Spidey Zine (2016)

Spidey Zine

Spidey Zine, a fan made “little comic collection” from Hannah Blumenreich, is wonderful. Some of the strips run a couple pages, some run longer. Blumenreich identifies the adorable and the admirable in Peter Parker. Reading Spidey Zine, you totally understand why Betty Brant went for him back in Amazing #7.

Yeah, a bit of warning–Spidey Zine makes you proud of all your Spider-Man knowledge, whether you’re happy to have it or not. Blumenreich even makes some fundamentally uncool things like the Ben Reilly Scarlet Spider costume design wonderful.

But Blumenreich isn’t as interested in Spider-Man as the superhero as she is in Peter Parker, the awkward teenager who puts on a costume and defends Queens. There’s a poignancy to the comic, an fundamental understanding of not just what makes the character tick, but what makes the character so beloved. The idealism.

While Spidey Zine does focus on exploring Peter Parker as Spider-Man, there is still quite a bit looking at how Spider-Man exists in the world. For Peter, for May, for the people Spider-Man helps. Blumenreich perfectly balances everything in these strips. How much verisimilitude, how much danger, how much humor.

Basically, Marvel should start throwing money at Blumenreich.

You can read Spidey Zine for free. If you read Spider-Man, if you watched “Amazing Friends”, if you know what the “Clone Saga” means, if you just like good comic strips–Blumenreich’s style feels like a long-form comic strip….

Spidey Zine is spectacularly amazing.

CREDITS

Writer and artist, Hannah Blumenreich.

Freely available, https://gumroad.com/hannahblmnrch/.

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Fearful Symmetry: Kraven’s Last Hunt (October-November 1987)

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I remember when Kraven’s Last Hunt came out. I was eight or nine. Marvel advertised it something fantastic. I was a regular Spider-Man reader, but mostly from collections and it wasn’t like there were a lot of collections in the late eighties. Almost thirty years later and I still can’t think of a better Spider-Man story, not an eighties or later one.

J.M. DeMatteis writes Hunt for new and regular readers, which is in itself a little strange. When I think about eighties comics, Marvel and DC alike, it was always very hard to jump on. But in Hunt, Spider-Man had just gone through a lot of unusual publicity–he’d gotten married–and the story immediately follows the wedding. It was also a cross-over between the three Spider-Man books, which might have been a new thing? I can’t remember.

So, in other words, DeMatteis is working a lot on character. He’s introducing not just the guest stars–Vermin and Kraven–he’s also introducing the regular cast, as he needs them for this story. Peter and Mary Jane are going to have a very rough six issues and DeMatteis forecasts it. When it seems like he’s hit the limit on foreshadowing, he pushes further because he’s trying to make sure the reader knows what’s coming.

And the relationship with the reader is important. DeMatteis wants a lot of trust–he wants to jump around in place, he wants to use a whole bunch of narration–Kraven, Spider-Man, Mary Jane, Vermin–Last Hunt is ambitious. For an eighties Marvel comic, it’s through the roof ambitious, but it’s ambitious in general because DeMatteis is treating Spider-Man as the icon.

Even in the black costume, he’s an icon. I think he was just still wearing the black costume (and might eighty-six it as a direct result of this storyline), but DeMatteis uses it to establish what makes the character. It’s not hard to do a good Spider-Man story and it’s sometimes not even hard to do a better than good one, but it is hard to do an ambitious one.

DeMatteis succeeds in no small part thanks to Mike Zeck’s art. Last Hunt isn’t fantastical, it’s realistic, it’s depressing, it’s scary. DeMatteis and Zeck have a story about four people who are afraid, all the time, all to varying degrees. They’re afraid of themselves, of each other, of the world. It’s awesome.

I haven’t read the comic in ages; it holds up really well.

CREDITS

Writer, J.M. DeMatteis; penciller, Mike Zeck; inker, Bob McLeod; colorist, Janet Jackson; letterer, Rick Palmer; editors, Jim Salicrup and Tom DeFalco; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Superior Spider-Man 19 (December 2013)

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So does Slott successfully conclude his Spider-Man 2099 thing?

Define successful. It’s not a terrible issue. It’s definitely one of the better ones with Spidey 2099 in it, probably because there’s none of his annoying narration and he’s treated like a buffoon throughout.

Otto loses the spotlight even more, however. And for some inexplicable reason, Slott wastes a whole page on a monologue from Mary Jane. Mary Jane who hasn’t been a part of this comic book for over a dozen issues; she gets some spotlight time.

What else happens… oh, right, a big double-page spread of famous Spider-Man panels, only with Otto, as he tries to remember something of Peter Parker’s memory he needs. It’s not an effective sequence. Slott aims low throughout.

I still generally like Stegman’s art–there’s one panel during a car chase I absolutely love–but it really does remind of McFarlane.

CREDITS

1.21 Giga-Whats?!; writer, Dan Slott; penciller, Ryan Stegman; inker, Livesay; colorist, Edgar Delgado; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, Ellie Pyle and Stephen Wacker; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Superior Spider-Man 18 (November 2013)

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Well, it’s definitely better than last issue but it’s still one of Slott’s weaker efforts on Superior. He’s got a big time travel story and it’s boring; referring to Back to the Future in the issue’s story title and then delivering a bunch of plodding exposition. It’s like he’s promising something good next issue, not this one.

The opening fight between Otto and 2099 isn’t bad, except Otto’s megalomania stops him from actually understanding what’s going on. It comes up a lot throughout the issue, actually. If Otto would just listen, he’d be able to solve the problem.

Why Slott wastes four or five pages on Peter’s lab buddies is beyond me. Yes, it might tie things together later, but for now it’s even worse than the 2099 solo pages.

I knew it was a mediocre one when I was actually getting more interested in Stegman’s art than the story.

CREDITS

Smack to the Future; writer, Dan Slott; penciller, Ryan Stegman; inker, Livesay; colorist, Edgar Delgado; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, Ellie Pyle and Stephen Wacker; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Superior Spider-Man 17 (November 2013)

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When the Goblin Underground scenes are the best thing in the issue, it’s obviously Slott is running into some problems with Superior. At least there’s some bickering between the Goblin King and Hobgoblin… it’s kind of amusing. Otherwise, the only good thing in the issue is Otto showing off for his lady friend at a softball game.

Slott’s introducing corporate espionage–involving Liz Allan (who I really did think was spelled Allen) and her weird kid and some other goober–along with Spider-Man 2099. So, Slott’s overwritten megalomaniac interior monologue is great for Otto, but why does Spider-Man 2099 have it too? Slott wastes half the issue with the character and related exposition. It’s dreadful.

And then Spider-Man 2099 stops Otto from beating up a white collar criminal? Slott’s really killing the fun in Superior this issue.

I’m less annoyed by Stegman’s art, but otherwise… it’s weak.

CREDITS

Let’s Do the Time Warp Again; writer, Dan Slott; penciller, Ryan Stegman; inker, Livesay; colorist, Edgar Delgado; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, Ellie Pyle and Stephen Wacker; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Superior Spider-Man 16 (October 2013)

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I really don’t like the whole Goblin Army thing. It’s a little much, to say the least. Slott plays it tongue in cheek–which Ramos’s pencils just encourage–and it feels silly instead of scary. It’s like a Joker thing out of Batman, only repurposed for Spider-Man.

Otherwise, the issue’s got some decent moments in it. Slott’s back to not developing Otto at all. It’s an action issue and the Daily Bugle staff gets some good play time. Robbie Robertson might actually be the most formidable opponent Otto’s had so far.

There’s also some odd stuff–Slott being fast and loose with his characters morales–where the annoying cop girl who suspects Otto hacks into a person’s bank account while her superhero sidekick is actually assaulting said person. Who’s totally innocent of any crime. I hoped Slott would get the disconnect, but he doesn’t. Shame.

Still reads well, anyway.

CREDITS

Writer, Dan Slott; penciller, Humberto Ramos; inker, Victor Olazaba; colorist, Edgar Delgado; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, Ellie Pyle and Stephen Wacker; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Superior Spider-Man 15 (October 2013)

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I think with so many Spider-Man issues a month, sometimes Slott gets too disposable with the single issues. There are usually two Superior, I think, then a bunch of others, right? This issue is on the right track again though.

Slott opens with the fallout from Otto taking out Shadowland, with maybe the only weak scene in the issue. He’s trying to explain himself to the suspicious lady cops and one of them reveals she’s got a costumed identity to investigate him. It’s goofy.

Otherwise, there’s a lot of chase the Hobgoblin going on with a fantastic cliffhanger. Slott keeps the series fresh thanks to Otto’s innovative nature.

There are some character pages–Anna Maria is worried about Otto (so are Peter’s friends but who cares about them). One has to hope Slott sends her off well, she’s a lovely character.

Plus, Slott finally readdresses the Goblin hacking stuff.

CREDITS

Run Goblin, Run!, Part One: The Tinkerer’s Apprentice; writer, Dan Slott; penciller, Humberto Ramos; inker, Victor Olazaba; colorist, Edgar Delgado; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, Ellie Pyle and Stephen Wacker; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Superior Spider-Man 14 (September 2013)

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Umm. Couple things. First, Slott doesn’t have Otto narrate this issue. Maybe the first Superior without some insight from him. Second, Marvel never resolved that “Shadowland” crossover? Wasn’t it like five years ago?

Otto–with an army of spider-robots and spider soldiers–cleans up the Shadowland compound this issue. Apparently Kingpin has had a fortress in New York City and no one did anything about it. I love how Marvel zombies claim 616 is so much more realistic than DC.

Anyway, it’s kind of obvious why Slott doesn’t get into Otto’s head… because it turns out he’s letting crime continue. He might even be in cahoots with the Goblin King, he might even be selling drugs. Or at least employing drug dealers.

I hope Slott’s got something good up his sleeve because otherwise this setup will be for nothing. The issue feels off, like the storyline wrap-up’s starting.

CREDITS

A Blind Eye; writer, Dan Slott; penciller, Humberto Ramos; inker, Victor Olazab; colorist, Edgar Delgado; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, Ellie Pyle and Stephen Wacker; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Superior Spider-Man 13 (September 2013)

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It’s weird how Slott let Gage handle the script on this arc. It’s got some of the biggest changes to Superior since it started–a new page in Otto’s relationship with Jonah, a secret base (and lab) for Spider-Man–one would’ve thought Slott would want to be more hands on with it all.

The issue’s pretty good, with some nice moves for the Lizard. Hopefully he sticks around, even though he wouldn’t really be good with Otto.

Sadly, even though the issue moves well, there’s nothing memorable. The villains each have their own problems, but who cares? They were never interesting in the first place. Just the Green Goblin movie version–visually speaking–of familiar (and not familiar) characters.

The stuff with Otto and the main villain is a little tired though. Besides Otto revealing himself in the Spider Slayer’s finale moments… it’s the same as the previous showdowns.

CREDITS

No Escape, Part Three: The Slayer The Slain; writers, Dan Slott and Christos Gage; penciller, Giuseppe Camuncoli; inkers, John Dell and Terry Pallot; colorist, Antonio Fabela; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editor, Ellie Pyle and Stephen Wacker; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Superior Spider-Man 12 (August 2013)

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Gage (and the plotting Slott) put Otto in an interesting place. Given the standard superhero trope of having to save one person or another, Otto apparently goes from the villain himself instead of bothering to save anyone.

Apparently, as it’s the hard cliffhanger.

Otherwise, some of the issue goes to Jameson, who decides to hunt down the Spider Slayer himself. Making Jonah sympathetic always seems impossible but then one remembers the dead wife.

There’s a fun scene with Otto and the Spider Slayer rambling about their master plans. Having a hero who goes on and on about it is pretty fun–especially since Otto gets called on it–but it really just distracts from the issue’s lack of content. Nicely, sure, but obviously.

And Gage gets to write an Otto who doesn’t have the best plan too. He doesn’t have everything planned out. It’s a good read, only too fast.

CREDITS

No Escape, Part Two: Lockdown; writers, Dan Slott and Christos Gage; penciller, Giuseppe Camuncoli; inkers, John Dell and Terry Pallot; colorist, Antonio Fabela; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editor, Ellie Pyle and Stephen Wacker; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Superior Spider-Man 11 (August 2013)

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Giuseppe Camuncoli and John Dell make Otto look so positively condescending it’s wonderful. He only has a couple scenes outside his Spider-Man adventures, one with Anna and then one with his boss. I didn’t pay attention to the credits so I didn’t realize it was Christos Gage scripting from a Slott script; a lot more makes sense now.

Gage spends a lot of time writing maniacal Otto narration, which is always fun, and also goes far in establishing the revised ground situation since Ghost Peter is gone. Also gone are Peter’s supporting cast members. This issue–save Jameson–is just Otto.

Except, of course, the villains. There are lots of them and they’re really dumb looking. It feels very early nineties once the Spider Slayer gets his armor on.

As usual, the best stuff is Otto’s personal journey. The action is simply the cost of getting that peculiar story.

CREDITS

No Escape, Part One: A Lock For Every Key; writers, Dan Slott and Christos Gage; penciller, Giuseppe Camuncoli; inker, John Dell; colorist, Edgar Delgado; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editor, Ellie Pyle and Stephen Wacker; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Superior Spider-Man 10 (July 2013)

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Very interesting issue. With Otto freed of Ghost Peter, he makes some different choices–first is prioritizing responses to crimes and crises (which Slott addressed earlier in the series but not as directly) and, second, how he’s going to spend his Parker time.

Without the old Peter Parker memories, Otto’s scenes with Aunt May completely different. He’s not trying to fit in as much as enjoy the company of his new family. The same goes for his pursuing the tutor, Anna. Slott writes them a couple good scenes together this issue.

There are a couple action scenes, of course, one at the open and a disaster one at the close. There’s also the introduction of two new villains; the first comes in dialogue, the second gets the final page reveal.

One of them appears smarter than Otto, which should give him a fine adversary, as Otto’s intellect makes him invincible.

CREDITS

Independence Day; writer, Dan Slott; penciller, Ryan Stegman; inkers, Stegman and Cam Smith; colorist, Edgar Delgado; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editor, Ellie Pyle and Stephen Wacker; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Superior Spider-Man 9 (July 2013)

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Whew. There I was, having to take back some negative comments about Slott’s pacing last issue and how well he sold the story overall… and now I’m validated.

This issue reads in something like two minutes, maybe three if you take a bathroom break.

Otto zooms down into his own mind to fight the collected memories of Peter Parker–Ghost Peter isn’t a ghost as much as congealed memories–and there’s a big street fight out of Superman II.

Lots of guest stars. Pretty much every supporting cast member, friend and foe. Ryan Stegman must have had a great time drawing it, but there’s no story. It’s a scene out of a bad Matrix knock-off. Slott gets in one moment at the end where Ghost Peter is revealed as selfish (just like Otto) but he doesn’t do anything with the duality.

The issue’s pointless. Slott wastes the reader’s time.

CREDITS

Troubled Mind, Part Three: Gray Matters; writer, Dan Slott; artist, Ryan Stegman; colorist, Edgar Delgado; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editor, Ellie Pyle and Stephen Wacker; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Superior Spider-Man 8 (June 2013)

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Well, Slott recovers this issue. Big time.

He must have watched “ER” too–all you need to make something touching is a sick child, add a megalomaniac like Otto being touched by said sick child? One’s sympathies for the story and its characters go through the roof.

There’s also the big Avengers fight, which is funny afterwards because all Otto’s ramblings of them being morons are accurate. Ramos proves the right artist for it too. He draws everyone like a giant baboon.

The resolution with Cardiac is outstanding too, though Slott still isn’t addressing all his ongoing subplots. He also addresses the Ghost Peter thing–which is a big surprise this early–and uses it for his hard cliffhanger.

And so I have to eat a little crow. Slott does know what he’s doing, though this issue and last would’ve been better as a giant-size instead of two issues,

CREDITS

Troubled Mind, Part Two: Proof Positive; writer, Dan Slott; penciller, Humberto Ramos; inker, Victor Olazaba; colorist, Edgar Delgado; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editor, Ellie Pyle and Stephen Wacker; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Superior Spider-Man 7 (June 2013)

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This issue Ghost Peter discovers he can influence his old body and also make enough noise to distract Otto. Sadly, Slott uses that trick three times at least this issue to save someone from Otto’s wraith. Well, maybe twice with the third just being a little wink.

But it’s not a particularly good issue. In fact, it’s the first one where Slott doesn’t deliver a worthwhile narrative. Otto beats up some superhero who steals medical equipment to save poor people and then the Avengers confront him.

There’s nothing else to the issue. It’s a short opening, a long, poorly illustrated fight scene with Otto’s megalomania taking over, and the Avengers finale. And that finale’s just the cliffhanger.

Subplots aren’t just absent, Slott doesn’t even acknowledge the series has any.

It’s a rather upsetting turn of events. I sort of thought Slott could do no wrong on Otto’s adventures; he can.

CREDITS

Troubled Mind, Part One: Right-Hand Man; writer, Dan Slott; penciller, Humberto Ramos; inker, Victor Olazaba; colorist, Edgar Delgado; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editor, Ellie Pyle and Stephen Wacker; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Superior Spider-Man 6 (May 2013)

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Been a while since I read an Humberto Ramos comic. Between steel fortitude and Slott’s writing, I didn’t get sick.

The issue continues the “Spidey is going too far” theme, with Mayor Jameson setting Otto loose on some superpowered Internet pranksters. There’s also the stuff with Otto and his tutor, which is wonderful.

The Jameson stuff plays to the reader’s expectation of him being a boob and deserving getting pranked. The Spidey too far stuff–the Avengers cameo–plays to the storyline in general, but the stuff with Otto and his tutor is where Slott is doing something different.

Whatever his end game is for Superior Spider-Man, one hopes Slott has a good resolution for the tutor romance in mind.

It’s a fast read; Otto doesn’t show up for a little while and Ghost Peter spends his time watching flashbacks of young Otto being bullied.

Ramos aside, good stuff.

CREDITS

Joking Hazard; writer, Dan Slott; penciller, Humberto Ramos; inker, Victor Olazaba; colorist, Edgar Delgado; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editor, Ellie Pyle and Stephen Wacker; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Superior Spider-Man 5 (May 2013)

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I guess I didn’t realize it before, but “Brand New Day” Peter Parker is supposed to be unbelievably good looking. Otto lucked out in the bod department, apparently.

This issue features a really nice scene where Otto has dinner with his “tutor,” a very charming woman who happens to be a little person. Ghost Peter never says it, but there’s a definitely implication he’d never give her the time of day whereas Otto’s able to see past it.

Otto’s also able to see the benefit of coordinating with others (shouldn’t Peter have learned a little of that practice in The Avengers). Slott’s definitely developing Otto’s character in unexpected, thoughtful ways. Even the ending, which implies Otto’s megalomania hasn’t gone away he’s just using it for the greater good.

And who’s Otto to determine the greater good? Slott’s establishes him as the ideal choice as it’s a conscious effort.

Excellent issue.

CREDITS

Emotional Triggers; writer, Dan Slott; penciller, Giuseppe Camuncoli; inkers, John Dell and Camuncoli; colorists, Edgar Delgado and Antonio Fabella; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, Ellie Pyle and Stephen Wacker; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Superior Spider-Man 4 (April 2013)

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Well, I’ll eat my rotten onions right off–I miss Stegman. Giuseppe Camuncoli takes over on pencils (John Dell on inks) and it’s not a good move. There are lots of regular people scenes this issue and Camuncoli draws them like it’s an absurdist comedy. He also draws Spider-Man in Batman postures, which works out, but, wow… Not nice art.

The issue skips a head a few weeks from the last with Otto having to deal with a psychopath who Peter let get away. The psychopath is spree killing and Otto vows to stop him. Even Ghost Peter is a little taken aback at what his decision has wrought (which would be Batman’s every day given how violent his villains get).

On the “normal” side, Otto goes back to school for his doctorate. Or Peter’s doctorate.

Slott does a great job writing; shame the art isn’t up to snuff.

CREDITS

The Aggressive Approach; writer, Dan Slott; penciller, Giuseppe Camuncoli; inker, John Dell; colorist, Edgar Delgado; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, Ellie Pyle and Stephen Wacker; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Superior Spider-Man 3 (April 2013)

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Slott’s starting to edge in on Batman territory here. The Vulture is using children to commit crimes, strapping them into flight harnesses and sending them out. Otto loses it and almost kills him, horrifying Ghost Peter and the police lady.

I can’t remember her name. It might be Carlie or something; it’s goofy, whatever it is.

There’s the judgment from Ghost Peter and cop lady, but… Otto’s kind of right, isn’t he? If the Vulture has graduated to abusing little kids, the soft-hand tactics are clearly outdated.

There’s also some stuff with Ghost Peter getting into Otto’s memories and discovering Otto’s human side. Those scenes aren’t particularly good, since Otto’s not in them. Not bad though.

The more I think about it, yeah… Slott is just turning Spider-Man into Batman. He’s also showing how Otto’s intelligence was wasted as a criminal. He’s more effective as a good guy.

CREDITS

Everything You Know Is Wrong; writer, Dan Slott; artist, Ryan Stegman; colorist, Edgar Delgado; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, Ellie Pyle and Stephen Wacker; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Superior Spider-Man 2 (March 2013)

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I’m liking Stegman less this issue. Something about him reminds me of Todd McFarlane; he’s busy without content, just a lot blockier than ol’ Toddy.

Luckily, I’m liking Slott’s writing a lot more this issue. Ghost Peter has a big role here, basically narrating Otto’s narration. Only Ghost Peter can only know what Otto’s narrating, not what he’s thinking, which means Otto can surprise both the reader and Ghost Peter. It leads to a couple nice moments throughout the issue and a great one at the end. Slott’s freaking brilliant with how he uses Otto–Otto’s a long-time Spider-Man reader inside the comic. It’s an awesome device.

And since Ghost Peter’s actually whiney and annoying (he’s the Star Wars Luke Skywalker), having Otto impress him (and the reader) is doubly satisfying. Superior doesn’t work if the reader wants Otto to fail.

Slott makes a moronic idea utterly fantastic.

CREDITS

The Peter Principle; writer, Dan Slott; artist, Ryan Stegman; colorist, Edgar Delgado; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, Ellie Pyle and Stephen Wacker; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Superior Spider-Man 1 (March 2013)

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Once one gets past the entirely goofy brain-swapping detail, Superior Spider-Man is a hoot.

Dan Slott’s success at it comes from his refusal to play too much into Doctor Octopus all of a sudden being a good guy. Otto isn’t out to beat the new Sinister Six because it’s the right thing to do, he’s doing it because they’re using his old bad guy club’s name. He doesn’t run away from a fight because he’s scared or hurt, but because he doesn’t actually care.

He does care about one detail in Peter’s life… Mary Jane. Physically at least.

It’s a ludicrous idea for a comic and Slott pulls it off with apparent ease. He keeps it all very dramatic, even though Otto’s clearly got to do the right thing.

Ryan Stegman effectively handles the art. He could be better; doesn’t matter.

Otto makes a darn fun Spider-Man.

CREDITS

Hero or Menace?; writer, Dan Slott; artist, Ryan Stegman; colorist, Edgar Delgado; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, Ellie Pyle and Stephen Wacker; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Girl Comics 2 (July 2010)

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It’s another terrible issue. Is Marvel trying to say all female creators can do are trite stories? Colleen Coover annoys with her opening…

Oh, wait. The Jill Thompson Inhumans story is fine. It’s predictable to the point I think I’ve read it somewhere before (Lockjaw getting a bath) but the art’s good and the writing’s inoffensive.

The next one is awful—it’s about a superheroine beauty parlor, from Coover with Kathryn Immonem writing. The uncredited letterer screws up the dialogue pacing but it wouldn’t be much better with competent word balloons.

Stephanie Buscema has a weak Doctor Doom two pager.

Faith Erin Hicks’s Nextwave story features a superhero killing teenagers. I guess that’s cool. You know, for a Disney comic. But it’s otherwise weak.

Abby Denson and Emma Vieceli’s superhero personals (starring Mary Jane) is lame.

Finally, Christine Boylan and Cynthia Martin’s Doctor Strange is well-illustrated but poorly written.

CREDITS

Introduction; writer, artist, colorist and letterer, Colleen Coover. Dogged Pursuit; writer, artist and colorist, Jill Thompson; letterer, Kathleen Marinaccio. Good to be Lucky; writer, Kathryn Immonen; artist, Coover; colorist, Elizabeth Breitweiser. Doom Hearts Sue!; writer, artist and colorist, Stephanie Buscema; letterer, Marinaccio. “Do You Ever?”; writer, artist and letterer, Faith Erin Hicks; colorist, Cris Peter. Ad Vice; writer, Abby Denson; artist, Emma Vieceli; colorist, Emily Warren; letterer, Kristyn Ferretti. Rondeau; writer, Christine Boylan; artist, Cynthia Martin; colorist, June Chung; letterer, Marinaccio. Editors, Lauren Sankovitch, Sana Amanat, Rachel Pinnelas and Jeanine Schaefer; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Girl Comics 1 (May 2010)

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Marvel should have tried harder with Girl Comics. It’s way too easy just to say, Girl Comics is bad comics.

The opening from Colleen Coover is weak. It’s so trite, the story featuring Nightcrawler getting saved by a nameless woman (writing by G. Willow Wilson, art by Ming Doyle) doesn’t seem so bad. The writing’s weak, but the art isn’t.

The next story, a Venus story (which breaks Atlas continuity), is okay. Trina Robbins’s script is okay and the Stephanie Buscema retro good girl art is nice.

Valerie D’Orazio and Nikki Brown then do a surprisingly effective Punisher tale. It’s contrived, but also sort of great.

Lucy Knisley has a cute Doctor Octopus cartoon.

Then it’s Robin Furth and Agnes Garbowska doing an illustrated text adventure for the Richards kids. Garbowska’s art is fantastic, making up for the rushed text.

Devin Grayson and Emma Rios’s X-Men finale is awful.

CREDITS

Introduction; writer, artist, colorist and letterer, Colleen Coover. Moritat; writer, G. Willow Wilson; artist, Ming Doyle; colorist, Cris Peter; letterer, Kathleen Marinaccio. Venus; writer, Trina Robbins; artist and colorist, Stephanie Buscema; letterer, Kristyn Ferretti. A Brief Rendezvous; writer, Valerie D’Orazio; artist, Nikki Cook; colorist, Elizabeth Breitweiser; letterer, Ferretti. Shop Doc; writer, artist, colorist and letterer, Lucy Knisley. Clockwork Nightmare; writer, Robin Furth; artist and colorist, Agnes Garbowska; letterer, Ferretti. Head Space; writer, Devin Grayson; artist, Emma Rios; colorist, Barbara Ciardo; letterer, Kathleen Marinaccio. Editors, Lauren Sankovitch, Sana Amanat, Rachel Pinnelas and Jeanine Schaefer; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Marvel Treasury Edition 28 (July 1981)

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Was Jim Shooter paying himself by the word, because I don’t think I’ve ever read more exposition in a comic book. It’s terrible exposition too, but I suppose the sentences are grammatically correct. For the most part.

But what I can’t figure out is the artwork. The combination of John Buscema on pencils and Joe Sinnott on inks produces one of the worst eighties comic books I can remember seeing. Superman’s figure is strangely bulky, with a little head. But the facial features on everyone are awful. It’s a hideous thing to read.

The story concerns Dr. Doom trying again to take over the world, which is boring. The interesting stuff is Clark working at the Bugle and Peter working at the Planet. They should do a series. But not by Shooter, who makes Peter constantly horny.

Interesting to see the black chick after Clark though.

It’s an awful comic.

CREDITS

The Heroes and the Holocaust!; writers, Marv Wolfman and Jim Shooter; penciller, John Buscema; inkers, Joe Sinnott, Terry Austin, Klaus Janson, Bob McLeod, Al Milgrom, Steve Leialoha, Walt Simonson, Bob Layton, Brett Breeding, Joe Rubinstein and Bob Wiacek; colorist, Glynis Wein; letterer, Joe Rosen; editor, Milgrom; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Superman vs. the Amazing Spider-Man (January 1976)

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It’s too bad this one doesn’t work out better, but at least it fails in an interesting way. Superman and Spider-Man simply can’t work together. It’s not so much the problems with them not matching powers—Lex Luthor zaps Spidey with some red Kryptonite powers to even the odds at one point—it’s the characters themselves, they’re too different.

The comic’s split into four parts. First is a Superman prologue, then a Spidey, then Doctor Octopus and Lex teaming up before the culminating team-up between Spidey and Superman. The first three parts work great. The fourth part barely works at all. Peter Parker and Lois Lane meeting up, professionally, it works great. Morgan Edge and Jonah getting hammered? Also great.

Superman calling Spidey “web-slinger?” Not great. Though Spidey gets away with calling him “Supes.”

The art hodgepodge makes it visually interesting, but not good.

It’s sadly charmless.

CREDITS

The Battle of the Century!; writer, Gerry Conway; pencillers, Ross Andru, Neal Adams and John Romita; inkers, Dick Giordano, Terry Austin, Josef Rubinstein, Bob Wiacek and Romita; colorist, Jerry Serpe; letterer, Gaspar Saladino; editors, Roy Thomas, Julius Schwartz, Marv Wolfman, E. Nelson Bridwell, Carmine Infantino, Stan Lee and Conway; publishers, DC Comics and Marvel Comics.

Spider-Man: Back in Quack 1 (November 2010)

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This issue, one of Marvel’s smorgasbord of one shots, is actually a Steve Gerber tribute issue. The feature is Howard the Duck (meets Spider-Man) and the backup is Man-Thing. Not sure why Marvel didn’t advertise it better, other than they missed a good memorial period by two years.

Stuart Moore does a fine job on the feature, with Spider-Man discovering Howard and Bev have been brainwashed by these corporate bad guys. It’s all very anti-establishment, but in a broad way. Moore’s not being a rebel, he’s just posing as one. I wouldn’t even mention it if it weren’t for the Man-Thing backup. In it, Moore discusses the problems with deranged veterans coming home from overseas. The solution? Getting zapped by Man-Thing.

The pencils on the feature are split between Mark Brooks and Ray Height. Brooks is better. Joe Suitor does the backup; he’s bad.

CREDITS

Human Slavery for Beginners; writer, Stuart Moore; pencillers, Mark Brooks and Ray Height; inker, Walden Wong; colorist, Andres Mossa; letterer, Clayton Cowles. Fear and Mister Dayton; writer, Stuart Moore; artist and colorist, Joe Suitor; letterer, Dave Lanphear. Editors, Tom Brennan, Stephen Wacker and Tom Brevoort; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Osborn 5 (June 2011)

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DeConnick brings Osborn to a depressingly lesser conclusion. She needed another issue. She fast forwards a few weeks and everything’s resolved. It provides a nice narrative device (a Congressional hearing) but it’s not satisfying at all. Worse is the decision to narrate from Norah the reporter.

Norah is, as Norman points out, not special. She’s ordinary in an extraordinary world and if DeConnick had any particular insight into her, I’d have loved to see a Marvels revamp by DeConnick and Rios. Unfortunately, she doesn’t have any special insight because Norah’s a lame character. Instead of Veronica Mars, she’s barely Carrie from “Sex in the City.” Strange how gender works in the funny pages.

As for the art… Becky Cloonan isn’t on Rios’s level. I couldn’t identify Cloonan but a lot of the issue looked wrong.

It’s well-written and often beautifully illustrated, but it should’ve (and could’ve) been even better.

CREDITS

Writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick; artist, Emma Rios and Becky Cloonan; colorist, José Villarrubia; letterer, Clayton Cowles; editors, Alejandro Arbona and Stephen Wacker; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Osborn 4 (May 2011)

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So, yes, it turns out—unfortunately—I was right. Norman Osborn is a megalomaniac who needs an audience, so he keeps Norah the reporter alive. However, his sidekicks are very bad people who would not. But still they hang out with her. In fact, I wish Osborn was an issue longer because DeConnick has such a great time writing Norah with the supervillains.

By pairing Norah with Norman here, Rios gets to combine her two styles on the series and it’s no surprise the relatively calmer Norah art is moved aside for the frantic Norman art everywhere. The result is a visual feast—definitely the best art so far in the series.

DeConnick’s script continues to be really smart as well as engaging—setting Norman up against the Senator, turning her into the antagonist and toning Norman down to be a suitable protagonist finally… it all works.

It’s quite good.

CREDITS

Writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick; artist, Emma Rios; colorist, José Villarrubia; letterer, Clayton Cowles; editors, Alejandro Arbona and Stephen Wacker; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Osborn 3 (April 2011)

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There’s a lot of great stuff in this issue of Osborn—my favorite is the way DeConnick mostly spends the non-Norman time with the senator, making it very different than what I expected. So after the utterly realistic scene where the Democrat senator realizes she’s getting blamed for sending Norman to a secret prison (shockingly, her Republican “friend” betrays her), DeConnick throws reality out the window.

Norah Winters has been present at Norman’s taking over the prison, up in an observation booth. He discovers her and brings her down to witness his return. Now, realistically, he’d have her torn into pieces or tortured or whatever. But he’s a supervillain, so he’s going to Bond villain her and bring her along. He hasn’t yet, but leaving her alive for a second makes it foreseeable.

And DeConnick’s otherwise thoughtful comic book becomes absurd.

It’s still good and the Rios art’s beautiful.

CREDITS

Writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick; artist, Emma Rios; colorist, José Villarrubia; letterer, Clayton Cowles; editors, Alejandro Arbona and Stephen Wacker; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Osborn 2 (February 2011)

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Peter Parker fails to show up again this issue for more premarital sex, which is disappointing, but otherwise DeConnick is in fine form. Setting up a cult centered around Norman Osborn is a good plot point, as are some of the smaller developments. DeConnick knows how to tightly wind scenes and she’d probably do really well on a horror book.

Rios also continues to impress. She basically has the one style, but there’s intensity. Norman gets more feverish lines while the stuff at the Daily Bugle is far cleaner.

As for the Bugle, Norah Winters is still central to that side of the story. But Winters’s place at the paper, Marvel Universe or not, seems unrealistic. It feels like DeConnick is saddled with the cast and she’s having troubles making Winters work.

But all the Norman and supervillain stuff? It’s all great.

Osborn is, surprisingly or not, an excellent series.

CREDITS

Writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick; artist, Emma Rios; colorist, José Villarrubia; letterer, Clayton Cowles; editors, Alejandro Arbona and Stephen Wacker; publisher, Marvel Comics.

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