Aug 31, 2012

Spider-Man's Greatest Villains #140-131

Pictured: the worst possible time to split a seam.
(Spectacular Spider-Man #217, art by Mike McKone and Mark McKenna)
Join me, won't you, as we inch ever closer to learning the identity of Spider-Man's greatest villain? To find out who it won't be, here's a handy list of every villain covered so far!

How Green Was My Villainy

Counter-clockwise from left: Ming the Merciless by Hal Foster, Flash Gordon,
March 15 1936; Dr. Julius No as played by Joseph Wiseman, Dr. No, 1962;
The Mandarin by Don Heck, Tales of Suspense #50, February 1964.

So here's a snapshot of an unusual and short-lived trend in animated adaptions. You had these villainous characters across three franchises who were inspired by the original "insidious Oriental," pulp villain Dr. Fu Manchu: Ming the Merciless in Flash Gordon, Dr. Julius No in James Bond, and the Mandarin in Marvel Comics' Iron Man. All were fairly major antagonists - two were essentially the heroes' arch-villains. You couldn't leave them out of an animated adaption, but their original portrayals were maybe not so audience-friendly in more enlightened times. What do you do?

Apparently, you make them green.

Aug 28, 2012

Spider-Man, Nobody Knows Who You Are

A full-body suit, complete with a voice-muffling mask, is a pretty good disguise, given that it's protected Spider-Man's identity from all but a handful of other people - in fact, it must be a great disguise, given that Spider-Man's constantly meeting people who know Peter Parker, and vice versa.  But sometimes he has to venture into places where neither Spider-Man nor Peter Parker are welcome.  What to do?

His clone, Ben Reilly, had a simple solution - since he never had to go back to looking like Peter Parker, he could opt for a semi-permanent solution and bust out the peroxide:

Okay, I'm a little gay for Ben Reilly now.
(Sensational Spider-Man #0, story and art by Dan Jurgens, inks by Klaus Janson)

Andrew Reads Batman: Pt2 -Knightfall vol 1

Yeah, I ain't listing all
the creators on this
Knightfall... Well... yes.

Knightfall is not the first Batman thing I've read for this little project (see episode one here, if you want some background)... but it's the first Batman stuff I've felt really compelled to write about. Knightfall was something I was really looking forwards to reading because, of course, Bane is the main villain in the series. Bane was also the main villain in Dark Knight Rises -- so it all comes together, right?

Well... I guess. This is a review specifically of the trade paperback Knightfall Part One: Broken Bat. This trade is what I would like to call a mixed bag. It's a very 1990s mixed bag too. So why don't we start up our engines and take a closer look at this thing, after the jump?

Aug 19, 2012

Lord of the Jungle, the Hero who Stalks!

... the beasts call him brother, the Ghost Who Walks!

Defenders of the Earth was a Marvel Productions cartoon of the '80s that brought together characters from three King Features Syndicate comic strips - Lee Falk's The Phantom and Mandrake the Magician, plus Alex Raymond's Flash Gordon - to create a "brand new" group of world-saving, alien-beating adventurers. A friend once described it as a show that teamed "your grandpa's favorite superheroes" together; not only is this an apt description for a cartoon that starred characters who first collectively hit newspaper comic pages in the 1930s, but the observation might explain Stan Lee's apparent enthusiasm for the project. Lee, at the time part of Marvel Productions out in California, not only wrote the first issue of Marvel's DotE tie-in comic, but the (admittedly quite catchy) lyrics to the show's themesong.

Aug 18, 2012

Spider-Man: The Anniversary Syndrome

Next week, Spider-Man celebrates his 50th anniversary, and Marvel's commemorating it with the giant-sized Amazing Spider-Man #692, by Dan Slott, Humberto Ramos, and a bevy of other creators.  Obviously, Spider-Man's celebrated a few anniversaries before.  For his 25th, he met Venom for the first time; for his 40th, Amazing Spider-Man returned to its original numbering just in time for #500.  But the biggest deal Marvel's ever made over a Spider-Anniversary was back in 1992, for his 30th.  Of course, in 1992, Marvel would take any possible excuse to add on a shiny cover and some extra features, so it's perhaps no surprise that this was such an event.  There were four-count-'em'-four ongoing Spider-Man books at the time, so each one got a super-sized anniversary issue, complete with backup stories, a pull-out poster, and a holographic cover.  Holograms get a bad rap, but these are actually very nicely done, although as can be seen below, they don't actually scan very well.

All of the covers look like this, with varying background colours, so I'm just gonna scan this one.

Aug 9, 2012

Let's Talk About Battle Beasts.

This comic is okay.
Written by Bobby Curnow, art by Valerio Schiti.
Cover by Dan Brereton
 Okay, okay. Surely there's more to say about Battle Beast than that, right? Not... really. So IDW was presented with a problem; update a toy concept from the 1980s for an adult audience. The concept is a bunch of anthropomorphic animals in battle armour who fight each other. How do you update that?

Spider-Man's Greatest Villains #150-141

"This isn't an anniversary issue or anything!"
(Amazing Spider-Man #19, written by Howard Mackie, art by Erik Larsen and John Beatty)

That's right, it's time again to journey into the dusty back rooms of Spider-Man's rogues gallery.  But hey, we're more than halfway to...the top 100...yeah, let's just start.  Check out the list so far, too.

Aug 5, 2012

Sal's Sunday Punch #19

It's a very special herpetological edition of Sal's Sunday Punch!  I've just seen Amazing Spider-Man for the second time, so I'm in the mood for some Lizard!  In 1996's Spectacular Spider-Man #237, written by Todd DeZago and drawn by Sal Buscema and John Stanisci, a now-powerless Peter Parker is in the hospital, and a certain Curt Connors has dropped by to offer his services to his old friend.  But where Connors goes, the Lizard will surely follow!  And he's looking a little...finnier than usual.  Unfortunately for Ben Reilly, he still hits as hard as he always did.

Clever girl.

Making matters worse, the Lizard's arms and legs aren't the only limbs at his disposal...

Aug 2, 2012

Andrew Reads Batman: Pt1 -My entire collection.

So I was watching the Dark Knight Rises surrounded by a bunch of other comic geeks and I realised -- I really haven't read much Batman. In fact what I realised while watching DKR was that I've actually seen more Batman movies than I've read Batman comic books.

A quick check of my collection reveals that I own a grand total of 3 Batman comics, and I've only read 1 of them. I have a couple of trades, but not enough to 'get' a lot of the references the other comic geeks were raving about when they saw DKR. This made me sad, because I think it was my favourite Batman movie ever. (That's not saying much, I only really like the original Burton movie otherwise.)

My impression of who Batman is, it seems, is mostly shaped by the handful of  major stories I've read -- Batman: Cult, The Killing Joke, and The Dark Knight Returns -- and of course by his guest appearances or secondary-starring roles in other things I've read like the JLA or Kingdom Come. If I'm totally honest my main impression of Batman is from my Batman in the Fifties TPB that I bought almost a decade ago.