Published: May 18th, 2017 Written by: Tom DeFalco, Bill Mantlo, Roger Stern Art by: Ron Frenz, Al Milgrom, John Romita Sr., John Romita Jr., Marie Severin, Mike Zeck
Marvel Comics, 266 Pages
One thing that’s been pretty consistent with Spider-Man comics over the years is that there have been great origin stories for the title hero’s major villains.
Origin of the Hobgoblin may seriously take the cake, though, as this is a beefy collection and by the end of it, it’s still not clear who the Hobgoblin is, even though the first few chapters make it obvious and because I read the big reveal years ago.
This collects his first ten or so appearances and even then, his ability to trick and dupe Spider-Man is so damn good that his true identity remains unknown to the hero.
Hobgoblin has always been one of my favorite villains and this just made me love him more and it’s easy to see why he became so popular throughout the ’80s until Venom came along and stole everyone’s thunder for a solid decade.
In this collection, we meet a guy that is pure evil, calculated, smart and able to stay several steps ahead of Spider-Man and his rivals on the crime side of things like The Kingpin. And while Hobgoblin may appear as if he’s simply ripping off Norman Osborn’s Green Goblin persona, which he most definitely is, he also takes the gimmick and improves upon it. Hobgoblin is born out of stealing another man’s legacy but with that, he builds his own, unique identity and he’s still a very different man behind the mask.
The best thing about this collection of issues is the writing. It’s just so damn good and makes me wish that modern mainstream comics could muster up just a tenth of this creativity. The plot is well-structured, layered, unpredictable and not even a wee bit derivative or redundant.
While the year is still young, this is the best comic book that I’ve read so far in 2021.
Rating: 10/10 Pairs well with: other Spider-Man comics of the ’80s, specifically stories involving the Hobgoblin.
Published: October 19th, 2016 Written by: various Art by: various
Marvel Comics, 480 Pages
I’ve been going back and picking up a lot of ’70s Doctor Strange floppy issues, lately. Mainly, I love Marvel’s art style with their fantasy and horror titles from the decade and Doctor Strange had some of the best covers from that time. But after reading a few of the singles issues, I wanted to delve into a much larger chunk, so I gave this huge Epic Collection release a read.
This actually focuses on the end of Doctor Strange’s first solo series, his complete run in Marvel Premiere and then the first handful of issues of his second solo series.
This also features a ton of great artists and writers, as well as adapting some of H.P. Lovecraft’s characters and concepts into the Marvel Universe, beyond what was done in just the Conan titles.
Furthermore, this collection features just about all of the major Doctor Strange villains of the era with a lot of emphasis on Nightmare.
This was, hands down, one of the best Doctor Strange trade paperbacks I have ever read and it only solidified my love for the character from this era. It also kind of made me wish they’d have done something with Strange and Conan back in the ’70s due to the Lovecraftian flavor of this book.
I’ll be in search of other hefty collections of Doctor Strange from the ’70s and early ’80s because this was just damn cool and featured so much imagination and stupendous art. I wish people didn’t sleep on old school Doctor Strange, it’s really, really great stuff.
Rating: 9/10 Pairs well with: other old school Doctor Strange collections, as well as ’70s Marvel fantasy and horror comics.
Published: October 1st, 2014 Written by: Doug Moench, Steven Grant, David Anthony Kraft, Bill Mantlo Art by: Bill Sienkiewicz, Mike Zeck, Keith Pollard, Don Perlin, Jim Mooney, Keith Giffen, Jim Craig, Gene Colan
Marvel Comics, 482 Pages
I’ve always liked Moon Knight but I’ve never read his earliest stories. Being that a Moon Knight television show was just announced, I figured I’d go back and give his first few appearances a read.
He first appeared in a small arc in Werewolf by Night. This collection starts with that story and while its enjoyable in a ’70s Marvel horror pulp kind of way, the Moon Knight character still feels undeveloped.
The rest of this collection does a better job of expanding on him, as well as his trusty sidekick Frenchie.
As this rolls on, it gets more interesting but it doesn’t really find it’s groove until you get to the few issues collected here that were the start of the first ongoing Moon Knight series.
A lot of this is really great to look at and admire, especially the portions where the art was done by Bill Sienkiewicz. Plus, you really see his style evolve just in this short sample size.
This collection is also full of a lot of Moon Knight’s earliest appearances in other titles. There are stories with the old Defenders team, Spider-Man and The Thing.
I’d say that this was a pretty fun comic and it’s neat seeing Moon Knight in his earliest stages but I wouldn’t say that this is a must read. Moon Knight really didn’t hit its stride until his own series was rolling for about a year. But I think I’ll jump into those stories next, as they’re collected in a volume that follows this one.
Rating: 7.25/10 Pairs well with: the Moon Knight – Epic Collection volumes that follow, as well as other late ’70s Marvel comics focused on street level crime.
Published: 1978 – 1980 Written by: Mark Gruenwald, Ralph Macchio, Roy Thomas Art by: Keith Pollard
Marvel Comics, 214 Pages
I guess the actual Eternals vs. Asgard saga ended in the previous volume.
The first issue in this collection deals with the aftermath but then the bulk of the other issues collected deals with Thor talking to Odin’s long lost eyeball. However, the last two issues bring the Celestials back into the mix and we finally see Thor confront them and get their final judgment as to whether or not Earth can continue to exist without the Celestials destroying it.
The highlight of this whole thing was seeing the Destroyer face off against the Celestials in what was really, the first example of how powerful these cosmic beings are. For old school Marvel fans, seeing the Destroyer get ravaged so damn bad is pretty friggin’ incredible.
Now while most of this collection doesn’t really involve the Eternals or the Celestials, it does still tie into all that.
Plus, even though Thor is hanging out with his daddy’s giant floating eyeball, the writing is still solid and it’s a pretty entertaining classic Thor story that hits the right sort of notes.
However, coming off of reading a lot of the earliest Eternals stuff and the first half of The Eternals Saga, I just wanted more of that and because that element was lacking, I feel like calling this “part two” of The Eternals Saga is a bit misleading.
Rating: 7/10 Pairs well with: This collection’s predecessor, as well as Jack Kirby’s The Eternals, which is set before this big saga.
Published: 1978 – 1980 Written by: Roy Thomas Art by: Walt Simonson
Marvel Comics, 203 Pages
After reading Jack Kirby’s The Eternals and it sort of ending abruptly, I had to see where the story picked up. Well, the Eternals and their story shifted over to the regular Thor title where we got to see the most famous Asgardian and his realm mix it up with the Eternals, the Deviants and the Celestials.
I’ve got to say, merging these two pockets of the Marvel universe into one big story that stretched over twenty issues was a really natural fit and a very cool way to up the ante and bring the Eternals into the larger Marvel canon.
Now Jack Kirby wasn’t working on the continuation of the Eternals story once it moved on into the pages of The Mighty Thor but Roy Thomas does a fine job with the story and Walt Simonson’s art felt like a natural extension of what Kirby established.
This is true to the source material that Kirby established and I loved reading this as much as I did the original Eternals title.
Overall, this is an incredibly exciting epic that merges Norse mythology with the cosmic Kirby style in a way that feels seamless and fills the void I felt after The Eternals came to its end.
Rating: 8.25/10 Pairs well with: Jack Kirby’s The Eternals, which is set before this big saga.
Release Date: April 22nd, 2019 (Los Angeles premiere) Directed by: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo Written by: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely Based on:The Avengers by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby Music by: Alan Silvestri Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Pratt, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Paul Rudd, Brie Larson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Chadwick Boseman, Elizabeth Olsen, Tom Holland, Benedict Cumberbatch, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright, Dave Bautista, Zoe Saldana, Josh Brolin, Tom Hiddleston, Benedict Wong, Pom Klementieff, Karen Gillan, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Gwyneth Paltrow, William Hurt, Cobie Smulders, Samuel L. Jackson, Ross Marquand, Jon Favreau, Marisa Tomei, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer, Linda Cardellini, Tessa Thompson, Rene Russo, John Slattery, Tilda Swinton, Hayley Atwell, Natalie Portman, Taika Waititi, Angela Bassett, Frank Grillo, Robert Redford, Ty Simpkins, James D’Arcy, Ken Jeong, Yvette Nichole Brown
Marvel Studios, Walt Disney Studios, 181 Minutes
“You could not live with your own failure, and where did that bring you? Back to me.” – Thanos
*There be spoilers here! But I kept it as minimal as possible.
Here we are… the end.
Well, it’s the end of an era but not the end of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Although, this may be the end for me, as there isn’t much else I’m looking forward to from the MCU after Endgame. Granted, there hasn’t been much news on what’s coming next, either.
But anyway, how was this film? The big, badass finale to a 22 movie franchise?
It was good but it wasn’t anything close to stellar.
My biggest issue with it was that it was a pretty big clusterfuck that had too many parts to try and balance. Where the previous film Infinity War did that just fine, Endgame had so many more extra layers thrown on top of it that it was overkill. I mean every single character that had any sort of significant impact on MCU storylines over 22 films ended up shoehorned into this thing. Even Natalie Portman, who wanted nothing to do with these movies after being in two of them and dialing in a mediocre performance both times.
Also, the time travel element to the story did a bunch of things that didn’t make sense and they also pissed on Back to the Future because it’s easier to shit on a classic (and its fictitious application of quantum physics) than to actually write a coherent time travel story of your own. Endgame opted to go the lazy Doctor Who “timey wimey” route than to concern itself with paradoxes and all that other catastrophic nonsense. They even kill a version of a character from the past and it in no way effects the present version of that same character.
The big battle at the end was the most epic thing that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has done but what should have felt like Marvel’s version of The Return of the King felt more like Ready Player Two. It was a CGI shitfest and I’m not even sure how Spider-Man was web-swinging on a large, open battlefield where the only objects above him were fast moving spaceships going in the opposite of the direction he was swinging in. But whatever, physics is hard, brah.
I liked that this film gave us some closure for some major characters. Granted, I’m not all that happy with what that closure was but like Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr., I’m also very, very tired of this franchise. I feel like Endgame really is a jumping off point for fans that have rode this train for 11 years that feel like they need a break. I feel like I need a break and even if my mind was made up before this film, Endgame really solidified it.
Although, I am a bit excited for whatever happens with the Guardians of the Galaxy and Thor. As for the rest of the characters and their films, I don’t really care. I think I’m only really enthused about cosmic Marvel and not Earth Marvel, at this point.
Almost all of the acting was damn good, especially in regards to Robert Downey Jr., Karen Gillan, Jeremy Renner and Scarlett Johansson.
Brie Larson on the other hand is a fucking charisma vacuum and every time she was on screen, I felt like I was looking at a first time community theater actress trying to play Nurse Ratched. And the Justin Bieber makeover was terrible. That scene where she blew up the ship and floated there, victoriously, just made me yearn for someone, anyone else to be in that role. My brain immediately thought, “Man, imagine if that was Charlize Theron, the theater would’ve just erupted instead of everyone just sitting here sucking loudly on empty soda cups.” I’m not wrong, I rarely ever am.
Anyway, the movie was messy but it had some really good moments. But this isn’t a movie that can stand on its own. You need the previous 21 films for context or all of this would be lost on you. Sure, it’s emotional and some bits are powerful but without 11 years of context, the weight isn’t there. And I prefer to judge films on their own merits as a sole body of work and not as an episode of a TV show or a chapter in a book. But at the same time, there is no way you can recap everything before this, as this film series is now too damn big.
Well, it’s over I guess. In 2008, it was hard imagining this day. But here it is. And I’m tired.
Rating: 7.75/10 Pairs well with: Everything in the MCU before this film, as it all leads up to this one.
Release Date: October 10th, 2017 (Los Angeles premiere) Directed by: Taika Waititi Written by: Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle, Christopher Yost Based on:The Mighty Thor by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Jack Kirby Music by: Mark Mothersbaugh Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Mark Ruffalo, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett, Idris Elba, Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson, Karl Urban, Anthony Hopkins, Taika Waititi, Clancy Brown, Ray Stevenson, Zachary Levi, Sam Neill, Matt Damon (uncredited cameo), Stan Lee (uncredited cameo)
Marvel Studios, Walt Disney Studios, 130 Minutes
“Last time we saw you, you were trying to kill everyone. What are you up to these days?” – Bruce Banner, “It varies from moment to moment.” – Loki
The Thor movies probably get the least amount of respect out of the solo Marvel films. I enjoyed the first two, more so than a lot of Marvel’s stuff. Chris Hemsworth is fantastic, as is Tom Hiddleston. So when I learned that the third movie would also feature a version of the spectacular Planet Hulk storyline, I was super excited. When I learned that it was going to be directed by Taika Waititi (What We Do In theShadows, Flight of the Conchords), my interest went through the roof.
To put it bluntly, this is now my favorite Marvel film. It actually eclipsed the Guardians of the Galaxy movies in both fun and scale. It is hard not to make comparisons between the films, as both Guardians and this Thor movie involve outer space adventures and a real lightheartedness missing in other Marvel pictures. My god, man… this was so much better than the drab and predictable Captain America: Civil War and light-years ahead of those convoluted Avengers pictures. This also had villains that matter and that look cool, unlike Baron Zemo, who was just some guy, or aliens on flying jet skis or killer robots for the nth time.
Chris Hemsworth is absolutely dynamite in this and even though he has been great as Thor, thus far, this is the chapter in the massive Marvel universe where he really just shines and shows that he is not only the coolest Avenger but an actual friggin’ god. This is the film where Thor finally becomes Thor, the King of Asgard, the protector of his people and a guy that can actually take it to the Hulk.
Tom Hiddleston once again kills it as Loki and this is also where his road to redemption comes full circle. Sure, he’s got his tricks up his sleeves but when his big bad evil sister shows up to destroy his home, he can’t not be by his brother’s side when the chips fall.
Having the Hulk in this was also a real treat that just added weight to the actual threat in this film. This is the best that the Hulk has been and the movie really showcases his power and pits him not just against Thor but also Fenris, a kaiju sized wolf, as well as the mountain sized god, Surtur.
Speaking of Surtur, the first part of the film, which deals with Thor besting a weakened Surtur, was really cool. Ultimately, Surtur does appear in his full form by the end of the film. While he is Asgard’s version of the Devil and he brings about Ragnarok, which is Asgard’s version of Armageddon, Thor uses Surtur’s presence in the film to his advantage. I always wondered how they could actually handle and present Surtur in a film and Waititi nailed it perfectly.
Apart from Surtur, we get Cate Blanchett as the evil Goddess of Death, Hela. She is the older sister of Thor and Loki and has been locked away for eons. The death of Odin brings about her release and even united, the brothers cannot defeat her without additional help in the form of a newly assembled team of heroes.
Jeff Goldblum shows up as another villain, the Grandmaster. He runs a planet that has a massive gladiator coliseum. This is where the big fight between Thor and the Hulk goes down. Obviously, the two end up teaming up and taking it to every baddie in the film.
For what Thor: Ragnarok is, which is a fun comic book movie, it couldn’t be more entertaining. It’s really hard for me to give out a perfect 10 score when rating a picture but in the context of superhero movies and for the fact that it is a better Marvel film than both of the Guardians of the Galaxy outings, which both earned a 9, I have to give Thor: Ragnarok a 9.5 out of 10. It will take something quite exceptional to reach a 10 in this genre but maybe Waititi will give us an even better Thor picture in the future. He’s certainly capable of it.
Rating: 9.5/10 Pairs well with: Both Guardians of the Galaxy movies, Thor and Thor: Dark World.