I passed my first year anniversary in the last week of July. In my first year I’ve clocked 79 posts with a word-count that added together would make about a 200 page book, so I consider that an achievement. I was hoping to do a post taking stock but I’ll save that for end of year’s. So far I’m confident about hitting my targets and I thank everyone for helping me. That said, let’s get to the latest asks.
Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman has finally been adapted into a Netflix Series after decades of stalling, faulty production, and studio malfeasance. Season 1 dropped at the first week of August and after bingeing all 10 episodes, I thought it right to offer my review.
The Likely Influences Series has examined Jameson, Peter Parker, Norman Osborn, and Doctor Doom. Now it’s time to look at Mary Jane Watson. With Mary Jane, direct influences have been acknowledged but indirect ones, likely ones, haven’t been considered too much. Complicating the issue is that Mary Jane Watson as a character changed over a period of time, with different writers using different referents. A lot of times the influences seem to come from real life as much as fiction, so it’s worth going bringing it here under one roof.
Mary Jane Watson rather quickly became one of the most famous characters in Spider-Man and Marvel Comics, and one of the most popular civilian characters in comics. The nature of this progress is harder to appreciate for readers coming in today who go back and read up old comics. So it’s worth bringing together all the signposts showing her March to Fame. Tracing how she went from being known among readers of “interior” pages to cover art, to guest star, to appearing in other media, and the way her prominence was retained multiple times over decades before her crowning glory: the Wedding of 1987.Continue reading “Mary Jane on the March: Her Rise to Fame”
The most important character in Spider-Man after Peter Parker is Mary Jane Watson. It’s worth exploring how this was no inevitability. A close-reading from her first mentions and build-up in the Steve Ditko run and then the Lee-Romita era, will establish Mary Jane Watson, not simply as Spider-Man’s great love interest (which she is) but also as a vitally important character who had an effect on the whole continuity. Exploring step-by-step the changes in the plot, character dynamic, story, genre, tone that came with her introduction. How she altered and reshaped Peter Parker, and the wider supporting cast, and in doing so became the rare example of a character with a degree of autonomy that routinely nullified and overturned authorial intent.Continue reading “Re-Examing Spider-Man 08: The Autonomous Mary Jane”
A review of Taika Waititi’s Thor: Love and Thunder, aka Thor 4. Starring Chris Hemsworth (Thor Odinson), Natalie Portman (Jane Foster), Christian Bale (Gorr the Godd Butcher), Tessa Thompson (Valkyrie), Taika Waititi (Korg) and in a special cameo Zeus (Russell Crowe).
Season 3 of The Boys, Eric Kripke’s adaptation of Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson’s 2006-2012 creator owned series, has wrapped up. For a while now, I’ve found the show interesting for a variety of reasons: as adaptation, as a popular culture phenomenon, as an example of the superhero satire in its most contemporary form. The blog wasn’t up when Season 1 and Season 2 was on the air, but Season 3 has come up and now’s as good a time to take stock, since odds are the show’s likely hit its peak. While I will try and avoid going into the plot of things too much, this review contains SPOILERS for all, including the Season Finale.Continue reading “Notes on THE BOYS S3 (2022)”
The publication history of Spider-Man is rife with stories that regularly appear on lists of “all-time” best Spider-Man stories, all-time great comics, etc. One story that belongs on that list, but hardly finds representation in that roster is “The Daydreamers” (Amazing Spider-Man #246, released on August 2, 1983). I can think of no other story to inaugurate the first of a semi-regular series where I do close-readings of my favorite comics (both Spider-Man and non Spider-Man), some famous and well known, some less so. Join me on my first deep-dive.Continue reading “DEEP-DIVES — ASM#246: “The Daydreamers””
It’s good to be back to posting a bit more regularly since my last Tumblr roundup. My plans for this year have hit a few snags owing to Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse moving next year and as such a long deep dive into the alternate universe history of Spider-Man and what it means, while possibly something I’ll touch on later this year, is currently lacking a fair bit of context. On the other hand, stuff that I’ve wanted to touch on since Day 1 of the blog has finally landed on my plate (my next post for instance). On the plus side I have (relatively) more time to post, on the other hand my posts are getting longer and I’m finding it hard to break it down because the detail and depth makes sense when mixed together.
In addition to being an immensely influential writer of comics for well over four decades, Alan Moore is also a valuable critic of comics. He wrote comics criticism in the 1980s, has published essays of introduction for a variety of comics creators, and written articles on a variety of stuff in many publications. Yet, despite having commented on many renowned and obscure comic book publications, Moore’s comments on Spider-Man is rarer by far and it’s interesting how a writer with an encyclopedic knowledge of comics history should be comparatively silent on perhaps the most popular and successful solo hero of the last forty years. Moore’s comments, observations, and stories featuring Spider-Man are brief and threadbare and it’s worth surveying them all; gathering them under one roof and going over them one by one.Continue reading “Alan Moore on Spider-Man: Commentary and Criticism”
The Question #17 (Art by Denys Cowan and Rick Magyar). Text by Denny O’Neil. June 1988
As a pendant to my my long post on Ditko and Objectivism, I wish to address the nature of political baggage more generally. A salient example is the discourse around Watchmen and its most famous character Rorschach who has had a disproportionate effect on Ditko’s legacy, and subsequently affected the destiny of Watchmen in a feedback loop. I had planned to write about Watchmen in the coming year, and this gives me an excuse to launch my opening play. This post will explore the paradoxical see-saw way Ditko’s and Alan Moore’s legacies have overlapped as a result of them being out of step with corporate power.Continue reading “The Paradox of Success: Rorschach & Mr. A”
I previously discussed what I have dubbed the ‘Three Great Rumors’ about Steve Ditko. Having covered two of them already (Rumor 1, Rumor 2), the time has come for the third rumor which is the most complex because it’s the one rumor with the highest evidentiary basis. This rumor argues that the reason Ditko left Spider-Man was because he clashed with Stan Lee over political differences, i.e. Ditko wished to make Spider-Man/Peter Parker an Objectivist mouthpiece. Implicit in this rumor is a series of assumptions which are worth unpacking in full. The other two rumors are comparatively easy to shoot down and those posts written with the intent of debunking, this post though is more speculative, based on close reading, seeking to go over the rumor and bring it up-to-date with the latest research, so as to open up the question with a broader perspective.Continue reading “Ditko & Rand: The Objectivist Spider-Man?”
Amidst the business that constitutes my life,I got to travel and during travel, I found out that Joe Quesada was stepping down from Marvel. I found out mid-transfer of airports and barely had time to react. I have barely had time to sample the “discourse” around Quesada’s departure of Marvel, whether it’s valedictory or critical, or if there’s any kind of halo effect that’s set in. So I’m not going to react to that yet. At the same time, I do think I have a lot to say and add to Quesada’s time at Marvel and hey that’s what this platform is for, right? I do think that contemplating Quesada’s tenure at Marvel can tell us something significant about the status of superhero continuity comics of the 2000s and 2010s. And putting Quesada’s tenure under a lens can tell us a good deal about the idea of careers and how to evaluate questions of success.Continue reading ““Joe Quesada, Our Reagan?””
Steve Ditko inthe 1960s is an anthology of fanzines from the 1960s, much of which fell under the radar. Collated and organized by Ballmann with dates, credits, and fanzines properly attributed; this book is a remarkable resource about Amazing Spider-Man, the early reception of the character among early comics fans, Marvel Comics in the 1960s, comics fandom, and even a few details about Steve Ditko that has yet to be covered elsewhere. Covered in this book is such things as Ditko’s love life (!) and the paradoxical (and hilarious) origin of the Green Goblin rumor, complicating and updating our image of Spider-Man’s co-creator.Continue reading “Book Review: “Steve Ditko in the 1960s” edited by J. Ballmann”
Four Questions for my Fourth Roundup. May continues to be a dry month and I don’t anticipate to do any more major posts until the final week (by when I should be a bit freer *fingers crossed*). In the meantime I’ve curated my latest Tumblr Pile and invite others to ask me at tumblr (which is kind of experiencing a comeback after the Muskrat purchased twitter).
Moon Knight, the first Disney Plus series of 2022 has come and gone. I have never done a review of any of the previous D+ series but I did follow this one. So I figure I might get this out of the way really quickly. Mostly because I am a fan of Oscar Isaac and Ethan Hawke, and both of them are in MK a fair bit. Spoilers for the full Series and its final episode.Continue reading “Notes on MOON KNIGHT (2022)”
I had catalogued the deaths of all Spider-Man characters between AF#15 to ASM#122. The bean-counting of the deaths was extremely time-consuming but the catalogue of deaths was important to establish a foundation to discuss the question of violence with regards to Spider-Man, a topic that has generally not received attention and focus. In this post, I’ll explore the relationship of superhero comics with violence, and how Spider-Man complicates the general discourse. In doing so, I think I can shed light on the nature of Spider-Man as a character with a substantially new argument.
I didn’t expect to write a review of the first issue of the new ASM run, but I expect that stuff surrounding it will one way or another be brought to my attention in the coming months. So as a way to get ahead of things, I thought it best to write a review of the first issue of Wells’ run to get it all in one page in one place. This review has SPOILERS.
TL;DR, I not only disliked this issue, it’s my belief that it’s the worst opening issue of any run on Marvel Comics for at least 30 years and, with the polarizing exception of BND, the least inviting Spider-Man has been for any reader since the Mackie/Byrne late 90s.Continue reading “Notes on ASM#1 (2022) by Wells/JRJR/Hanna/Menyz”
I mentioned in my End of Year 2021 post,”Yet, I will be upfront and inform readers that the first five months of 2022 will see me greatly busy. I expect to pick up my pace by the middle of the year and in Fall 2022 but I will not be able to post as much as I wish and would like for the first five months.” Readers can’t fail to have noticed that I’ve been posting sporadically since January, in accordance with my warning. Now is a time to second that warning. I will most likely not post in May at all, on account of being extremely busy to the point of not having time for anything outside work. That said, I plan to pick up the pace in June, so expect stuff then. I do have one post I expect by the end of April, and maybe time for a quick review or so, we’ll see. In the meantime, I’ve updated my recent post on Character Deaths, which is, per reader stats, my most popular post ever (and is extra long because I knew it’d be a while before I post extensively again.
My latest pool of my most Recent Tumblr Asks. A lot of DC Comics stuff here this time.
Here’s the links to all my most recent Tumblr Asks.
Spider-Man during the Silver Age of Marvel Comics has been examined from many angles, i.e. portrayal of teenage angst and group dynamics, as well as gender dynamics in its use of romantic triangles. It’s been examined, here and elsewhere, on issues of authorship and collaboration. What’s been under-examined is the representation and portrayal of violence in these comics. This post has been in the works for months, isolating and jotting down each and every death between AF#15 and ASM#122. I am going to look at each of the issues with character deaths, those that occur on-screen and those that are teased, and comment on every scene.
AfterrevisitingBatman Returns, doing adeep–dive discussion on Matt Reeves’ The Batman (2022) with Kaitou D. Kid, the time has come to rank Batman movies. I’ve done this for Spider-Man after NWH, so it makes sense to provide a survey of Batman especially in the wake of the success of the latest movie.
After hashing out No Way Home and its spoilers last December, I just knew that me and Kaitou D. Kid would have to re-team for Matt Reeves’ The Batman (2022). We cover all spoilers, all twists, and take the film apart completely. All below the cut.
1992 saw the release of a movie featuring Batman/Bruce Wayne, Catwoman/Selina Kyle, The Penguin/Oswald Cobblepot. 2022, thirty year later, also sees the release of a movie featuring the exact same characters. Tim Burton’s Batman Returns is a movie that’s had an interesting afterlife. Originally controversial and provocative, it became the rare Batman movie that acquired “cult status”. My argument is that Burton’s Batman Returns is not only a great superhero movie, it’s a great movie, and the only truly subversive movie in the genre. I will look at Batman Returns in context of the 1989 film and Burton’s aesthetic and influences, as well as explore the various subtexts embedded in this film.Continue reading “Retrospective Review: BATMAN RETURNS (1992)”
David Walton has followed comics from the 1980s all the way to the present. In addition to his great insight to Spider-Man as a fan, his personal experience is tied to first-hand observations on the reading experience of several key moments over the franchise history, and documents many key changes. Part 3 deals with David’s thoughts on Spider-Man at the movies, having waited for a live-action Spider-Man for more than a decade before the release of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 1. This is the final part of my exchange with David.Continue reading “Spider-Man Community: Interview with David Walton Part Three”
David Walton followed comics from the 1980s all the way to the present. In addition to his great insight on Spider-Man, his personal experience is tied to first-hand observations on the reading experience of several key moments over the franchise history, and documents many key changes. Part 2 deals with Spider-Man’s publication history to the present, including a deep dive into the Clone Saga — its failures, its positives, its ironic legacy.Continue reading “Spider-Man Community: Interview with David Walton Part Two”
This blog wouldn’t be possible without the support of folks who helped shape my thought process — through arguments, debates, disagreements, and accords. All have enlarged my understanding of comics and given me tremendous insight into Spider-Man. David Walton has followed comics from the 1980s all the way to the present. In addition to his great insight to Spider-Man as a fan, his reading experience allowed him to make first-hand observations on several key moments over the franchise history. It was a great privilege to interview David on his thoughts about Spider-Man. Our exchange will cover three parts. Part 1 will deal with Spider-Man’s publication history until the mid-90s.Continue reading “Spider-Man Community: Interview with David Walton Part One”
It’s Valentine’s Day, and love is in the air (as opposed to the other days when love isn’t). Now is the time for people to snuggle up with their partner, pool stuff for a big romantic date, or buy a cool gift for them. It’s also a time to get together and think about romantic movies and TV Shows you could share together. That got me thinking about something I’ve wondered for a while. What are my favorite love stories in the superhero genre? Not only in the comic, but also the movies, cartoons, etcetera. Superhero comics have always had a romance element but do they qualify as love stories? What’s a love story anyway?Continue reading “Valentine’s Day: Love Stories in Superhero Media”
In popular culture today, Batman-Joker is the apex hero-archnemesis conflict. There’s a mythical quality to their rivalry and much debate about what it signifies. I’d like to contribute to that debate by doing a close-reading of the comic that really defined it: The Killing Joke. I argue that it transformed Joker’s role in the narrative of Batman as his guilty conscience. My idea of the “guilty conscience” works in the realm of subtext: the unspoken, the unmentioned, the subterranean. At its core, it’s a subjective interpretation. I don’t expect most to share this idea, leave alone apply it to the Joker.Continue reading “Joker’s Revenge: Conscience of the Bat”
I have a Tumblr sitting alongside my wordpress blog. In 2022, that makes it the equivalent of having a pager alongside my smartphone and tablet. Inspired by Race for the Iron Throne‘s Tumblr Roundup series, I plan to collate my Asks and Responses here, to better direct attention of readers towards some other places where I’ve put my thoughts on Spider-Man and comics. And also if you wish to make specific requests to me you can follow my Tumblr and click “Ask Me Anything”. You can ask anonymously without creating a tumblr account if you are feeling shy.
For a while I’ve wanted to fuse together ideas about the nature of the comic supervillain. It ended up crystallizing around one famous moment in Amazing Spider-Man #36 Vol. 2, a panel that showed a close-up of Doctor Doom crying, which more than a few fans and others have found hard to accept. That led me to wonder on the weird relationship fans have towards comics supervillainy, especially in scenes and moments that touches uncomfortably on our attitude to real-world violence. I’ll examine this in the context of several iconic villains in addition to Doom, including the Joker, the Green Goblin, and Magneto so as to better trace our relationship with the bad guys in the genre.Continue reading “Doom’s Tears: Remote Villainy and Real Violence”
Today’s guest is Robert MacQuarrie, an online acquaintance who encouraged me greatly in various forums. I am glad to have him at hand today. In Part One, we covered our respective histories with Spider-Man and our particular generational experiences with Spider-Man. In Part Two, we explore Robert’s oral history of specific fan testimonies as well as explore some of his fanart.Continue reading “Spider-Man Community: Interview with Robert MacQuarrie Part Two”
This blog wouldn’t be possible without my encounters with various individuals over the years who played a part in shaping my thought processes, through arguments, debates, disagreements, and accords. I greatly enjoyed collaborating with Kaitou D. Kid in our twopart discussion about No Way Home. To that end, I hope to do a series of exchanges with members of the Spider-Man Community. Today’s guest is Robert MacQuarrie, a talented creator of fan art and fan comics, and an online acquaintance who encouraged me greatly in various forums. I am glad to have him at hand today. This is Part 1 of our Interview. The link to the second and final part will be made available, here, when it’s ready.Continue reading “Spider-Man Community: Interview with Robert MacQuarrie Part One”
There’s a certain rumor about Spider-Man that’s worth exploring in detail: that Steve Ditko allegedly objected to Spider-Man graduating high school and wished for him to never age out of 16 years of age. This post will explore the rumor, its basis in fact, and also explore the context from which it originated. Investigating a post like this is extremely hard and topical, because it’s possible that new sources might emerge to date this quickly. So my feelings here are entirely subjective.Continue reading “Ditko and High School: The History of an Office Rumor”
When you become a comics fan who gets wrapped up in the history of Marvel Comics, you inevitable come across a concept called the ‘illusion of change’. A term used to explain (and justify), why superhero comics tend to reverse lasting changes and consequences, for characters in continuity. From the way it’s been used, you might assume that this was some coherent ideology. Yet as this post will demonstrate, its origins are murky. However an idea doesn’t have to be well-formulated to have an impact, and the concept of the ‘illusion of change’ has affected many comics in publication over the years, despite being erratic and contradictory in its implementation. As a comics reader, you may have no interest in the ‘illusion of change’ but rest assured the illusion is very interested in you.Continue reading “Re-Examining Spider-Man 06 – Illusions Behind the ‘Illusion of Change’”
Jonathan Hickman began a run on X-Men that started in 2019 with a miniseries called House of X/Powers of X. He then continued to write the relaunched X-Men (2019) for 21 issues, interspersed with Hickman writing and co-writing issues of New Mutants, one-shot Giant Size X-Men titles, as well as the crossover X of Swords which he co-wrote with Tini Howard. His run finally ended with Inferno, a 4-Part Miniseries that began in 2021 and whose final issue was published on January 5, 2022. This is a short review/summation of this entire run, of which I’ve read every single issue, and have also owned and collected a few as well.Continue reading “NOTES on Jonathan Hickman’s 2019-2021 run on X-Men”
Doctor Doom is the most versatile villain in superhero comics. One can imagine him in almost any kind of story: political, espionage, action, science-fiction, horror, cosmic, street-level and local. He has gotten in the face and rivaled virtually every major superhero. Pick a favorite superhero and chances are one’s likely had a notable encounter and conflict with Doctor Doom. Heck, even Superman can boast of having had an iconic encounter with Victor. With all that said, there’s not enough been written down studying the possible and likely influences of Victor von Doom. Having written previously about Doom’s genesis and his very early appearances, I figure the time has come to place him under the microscope as I’ve done toothercharacters (and will do so for still others to follow). Please note that this is me following my own intuition and subjective perspective.Continue reading “Three (or More) Likely Influences: Doctor Victor Von Doom”
2021 has ended. The time has come for end of year lists and surveys. I started this blog in July 2021, so New Year’s Eve is my very own half-year survey of this blog (how it started/how it’s going/what might be coming up). I consider myself grateful to have made it so far and thank all my followers, commenters, subscribers, friends, and collaborators across the internet. So let’s explore what 2021 was like from my perspective.Continue reading “END OF YEAR 2021: LISTS, SURVEYS, RESOLUTIONS”
I have spent the entire month of December talking about Live-Action Spider-Man movies. This is my final post (for hopefully a good while) on live-action Spider-Man movies, before I get back to regular programming. This post will examine some of the Spider-Man projects that never got made and explore their potential. I will then explore the “platonic” ideal of casting Spider-Man characters and consider which actors, who were never cast, might have represented the aspects of the characters best.Continue reading “UNCAST AND UNMADE: The “Spider-Man” Films That Never Came To Pass”
In Pandemic Year 2020, the movies went into lockdown. It was the first time since 2009 we had no new entries from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 2021 saw the MCU come back in a big way with four feature films, four streaming series, and one animated series. No Way Home is set to become a major money-maker, having latched on pre-Pandemic sales numbers even staring down the jaws of Omicron. The success of NWH has revived the major Pre-Pandemic controversy, from Tom Holland’s lips to Scorsese’s ears, whether the Marvel movies count as ‘cinema’ and whether their success is contributing to the art-form or not. Having done an entire retrospective of the Live-Action Spider-Man films and doing multiple deep-dives into No Way Home, I kind of feel I’ve earned my stripes in taking a strand on this debate and develop ways into imagining a more cinematic approach to adapting comics.Continue reading “CINEMA VERSUS COMICS: Towards A More Cinematic Universe”
WARNING: This post discusses all SPOILERS inside NWH.
After covering the Live-Action Spider-Man Film Retrospective, offering my limited first-act only tentative review, my rankings of all Spider-Man movies, the time has come, five days after the film’s release, to do a full spoiler deep-dive. I thought I’d get some help. And I am grateful that one of my favorite commenters on Spider-Man, Kaitou D. Kid has agreed to participate in a discussion of the “State of the Spider-Man Union” after NWH. What it means, where it goes, and what it portends. Likewise, Kaitou liked NWH far more than I did, and I think that helps generate a real discussion. Our discussion was sizable enough to be split in two parts, much like Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (2022). Part 2 will be linked here, when it’s up.Continue reading “GRAND SPOILER DISCUSSION PART ONE: Spider-Man – No Way Home (2021)”
For the last week leading up to the release of Spider-Man: No Way Home [reviewed here – light spoilers], I covered all the previous Live-Action Spider-Man Feature Films in a daily retrospective. From 2002-2021, there have been 8 Live-Action Feature Films focusing on Spider-Man (discounting Spider-Man cameos in shared universe tie-ins). Now that NWH has come and passed, it’s time to rank them all. But I am not simply here to rank those films. Instead I want to go deeper. Ranking not only the movies, but the titles, music, acting. Ranking the best scenes before settling on the question of best films of all.
And so we come at last to Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021). I did an entire retrospective of all live-action film reviews leading to NWH. The most discussed movie on the planet over the last year has finally landed. WARNING: I am not going to discuss anything in the second or third act but I will discuss and touch on stuff in the first act, so there’s going to be light spoilers. I will do a spoiler-full discussion in the coming week. My tags have focused on the elements announced in the promotion and trailers and don’t cover everything in the film. This review will likewise not be as long and detailed as the Retrospective series. That’s why I’ve marked it as “NOTES”.