Comic Review: Wolverine: Old Man Logan

Published: September 22nd, 2010
Written by: Mark Millar
Art by: Steve McNiven

Marvel Comics, 224 Pages

Review:

Old Man Logan has become one of those stories that has reached a sort of legendary status. That’s a very rare feat in the more modern era of comic books but this story, now having reached ten years of age, has had some lasting power and has gone on to influence other works. In some regard, it is Marvel’s versions of DC’s The Dark Knight Returns in that it takes a well known character and shows him in an alternate future after the world has fallen apart around him.

Granted, this is in no way a ripoff of Frank Miller’s classic Batman story. Old Man Logan is very much its own thing and what a great thing it is.

When the story starts, we discover that Logan, the former Wolverine, is living in California on a farm with his wife and two children. Times are hard and the Hulk’s inbred gang demand the rent. An old Hawkeye shows up and gives Logan a deal that he can’t refuse, which will pay him enough to keep the Hulk’s gang off of his back. The story then sees these two aged heroes travel from the West Coast to the East Coast to deliver a package. We discover that the entire United States is completely screwed up and while the now villainous Hulk controls the West Coast, other villains control other regions. The Kingpin (a different guy than Wilson Fisk) has Vegas, Dr. Doom has the Midwest and “The President” a.k.a. Red Skull has the East Coast.

I don’t want to give much more away for fear of spoiling the story.

This book has a lot of surprises and cool things thrown in. Logan is a pacifist, at this point, but what happens when he is pushed beyond his breaking point?

Old Man Logan is one of the most refreshing things Marvel has put out since the turn of the millennium. The story and the characters were so well received that Logan and Hawkeye have both made other appearances as their elderly selves.

There are very few comic books that I will say are must reads, especially out of the more modern titles. This is a must read though, whether you are a Wolverine fan or just a fan of the comic book medium in general.

Rating: 9.5/10
Pairs well with: The Death of Wolverine and it also has some similarities to Frank Miller’s classic aged Batman tale, The Dark Knight Returns.

Video Game Review: Spider-Man (Sega Genesis)

Also known as: Spider-Man vs. The Kingpin

Review:

Spider-Man, the 1991 game, is what pushed me towards getting a Sega Genesis over a Super Nintendo for Christmas when I was in 7th grade. I was reading Spider-Man comics daily, at the time. Who can blame me though, as the artists during that era were Todd McFarlane and Erik Larsen? To say that I was a massive fan is a massive understatement.

When I finally got my tiny mitts on this game, I was not disappointed and playing it became an obsession because it was super fun but it was also really hard. But it wasn’t unbeatable hard. It was the kind of hard that you had to work at to overcome. Eventually, I beat the game and when I did, I felt a sense of real accomplishment that I hadn’t felt since the original Legend of Zelda.

For 1991, the graphics were sick, the gameplay was incredible and the mechanics were really cool, as I had been relegated to simpler 8-bit titles before this.

The game also featured a good group of classic Spider-Man villains and Venom, who was still actually new at the time. The villain lineup was almost like a Sinister Six lineup. You had Doctor Octopus, the Lizard, Electro and the Sandman with Hobgoblin and Venom replacing some of the traditional Sinister Six members (Kraven, the Green Goblin, Mysterio and the Vulture were rotated in and out in the comics). You also had the big boss of the game, Wilson Fisk himself, the Kingpin.

Some of the boss battles were easy, some were hard but each one required a different strategy, almost like what would become more common place in video games of the future. You didn’t just try and jump on some character’s head a bunch of times or throw a fireball, you had to figure out each battle like a puzzle. However, even figuring things out didn’t guarantee victory, as you needed to also rely on timing and your skill.

I replayed through Spider-Man recently and even though I got to the end and got my ass kicked by the Kingpin, it was still a lot of fun.

I know that a plethora of Genesis titles are considered classics ahead of this. However, this was why I chose the Genesis platform and it continues to be my favorite game put out for that console.

Rating: 9.25/10
Pairs well with: Other old school Spider-Man games: Maximum Carnage, the original Gameboy game and the two games released on the original PlayStation.

Comic Review: Spider-Gwen, Vol. 1: Greater Power

Published: May 24th, 2016
Written by: Jason Latour
Art by: Robbi Rodriguez

Marvel Comics, 136 Pages

Review:

This seemingly picks up after Spider-Gwen. Vol. 0: Most Wanted? Like it’s numerical predecessor, it features some stellar art, great character development and a lot of interesting twists to the Marvel Universe, at least how it exists in the small pocket that is Spider-Gwen’s version of Earth.

This volume is also packed with a lot of other characters. We get the debut of Green Goblin, as Harry Osborne is hella pissed over the death of Peter Parker, whom he deems Spider-Woman (a.k.a. Spider-Gwen) responsible for.

We also get to see more of this universe’s versions of Daredevil and the Punisher. We meet a very different Captain America and get to see Gwen interact with the other Spider-Woman, Jessica Drew. Plus, we learn a lot more about the world Spider-Gwen lives in, the Lizard problem, as well as S.H.I.E.L.D. and S.I.L.K.’s hands in all of it.

The only real downside is we don’t get to see Gwen interact with Spider-Ham like in Most Wanted? Sure, he was a figment of her imagination in that story arc but I loved the camaraderie between the two.

Where Most Wanted? dealt a lot with Gwen’s guilt over Peter Parker’s death, her battle with the Green Goblin here, helps her to see things differently and to start to make peace with that earlier tragedy. It also drives her towards trying to save Osborne from himself and his delusions. We also get to see what happens when you mix the Green Goblin with the Lizard’s mutagen. Just sayin’, who wouldn’t want to see the results of that?

A lot happens in this book and the characters develop and change quite a bit from beginning to end. We get to see a new side to George Stacy, Gwen’s father and the cop originally leading the manhunt for Spider-Woman. We also see how evil Daredevil is in this universe and have some clues dropped about Tony Stark and who he is in Spider-Gwen’s realm.

I’m digging this series a hell of a lot and frankly, I’m ready to jump right into the next volume.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: The 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.

TV Review: Daredevil (2015- )

Original Run: April 10th, 2015 – current
Created by: Drew Goddard
Directed by: various
Written by: various
Based on: Daredevil by Stan Lee, Bill Everett
Music by: John Paesano, Braden Kimball
Cast: Charlie Cox, Deborah Ann Woll, Elden Henson, Toby Leonard Moore, Vondie Curtis-Hall, Bob Gunton, Ayelet Zurer, Rosario Dawson, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jon Bernthal, Scott Glenn, Élodie Yung, Stephen Rider

ABC Studios, Marvel, DeKnight Productions, Goddard Textiles, Netflix, 26 Episodes (so far), 48-61 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

*written in 2015.

If you haven’t watched Daredevil at some point over the last week, you have been severely missing out.

Marvel, now teaming up with Netflix, has given hardcore old school comic book fans a television show that they deserve. Being that it is on Netflix and not ABC or some other network, Daredevil has a lot of creative freedom. It also isn’t catered to the younger viewer, which can often times be a pretty tedious and annoying factor in regards to Marvel’s other live-action outings. What we’ve got is something very close to the source material and as dark as the stellar Frank Miller stories were in the early 80s. What we don’t have is a two-plus hour toy commercial accented by Tony Stark witticisms. For the record, I like Tony Stark witticisms but this isn’t the place for them.

Now I am not going to completely fan boy out like most of the people praising this show. It isn’t perfect and could improve in various areas but it is one of the best Marvel adaptations of all-time.

The positives are pretty abundant though.

To start, the tone of the show is perfect. The lighting is amazing, as it conveys the same color palette as the comic book from its most iconic runs. The cast, for the most part, is perfect. And the evolution of Daredevil throughout the first season of this series is very well done. We don’t have a hero that immediately kicks ass and looks invincible. We have a normal guy who is generally a bad ass but still gets his head kicked in a lot. The show just feels more real and more organic than any other live-action comic book property ever has and that in and of itself is a great feat.

The show also benefits by the fact that it isn’t stuffed full of characters and villains. The only real major Daredevil villains that even appear are Wilson Fisk (a.k.a. the Kingpin) and Leland Owlsley (a.k.a. the Owl). Kudos on the producers for holding off on Bullseye, Typhoid Mary, Elektra, Mr. Fear and the rest.

Although, the amount of time focusing on the inevitable confrontation between Daredevil and Fisk is pretty drawn out. The pace of the show is a bit slow and lacking energy in areas. I feel like the bulk of everything important could have been covered in six-to-eight episodes. What we’ve got instead is thirteen episodes with too much filler material.

The one performance that I question is Vincent D’Onofrio’s portrayal of Wilson Fisk. It isn’t bad but there are times where his voice is odd and out of place. I get that the character is written as a sort of fucked up kid turned “kingpin” but at this stage of his life, he should be more sure of himself and confident in his abilities. And I am not saying that he isn’t confident but his bizarre tone just seems out of whack for what the character needs to be. The Kingpin is not some emo child in a fat suit, he is an exacting, ruthless and very motivated evil genius that isn’t intimidated by anything. Maybe that makes him one dimensional but I’d rather have a caricature of pure evil than what we have with this character on the show. Besides, the comic book version of Kingpin has been fleshed out so well over the years that there is a lot to work with without some new and unnecessary spin on the character.

Daredevil is fantastic though. It is worth your time and as an avid reader of Daredevil in the comics, I think that this show truly hits the mark. It can be improved upon but it is a step above everything else Marvel has done thus far.

Comic Review: Spider-Man – Back In Black

Published on: February 27th, 2008
Written by: J. Michael Straczynski, Peter David
Art by: Ron Garney, Todd Nauck, Ron Cliquet, Colleen Doran

Marvel Comics, 336 Pages

Review:

This was a pretty good trade paperback and a pretty bad one, all at the same time. Let me explain.

Spider-Man’s Aunt May is hit by a sniper’s bullet meant for Spidey. The reason Spidey is being hunted is because a few months prior during the major Marvel event Civil War, Spider-Man publicly revealed his secret identity. Since then, he and his family have been in danger and the bullet hitting Aunt May is a culmination of that.

Spider-Man then falls to the dark side more or less, returns to wearing his black costume and thus brings the ruckus to the criminal underworld in an effort to discover who was behind the hit.

On his hunt, Spider-Man throws his personal code and morals out the window and basically becomes the Punisher with Spidey powers. Ultimately, his hunt leads him to the Kingpin, which results in an epic beat down of the Kingpin in front of his fellow inmates in prison.

That part of the plot was awesome but it was over pretty quickly. The tone was perfect, dark side Spidey was compelling and if you have ever been a fan of the character, it wasn’t hard to connect to his grief, emotion and quest for vengeance. Then the other 60 percent of the book ruined it.

For the remainder of Back In Black, Spider-Man acted like his old self while wearing black – cracking jokes, generally being a good lighthearted buddy to his friends. It was just odd how his behavior was, as the story was tied into his quest for vengeance and his total lack of anything other than hardcore justice.

Spidey spends the rest of the book helping Sandman clear his dad from a crime he didn’t commit. This leads to Spidey getting tied up with some new villainous chick made out of spiders, who just wants to get knocked up. It was a very poor rehash of that shitty 90s film Species. Frankly, this was all pointless and unnecessary to the overall tale and point of the Back In Black concept.

The trade paperback then ends with a story called Sandman: Year One, which is moderately interesting but has nothing to do with Back In Black and actually features Spider-Man in his red and blue outfit and not even in the black one. But whatever, the more random stories that Marvel throws in this thing, the more they can charge for it.

Additionally, throughout this book, Aunt May is in critical condition in the hospital. They follow this plot thread but then never reveal if she recovers or not.

If you ever do pick this thing up, read the first five chapters Back In Black 1-5, skip out on the rest of the book and save yourself some time. Unless you want to know why Betty Brant is afraid of toilets.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: Other Spider-Man stories from the Straczynski era.