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: The Superior Spider-Man, Vol. 3: No Escape

Published: November 20th, 2013
Written by: Dan Slott, Christos N. Gage
Art by: Humberto Ramos, Giuseppe Camuncoli

Marvel Comics, 139 Pages

Review:

I have been surprised by this series. I wasn’t too keen on the premise and I thought it was way too bizarre to work and was just a shitty attempt at shocking audiences, creating controversy and attempting a cash grab. I mean, it was exactly that but the story, once you move past the absurdity of it, is pretty damn good.

Also, each volume I read is a bit better than the previous one. This gets right into some action and is actually two stories collected into one volume: each story being solid, action packed and fun.

I love this character and how it is such a drastic departure from the Peter Parker Spider-Man. He is a super intelligent vigilante that blackmails the mayor (J. Jonah Jameson, mind you) into supporting his cause publicly and financially (on the city’s dime).

The first story sees Spider-Man take on the Spider Slayer, Vulture, Boomerang and Scorpion on the island prison, the Raft. Obviously, he succeeds but then forces the mayor to give him the Raft to use as his headquarters for his technological war on crime. Spider-Man also gets help from the Lizard in this story.

Then we see Spidey using his tech, giant mecha and foot soldiers in a successful effort at destroying the Kingpin’s stronghold. This brings the new Hobgoblin back into the story, as well as the Green Goblin/Goblin King. Spidey’s weird behavior and blatant fascism brings the modern version of the Wraith into the picture as well. There is even an appearance by Menace, who was a Goblin character that Dan Slott created early in his Spider-Man run.

I’m digging this series a lot more than I thought I would. After finishing this, the last free volume on Comixology, I had to buy the remaining three collections in order to finish this series.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: Other Superior Spider-Man collections and any of Dan Slott’s other Spider-Man titles.

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. 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. 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.