by Constantine » Thu Aug 09, 2012 5:31 pm
by Proto Goblin » Sat Aug 11, 2012 1:22 pm
Constantine wrote:What is up with David Michelinie's obsession with cocaine? It seems like very other story features it in some way, the most ridiculous so far being the United States buying it all up so they can switch over to a cocaine standard. Anyway, still reading Spidey and still mostly enjoying it. Right now I'm up to #344 of ASM, #72 of Web, and #174 of Spectacular. Don't really have too much to say outside of the fact that I really loved Conway's Spectacular and Web concurrent runs. That is how comics should be written -- a tapestry of story arcs and subplots that tie into each other, a rich supporting cast that is liberally used (he actually made me like Betty Brant), developing the characters and moving their lives forward, all the while paying respect to continuity. The only downside to his runs there was that he seemed to be pushed off the books before he could wrap up every plot, though his final issues did close a lot of them in one way or another. Overall I'd have to say his Spectacular and Web runs combined was probably my favourite run since Stan Lee's original stories.
by Constantine » Sat Aug 11, 2012 7:53 pm
by Proto Goblin » Sun Aug 12, 2012 2:22 pm
by Constantine » Wed Aug 22, 2012 5:56 pm
by Spider-Dad » Wed Oct 03, 2012 3:21 pm
Constantine wrote:What is up with David Michelinie's obsession with cocaine?
by Spideydude » Wed Oct 03, 2012 4:24 pm
Spider-Dad wrote:Constantine wrote:What is up with David Michelinie's obsession with cocaine?
It was the late '80's and early '90's, with crack cocaine as the new dangerous drug for cheap. It was THE news story for a long time, especially when Marion Barry, (the mayor of WDC) getting arrested and videotaped.
As to the Johnny Storm question...good one. I can't recall the exact timing of that either. Was it Secret Wars II?
by TylerBGoode » Thu Oct 04, 2012 1:59 pm
Constantine wrote: The story really pokes fun at artists, making the Avant Guard trio a bunch of pretentious idiots who constantly spout equally pretentious gibberish about art, which I think the SpiderFan review takes far too seriously. Like I said, it's a pretty goofy, fun story and when looked at as such, isn't a particularly bad one -- I've read a lot worse.
by Constantine » Mon Dec 17, 2012 6:30 pm
by Big Al » Wed Dec 19, 2012 12:06 pm
by Constantine » Wed Dec 19, 2012 5:04 pm
by Big Al » Thu Dec 20, 2012 10:00 am
Constantine wrote:Lobo Brother's Gang War - I was a bit lukewarm on the actual gang war plot since it was like the billionth gang war story Spider-Man had told by that point, the stuff with Glory Grant falling in love with one of the brothers seemed somewhat unnecessary and rushed, and the finale felt anticlimactic, with one of the brother's being shot to death by Glory and the other just sorta... disappearing. I did like the Lobo Brothers themselves, though. Their supernatural bend, deep loyalty to each other, and more reserved personalities helped to set them apart from the usual gangsters in the book, like Hammerhead and Tombstone. I did really like and enjoy the arc as a whole, however. Even if I wasn't much interested in yet another gang war, Conway's masterful handle on the supporting cast and subplots made it so that there was always something I enjoyed about the story, like the Inferno crossover bits, the Chameleon kidnapping Jonah, Puma's return, and the stuff with Kristy.
Cosmic Spidey - I enjoyed this one. It was fun seeing Spider-Man get a handle on all his new powers, stuff that went way beyond his normal super strength, like matter manipulation. The Acts of Vengeance stuff was fun, too, since it threw a slew of villains that would normally be out of his league at him but, due to his new powers, he was able to put down with some effort. Like the above arc, though, I thought this one also had a somewhat anticlimactic ending. After pitting him against the likes of Magneto and Gravitron, I thought the arc ending with him fighting a giant robot was a bit dull. I think it would've been more interesting if they had him fight Loki instead, having an actual god fight a fairly normal person with newly acquired god-like powers.
Torment - I'm a bit conflicted on McFarlane's adjectiveless Spider-Man as a whole. On one hand, yeah, the stuff is overly long, poorly plotted, and not written well in general, but on the other hand... what did people expect? The book was created, as far as I know, to show off his artistic talent. He had no real writing experience at the time, I don't think, so his stories being poorly written shouldn't have come as a shock and given that they were meant to show off his art, of course they would be drawn out due to every page either being a splash page or only having three panels as to best display his art. Plus, it's not like they tied into any on-going plots in the other books, so nothing of value was lost by skipping it. If you were a kid buying it, you probably did so because you loved his art in Amazing, so you probably got what you wanted out of it, and if you were older you probably had the common sense to realize it wouldn't' be that great before hand.
Still, since they were mostly crappy stories that had no impact on Spider-Man's life at all, they're definitely issues that I'll be skipping if I ever decide to re-read Spider-Man.
by Constantine » Thu Jan 10, 2013 8:29 pm
by Proto Goblin » Fri Jan 11, 2013 2:17 pm
Constantine wrote:Fair warning: this one will be pretty long. I've read quite a bit in the 20 or so days since I last posted.
For a while was something missing from the Spider-Man titles (the period that I'm reading, that is -- 1991 - 1993) that I couldn't quite place my finger on. After getting about midway through J.M. DeMatteis' Spectacular run, however, it became very obvious what was missing, to the point where I was embarrassed that I originally couldn't place the problem. That missing element being the continuation/evolution of the Spider-Man mythos -- using and developing the supporting cast as well as the existing rogues gallery and moving Peter's life forward.
'Amazing' for a while now has been focusing more on the likes of Cardiac, Venom, and Solo than Jolly Jonah or Robbie, doing more action oriented stories like the Assassin Nation Plot than personal plots that really affect Peter or use his supporting cast. 'Adjectiveless Spider-Man' has mostly been telling stories of little to no consequence that aren't really connected to any other on-going plot. When either of those two books would use Spidey's usual rogues gallery (Scorpion, Doc Ock, and the like) they weren't used to any great effect; you could replace them with some new, almost personality-less superpowered mook and little in the story would actually change. 'Web of' was the only one really adding to the mythos, though due to the overall poor quality of the writing of the book at the time, its contributions are questionable.
As such Spider-Man felt like he was just treading water or spinning his wheels, whatever barely moving/stuck in place metaphor you want to go with. I was still enjoying Spidey but very few stories excited me like Conway's or Wolfman's stuff used to. Then I finally started DeMatteis' Specatacular run and, finally, Spider-Man started to excite me again.
As most know, his run starts with the Child Within, in which Vermin returns, haunted by his past as a human, and Harry, having donned his Green Goblin costume to help fight along side Spidey for a few earlier stories, begins to spiral into insanity once more and become evil yet again, attempting to drag Peter down with him. The story further features the introduction of supporting character Dr. Kafka and Peter coming to terms with his feelings of abandonment and guilt over his parents' deaths via what was essentially an acid trip, as well as uses Liz and Raxton to pretty good effect.
If it wasn't obvious from the above description, I thought this arc featured everything the majority of the Spider-Man stories around this time were missing: great use and development of an old foe, moving Spidey's universe forward, and use of the supporting cast and continuity. Above all else, though, it was just a really well written and exciting story, the first one in a while where I just had to read the next part.
My only problem with the arc is that Peter and Harry's problems seem to pop up out of nowhere. Peter's never really given his parents much thought as far as I can remember and Harry donning the Green Goblin costume again didn't really seem to be adversely affecting him much up until the start of this arc. I think it would've been wise to have written a smaller arc before getting into this one that properly introduced those problems instead of just having them instantly spring up during the Child Within.
His next arc, while not as epic in scale, was just as good, focusing on the Vulture, who apparently now has cancer brought on by his own flight pack. Wanting to make amends for the sole crime he's ever actually felt guilt over, he seeks out Aunt May's forgiveness for killing Nathan, the about the only person he's ever considered a friend. I've always had mixed feelings on the Vulture. While his whole bird motif makes for great visuals (particularly his fights with Spider-Man), he's never really had much in the way of interesting motivations.
Generally he's used as something of a stock character to round out a group of super villains, he's after Spider-Man just because they're enemies and that's what enemies do, he wants money, or he's after revenge for someone who's wronged him in the past, none of which make for really interesting or exciting stories. The only Vulture stories I have enjoyed were this one and the ones by Roger Stern, all of which focus less on the above motivations and more on the Vulture being an aging super villain.
DeMatteis' next arc, 'The Eye of the Puma', has so far been his first and only stumble. Some weird character I've never heard of before, called the Black Crow, take Peter and the Puma on some sort of spiritual quest. Peter's quest is meant to help him find his 'center' due to him feeling like he's losing control of his life, with his Spider-Man life bleeding more and more into his normal life, and Puma's quest was meant to get him off his self destructive path of being an assassin, as his next target is an innocent, which Puma was apparently fully aware of.
Now that may sound like an interesting arc and the idea is interesting, but the execution left a lot to be desired. Firstly, the Black Crow isn't introduced too well (he was apparently a character Dematteis created years before this arc in a Captain America story) and instead just sorta pops out of nowhere and goes, "Hey, y'all goin on a spirit quest so Puma doesn't kill a guy." Then the spirit quest itself is mostly just a lot of well... spiritual mumbo jumbo that wasn't particularly interesting to read. Then there's the ending, in which the Puma fails his quest and still goes to try to kill his target, which is fine -- him becoming savage and lost could've made for an interesting story arc but as far as I understand, the Puma doesn't show back up until years later in another story by another writer, and finally, Peter succeeds in his quest and finds his 'center'... but in the next couple of stories he's still about as anger filled and irritable as he was before it.
DeMatteis recovered quickly with the Death of Vermin arc. I've never been a fan of Vermin as a character, so having him 'die' was, well... pleasing. He doesn't actually die, rather he's cured so that he's human again, but I'll take what I can get. Beyond that, though, it was just a really well written arc about an extremely tormented and twisted man winning against his demons and finding his humanity.
Finally, there's the death of Harry. Honestly, I was somewhat disappointed by it. Starting with the Child Within arc, he had obviously been building up to this story -- a final battle between two best friends turned worst enemies. And, indeed, the bulk of the story is great, with Harry slipping in and out of insanity, one instant being Harry, the family man, and the next being hate filled, insane Green Goblin, and with Peter struggling with knowing that he'll have to ultimately put a stop to Harry, for everyone's safety, but the climax left something to be desired.
It just felt too... impersonal, I guess would be the best way to describe it. Peter gets drugged during their final fight, making him unable to move, effectively making him unable to have any real impact on Harry's final moments, and Harry, after saving everyone from an exploding building in a final moment of lucidity, dies as a result of the unstable goblin formula he took. While I liked that he ultimately died a hero, somewhat redeeming him at the last moment, I really didn't like that he died due to something completely out of his and Spider-Man's control, something that would have ultimately killed him any way, no matter what any one did.
This is getting really, really long and ramble-y, so I'll just sum up my thoughts on other Spider-Man stories I've recently read that I want to comment on:
- Round Robin: While this story basically contained everything I've been disliking about Spider-Man stories during this period and nothing that I thought they really needed, I still liked this arc. Milgrom is a good writer and handled all the guest appearances well, tying most of them into past encounters Spidey had with them, giving it a real sense of continuity. Plus, he's really good at humour, so even though this arc was almost non-stop action there were a ton of funny moments spread throughout it.
- Carnage: Venom never really clicked with me until this arc. I just never really never understood what they were trying to do with his character -- was he some sort of psychotic murderer or some sort of anti-hero? This story merged the two and actually made me like him; he became a kind of psychotic anti-hero who had no problem murdering innocents in order to save innocents, who believed himself to be a genuine white knight. Then there's Carnage, a one-dimensional character but he's that way by design, and I have to say it was somewhat refreshing for Spider-Man to have a villian who just wanted to kill people not because of some personal connection to Peter or because he wanted money or because he wanted control of the criminal underworld but just because he's a serial killer who enjoys killing. Sadly, such a character should only be used sparingly as that same one-dimensional charm doesn't really lend itself to many kinds of stories but Marvel obviously doesn't think so.
- Return of Peter's Parents: Though I know they ultimately end up being fakes in a plan concocted by the Green Goblin and Chameleon, I am actually enjoying this so far. It's finally giving Amazing Spider-Man a more personal touch after a ton of by-the-numbers, mostly action-filled arcs that's giving Peter as much spotlight as his alter ego and finally using a supporting cast outside of just MJ. Plus, seeing Peter going through the stages of finally accepting them has been enjoyable. I actually would've liked if they had turned out to be his real parents and effectively took over Aunt May's role upon her upcoming death. Given that they were spies and worked for SHIELD, I think a lot of writers could've cooked up quite a few interesting stories with them and Spidey.
- Invasion of the Spider Slayers: A thoroughly mediocre story in that there was nothing particularly bad nor good about it. I think I actually enjoyed the back up stories more than I did the main story. The main positive was continuing the fake parents storyline pretty effectively while the two biggest negatives I can think of right now was making Spidey look like a chump during some of the latter issues of the arc in order to make the Black Cat look good as she was reintroduced as a super hero, and the final battle between Smythe and Spider-Man lasting all of about five pages after a six issue build up to it.
Web of Spider-Man:
- Return of the Blood Rose: My final impressions on this story was mainly "What the **** did I just read? How did anyone okay this?" When I first heard that Blood Rose would later return and be revealed to actually be the real Richard Fisk I figured they did that as a way to bring Richard back to life after the first Blood Rose story killed him... but that was entirely unnecessary as he apparently didn't die but instead got swept away to some island where a guy with a futuristic set of armour just happened to be living. It's just a complete mess of a story that itself is filled with plot holes and manages to needlessly create plot holes in Mackie's original Blood Rose story. Easily up there with the worst Spider-Man stories I've had the displeasure of reading. Sadly, Terry Kavanagh is a writer that doesn't seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.
- Return to the Mad Dog Ward: I was completely ready to hate this. I thought the original Mad Dog Ward story was crap and I haven't liked any of Ann Nocenti's other stories. While it's nothing particularly fantastic, she does a good job at writing Peter and MJ and the story itself isn't too bad. My favourite part had to be when Spider-Man gets beat down into a section of wet cement and it ends up drying around him.
- Venom: Lethal Protector: Up in the first Carnage story I talked about how Venom finally clicked with me. I had hoped they'd retain that characterization when he started getting his own solo stories... but I was wrong. Instead of a killer who fancied himself a hero he became a hero who just punched a bit harder than the regular heroes. Throughout the mini series he only ever seems to knock people unconscious, with it once or twice being mentioned how it's a miracle nobody died. Then there's the story itself; the whole underground homeless civilization who live in perfectly intact buildings despite the fact that an earthquake swallowed them was just rather ridiculous, and did we really need five more symbiotes? No, we didn't.
Alright, that about wraps it up. I'm right at the start of Maximum Carnage, so I'll likely be posting my thoughts on that after I read it.
Something I forgot to bring up -- anyone know the creative origins behind the fake parents storyline? DeMatteis brought up Peter's feelings of some how causing his parents' deaths in the Child Within which started in July of '91 and the fake ones show up in in Amazing exactly a year later in July of '92. Was Michelinie inspired by the Child Within or did he and DeMatteis perhaps plan it from the beginning? I just can't imagine it being a complete coincidence.
by Big Al » Fri Jan 11, 2013 3:50 pm
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