philippos42: zat's bunny (comedy)
OK, let's do a post about my recent comics purchases:

Shaft #1 (Dynamite): I'm getting these for the Cowan/Sienkiewicz covers, I admit. Wait, can I afford to do that? OK, a Cowan/Sienkiewicz cover caught my eye, and I decided to give it a shot. This is an OK first issue, with a bit of backstory about a young John Shaft choosing his self-respect over crooked fight promoters. The interior story won me over. Bilquis Evely's art is decent storytelling art, closer to M.D. Bright than to Denys Cowan, and that probably serves the story well. David F. Walker's script is decent enough.

I think the only thing I actually disliked in this issue was an ugly and kind of gory house ad for "Smiley the Psychotic Button." Apparently this is where the Chaos! characters are published now.

Let's see, the next four are from Marvel:

Guardians of the Galaxy Annual #1: In which Bendis and Cho get back together, IN SPACE! Yeah, that's pretty much it. It's what I guess is the present GotG squad: Quill, Gamora, Drax, Rocket, Groot, Flash Thompson in the Venom pants, and of course Carol Danvers, Captain Marvel, who is as I recall the reason I'm even buying this (Bendis!) book.

Also, it has a nice Gamora-centric cover.

We get to see Rocket Raccoon drawn in a style not wholly unlike Frank Cho's Liberty Meadows funny animals, and vaguely Kirbyesque Skrulls, and a bunch of--look, should I cut for spoilers here? )

Spider-Man and the X-Men #1: I was not planning to get this series. But then I saw it on the stands, and I thought, "Hey, Spidey used to be a schoolteacher! Wouldn't it be cool if he were brought in as a chemistry teacher at the Jean Grey School!" Well, I flipped it open, and that's not what they're doing. Instead, he's some kind of "Special Class Guidance Counselor," brought in as a request of the dead Logan. I bought it anyway, though. It's trying to be funny, mostly. It gets in a jab at super-teams that sit around waiting to be attacked instead of trying to go out and help regular people, which I liked in a meta way.

And today's purchases:

Captain Marvel #10: OK, I wasn't too happy with the Flerken story, but this issue and the last are moving Carol's book into the position of my favorite comic book. This is somehow Carol's 100th solo issue, and it's a little oversized, with David Lopez splitting the book with Marcio Takara and Laura Braga. Parts of the book are narrated by different characters: Kit (Lt. Trouble), Jess (Spider-Woman), and Rhodey (Rhodey), giving natural breaks for artist switching. It says it's "part one of two" but it largely stands alone, even if there's a bit of tease at the end. Lila's still around, and it's pretty fun, even if the supervillain gambit was defeated quickly and implausibly.

Ms. Marvel #10: This is a third of four parts. Not an enormous amount happens outside of "trying to deal with the Inventor, and getting slammed by his machines," but what does happen moves the story forward. Kamala finds out why people are willingly joining the Inventor (it's sad) and Lockjaw gets kidnapped, and lots of fighting. Lots of fighting.
philippos42: (bogdanove pete mj)
I mentioned before that I am a Spider-Man fan from way back.

I'm of the Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends generation. I already knew of Spidey, natch, but that show was actually my introduction to Marvel's mutants and the idea of the X-Men. I'm pretty happy that my baby cousin is seeing those now and running around playing at being Firestar.

I used to get Marvel Tales at the newsstand, beginning with when they were reprinting the Ditko stuff. I'm glad I was exposed to as much of the 1960's stuff as I was. 1960's Spider-Man was reprinted a lot back in the 1980's, unlike the other Marvel characters. I think it may have been something that was reasonably commercial, and also held up better than other stuff of the era.

The first comic book series I bought regularly was Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man, around the time Peter David started writing it. Tom DeFalco was writing Amazing Spider-Man at that time, and I still tend to think of those two as "good" Spider-Man writers. Ah, bias. (But they have been pretty good with Spidey, really.) This was after Pete got rid of the controversial alien costume. In fact it "died" in Web of Spider-Man #1, which was not at my neighborhood newsstand, so I didn't get it. (I read a friend's copy.)

A year or two later, I bought the issues where Peter and MJ decided to get married, and did so. I've lost those, sad to say. David Michelinie handled the engagement pretty well, I thought. I've heard of other people complaining about bringing MJ back and marrying the two of them, but I think it was a reasonable character progression if you were reading the previous two years of the comic. The problem with a series like this is that you have fans who used to read it, and fans who are reading it now, and they know different books.

Spider-Man was even a big part of me finding comic book literary criticism. The character concept attracts a certain kind of loudmouth pretentious fan who comes up with theories about why Spider-Man is a better concept than some other superhero, and what he represents as a metaphor. I bought a magazine of writing about Spider-Man--Fantaco's Chronicles--when I was a kid, and it was interesting.

(For the record, I tend to think that Spider-Man worked because of the real-world grounding and large supporting cast, rather than just because he was a teenager or whatever.)

After Spidey got married, let's see. Todd McFarlane showed up, and gave Spidey's webshooters gloppy webs and Mary Jane curly hair. Not bad things. But then he and Michelinie brought back the alien costume as an antagonist, and thus put Spidey back in the red and blue. I'm OK with either costume for Spidey, really, but I got sick of all the symbiote stories after that.

I drifted away from Spider-Man. I guess I had never bought more than a year or so of issues in a row anyway. But I'd grown up around the trademark, and liked him.

Then there was a revival of the clone stories: trippy fun at first, but a concept tumor that took over the books. Spider-Man had encrusted too much new "weird" with the clones and symbiotes, maybe, but the fans of the book in those days knew that as what Spider-Man was. It's hard to "fix" the book if you're trying to get rid of what has become the concept.

And then they swept the clones under the rug, and that worked OK, but then they tried killing off MJ--or having her turn up alive and leave Peter--and it turned out the marriage was too much part of the actual concept, where the clones were not. Not really surprising, except maybe to some people who worked at Marvel.

And then there was something of a revival. Paul Jenkins did some amazingly good stuff of which I have seen bits here and there. J. Michael Straczynski was brought on and did some moderately smart "fixes" to the series--but also threw in some questionable stuff. And which is which may depend on your opinion!

He was even unmasked in a big crossover, which was arguably the most awkward thing for the future of the trademark, although the new powers after "The Other" were gilding the lily.

And then, yeah, I guess it ended a few years ago? Oh, there's still a newspaper strip. Well, that's OK.

No, seriously, Spider-Man got rebooted. Pete and MJ's marriage had actually been a major part of Marvel's landscape and marketing for a good while, and it had been part of the premise for a generation. And Marvel de-aged them and wrote it out. Retcon madness.

I haven't been following the book closely since sometime around then.

But someone recently pointed out that being a Spider-Man fan is a miserable kind of fandom--and they are right! Where once Spider-Man was Marvel's major, major character, now being a Spider-Man fan is a bit like having a fat, bald, middle-aged guy come to your house every month, rip some siding off your house, yell at your kids, and kick someone you love in the gut.

Accelerating craziness! From clones... ... to a weird alien costume... ... to the costume deciding to be your enemy... to it having babies that are psycho killers... to more clones, to Norman Osborn being alive inexplicably, to your wife missing and presumed dead, to her leaving you, to THE OTHER and SINS PAST and CIVIL WAR and OHGOODGODIJUSTSOLDMYFUTURETOTHEDEVIL, to dying and having some piece of your psyche watch as Otto freaking Octavius takes over your body and your life, very badly...

I think Marvel just likes to throw insane crack in the book, now.

It was more fun when it was team-ups with Razorback or Silver Sable, wasn't it? Or teaching the Beyonder about bathrooms?

Oh, well. At least there's the newspaper strip?
I think the comic book I have kept the longest is an issue of Spidey Super Stories, which apparently had something to do with an incarnation of The Electric Company. This wasn't the regular Electric Company magazine, just three Spidey stories, with no ads. I lost its cover rather early, but I remember the inside front cover having an introduction of Namor, who figured in the lead story.

So those were my early Marvel heroes: Spidey and Namor. I think he was just called Namor in that, too, not "Sub-Mariner."

Spidey pops up as Peter Parker early in the first story, and is shown changing at some point, I want to say at the end. (Yes, I'm doing this post from memory.) I remember as a kid seeing the shape of Peter Parker's head as opposed to the relatively smooth Spider-Man mask, and getting the weird image of Peter Parker being a mask over Spider-Man. This creeped me out. So I preferred the way Spidey was just Spidey all the way through the other two stories.

The story in the back had aliens with a Zodiac theme, and the Scorpion. It was kind of fun.

The one in the middle, though, that was cool. There was this little kid who had a Spider-Man costume, that was a total replica type costume, but his size, and he seemed to think it would make him like his hero Spider-Man. The real Spidey shows up and sneakily helps the kid perform a few Spidey-type feats, while the kid doesn't know himself what's really going on. At the end the kid sees Spider-Man and figures it out (fortunately).

One thing I like is that the little kid was quite black, and nothing in that story said Spidey wasn't black too. This is a meme that I have seen acknowledged by others occasionally. Spider-Man is cool because he is all covered up. His race, his color, is unseen. So he can be black, or Japanese, or South Asian, whatever.

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philippos42

May 2017

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