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Offline Sam Wilson

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Sam wilson and crew comics and tpb reviews for you, 4/18/07
« on: April 19, 2007, 04:04:52 pm »
Dawg’s Reviews

It was a pretty decent week for books this week at the LCS here in the mid west. The new JLA is going into the “Lightning” round and the Mighty Avengers are up against the Mole Man and “Femtron”… Dangerous curves ahead for that group if you are feelin’ me on that one… A new artist on Moon Knight takes that book to darker places and Supergirl needs guidance courtesy of Lobo…  You heard it here first in the Mighty Reviews for this week.

Sensational Spider-Man #37
Marvel Comics
Written by: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Drawn by: Ramon Bachs

Spider-Man is back… back in black that is. You have probably been seeing Spider-Man around a lot more lately and as we are less than a month away from seeing him in black on the silver screen, I suspect that you will be seeing a lot more of him too.  Let’s face it… the black costume has been argued to be the best alternate costume any hero has ever had.  I would agree that it is pretty freakin’ cool… Not as cool as my bros Sam and WKTF, but cool nonetheless.

So what’s going on in this title? Well As anyone who is reading it knows… just to be clear… this title used to be “Marvel Knights” Spider-Man…  They changed it back to Sensational and we have been getting more off the cuff, less mainstream stories about Spidey and friends…

Someone has been taking people off the streets and turning them in to “spider-men”.  So we have a bunch of guys locked in jail cells dressed up in Spider-Man costumes, with Pete’s powers, and lacking his sense of responsibility and honor.  Spidey has to get to the bottom of what is going on though as it looks like a former student of his is also gone missing and probably the next in line to be experimented on.

The end of last issue is where we find out who is the “mad scientist” responsible for these experiments. This villain is none other than an old Marvel baddy that I haven’t seen in a while; Mr. Hyde. You remember that guy who beat the holy hell out of Jarvis when the masters of evil trashed Avengers Mansion back in the 80’s?

We also find out that the race against the clock gets even more urgent as the results of turning these people into “spider-men” doesn’t last long before breaking down and devolving them in to monsters that look like spiders.

Spidey finds the last test subject in Hyde’s lair and of course you know that a battle ensues and Spidey wins the day. Hey don’t complain about that… He’s Spidey… he always wins the day.

Good book. Like I said earlier… this title is a bit more removed from the tight continuity of Amazing Spider-Man. But each of these books has to tell their own story and for me… Anything Spider is golden. When I get a chance I am going to sculpt another Spider-Man just because he’s da bomb.

The Brave and the Bold #3
DC Comics
Written by: Mark Waid
Drawn by: George Perez

Any time you have George Perez on a title you can expect about a bazillion characters and a bazillion settings to happen all in the span of 22 pages. That much holds true in this third issue of Dc’s Brave and the Bold. George Perez is straight up classic comic book artists that if there were a hall of fame, would be chairman of the board with Alan Davis and John Romita Jr. as VP and secretary of Treasury.

In issue one, we Had Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) and Batman hook up for some galaxy spanning detective work. The two had different hunches to play and in issue two parted to investigate.

Supergirl went with Hal and by issue two’s end they were separated all the while this mystery kept building, more characters, more settings, etc. Back on earth Batman followed his hunches and the new Blue Beetle came into the picture.

So basically the meat of this issue is Batman and Beetle fighting and doing detective work together, while the Beetle interacts with the idea that he is working beside the scariest damn legend ever, and way out of his league. To his surprise though though Batman is nice to him and is helping him get his sea legs as a superhero much like he would with Robin.

Off in space Supergirl tries to find Green Lantern and comes into contact with a tough Bastich with a guide to the galaxy. You may know him as Lobo…  OH BOY… you know that next issue is going to be filled with one-liners galore.

Somewhere in reading these issues I have forgotten what the mystery even is due to the fact that I am enjoying the interactions with the single-issue team ups. It reminds me of a simpler time in comics, where things were about good guys beating up bad guys and seeing other good guys team up to fight villainy.  It’s cool, it’s light entertainment and it’s fun to me.  I like this type of book where things aren’t so convoluted all the time as a change of pace.

I really don’t know what else to say about this book except that it is worth picking up and seeing if it is for you.  I said I was only going to pick it up to see what I thought, but issue three has come and gone and I am still picking it up…  To me, that’s a good start on making it into the official pull-list.

I would have to say, because I had “fun” reading this book and loved Beetle’s nervous interaction with the legend that is Batman, this is my pick of the week.

Sam Wilson’s Reviews

Nothing to say once again except maybe this week is your week to check out a book you normally wouldn’t read, and I would like to suggest my pick of the week, Squadron Supreme: Hyperion Vs. Nighthawk. Word yo . That being said, on to the reviews…

DMZ #18
DC/Vertigo Comics
Written by: Brian Wood
Drawn by: Riccardo Burchelli

To catch up those who haven’t checked out this book yet: our story opens five years into the second American Civil War. The conflict is between the United States of America and the “Free States”. According to the White House, these “Free States” Soldiers are “thugs and murderers”, and they are indiscriminate and uncivilized when it comes to warfare in civilian areas. As far as New York City goes, the “Free States” control New Jersey and the inland, and they are amassing at the banks of the Hudson River. The United States of America has Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island and is well dug in on the coastline, with Manhattan Island caught in-between in the “DMZ”. The thing is, there are still people living on Manhattan Island, and even though there has been a formal ceasefire in effect from the last three days (when the story opens) the reality of life there consists of looters, gangs, local militias, insurgents and contract killers. All a day in the life in the DMZ.

Enter rich white-kid Matthew Rose, he entered the DMZ an intern to a world famous journalist and ended up the voice of the people. Since Matthew has set foot in the DMZ he has been used by both sides, made some friends (Zee, the former Med Student among them) and has established himself as a “name” person in the DMZ. He reports the truth, no matter how ugly, so most of the time he gets free reign, and has even become a celebrity of sorts.  Issue 18 is the start of a new story, “Friendly Fire”, and like all the stories so far, one can see the parallels Brian Wood is drawing to the current state of our own military.  Matt is sent by Liberty News to cover the “Biggest Trail Ever” of the current civil war; a squadron of US soldiers early in the war opened fire on hundreds of Free State peace protesters and killed all of them.  Those on trial are those who were directly involved in the action, all other aspects of the chain of command have been left alone.  The trial is starting three years after the fact, and now is the first time any of the accused soldiers have had to opportunity to tell their side of the story, and Matt is going to be bringing those stories to the masses. 

The first few arcs of DMZ were off to a slow start, and admittedly I was a little wary of the social commentary, but with the last arc about suicide bombing and the current issue I believe Brian Wood has really hit his stride and done something special with this book.  DMZ holds its own story, and at the same time serves as woods commentary on our current political situation.  Its obvious where his political affiliations lie, and if that’s something you have a problem with I would stay away from this book.  If skepticism and questioning authority is something your prone too, then this book is definitely for you.  Personally I’m enjoying this book and I would recommend you pic up the last few trades of this series and catch up on one of the more entertaining social commentaries I’ve read in the last decade or so. 

Squadron Supreme: Hyperion Vs. Nighthawk #4 (of 4)
Marvel Comics
Written by: Marc Guggenheim
Drawn by: Paul Gulacy

For those of you who haven’t been paying attention, J. Michael Stracynski (JMS) has updated the classic Mark Gruewald 1985 series “Squadron Supreme” for the new millennium, titling his version “Supreme Power”. The characters are all there, just different, and nastier for the most part. Zarda is a crazy Amazon who’s penchant for killing is only outweighed by her obviously vast libido. Blur is still really fast but is young and black rather than the 30 something family man Gruewald’s Blur was. Hyperion is still “Superman”, more or less, but a Superman manipulated into service by our government and is now pissed beyond belief over his treatment. Nighthawk is “Batman”, but Batman if he was black and had a nastier temper and less regard for life and fairplay. So yes, the “yin” and “yan” of Batman and Superman taken to an extreme, obviously they would have to duke it out at some point, thus we are presented with “Hyperion Vs. Nighthawk”.

Our story opens with Hyperion beating the crap out of Nighthawk, Nighthawk broke into the Squad’s HQ for an unknown reason and thus suffers the consequences. Time passes and there is a rumor of an American mercenary in Dafur laying waste to both sides of a conflict that has resulted in nothing more than genocide and misery for the populace. Apparently innocent civilians have been killed, and the merc has sent a message back to the US, a piece of metal belonging to the ship Hyperion rode in on when he crash landed on Earth. This causes the US to send Hyperion to Dafur to investigate which leads to another conflict with Nighthawk, with unexpected results, that result being Nighthawk kicking Hyperion’s ass. In issue #2 we are given more backstory: as Kyle Richmond Nighthawk tried to throw money at the Dafur problem to attempt to fix it but ended up making it worse. Sick of the futility of it all he decided to go hands on and make things right personally, starting with a break in on the Squardron’s HQ. Our story then jumps back to Dafur and Nighthawk cleaning up the floor with Hyperion.  Soon Hyperion becoming the unwanted minion of Nighthawk, but begrudgingly seeing his point at the same time. At the end of issue three,  a group of super-powered African’s we first saw in the first story arc of the non-Marvel MAX “Squadron Supreme” series comes back into play, and needless to say they are still not to keen on outsiders treading their boot prints across their soils, which brings us to our final issue.  Is there a big brawl?  Does Nighthawwk, Hyperion and the African Justice League duke it out only to unite against badness in Dafur?  Let’s just say violence isn’t what is given at the end of this story, perspective is. 

If you are a fan of JMS’s “Squadron Supreme” and “Supreme Power” you need to pick this book up, it centralizes the two major conflicts they are building up in the main series. Hyperion vs. Nighthawk, Superman vs. Batman, the regular guy vs. the man, call it what you will it is not only a battle of men but a battle of ideologies, with the two main heroes being metaphors for a conflict that is global and timeless in nature. Paul Gulacy is at the top of his game and Mark Guggenheim has the characters nailed down. This book is easily my pick of the week.

Birds of Prey #105
DC Comics
Written by: Gail Simone
Drawn by: Nicola Scott and Doug Hazlewood
Cover by: Stephane Roux

Since issue 100 big changes have hit our favorite gun-toting, mini skirt wearing kung fu kicking cape and mask wearing foxy chica super heroes.  Black Canary (sniff) is with the Justice League, Big Barda, Manhunter, Judomaster (huh) Huntress and Lady Blackhawk (still a fox) round out the roster now, with a strange little girl who is kinda like an annoying combination of bizzaro and bat-mite who can teleport and dresses like a cheap Halloween version of batgirl.  Barbara went toe-to-toe with the government and lost, so now the girls have to do dirty work for the government and Barbara’s long time nemesis, Spy Smasher (boo, to bitchy to be a fox).  It’s all good though, because issue 105 is our girls vs. The Secret Six, round two…

Our story opens in Russia with a tale of Tsars and magic, and both the Secret Six and the Birds licking their wounds and eager for a rematch after the events of last issue.  Our story started with the Spy Master shanghaiing the team and sending them on their first government mission to recapture some stolen Soviet technology before it hit the free market and was used for bad things.  Instead the birds came across something much more macabre.  Our story continues with Hawkgirl duking it out with Scandal Savage mano-a-mano, Spy-smasher further pushing aside Oracle by superceding her orders thus driving a wedge between her and the team, and the Secret Six running our heroes down for a rematch that is sure to leave a mark.

Once again, Gail Simone has created excitement, tension and ass-kickary all with a foxy chicanes about it that I gotta admit, is awesome.  Do I really need to say anything else?  Pick this book up already, word.

Offline Sam Wilson

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Re: Sam wilson and crew comics and tpb reviews for you, 4/18/07
« Reply #1 on: April 19, 2007, 04:05:15 pm »
Wktf’s “Pellet” Reviews

Too much going on at the home front to crank out the usual reviews.  So here I am at the office improvising on the spot and trying not to take too long so as to use up work time that I need.  Here we go…

The Spirit #5
DC Comics
Written by: Darwyn Cooke
Drawn by: Darwyn Cooke

My first comics loves are those from the big two, Marvel and DC and in that order.  Always has been for over 40 years.  But I really love reviewing the indy comics, too, when I have the interest and get the chance.  Hence, my look at Dracula vs. King Arthur, The Phantom, Lone Ranger and the like over the last several months.  Seriously, though produced by DC, I feel like The Spirit falls into that category as well.  I rarely see any feedback or discussion on this comic and think it’s one of the standout offerings from any comic book company.  This one’s kind of an unusual case, too, as the character’s been around as long as Superman, Batman and Captain America but, unlike those other properties, for the last sixty years has been associated with a single creator: Will Eisner.  No one expects today’s Spider-Man, for example, to reflect what Lee and Ditko originate but The Spirit is inextricably linked to its creator making, I would think, the task of putting this comic out a daunting one to any creator.  Thankfully, Darwyn Cook makes it look easy and seems to be channeling Eisner even as this work is unmistakably Cooke’s.  It’s a delight and this issue is my pick of the week.

Every issue to this point has been a self contained story and here we have some humor with a Mister Carrion, who has an unnatural and unseemly fetish for his female vulture, who has not only packaged canned baked beans with The Spirit’s image and name on the can but has dreamed up a powerful marketing campaign that uses insights about its target demographics, kids and busy moms, to create an emotional connection between the brand and the target audiences and hoodwink both segments about the features and benefits of the product and, thus, sell the hell out of it.  Being a marketing professional of the last 23 years I couldn’t help but wonder if Mr. Cooke is a former advertising guy because this approach showed some savvy and jargon that’s pretty industry specific.

Anyway, naturally, The Spirit’s not too happy to have his face selling this slop.  A crime boss, The Cossack, finds a way in through a henchman who’s been working doubletime for him and Carrion to take over Carrion’s business, and beat the snot out of Carrion, to push meth to kids through the beans.  And The Spirit has to take on both at the same time to end this racket, restore his name, and put the crime boss out of circulation.  This is fun, funny, action packed and just great storytelling and art all the way around.  Cooke and the team of Dini/Kramer on “Detective” are making an art out of the one issue story and everyone who fits this comic book reading demographic and psychographic profile should jump on board to reap the functional and emotional benefits of the products they’re producing.

JLA #8
DC Comics
Written by: Brad Meltzer
Drawn by: Ed Benes

Having moved past the Red Tornado’s story and the origin of the new JLA, we now enter an 5-part arc called “The Lightning Saga” in which we begin with some JLA/JSA integrated team drills that show some intriguing cross-team dynamics.  Mr. Terrific is playing chess against two Black Canary and Green Lantern, there’s a capture the flag match going on the primarily focuses on Red Tornado, Red Arrow, and Hawkgirl but Wildcat’s presence definitely is felt.  The most interesting, though, is Black Lightning and Batman (yeah, no JSA there) in the Batcave overlooking the unconscious form of Trident, or Karate Kid of the Legion of Superheroes.  Off camera Black Lightning subdued Trident and now he and Bats are wondering who he is and how he got there, especially as he’s a man out of time.

Things do heat up across both teams.  Mr. Terrific, of course, proves too much for his JLA opponents, a three way conflict between Red Tornado, Red Arrow and Hawkgirl goes terribly awry and raises questions about Red Tornado’s behavior (further questions, as well, when Mr. Terrific learns Reddy can see him when he should be invisible to all machines) and Karate Kid, whom Clark labeled a “level 15” fighter wakes up and takes on Batman, whom Clark labeled a “level 12.”  Batman notes how he loves to prove Clark wrong and the battle between these two expert fighters, some on page and some off, was reminiscent of how quickly Bats dispatched Guy Gardner back in the early Justice League days.

It turns out that Karate Kid is one of 7 Legionnaires to be temporally displaced on Earth.  And the JLA and JSA decide the best way to track them down is to team up.  Great final page on the last page, by the way.  If you like your foxy superheroines, that is.  Like all of his work, Meltzer’s writing is deliberately paced and, while some find it a bit slow, I think it builds story, character and tension.  Benes’ art is fantastic as always.  And so we have a great beginning to this cross-team/title story.  Pick it up, already, if you haven’t already!

Mighty Avengers #2
Marvel Comics
Written by:  Brian Michael Bendis
Drawn by: Frank Cho

Um, I found this issue kind of annoying.  But, the story here is that we have a new Ultron who looks like a naked Janet Van Dyne (aka, The Wasp) essentially having her way (double entrendre intentional) with the mightiest of The Mighty Avengers.  It appears, since she morphed out of an agonized Tony Stark, that she’s killed Iron Man.  And she bats around Wonder Man, Ares and The Sentry, and dispatched the Mole Man’s biggest monsters, like they’re all ping pong balls.  Ms. Marvel feels completely out of her element which actually comes off pretty well.  Given that she’s new in her role as team leader I would be disappointed if she had the command authority of Cap, Iron Man or The Wasp.  In fact, she even comments that Cap would know what to do while she doesn’t.  So, the issue actually ends where it begins.  Nothing moves forward in terms of the story except for the Wasp’s realization that when the female creature who looks like her declares its love for The Wasp, well, the old Oedipal relationship she knows and fears too well makes it apparent who this baddie is.

During all this ruckus we get to flash back randomly to Wonder Man’s, Sentry’s, The Wasp’s and The Black Widow’s (did she always pack heat wherever she went?) recruitment process to the team.  None of this is very interesting, except maybe for Natasha, and I can see why Bendis interspersed it with action rather than have one issue devoted to building the team.  But, seriously, the Avengers book with any real action, development and interest going on in it right now is New rather than Mighty.  I mean, did Marvel make Ultron a naked girl just to give Cho another opportunity to draw the female form?  This makes no sense to me.  And Bendis has got to dial back on the thought balloons.  He’s like a kid with a new toy and just has to move on.  It’s not clever any more, just annoying.

Meh, I’ll keep reading to see what happens next but I may bail after next issue.

Offline Sam Wilson

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« Reply #2 on: April 19, 2007, 04:05:37 pm »
Trade Reviews: The Origin of Venom

With Spider-Man 3 now upon us, and one of the movie’s villains’ being none other than Venom, two of us thought we’d review the multi-faceted, intricate, multiple story lines that, taken as four separate trades, represent four distinct and important arcs but, taken together, yield the sequence of events that lead to Venom’s origin.  Sure, we know Marvel cranked out their “Birth of Venom” trade a couple weeks back, but there’s one storyline, The Death of Jean DeWolff, that’s not in there that’s also crucial to his origin.  In truth, despite his pretty substantial fan base, neither of us have ever had any great love for this character.  Venom is most definitely a product of his time, the late 1980s early 1990s, and his two-dimensional characterization and gross overexposure seemed to make him less than relevant after only a few years.  And, up until Mark Millar’s recent innovative reinvention of the character in MK Spider-Man, we’d seen neither hide nor hair of him in years, really.  But the twisting and turning tales that lead to his origin, that took place over an incredible period of four years, from 1984 to 1988, make for some of the most entertaining and intricate comic book reading around, especially when you read them all as the long, persistent and inexorable path to the creation of this Spider-Man staple villain.  And, in these reviews we’ll take a look at all four of these trades in sequential order!

Sam Wilson’s Review

Marvel Superheroes Secret Wars
Marvel Comics
Written by: Jim Shooter
Drawn by: Mike Zeck & Bob Layton

Not to throw anyone for a loop, but the unleashing of “Secret Wars” onto the comic reading masses is a direct result of the ‘80’s action figure craze.  No really, it’s true.  According to Tom  Defalco’s 1999 intro to the “Secret Wars” tpb, a rival toy company wanted to produce a line of Marvel action figures in response to Kenner’s successful “Super Powers” line.  They also wanted a comic series to support it (kinda like the mega-successful “GI Joe”) and they wanted to include all the major players in the Marvel Universe.  A few meeting down the road and the first major all-company crossover was born, “Secret Wars”.  Yes, we all know the “Secret Wars” toy line died a slow and painful death (those lenticular shield thingy’s were hella stupid), but the comic series was one of the most successful limited series of all time and has been imitated time and time again over the years in Marvel and DC (much to our chagrin sometimes).  Arguably, without “Secret Wars” there would have been no “Crisis”, “Infinity Gauntlet”, or “Hero’s Return” (ugh).   As a comic series itself, “Secret War” spawned many changes in Marvel Comics continuity, some of which we’ll talk about now…

The plot of “Secret Wars” is simple enough.  An omnipotent cosmic being, the Beyonder was intrigued by humanity and their concepts of good and evil.  To more closely observe these phenomena he kidnapped Earth’s greatest heroes and villains and put them on a world of his own design and pitted them against each other in combat. There were a few great moments, like when Dr. Doom psyched himself out of godhood and created his own demise, and when Molecule Man, pretty much a third tier FF villain, grew a pair and started kicking a$#.  When it comes down to it though, Secret Wars is mainly known for one thing, in issue eight we get the first appearance of Spider-Man’s “black” costume, and alien “creature” of some sort that can create webs without a web shooter and can mold itself to Spidey’s every thought, costume, street clothes, whatever.  For more on Spidey’s “black” costume, check out wktf’s tpb review.  Anyway, my personal favorite “moment” to come out of “Secret Wars” was the Thing opting to remain on “Battleworld”, where he could change to Ben Grimm at will, and the She-Hulk taking his place in the Fantastic Four.  “Shulkie” had quite the memorable run in the FF in the ‘80’s when John Byrne was at the helm, and I wonder sometimes if people remember it was one of the last panels in “Secret Wars” that began that journey.

“Secret Wars” is a part of Marvel history, and love them or like them, was also the birth of the company-wide crossover.  This tpb is recently back in print and available for $29.99 from most major retailers, it’s definitely worth checking out.

Wktf’s Review

Spider-Man: The Saga of the Alien Costume
Marvel Comics
Written by: Tom DeFalco (with assistance by Roger Stern)
Drawn by: Ron Frenz (with assistance by Rick Leionardi)

This trade begins right after the disappearance of the Marvel superheroes to The Beyonder’s Battleworld.  The Daily Bugle’s headline screams: “Where are They?!?  Still No Word on Missing Heroes” and sports the visages of Thor, Spider-Man, Captain America, She-Hulk and a host of other Marvel heroes.  However, in only a couple of pages, a bizarre structure appears in Central Park out of which leaps Spider-Man, to the shock and surprise of three police officers, holding a stunned Doctor Curt Connors in his right arm.  This dynamic full page image shows our hero for the first time in his now all too familiar black symbiote costume.  While this costume is well known today, try to think back to when you first read Amazing Spider-Man #252, the issue following Spider-Man’s first defeat of The Hobgoblin, assuming you started reading comics before 1984, and how truly startling and dramatic this image was.  Soon The Avengers appear and Spider-Man and Doc Connors begin to converse mysteriously about their shared experience on Battleworld.  This experience is referenced continuously throughout this trade because, remember, though our heroes have returned to a time only moments after they vanished in the previous isse, the Secret Wars comic book series was running in parallel at the time these issues were published.  What better way to build sales back then than to keep plugging it in Marvel’s ongoing titles, right?  There were no internet fan sites back in  the mid-1980s, after all.

“The Saga of the Alien Costume” really stands out on my shelf due to its sheer size.  Unlike today’s trades that capture four or six issue story arcs designed to fit into a trade format, this one collects the eight issues from Amazing Spider-Man #252-259.  And it’s rare to find a set of stories, especially from a consecutive run of issues, which offer up so many important milestones in a character’s life.  It does start a little slowly, though, following Spider-Man’s explosive entrance.  Peter has made the decision to discontinue his graduate studies which creates a rift between him and Aunt May.  And there are a couple of throw away individual stories involving a football star who’s paid to throw games and even a battle with the Red Ghost and his super apes.  But the vast majority of this trade is pure Spidey history gold.  We get the introduction of The Rose as well as his alliance with The Hobgoblin and fateful encounter with The Kingpin, a battle with Jack ‘O Lantern who (we now know, with hindsight, eventually becomes the second Hobgoblin) over The Hobgoblin’s impounded battlevan, and the introduction and first battle with Puma.  While Spider-Man has been plagued by questions concerning the new alien costume he acquired on Battleworld, and all its strange properties, it is during his battle with Puma that his fears about his costume become sharper.  To Spider-Man’s great surprise, Puma’s enhanced senses reveal that the costume’s webbing is organic!  Following the battle with Puma we are treated to the now classic dream sequence, used in the Spider-Man Animated Series as well, where the black and red/blue costume attack Peter and each other for control of their host.  And this dream occurs not only when Peter is sound asleep but also is swinging around New York fully possessed by the symbiote!  And then we experience another classic Spidey moment, following Mr. Fantastic’s analysis of the symbiote, wherein we not only discover its vulnerability to fire and sonic waves but get to see Spidey in one of his shortest lived but most famous substitute costumes yet, courtesy of The Human Torch:  an FF uniform, a paper bag mask with two eye holes cut out, and a “Kick Me” sign on his back!

But, perhaps, Peter’s most significant milestone in this trade is the reuniting with Mary Jane that puts the two of them on track to be married shortly thereafter.  MJ finally reveals to Peter that she’s known for years about his secret and relays to him her terrible history of family abuse and neglect, something the Spider-Man movies have tapped into as well.  As the Hobgoblin and The Rose make their attempt to wrest control of New York’s underworld from The Kingpin, Peter and Mary Jane walk together through Central Park coming closer together as they go.  Though Peter thinks he’s in love with The Black Cat, who also appears in this trade, he discovers his feelings for Mary Jane are rekindling as both bear their most important secrets to each other.

Tom DeFalco’s pacing, plotting and scripting is just terrific.  This writer really gets how to script action-packed, humorous, dramatic and angst-filled Spider-Man stories.  Curiosity keeps building throughout this story as Spidey’s costume starts acting in weirder and weirder ways and its true nature and danger is finally revealed.  But special kudos must go to Ron Frenz.  His style has changed considerably over the years, but it was his stint on Spider-Man that was my favorite even more so than on The Mighty Thor where he had a pretty long run as well.  I swear in this work his art channeling Steve Ditko by presenting a lightning fast, incredibly agile and powerful Spider-Man who really seemed to get off exercising his amazing abilities to his full extent.  Here we have a leaping, somersaulting, cart wheeling, and jaw punching Spidey who could have come out of the first 30 issues of this title’s run.   This trade retailed for $9.95 when it was published but, sadly, it is long out of print.  That said I’ve seen it occasionally on eBay or the various online bookstores.  Pick it up if you can.  You’ll be glad you did.

In the mean time, having been wrenched from its host, the alien symbiote remains trapped in Mr. Fantastic’s laboratory…“And, even as it assesses its current situation, it begins to plan - - !  To hate - - !  To hunger for revenge - - !”

Sam Wilson’s Review

Spider-Man: The Death of Jean DeWolff
Marvel Comics
Written by: Peter David
Drawn by: Rich Buckler

FYI, the “Death of Jean DeWolff” tpb is long out of print, but the story can be found in a new collection, the Wizard Masterpiece Edition: Spider Man.  That being said, let’s talk about Captain Jean DeWolff.  You all know I’m not a Spider-Man regular. I’ve read him off and on, but nothing more than a couple issues here and there, and yes, I read Ultimate Spider-Man, and yes, I know it’s not the same thing. So what’s my point? The “Death of Jean Dewolff” is a fantastic story. It’s the first story I ever read that brought Peter David to my attention, and it showed a Spider-Man not seen often (at least to me), someone other than the wisecracker clown prince of superheroics.

Jean Dewolff was a police captain for the NYPD who was more or less Spidey’s “Jim Gordon”. She became acquainted with Spidey on a case, and encountered him every now and then while she was on the job. Spidey wasn’t used to friendship from the police, so his relationship with Dewolff was important. One day the unthinkable happened, while handing a couple of muggers off to the police, Spidey finds out Dewolff was shotgunned to death in her own apartment. At first Spidey is in shock, he teams up (sorta) with detective Stan Carter to help track down this brazen assassin. On the side, we see attorney Matt Murdock (if you don’t know who he is, I aint saying) see, no watch, no, okay, well anyway he was in the same room of a judge friend of his only to “witness” him being gunned down by a crazed individual calling himself the “Sin Eater”. This of course, brings Daredevil into our story, because soon we found out this “Sin Eater” also killed Captain Dewolff (after a ballistics are matched on both shootings).

Okay, so we got Spidey, DD, and a psycho shotgunning dude who calls himself the Sin Eater. So they team up, find the bad guy, and all is well right? Of course not. As Spidey digs deeper into Capt. Dewolff’s murder, he find out she might have had romantic feelings for him. Spidey is without a chica right now, and he realizes if they both would have explored those feelings, it coulda led to something. When Spidey finally catches up with our bad guy, they duke it out in a crowded street, an innocent civilian takes a shotgun blast and ends up dying. This pushes Spidey over the edge. He goes looking for the Sin Eater with a fury, beating information out of skells and cutting a swath through NYC like he never has before. On the side, Daredevil carefully conducts his own investigation, and eventually teams up with Spidey. They find the Sin Eater, and then everything hits the fan.

I’m not going to say what happens next, because if you haven’t read this story, it’ll take away the shock. Sometimes acting out of character, especially when it’s done by such a well-established character like Spider-Man, can rub fans the wrong way and seems contrived. I did not feel this way with this story. Peter David gives hints of this story’s climax from the beginning. That’s why it’s so realistic, and shocking. Sure, Peter has experienced loss before, but no one illustrated what it can do to the psyche as well as Peter David did. For a minute Spidey isn’t larger than life, he’s just another guy feeling a human emotion, and his friends have to help him through his pain. The “Death of Jean Dewolff” has been reprinted before in tbp form, but like I said earlier has been long out of print. For $29.99, you can pick up the Wizard Masterpiece Edition: Spider Man and get that story, plus a few more. It’s definitely worth it.

Wktf’s Review

Spider-Man vs. Venom
Marvel Comics
Written by: David Michelinie
Drawn by: Todd McFarlane

Okay!  Here we are, at the finale of our two week, four part Origin of Venom reviews!  Having covered off on Marvel Superheroes Secret Wars and The Saga of the Alien Costume last week, and my esteemed colleague’s review of The Death of Jean DeWolff just above, we now come to the end of the four year trek, from 1984 through 1988, to the Amazing Spider-Man  stories that launched one of Spidey’s most popular and deadly villains.  This trade collects all the David Michelinie and Todd McFarlane creative team’s Venom stories.  It begins with the very last page only of Amazing Spider-Man # 298 where we see a mysteriously dark, shrouded figure first standing in front of Spider-Man news clippings tacked to his wall and stewing in his thoughts of revenge.  Then come the last two pages of issue # 299 where Mary Jane, now married to Peter, returns to their apartment and is greeted inside by an incredibly muscular but insanely sinister version of her own husband in his black costume and uttering those famous words from The Shining, “Hi honey…I’m home!”  We then move to issue #300 where Peter enters their home to find Mary Jane trembling in fear on the floor and, so, it begins.

These very first Spider-Man vs. Venom stories are so well known at this point it seems almost unnecessary to go into any depth detailing what happens.  We know, from The Saga of the Alien Costume (you did read my review from last week, didn’t you?) why the costume hates Peter.  In this volume, we learn why Eddie Brock, the symbiote’s new host, hates him as well.  It turns out that Eddie was a columnist for The Daily Globe, one of The Daily Bugle’s competitors, when the Sin Eater story from The Death of Jean DeWolff (see my partner’s review, above) was breaking.  Eddie reported that a man named Emil Gregg had confessed to being the Sin Eater; however, Emil was nothing more than a compulsive confessor.  The real Sin Eater (I can’t reveal his identity and spoil my colleague’s review, sorry) was revealed by Peter Parker in The Daily Bugle.  In the mean time, following its escape from FF headquarters, the alien symbiote had tried to rejoin with Spider-Man in Web of Spider-Man #1 only to be driven off by the powerful sonic vibrations of a church tower bell.  Brock, now disgraced and fired, while contemplating suicide on his knees in a church, was found by the symbiote who joined with him and, so, an evil alliance was formed.  Venom had full knowledge of Spider-Man and his secrets, all of Spidey’s powers, significantly more muscle, and didn’t trigger Peter’s spider sense.  In fact, he was unstoppable in a direct confrontation with Spider-Man.  Imagine Spidey’s shock as he suddenly faced, out of nowhere, a brand new adversary who was his most dangerous as well.

Amazing Spider-Man #300 introduced Venom to the world, and the world responded with huge enthusiasm to this maniacally lurid and warped villain.  But it was issues #315-317, also collected here, that gave us the Venom that we all know today.  I have to confess I’m in the minority in that I’ve never been a big Venom fan or a fan of Todd McFarlane’s rather cartoony art style.  But rereading this trade I found myself impressed with these issues both by how creepy Venom was and how well Spider-Man is drawn (despite those oversized but-eyes), especially the contorted positions in which he could move his body.  In McFarlane’s hands Spider-Man is an almost supernaturally spider-like hero.  But Venom, ugh, that broad smile with those large pointed teeth, that insane and murderous attitude, the way he speaks of himself as “we” in the third person, and the way he barrels along almost like the Rhino with his massive frame and super strength all combined to create a truly frightening villain.  When he’s skipping along the Long Island beach in this trade’s last battle and ranting, “He’s going to die!  Oh, happy, happy, happy!” you know this guy’s a deadly whack-job who means business.  David Michelinie has always been one of my favorite writers.  I loved his work on Iron Man, The Avengers and, yes, Amazing Spider-Man.  He tends to be forgotten when people think about great comic book writers of the 1970s and 1980s but he shouldn’t be, and this volume is a testament as to why.

So, even if you’ve hit your saturation point with Venom, this is a trade worth owning.  In going back to the character’s roots, if I’m any indication, you still can be impressed with how innovative and dangerous he was and how perilously close Spider-Man always is to being completely outmatched and overpowered in their encounters.  Retailing originally for $15.95 this title, sadly, seems now to be out of print.  But a quick scan of eBay and Amazon.com shows that it’s readily available.  So, if you’re one of the few who doesn’t own this trade, I recommend picking it up.  I can’t say the same thing for other Venom trades but this one’s a sure thing.

Offline Open palm

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Re: Sam wilson and crew comics and tpb reviews for you, 4/18/07
« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2007, 09:52:04 pm »
Dawg’s Reviews
Birds of Prey #105
DC Comics
Written by: Gail Simone
Drawn by: Nicola Scott and Doug Hazlewood
Cover by: Stephane Roux

Since issue 100 big changes have hit our favorite gun-toting, mini skirt wearing kung fu kicking cape and mask wearing foxy chica super heroes.  Black Canary (sniff) is with the Justice League, Big Barda, Manhunter, Judomaster (huh) Huntress and Lady Blackhawk (still a fox) round out the roster now, with a strange little girl who is kinda like an annoying combination of bizzaro and bat-mite who can teleport and dresses like a cheap Halloween version of batgirl.  Barbara went toe-to-toe with the government and lost, so now the girls have to do dirty work for the government and Barbara’s long time nemesis, Spy Smasher (boo, to bitchy to be a fox).  It’s all good though, because issue 105 is our girls vs. The Secret Six, round two…

Our story opens in Russia with a tale of Tsars and magic, and both the Secret Six and the Birds licking their wounds and eager for a rematch after the events of last issue.  Our story started with the Spy Master shanghaiing the team and sending them on their first government mission to recapture some stolen Soviet technology before it hit the free market and was used for bad things.  Instead the birds came across something much more macabre.  Our story continues with Hawkgirl duking it out with Scandal Savage mano-a-mano, Spy-smasher further pushing aside Oracle by superceding her orders thus driving a wedge between her and the team, and the Secret Six running our heroes down for a rematch that is sure to leave a mark.

Once again, Gail Simone has created excitement, tension and ass-kickary all with a foxy chicanes about it that I gotta admit, is awesome.  Do I really need to say anything else?  Pick this book up already, word.


I miss Benes but the artwork has been decent enough to get his story going. Man, who'd have thought Gail could make such oddballs fun to read.

The Secret Six. Someone should make a theme song for these misfits. Give it a 60's rock vein, like the Super 6 cartoon. But have guitar play like the Red Elvises. Animate these guys riding an open top cadillac. The style is a cross between JLU and the classic Bewitched. And when they introduce the new sixth member (now Harley Quinn) they pick her up from the road, all smling and dancing to the beat.

1-2-3-4-5...SIX! The Secret Six!
« Last Edit: April 20, 2007, 10:03:51 pm by Open palm »
Do you prefer a hero who will confirm your deepest fears? Or a hero who will inspire faith in humanity and goodness?