Comic Review: 1985

Published: July 22nd, 2009
Written by: Mark Millar
Art by: Tommy Lee Edwards

Marvel Comics, 146 Pages

Review:

This comic book was cool as hell!

It sort of reads like it’s a season of Stranger Things but where the small town is haunted by Marvel villains instead of weird shit from the Upsidedown. This also came out in the decade before Stranger Things, so it was kind of ahead of the curve but like Stranger Things, knew how to tap into ’80s nostalgia in a brilliant way.

But this was also written by Mark Millar, a true master of his craft.

What’s unique and cool about this comic is that it doesn’t take place in the Marvel Universe, it takes place in our universe.

The story follows a young boy in 1985. He is having issues like any normal ’80s kid dealing with divorced parents. He bonds with his father pretty strongly though, as they both have a deep love of comic books and are experts on Marvel lore. At the same time, Marvel villains start showing up in the real world because there are no heroes here to stop them.

Overall, this was a really neat idea and for the most part, I thought it was superbly executed.

1985 is incredibly imaginative but it really worked so well because the art fit the concept and the tone. While Millar deserves credit for a great story, Tommy Lee Edwards gave it so much more life than just words on paper. And his style works better for the setting than having that sort of standard Marvel art style.

This is one of those comics that I’m happy to have discovered as an adult but wish would have been around when I was a kid. If you know a kid that loves Marvel but they’ve never read this, I think that they’ll probably love the hell out of it.

Rating: 9/10
Pairs well with: the Stranger Things comics, as well as other Mark Millar stories.

Comic Review: Spider-Man: Life Story

Published: March 20th, 2019 – August 28th, 2019
Written by: Chip Zdarsky
Art by: Mark Bagley

Marvel Comics, 200 Pages

Review:

When I first heard about this miniseries, I was pretty stoked for it.

The concept is that it starts in the ’60s when Spider-Man debuted and it follows him over the six decades he’s existed but it does that in real time. Basically, instead of Spider-Man only aging fifteen years (or so) since his debut, this story covers his entire life span, as he ages accordingly from decade to decade.

Each of the six issues represents a decade. But that is also kind of a problem with the story too.

You see, you can’t wedge a whole decade into twenty or thirty pages of a comic. So each issue just focuses on some sort of event in Spider-Man’s life from that era.

The total package of this series is really cool and interesting but it almost feels as if each decade could’ve been a miniseries of its own and that this is a comic that could have lived on for several years. And with the team of Chip Zdarsky and Mark Bagley, it could’ve been like a Spider-Man renaissance.

But ultimately, each chapter was pretty damn good. I only thought that the last one was a bit weak but I wasn’t too keen on how it ended. I felt like Spider-Man’s fate was kind of predictable, as this was his “life story”.

The thing is, it was hard investing into the weight of the finale, when you haven’t lived through the emergence of the massive threat that they face to end the series. And that just gets back to my feeling about there needing to be more time devoted to each decade than just single issues.

However, I’m hoping that this is just a framework or a road map and that Marvel at least has some plans to expand on this story in the future. If that’s the case, I really hope it is brought to us by Zdarsky and Bagley, once again.

If not, well… this was still one of the best comic book miniseries to come out this year.

Rating: 8.5/10
Pairs well with: the recent Symbiote Spider-Man miniseries by Peter David and Greg Land.

Comic Review: Spider-Man: Blue

Published: July 27th, 2011
Written by: Jeph Loeb
Art by: Tim Sale

Marvel Comics, 137 Pages

Review:

Other than the Hulk one, I’ve really loved the color themed series of titles that Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale did for Marvel. This is the last of the four that I have read and am now reviewing.

Spider-Man: Blue was damn good. It really captured the spirit of classic Spidey and even though it had a good amount of action and superhero fun, the focal point of this story was Peter Parker’s love for Gwen Stacy but also his blossoming love for his eventual wife, Mary Jane Watson.

This throws a good array of villains at the hero and all of them serve more than a superficial purpose. Kraven the Hunter is the big bad by the end of the story and his threat and how it grows throughout the pages of this miniseries flows really well with the narrative surrounding Peter Parker’s personal life.

Loeb and Sale are just a spectacular team and their talents are on full display here. While I still prefer their Batman work, all of which are real classics in the medium, these Marvel books are some of the best works to come out of the publisher in the last decade or so.

These stories understand the characters, their motivations and the art style makes them feel like you are going back to yesteryear.

Spider-Man: Blue is a fine read and it may even hit you in the feels.

Rating: 9/10
Pairs well with: The other color themed books that Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale did for Marvel.

Comic Review: Spider-Gwen, Vol. 5: Gwenom

Published: April 18th, 2018
Written by: Jason Latour
Art by: Robbi Rodriguez, Khary Randolph (covers)

Marvel Comics, 136 Pages

Review:

I think that I took too long of a break between reading volume 4 and volume 5 of Spider-Gwen. Reason being, this felt like the title had run out of steam. Maybe that’s because it did run out of steam by this point but it could be my own fault for lacking the enthusiasm I had for this series before I took a long break.

This just didn’t hit the right notes for me but that also probably has a lot to do with this being just another story of a Spidercharacter becoming Venom. Marvel has done this to death. Apart from the original Spider-Man titles, we got to see this with Miles Morales and Otto Octavius, both fairly recently.

I’m not saying that the Gwen Stacy version of Spider-Woman shouldn’t have a Venom story but this felt forced and like the writer was pushed into this by Marvel or because this series has now be rolling for a couple years and its hard to not become formulaic. It’s almost as if a Venom story was expected.

But just because something worked a few times, doesn’t mean that it will keep working. Also, it doesn’t mean that you can’t veer away from it and do your own thing. In fact, it’s much better to do your own thing and to explore new ideas with new characters, as opposed to rehashing some tired ass shit most Spider-fans have lived through multiple times.

I’m also just getting tired of this alternate universe. I kind of like the evil Daredevil thing but it’s also become a bit tiresome, as has this version of the Punisher and just about everyone else. It’s like the comic had some good ideas for twists on these characters but there wasn’t much else there beyond those twists.

This story arc also wedges in so many characters that it feels like a mess. I’m not even sure why some of them were there other than to have cameos galore in an effort to show how different this alternate reality is. But if you haven’t already done that by volume 5, hell, by volume 2, then maybe this series doesn’t deserve to continue.

I love Gwen Stacy and I really like this take on her character but she’s got to find a purpose for existing other than just being a cool idea and a really cool costume. And I feel like that’s all that she is now.

Rating: 5.75/10
Pairs well with: Other Spider-Gwen collections.

Comic Review: Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, Vol. 3

Published: January 30th, 2014
Written by: Brian Michael Bendis
Art by: David Marquez, Kaare Kyle Andrews

Marvel Comics, 171 Pages

Review:

The last collection in this series left you hanging, wondering what was going to happen in regards to Miles Morales being blackmailed by his Uncle Aaron into helping him take out the Scorpion and build his own criminal empire. Uncle Aaron is the famous Spidey villain the Prowler and of course, Miles is just getting his feet wet as the new Spider-Man.

This starts off with a massive bang that changes Miles’ life forever. I don’t want to spoil it but I’ll just say that up to this point, Miles has never been in a situation where the responsibilities of being Spider-Man have been more real and hit as close to home.

The rest of the book deals with a massive battle that sees Miles team up with the Ultimates, who are the Marvel Ultimate universe’s version of the Avengers. He convinces Captain America to let him join, despite his age, but this leads to him being a soldier in a violent war against Hydra. Even for Marvel and for Spider-Man, this is so unbelievable that it just doesn’t work, at all. Despite how good Miles is and where his heart is at, anyone who would send a thirteen year-old to war is an insane person. I’m looking at you Captain America, also the president of the United States in this continuity. But really, I’m looking at Brian Michael Bendis who wrote this asinine and preposterous storyline. I mean, seriously, what the fucking fuck?!

This isn’t Robin helping Batman or some New Mutants adventure, this is an all out war for America between the Ultimates, S.H.I.E.L.D. and Hydra. Professor X never sent Boom Boom to face off with Apocalypse. Batman never sent Robin into an Arkham Asylum riot without proper training.

Additionally, the big war was a massive distraction to the larger arc here, which is Miles becoming Spider-Man and finding himself in that role. This was one giant speed bump in this series but I hope that things come back down to Earth in the volume after this one.

I really liked this series, up to this point. This didn’t just jump the shark, it jumped an ocean full of sharks.

Rating: 5.5/10
Pairs well with: The other early Mile Morales Spider-Man stories. Also, Spider-Men I and II and Spider-Verse.

Comic Review: Spider-Gwen, Vol. 4: Predators

Published: October 31st, 2017
Written by: Jason Latour
Art by: Robbi Rodriguez

Marvel Comics, 112 Pages

Review:

Finally, a series of Spider-Gwen comics that are action packed and back on track! The last collection was full of holiday one-off issues and a lot of filler. Now we are back in the thick of it!

This collection brings back Harry Osborne, who is still infected by the Lizard syrum. His father Norman also plays a key role here, after refusing to help his son previously. We also see this universe’s evil version of Matt Murdock finally push Gwen Stacy into an uncomfortable direction, as she is forced to work with The Hand in an effort to capture her friend Harry.

We also get to see Spider-Gwen do battle with Wolverine, the original one, as well as this universe’s version of Shadowcat, who is more like X-23 than the Kitty Pryde we all know and love. Rhino also returns and we get to see the first appearance of the Venom symbiote but in the Spider-Gwen universe, it has a different origin.

At first, Spider-Gwen has to protect Harry from Wolverine, Shadowcat and The Hand but she eventually defies Matt Murdock and is able to turn Shadowcat and then Wolverine into allies against The Hand. All the while, she is mulling over the idea of whether or not she should become one with the Venom symbiote, as her exposure to radiation makes it “safe” for her to use, where it is lethal to any other living mammal.

The book benefits from not having Gwen go all emo, as she seems to do a lot in the earlier collections. She just jumps into the action, which there is a lot of and things don’t really ease up until the final chapter in the book, which is a side story about the Mary Janes band.

In fact, the only real negative is the Mary Janes story. Not that I don’t like their part in the Spider-Gwen universe but in this collection, it pulls you out of the running narrative and doesn’t allow this series of issues to feel like it has any sort of conclusion.

But I do like this much better than the previous set of stories and I’ll pick up the next collection when it is available.

Rating: 8.25/10
Pairs well with: Other Spider-Gwen collections.

Comic Review: Spider-Gwen, Vol. 0: Most Wanted?

Published: November 17th, 2015
Written by: Jason Latour
Art by: Robbi Rodriguez

Marvel Comics, 112 Pages

Review:

I have wanted to read Spider-Gwen for a long time now. I’ve actually owned her action figure for awhile, as I was a big fan of the costume and always loved Gwen Stacy and just the idea of her becoming a Spider-hero was pretty intriguing.

I picked up this volume before reading volume one, as zero is before one but this isn’t an origin story and Gwen is already Spider-Woman. So, until I read volume one after this, I’m not sure if these are numbered chronologically or not.

Anyway, I dig Spider-Gwen a lot.

The story takes place in an alternate universe in the massive Marvel multiverse where each dimension is different in someway. In Spider-Gwen’s universe, she was bit by the radioactive spider instead of Peter Parker. Thus, she inherited all the powers that went to Parker in the universe we are most familiar with. Also, Peter becomes the Lizard but that story isn’t in this volume. Although, this deals with some of the emotional aftereffects of Gwen having to take Peter down.

We also see Matt Murdock, the Daredevil, and Frank Castle, the Punisher. In this dimension, both men are very different. In fact, they are both bad guys, as far as I can tell with Murdock working for the Kingpin and Castle being a hard nosed, ignore the book, type of cop. The Punisher is a brutal vigilante except he still has his badge.

The one thing I love about this series is the art. It’s beautiful and enchanting in the best way possible. It has a feminine feel to it, which works for a female hero, yet it still has a grittiness. The costume design is friggin’ fantastic, the use of colors is superb and this is an incredible looking comic of the highest caliber. Kudos to Robbi Rodriguez for his art and Rico Renzi for his colors.

The story is also great and if it wasn’t, I couldn’t stick with a series despite how good the art is. Spider-Gwen is written by Jason Latour, who co-created the series with Rodriguez. Latour has written stories for Wolverine, Punisher, Winter Solider and done art for a myriad of titles throughout the years, going back to his work at Image on The Expatriate with B. Clay Moore, a guy who made one of my favorite series, Hawaiian Dick.

This volume sets the stage for what’s to come and although it doesn’t feature the real origin of the character, I felt like I had a good grasp on everything. I wish I was able to read about Spider-Gwen fighting Peter Parker as the Lizard but I’ll have to find that story elsewhere, I guess.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: The other Spider-Gwen collections.