man is a menace and he wanted to play hero, but that even he doesn't want Spider-Man dead if it's unnecessary.

WHO WON THE COMIC?

BEN: There were no winners in this one.

DUY: I can name a loser. Aunt May.



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 Wednesday!

Jan 15, 2020

Spider-Rama: Amazing Spider-Man #57

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 #57
Spider-Rama
by Stan Lee and John Romita Sr.

Still stricken with amnesia, Spider-Man runs into the lord of the jungle, Ka-Zar!



POINTLESS TRIVIA

BEN: The first of many times Gwen will cry over Peter:


DUY: This is the second jungle-dwelling character named Ka-Zar. The first one was a pulp hero from 1936, and this one was created for the X-Men in 1965. Why the same name? I dunno. I also don't care. Ka-Zar sucks.

BEN:  It seems like they did this amnesia angle to minimize time with the ever-growing supporting cast, which I might have enjoyed when I was younger, but now I always want more time with them. Maybe later on when Mary Jane is choking down cigarettes and sorrow, but not with this cast. On my scale of importance, this cast is at the top. Ka-Zar is not as high on my personal scale. Ka-Zar is not on my scale. Ka-Zar can’t look at my scale without asking.

WHAT'S AGED THE BEST?

BEN: Who needs proof?
.

DUY: Ka-Zar's superpower is basically that he's a parkour expert, so I guess that's aged well.

WHAT'S AGED THE WORST?

BEN:  The entire concept of Tarzan, or Ka-Zar.

DUY: Ka-Zar is faulty enough as it is, but coming so soon after a Kraven story, it's just ridiculous. A waste of time.

NITPICKS

BEN: Ka-Zar rips his shirt off at the first possible moment, but not his pants. I usually lose my pants as I cross through my front door. I’m not saying I want to see Ka-Zar pantsless, but I’m not NOT saying it.



FAVORITE PANEL

BEN:  Steeped in villainy!


DUY: Ka-Zar rides a cab and takes Zabu, his sabertooth tiger, with him, and I think it's funny.



WHO WON THE COMIC?

BEN: Jameson once again does a lot in so few panels.

DUY: Dr. Bromwell, for saying what we're all thinking about Aunt May.




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 Wednesday!

Jan 6, 2020

Spider-Rama: Amazing Spider-Man #56

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 #56
Spider-Rama
by Stan Lee and John Romita Sr.

Spider-Man has amnesia, and Doc Ock uses it to convince him that he's not just a master criminal, but also his partner!



POINTLESS TRIVIA

BEN: Villain appearance count:
  • Doctor Octopus: 9
  • Green Goblin: 7
  • Sandman: 4
  • Kraven the Hunter: 5
  • The Vulture: 5
  • Mysterio: 4
  • The Enforcers: 3
  • The Rhino: 3
  • The Lizard: 3
  • The Kingpin: 3
  • The Chameleon: 2
  • Electro: 2
  • The Ringmaster: 2
  • Scorpion: 2
  • Molten Man: 2
BEN: First appearance of Police Captain George Stacy, Gwen Stacy's dad.


DUY: It is interesting that despite Ditko not talking to Stan at this point, they're still using his artwork for the upper left corner on the covers.


WHAT'S AGED THE BEST?

DUY: I think at this point Romita has finally captured Jameson. He kinda looked like a caveman early on.

.

DUY: Also, I think the cover would have gotten me to buy this off the rack.

BEN: Certainly.

WHAT'S AGED THE WORST?

BEN:  If every thought and instinct is telling you not to help Ock, maybe listen to them.

DUY: Yeah, I think amnesia storylines are a tough build to begin with. But Peter having the instincts to not do bad stuff and then just doing bad stuff because he "has no other choice" is pretty ridiculous.



BEN:  If you know Aunt May is the worst, why go tell her Peter is missing?

DUY:  I hate Aunt May so much.


NITPICKS

BEN: Captain Stacy must have been in his 40s when Gwen was born.

DUY:  I think the May-December romances were a thing of Silver Age, even Bronze Age Marvel. Hank Pym I think was said to be around 20 years older than Janet. Reed and Sue too.

BEN: Still better than Terry Long.

FAVORITE PANEL

BEN:  Thop!



DUY: I always like web backgrounds:



WHO WON THE COMIC?

DUY: I dunno, this issue was pretty bad, not even because of the execution, just the premise itself. I guess I give it to Jameson again. Three panels and he owns it.

BEN: Gwen Stacy.

WHO WON THE COMIC?

DUY: Arthur C. got back to us on last week's exchange regarding Mary Jane Watson and how her possibly knowing that Peter Parker was Spider-Man would affect her perception of him. He writes: "Wow, thank you guys for your response. Totally didn't expect it. And for your reply. It was fair and considerate." To which I say, "We get so few comments (i.e, close to none), we may as well. Comments are welcome, everyone!"

BEN: Arthur also writes,  "I have issues with the idea of MJ knowing Peter somehow affects her relationship with Peter because it veers into Silver Age Superman-Lois baggage (i.e. the fact that Lois liked Superman over Clark implied she was some lower person, the kind of mentality that Harvey Kurtzman shredded in the '50s itself in Superduperman)".

DUY: Again, we're not saying that her knowing he's Spider-Man would make her a lower person, just that that knowledge would change her preconception of him.

BEN: Even if you believe that she was scared to meet him, that knowledge still affected her opinion of him.

DUY: Arthur continues,  "it kind of smacks of M-W Complex in terms of contrasting MJ with Gwen and so on, even if Gwen Stacy showed vastly more skin in Spider-Man comics in the first 200 issues than she did (as will be evident when you cover Roy Thomas' bonkers Savage Land stories)." This is actually a fascinating point because the preconception of most fans who have not read these issues (and really, for the two of us, this isn't our first time doing a read-through either, especially of the first 150 issues or so) is that Mary Jane was more showy, more self-confident, but there are multiple instances where Gwen outdoes her in those aspects that are, quite understandably, forgotten or not mentioned in flashbacks now.

BEN: Mary Jane appears so little that I really question the myth that fans preferred her so much more. (Keep in mind we are far ahead of what’s been posted and have read long stretches of comics with little to no Mary Jane.)

DUY: I might have preferred her more during the Endless Gwen Crying Streak. Because there was so much crying.

BEN: Maybe in a “why isn’t MJ around?” way.

DUY: MJ is Poochie?

BEN: Arthur goes on with "Let me say, that the first 616 Spider-Man comic I read (the first Spider-Man story I read was the newspaper) was Untold Tales of Spider-Man #16 at a library, by Kurt Busiek and it uses Parallel Lives to explore MJ in Peter's early years. It was a great story well told and I liked it and ultimately on re-reading the stories, it works out well. This will be evident when you guys get to ASM #87 (which sets of the second great stretch of Lee-Romita's years, which lasts until #98) which is probably the most psychologically nuanced story that Lee wrote post-Ditko, in terms of nailing down impostor syndrome and other issues."

DUY: I want to say I love Untold Tales, but even then I didn't like that particular issue, even if Busiek and Oliffe did execute it to the best of their ability. And, I suppose it's okay to pull the curtain back a bit - we're so far ahead on Spider-Rama that we're actually at the issues you mention, so... I won't respond to the rest of that here; so you can keep reading weekly... or check back in like, 31 weeks or something.

BEN: And he continues with "And again, the epilogue of ASM#122 works better if she knows since MJ knows fully well what she's getting into by staying with Peter, especially because of Gwen's death. There's a lot of courage there." I don’t really see it as courage, it’s compassion. The idea that she would think ahead and know what’s she’s getting into by staying makes it worse, instead of simple compassion for a friend.

DUY: Yeah, Arthir and I are going to have to agree to disagree there, as it works infinitely better for me if she doesn't know and she chooses to stay despite not knowing everything in Peter's head, despite the fact that he just lashed out at her. But again, more will be divulged when Spider-Rama gets to #122...sometime in 2021. Arthur ends with a correction for our trivia section, "Green Goblin's appearances should be 8, not 7. Green Goblin appeared in ASM #47, so you should tally that up, and correct it. Doc Ock hasn't won yet (and ultimately he would lose...since resurrection, Norman has become the Spidey villain with most appearances, and in overall Marvel villains is behind only Doom and Magneto).
ASM#47 is a kind of proto-'Untold Tale' where Lee retconned Goblin's connections to Kraven in a status-quo where Norman had amnesia. Goblin shows up in the opening splash panel and then the panel after that. Small appearance but it's brand new Goblin material."

BEN: Just in general we have to make judgment calls on certain things involving the villain count, and in this case because the Goblin only showed up in one panel in a flashback scene, and the rest of it was Norman, we chose not to count it. (We'll be employing the same rule with the Jackal when he shows up.) Also, we're only counting appearances as a Spidey villain, so Norman's non-Spidey appearances since 1996 wouldn't be counted.

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 Wednesday!