Wednesday, December 31, 2014


Counting my split of SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #60 into two installments and the White Tiger serial as its own review, I've written a series of more than sixty posts on Roger Stern's Spider-Man, covering the gamut from his early days on SPECTACULAR to his beloved run on AMAZING, including some annuals, a couple guest spots in AVENGERS, and the coda in HOBGOBLIN LIVES and its sequel, "Goblins at the Gate", plus the more recent "Something Can Stop the Juggernaut". That's a lot of material. Other writers have produced more Spider-Man issues than Stern -- Stan Lee, David Michelinie, and Brian Michael Bendis spring to mind off the top of my head -- but few have captured the character, his supporting cast, and his trappings as well.

I figured that, while all these issues are relatively fresh in my mind, I might as well mention some of my favorites. Five seems like a nice, round number. These aren't in any sort of ranking order other than chronological; they're just my personal top five issues from throughout Roger Stern's time with Spider-Man. Some of them probably seem like the safe or obvious choices, but it occurs to me that certain things are obvious for good reason:

Monday, December 29, 2014


Writer: Roger Stern | Artist: Lee Weeks
Color Artist: Dean White | Color Assist: Matt Hollingsworth
Letterer: VC'S Joe Carmanga | Assistant Editor: Tom Brennan | Editor: Stephen Wacker
Executive Editor: Tom Brevoort | Editor-in-Chief: Joe Quesada
Publisher: Dan Buckley | Executive Producer: Alan Fine
Web-Heads: Gale, Kelly, Slott, Van Lente, Waid & Wells

The Plot: As Captain Universe confronts Spider-Man and Juggernaut, an earthquake hits. Spider-Man realizes that the Uni-Power has taken control of Captain Universe so that he can repair damage done to the fault lines beneath New York caused by Juggernaut's escape from the concrete in which Spider-Man had buried him years before. When Captain Universe's vendetta against Juggernaut proves more important to him than accomplishing his mission, the Uni-Force deserts him and possesses Juggernaut instead.

Juggernaut imprisons Spider-Man and William Nguyen, the former Captain Universe host, in an energy sphere, then heads beneath Manhattan to fix the fault line. Meanwhile, Spider-Man uses some ingenuity to get William and himself out of their makeshift prison. But Juggernaut arrives immediately after to finish off William. Spider-Man convinces Juggernaut to spare the young man, and the Uni-Power leaves Juggernaut after he agrees to do so. Juggernaut departs.

A few weeks later, William has become a minor celebrity, having written a book about his experiences with Juggernaut and the Uni-Force.

Sunday, December 28, 2014


Merry Christmas to all! It's been a busy couple months for me, but there's always time to unbox a new shipment of books. First up this month is something we actually already covered a couple weeks back, DANGER GIRL: MAYDAY -- so I won't waste any time talking about it here. A full review of this story, as well as all the other Danger Girl installments to date, is available on the DANGER GIRL reviews page.

Marvel, meanwhile, brings me two books this month: One is INVADERS: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION volume 2, the second and final volume in the series. Now, along with Volume 1, all of the original INVADERS series from the seventies is collected. These World War II adventures of Captain America and his cohorts are stories I've wanted to read for quite a while, so I may crack these two open sooner rather than later.

Lastly is the X-MEN: INFERNO PROLOGUE volume. As I've noted in the comments to my X-Men Collected Editions chart, this welcome book fills in a notable gap in the Chris Claremont X-Men canon, as well as covering several issues each of X-FACTOR and NEW MUTANTS. And it's an oversize hardcover to boot, something which has become rarer and rarer for the X-Men these past couple years!

And that's a wrap on a year's worth of Unboxings. What will 2015 bring? I know of a few items, which I've already pre-ordered, but for the most part I'm eager to find out which classic collections will come my way next.

Friday, December 26, 2014


I mentioned this in the comments on my X-MEN COLLECTED EDITIONS page a while back, but now we have enough information for a real post: Coming in July, filling a gaping hole in Marvel's oversize hardcover X-Men collections, is the long-awaited, highly anticipated ONSLAUGHT OMNIBUS:

Merry belated Christmas to all, says Marvel! The Collected Editions page will be updated with this info in the near future.


Written and Illustrated by Charles Vess
Lettered by Gaspar Saldino | Edited by Jim Salicrup
Editor-in-Chief, Tom DeFalco

Well, it's the day after Christmas, but I thought I'd talk a little bit about a Christmas present I received some time back. SPIRITS OF THE EARTH, an original graphic novel from Marvel, was published in 1990. I'm not absolutely sure that I got it that year; it could've just as easily been '91 or maybe even '92.

I do, however distinctly recall the circumstances under which I received it. I was at the local comic shop (Flying Colors in Concord, California) and my mom was with me, and I saw the book on one of the shelves. It seemed to call to me. Even back then, apparently, I was a hardcover comic book snob, because the fact that the book was a nice sturdy volume was the first thing that drew me to it. Here was a comic book, starring Spider-Man -- but in hardcover format! Surely it had to be something far more special and wonderful than any old issue of his monthly series, right?

I wanted it then, but I didn't have the money for it and the $18.95 cover price was a bit much for an impulse buy from my mom. But apparently she kept it in her mind even as it drifted from mine. I moved onto other things, but come Christmas morning of that year (be it 1990, '91, or '92), SPIRITS OF THE EARTH was under the tree waiting for me. I read it right there on Christmas Day and, at the time, I really liked it.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014


Writer: Roger Stern | Artist: Lee Weeks
Color Artist: Dean White | Letterer: VC'S Joe Carmanga
Assistant Editor: Tom Brennan | Editor: Stephen Wacker
Executive Editor: Tom Brevoort | Editor-in-Chief: Joe Quesada
Publisher: Dan Buckley | Executive Producer: Alan Fine
Web-Heads: Gale, Kelly, Slott, Van Lente, Waid & Wells

The Plot: Captain Universe announces his intention to kill Juggernaut, then hurls him out of the armory with Spider-Man hanging on for the ride. The captain pursues, but Spider-Man attacks him to keep the still-unconscious Juggernaut safe. Captain Universe flies around the city trying to be rid of the web-slinger, while Juggernaut comes around and goes in search of his foes.

Captain Universe leaves Spider-Man in a construction yard and heads under the Earth's surface, beckoned by the Uni-Force to repair a fault line. But when Juggernaut reaches the yard, Cap abandons his mission and returns to the surface to finish his vendetta against the unstoppable villain.

The Sub-Plots: None to be found this issue.

Continuity Notes: While Spider-Man and Captain Universe skirmish inside Juggernaut's cell, the video screen outside shows Juggernaut still unconscious with nobody nearby, thanks to the wall-crawler setting the security camera on a loop last issue.

Monday, December 22, 2014


Writer: Roger Stern | Artist: Lee Weeks
Color Artist: Dean White | Letterer: VC'S Joe Carmanga
Assistant Editor: Tom Brennan | WHAM!ed: Stephen Wacker
Editor-in-Chief: Joe Quesada
Publisher: Dan Buckley | Executive Producer: Alan Fine
Web-Heads: Gale, Kelly, Slott, Van Lente, Waid & Wells

The Plot: Peter Parker suffers an intense blast of spider-sense while on a date, and ducks out to investigate. Following the danger to its source, he finds the Juggernaut, fallen from the sky, crash-landed in Central Park. Before the web-slinger can investigate, the police arrive and Juggernaut is taken into custody. Later that night, Spider-Man finds a car parked atop a large structure in Washington Square. The vehicle's drunk driver tells Spider-Man he was deposited there by a blue-and-white figure.

The next day, Spider-Man infiltrates the Inwood Armory in Upper Manhattan, where the Juggernaut is being held. He questions the villain about his current state, and Juggernaut also cites a blue-and-white "flying guy" as the cause of his crash-landing in the park. Then, as if on cue, the all-powerful Captain Universe appears, declaring his intention to destroy Juggernaut.

The Sub-Plots: At the story's start, Peter is on a date with Carlie Cooper, a CSI investigator. They have a second date later in the issue, which is how Peter learns where Juggernaut is being held. Also, Carlie and Peter discuss the fact that Peter recently lost his job at Front Line, the newspaper which replaced the Daily Bugle when the latter ceased publication.

Sunday, December 21, 2014


Let me preface this by saying that I love Ron Frenz. He's a great artist; one of my favorites. But nonetheless, I found this very funny. From the Ron Frenz "How To Draw A Mystery Story" playbook:

And, hey -- note that after Peter/Spider-Man, Roderick Kingsley is seen strokin' the ol' stubble more than anyone else in the story! The biggest clue was hidden right in front of us all along!

Friday, December 19, 2014


Script: J.W. Rinzler | Art: Mike Mayhew
Colors: Rain Beredo | Lettering: Michael Heisler | Cover Art: Nick Runge

Nearly a year ago, when I began to cover the CLASSIC STAR WARS newspaper strip collections, I noted that I often enjoy, as a curiosity, licensed fiction based on well-known properties before their mythologies were set in stone. They give you an interesting look at what could have been, if creative decisions had gone in different directions. In a way, THE STAR WARS is almost a retroactive version of these sorts of situations.

The premise of THE STAR WARS is simply: what if George Lucas's original draft screenplay had been produced as a movie? There's a lot different in Lucas's earliest conception of his saga: Luke Skywalker is a veteran Jedi general. Han Solo is an alien. Darth Vader is just an Imperial agent -- not even a Sith, though the dark Jedi cult does play a role in the story.

Providing this adaptation of the draft script are writer J.W. Rinzler and artist Mike Mayhew. Rinzler is known for his extensively researched MAKING OF STAR WARS books -- the first of which covers the evolution of Lucas's original idea into the film it would ultimately become -- so he seems a reasonable and even obvious choice to write the story. I'm not certain how much actual creative work Rinzler did though, since this is ostensibly adapted from an already-existing script. I'm sure some polish must've been involved in the process, but there's no real way of telling how much has been changed.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


Writer: Roger Stern | Pencils: Val Semeiks | Inks: Mike Getty
Colors: Andres Mossa | Letters: Jared K. Fletcher
Assistant Editor: Tom Brennan | Editor: Steve Wacker
Executive Editor: Tom Brevoort | Editor-in-Chief: Joe Quesada
Publisher: Dan Buckley | Executive Producer: Alan Fine
Webheads: Gale, Slott, Guggenheim, Waid & Kelly

The Plot: Peter Parker stops by Aunt May's house to spend the anniversary of her wedding to Uncle Ben with her. As they sit and reminisce, May tells Peter for the first time the story of how she met Ben in Atlantic City when she was eighteen years old. Ben was on leave from the army and they spent time together, but eventually Ben returned to service and May met another man, a gangster named Johnny Jerome. When Ben returned from the service he found May with Johnny and trailed the hood, learning that he was a criminal. Johnny was eventually arrested and May and Ben wound up together.

Early in their marriage, the couple faced a challenge when May miscarried and the doctor discovered she suffered from a cardiac defect which, at the time, was irreparable. But May and Ben persevered and looked after young Peter when his parents, Ben's brother Richard and his wife Mary, left the country. The couple took Peter in as their own when Richard and Mary were killed.

In the modern day, Peter and Aunt May share a toast as Peter realizes he still knows so little about his late uncle. May discusses her relationship with her new fiance, Jay Jameson, then Peter departs to head home.

Monday, December 15, 2014


Co-Plotter: Roger Stern | Co-Plotter/Scripter: Glenn Greenberg
Penciler: Luke Ross | Inks: Al Milgrom
Letters: RS&Comicraft's Liz Agraphiotis | Colors: John Kalisz
Green Goblin: Ralph Macchio | Hobgoblin: Bob Harras

The Plot: The Green Goblin prevents the Hobgoblin from unmasking Spider-Man. Grabbing both the web-slinger and Daniel Kingsley, the goblins return to Norman Osborn's waterfront hideout, where Osborn reveals that he already knows who Spider-Man is, then gets the Hobgoblin to admit that there never was any surviving journal. After showing the Hobgoblin paperwork stating that Osborn has already taken control of Kingsley Limited, Osborn declares that he no longer needs the Hobgoblin around. This prompts Hobgoblin to attack Osborn.

Meanwhile, Spider-Man comes around and breaks free of his bonds. He tussles with the Green Goblin, unmasking him and forcing him to retreat. The wall-crawler then carries Daniel Kingsley out of Osborn's warehouse, which has gone up in flames thanks to some errant pumpkin bombs from the Hobgoblin's bag. Spider-Man returns to separate Osborn and the Hobgoblin, but Osborn manages to escape. The warehouse collapses on Spider-Man and Hobgoblin, and when the webhead emerges from the wreckage, he finds that his foe has gotten away.

Days later, Roderick Kingsley relaxes on a beach in the Caribbean, reflecting on the trouble he caused himself by reassuming the mantle of the Hobgoblin. He now plans to live off his secret Swiss bank accounts, anyplace he can find without extradition treaties.

Sunday, December 14, 2014


Even though they were published over a decade after Stern left AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, I consider the entirety of HOBGOBLIN LIVES and the subsequent "Goblins At the Gate" storyline in SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN to be an essential coda to Stern's original run with the character, tying up, as they do, the biggest loose end mystery from those previous stories. Stern did a bit more work for the Spider-Man office around this time, but nothing as integral as those stories, and therefore the remaining contemporaneous issues aren't anything I consider necessary in order to get the full "Roger Stern on Spider-Man" experience. The real meat is the original SPECTACULAR/AMAZING run, after all; the subsequent Hobgoblin stories are, as noted, merely an epilogue.

However, about ten more years later, in 2009, Stern returned to Marvel again, accepting a few odd Spider-Man assignments once more. And while the majority of these stories are fun reads, once again very few relate in any major way to Stern's previous time with the wall-crawler... with the exception of two. First up is a short story from AMAZING SPIDER-MAN FAMILY #7, picking up a stray thought from Aunt May in AMAZING #238, and explaining its context. The second tale is a sequel to one of Stern's best remembered Spider-Man adventures, as the wall-crawler learns that "Something Can Stop the Juggernaut" in AMAZING issues 627 - 629.

Since both these stories relate, in some way, to Stern's original Spider-Man run, I've made the eleventh hour decision to include them in my review series after all. I won't go as in-depth as I did previously with regards to categories like "Also On Sale This Month", and I won't delve into the letter columns or provide copious continuity notes -- but I figure these stories are worth at least touching upon.

So, originally my plan was to provide a sort of "Afterword" to my Stern review series this Wednesday. But instead I'm going to save that for a couple weeks. Meaning, after tomorrow's "Goblins at the Gate" conclusion, we'll continue with Stern's Spider-Man through the holidays and up to the end of the year, devoting some time to a few of Stern's final issues to date starring the wondrous web-slinger, which tie back to his original run on AMAZING all those years ago.

Then, on New Year's Eve, the afore-mentioned Afterword will make its appearance to cap off the entire series.

Friday, December 12, 2014


Over the summer I posted a series of reviews on all DANGER GIRL mini-series to date. But as those reviews were underway, the latest DG series was being released monthly. The trade paperback just came out a couple weeks back, so I figure I should put a bow on 2014's "Summer of Danger Girl" with one more, slightly delayed post:

Written by Andy Hartnell | Pencils by John Royle
Inks by Jose Marzan, Jr. & Eeshwar | Letters by Neil Uyetake
Colors by Romulo Fajardo & Ronda Pattinson | Edits by Scott Dunbier
Danger Girl Created By J. Scott Campbell & Andy Hartnell

MAYDAY is another stylistically different Danger Girl series, and it's nice to see Andy Hartnell continue to try new approaches rather than stick to the same old formula. He's written these characters through nine limited series plus an assortment of one-shots over the past fifteen years, comprising more than forty issues now, so some variety at this point is appreciated. In this case, the entire series focuses on Natalia Kassle, with the Danger Girls only appearing in the final issue as minor background characters.

The story begins "years ago" as Hammer Island explodes, circa the conclusion of the original DANGER GIRL series. Not far from the island, a group of mercenaries led by one April Mayday are attempting to hijack a Hammer supply ship when a bunch of debris falls from the sky. Among the projectiles is Natalia, near death following her final confrontation with Abbey. Mayday resuscitates Natalia and takes her to a tropical island to recover.

We then skip to the present day, where Natalia's physical rehabilitation is complete -- but she has no memory of her past. Mayday, having spent the past few years researching Natalia, fills in what blanks she can and recruits Natalia into her mercenary troupe. She presents the team as a benevolent force working to recover experimental nerve gas before it can be used on Natalia's homeland, Russia (in actuality they're after the gas, presumably, to sell it for a profit). Natalia assists the mercs in tracking the gas down, first by hunting an ex-KGB agent in Moscow and then traveling to Africa, where the gas is being shipped. But Anastasia Kilbourne, villainess of THE CHASE, is after the gas too -- and so are Abbey and the Danger Girls (assisted by Dallas, Sonya's bounty from TRINITY).

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


Co-Plotter: Roger Stern | Co-Plotter/Scripter: Glenn Greenberg
Penciler: Luke Ross | Inks: Al Milgrom
Letters: RS&Comicraft's Liz Agraphiotis | Colors: John Kalisz
Not the Karate Kid: Ralph Macchio | Chief: Bob Harras

The Plot: After breaking him out of prison, Norman Osborn brings Roderick Kingsley with him back to Manhattan. Meanwhile, Spider-Man spends the night searching for the Green Goblin and Kingsley, but turns up nothing.

The next day, Kingsley and Osborn make a deal: Kingsley will provide the journal which proves Osborn was the Green Goblin, as well as manipulate the stockholders of his company to turn the entire conglomerate over to Osborn, in exchange for safe passage out of the country. Osborn agrees, and provides Kingsley with a Hobgoblin costume and gear to carry out his mission. The journal is in the custody of Kingsley's brother, Daniel, who is being held by the police at the Big Apple Hotel while waiting to testify against Roderick.

The Hobgoblin raids the hotel, but Spider-Man arrives to save Daniel. They struggle as equals until the Green Goblin arrives and knocks Spider-Man out with a tranquilizer dart. Amid the hotel room's wreckage, the Hobgoblin prepares to unmask Spider-Man.

Monday, December 8, 2014


Co-Plotter: Roger Stern | Co-Plotter/Scripter: Glenn Greenberg
Penciler: Luke Ross | Inks: Al Milgrom
Letters: RS&Comicraft's Liz Agraphiotis | Colors: John Kalisz
"Editor": Ralph Macchio | Cause of Gray Hairs: Bob Harras

The Plot: Norman Osborn, back from an extended stay in Europe, is making the rounds on television to promote his new book, "Survivor of the Big Lie", which explains that he is not and never was the Green Goblin. Meanwhile, Roderick Kingsley sits in prison, fully aware that Osborn's claims are a lie and he is indeed an insane supervillain. Kingsley tells his attorney that he has one remaining Osborn journal hidden away, which will reveal the truth about Osborn. Kingsley's attorney informs the district attorney's office of this fact, and word eventually reaches Osborn himself.

As Kingsley is removed from Great Neck Maximum Security Prison for a meeting with the D.A., the Green Goblin strikes and kidnaps him. However Peter Parker and Betty Leeds are nearby, tipped off about the meeting, and Peter slips away to change into Spider-Man. He has a brief scuffle with the Goblin, but the villain escapes with Kingsley.

Some distance from the prison, the Goblin lands and reveals that he is not Norman Osborn when Osborn appears to confront Kingsley.

Sunday, December 7, 2014


I think I've established over the past few days that, despite my love for HOBGOBLIN LIVES, it could've been better. My chief issue with the story is that it feels rushed, like there's just too much to it to cram into three issues. Now, I fully accept that three issues may have been the length Roger Stern wanted, and is probably what he pitched to Marvel. And I understand that Marvel was in some choppy financial straits at the time, so three issues was probably all they were willing to budget for this niche vanity project anyway. So I won't second-guess anyone's thinking with regards to what we ultimately received. As I've said, I like the finished product. I still enjoy reading it from time to time, sixteen years later. But that doesn't stop me from speculating on another format and other ideas to beef it up, to make it feel like the true "event" it should have been.

A little more than a year ago, when Not Blog X reviewed HOBGOBLIN LIVES, I suggested in a comment that the series could have been better served as a twelve-issue maxi-series. Specifically, I was thinking of BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN, which launched, over at DC, around the same time as HOBGOBLIN LIVES. LONG HALLOWEEN is a thirteen-issue murder mystery set over the course of one year in Batman's life. But while the series' killings occur regularly, one on a holiday in every installment, they are not always the main plot of a given issue. Readers might see Batman tangling with the Joker or the Mad Hatter even as the "Holiday Killer" is busy in the background. I propose that this format would have served HOBGOBLIN LIVES tremendously well.

Friday, December 5, 2014


Writer: Simon Furman
Pencilers: Andrew Wildman, Geoff Senior, & Guido Guidi
Inks: Stephen Baskerville & Geoff Senior | Colorist: John-Paul Bove
Letterer: Chris Mowry | Editor: John Barber
Editor-in-Chief: Chris Ryall

Cover by Andrew Wildman
The Plot: Rodimus's forces return to Cybertron to find it changed, corrupted and haunted by shadow creatures who can kill with a touch. The Dinobots still live, and explain that this happened near instantaneously. Rodimus realizes that Primus, who he now believes to be the dark Matrix energy, is behind everything. He goes to confront Primus while sending the rest of his team to track down Galvatron.

Ultra Magnus and company find Galvatron has taken the space bridge to Nebulos. They pursue him there, where Magnus finally kills him. Fortress Maximus, also now on Nebulos, attempts to kill Magnus, but is stopped by the arrival of a second Autobot team, led by Prowl, which had traveled to Earth looking for Galvatron, joined by human forces.

Meanwhile, Rodimus reaches the Primus chamber and is transported to Zero Space, where he confronts the dark Matrix creature and fights Optimus Prime, summoned and possessed to attack him. Rodimus uses the sword of Primus to finish the creature off, sealing it into Zero Space forever. Optimus dies, and Rodimus and Spike return to the real world.

We return to the far future, where Rodimus reflects on the fact that after the corrupted Matrix energy was destroyed, all violence seemed to leave the Transformer race. They then traveled the stars, spreading peace wherever they went -- even Starscream and Shockwave. And the human and Nebulan races joined forces as well, rebuilding together.

Finally Rodimus dies, and in his place a plant-robot organism springs into existence.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014


Writer: Roger Stern | Artists: Ron Frenz & Bob McLeod
Letterer: Jim Novak | Colorist: Christie Scheele
Editors: Glenn Greenberg & Tom Brevoort | Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

The Plot: As Spider-Man swims back to the surface of the East River, the Hobgoblin kidnaps Betty from her apartment and takes her to his lair. He finds a spider-tracer in her purse and another in her locket, and gives both to Roderick Kingsley with instructions to dispose of them. The goblin then brings Betty around and asks about the notes she claims will exonerate Ned. Betty agrees to provide the notes only if the Hobgoblin will grant an "exclusive interview".

While Spider-Man chases both tracers across town, the Hobgoblin explains to Betty that he met Ned after emerging from the Hudson River following his battle with Spider-Man years before. The goblin captured Ned and drugged and brainwashed him, using him to form a partnership with Ned's old friend, Richard Fisk -- the Kingpin's son and the man who would become the crimelord called the Rose. The goblin then worked with the Rose for some time before growing bored of his criminal life. He used Ned as a stand-in more often than not and eventually decided to retire from his life as the Hobgoblin. Setting Ned up one final time, the goblin tipped Jason Macendale off to Ned's "true" identity and whereabouts and let Macendale do the rest. The man behind the Hobgoblin's mask then retired back to his civilian life.

Monday, December 1, 2014


Writer: Roger Stern | Artists: Ron Frenz, Jerome Moore & Scott Hanna
Letterer: Jim Novak | Colorist: Joe Andreani
Editors: Glenn Greenberg & Tom Brevoort | Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

The Plot: While the Hobgoblin plots with Roderick Kingsley, Jonah Jameson screens security footage of Jason Macendale's death to the Daily Bugle's top reporters, then sends them off on the Hobgoblin's trail. However, despite Betty's request to be included in the investigation, Jameson orders her to remain sidelined.

Having witnessed Betty's argument with Jameson, Peter Parker changes to Spider-Man and catches up with her outside the Bugle, offering his assistance in clearing Ned. He then runs into Flash Thompson arguing with Jacob Conover on the street, and recruits Flash as well.

Meanwhile, as Kingsley and Osborn's Donald Menken plan a takeover of Osborn Industries by Kingsley International, George Vandergill calls Menken and attempts to force himself into the deal. Later that night, the Hobgoblin destroys Vandergill's manufacturing plant, killing forty people, including Vandergill himself, while the magnate is on the phone with Senator Bob Martin.

The next day, Peter, Mary Jane, Flash, and Betty go over several potential angles on the Hobgoblin and decide to investigate the men he attempted to blackmail years before. Equipped with spider-tracers provided by their ally, Spider-Man, the group splits up. Peter speaks with Ben Urich about Roxxon, the Brand Corporation, and Jonas Harrow, which leads him to suspect Jacob Conover, who had a rivalry with Ned over chasing down corporate corruption years before.

Sunday, November 30, 2014


Delayed slightly but worth the wait, it's time for November's "Unboxing"!

First up this month, from DC, is BATMAN ADVENTURES, volume 1. I had originally passed on this book because I thought it was a reissue of a trade I already owned from the nineties, containing the first five issues of the series, but then later I learned it actually contains twice that number, BATMAN ADVENTURES #1 - 10.

I've made no secret of my love of BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES, and I think I've noted before that BATMAN ADVENTURES, which told original stories based on B:TAS, was pretty much the only ongoing DC series I read regularly growing up. I hope DC commits itself to collecting all of BATMAN ADVENTURES in trade, and moreso, I hope they will follow it up with THE BATMAN AND ROBIN ADVENTURES and BATMAN: GOTHAM ADVENTURES, the subsequent series which followed. At the very least, BATMAN ADVENTURES volume 2 has already been solicited, so that's a step in the right direction.

Friday, November 28, 2014


Writer: Simon Furman | Breakdowns: Guido Guidi | Finisher: Stephen Baskerville
Colorist: John-Paul Bove | Letterer: Chris Mowry | Editor: John Barber
Editor-in-Chief: Chris Ryall

Cover by Andrew Wildman
The Plot: In Zero Space, Primus appears to Spike in the form of his brother, Buster, informing him that he is "the Trinity" -- a perfect fusion of human, Cybertronian, and Nebulan.

Meanwhile, Jhiaxus attempts to convince Rodimus Prime to join him, but Rodimus refuses. The Wreckers travel through the Hub, demolishing it from within, while Starscream orders Shockwave to attack it from without. As Jhiaxus's men counterattack, Rodimus escapes and frees his fellow Autobots, and Starscream, now fully possessed by the Underbase, attacks Jhiaxus and destroys his physical body. Starscream reverts to normal and is rescued by Shockwave.

On Cybertron, the proto-Transformers seal themselves into protective cocoons while the Dinobots watch. On Earth, G.B. Blackrock attempts to repair Optimus Prime while Linda Chang readies an assault team to enter the space bridge and rescue Spike. But inside the main space bridge hub on Cybertron, Galvatron attacks and kills the technicians in charge.

Finally, the dark Matrix energy which once possessed the Deathbringer rises on Cybertron.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


Writer: Roger Stern | Artists: Ron Frenz & George Pérez
Letterer: Jim Novak | Colorist: Christie Scheele
Editors: Glenn Greenberg & Tom Brevoort | Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

The Plot: As Jason Macendale, the second Hobgoblin, stands trial for his various crimes, Peter Parker and Betty Leeds find themselves recalling that Betty's husband Ned was unmasked as the original Hobgoblin years before -- a fact known almost exclusively to the two of them.

Following a guilty verdict, as he is escorted from the courthouse, Macendale informs gathered reporters that he had the original Hobgoblin killed and took his place, fingering Betty as the goblin's widow. Peter saves Betty from a rampage of reporters looking for comment, then changes to Spider-Man and gets the full story from her.

Later, a mysterious man breaks into Great Neck Maximum Security Prison and makes his way to Macendale's cell. Announcing himself as the true original Hobgoblin, this stranger tells Macendale that he only allowed him to play Hobgoblin for as long as it amused him. But he is no longer amused, and kills Macendale in his cell before departing the prison and changing into the costume of the Hobgoblin.

Later still, the Hobgoblin confronts his one-time partner, Roderick Kingsley, and informs him that their relationship is about to begin again.

Monday, November 24, 2014


After Roger Stern left AMAZING SPIDER-MAN in 1984, Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz continued as the creative team, and furthered the Hobgoblin storyline. But internal editorial politics eventually forced them off the series, and soon thereafter the Hobgoblin was posthumously unmasked as Ned Leeds, who had been killed off a few months before the revelation. Jason Macedale, Jack O'Lantern, then took over as the new Hobgoblin.

Spider-Man's living black costume eventually escaped and was replaced by a cloth version which the wall-crawler wore for a few more years, as well. The alien costume, of course, went on to become one half of Spidey's foe, Venom. Shortly after the Hobgoblin reveal and shortly before the end of the black costume and debut of Venom, Marvel made the controversial decision to marry Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson in 1987's AMAZING SPIDER-MAN ANNUAL.

Uncle Rog Speaks: "The only way the writers were able to keep that marriage going on the printed page for as long as they did was by changing who Pete and MJ were, by turning them into different people. And a lot of talented writers worked on Spider-Man during that period, doing their best, but that marriage never quite worked for to me. It was like hearing about two old friends who'd run off and made this terrible mistake."

Sunday, November 23, 2014


This book, as I noted way back when I began the Stern reviews, is one titanic tome. It's almost 1,300 pages long and weighs over seven pounds! We've already spent the better part of a year on the issues collected within, so now I'd like to briefly touch on the quality of the book itself.

The Omnibus is edited by the great Cory Sedlmeier, Marvel's Masterworks guru. Due to Sedlmeier's involvement, the reproduction on these issues is tremendous. On the occasions where I read an issue then went into my Marvel Unlimited app to snag screen captures of various panels, the difference was night and day. Without a doubt, this book is the best these issues have ever looked and will ever look. Another benefit to Sedlmeier's involvement is that, as with all Omnibus volumes he has personally overseen, the letters pages for every issue are included. And not only are all the published pages there -- Sedlmeier actually found a SPIDER'S WEB column for AMAZING #238, which was put together more than thirty years ago but wound up not seeing print at the time, and included that in the book as well!

Friday, November 21, 2014


Writer: Simon Furman | Breakdowns: Guido Guidi | Finisher: Stephen Baskerville
Colorist: John-Paul Bove | Letterer: Chris Mowry | Editor: John Barber
Editor-in-Chief: Chris Ryall

Cover by Andrew Wildman
The Plot: Under the command of Rodimus Prime, an Autobot fleet assaults Jhiaxus's hub. Using data gleaned from a drone, Nightbeat attempts to destroy the hub, but though his plan should work, it fails. Jhiaxus reveals he had planned for this, and initiates a counterattack. Rodimus Prime is forced to surrender.

On Earth, the space bridge is activated, but Fortress Maximus emerges, rather than the expected Nebulan delegation. Fort Max blasts Optimus Prime and grabs Spike, then re-enters the space bridge.

Meanwhile, the Ark arrives at the Hub undetected thanks to Starscream, who is not acting like himself. He notes that there are four, but one more is needed and he requires Shockwave's help to find that one. Starscream somehow disconnects Shockwave from the Ark's systems and returns him to his normal body. While on Cybertron, the Unicron cult brings Galvatron before Primus.

G1 Continuity: No continuity nods this issue, other than Kup invoking Springer's line, "I've got better things to do tonight than die!"

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


Plot: Roger Stern | Script: Tom DeFalco
Pencil Breakdowns: Ron Frenz | Finished Art: Brett Breeding
Letters: Joe Rosen | Colors: Glynis Wein | Editor: Danny Fingeroth
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: One week after disappearing into the huge alien structure in Central Park, Spider-Man emerges from it in a new black costume, with Dr. Curt Connors in tow. After returning Connors to his family, the web-slinger catches up on his personal life as Peter Parker and patrols the city in his new outfit. While out and about, he bumps into a pair of quarreling teens and takes them up above the city, letting them see the environment, good and bad, that they take for granted.

The Sub-Plots: Spider-Man's black costume is somehow alive, responding to his thoughts by disappearing and changing into street clothes when necessary.

Despite having taken several photos of his adventures on Battleworld, Peter decides that he can't sell them to any respectable newspaper or magazine, both because Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four advised all the kidnapped heroes to keep their adventure a secret from the general public and because the photos are simply too unbelievable to be taken seriously.

Peter also gives Aunt May a call to check in and agrees to join Nathan and her for Sunday dinner.

Monday, November 17, 2014


Plot: Roger Stern | Script: Tom DeFalco
Pencil Breakdowns: Ron Frenz | Finished Art: Klaus Janson
Letters: Joe Rosen | Colors: Christie Scheele | Editor: Danny Fingeroth
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: Spider-Man and the Hobgoblin continue their fight within the goblin's burning warehouse as firefighters battle the blaze outside. Hobgoblin gets the drop on the spider-senseless wall-crawler, subduing him and escaping the scene in his battle van. But Spide-Man grabs hold of the fleeing vehicle and eventually makes it inside for a rematch with his foe. As the van rockets through the city under control of an auto-guidance system, Spider-Man's spider-sense returns, allowing him to turn the tables and stun the Hobgoblin. But when the van drives into the Hudson River and begins taking on water, Spider-Man is forced to evacuate. He dives back into the water to search for the Hobgoblin, but finds only his mask drifting to the surface.

Later, Peter Parker has dinner with Harry Osborn and assures him that all proof his father was the Green Goblin was destroyed in the warehouse fire. After Harry leaves, Peter suffers an agonizing blast of spider-sense and follows it to the Sheep Meadow in Central Park, where an enormous futuristic structure has appeared. The web-slinger is drawn to the bizarre edifice and as soon as he enters it, he vanishes.

The Sub-Plots: Jonah Jameson, having printed his confession regarding his role in the Scorpion's creation in the Daily Bugle, steps down as the newspaper's editor-in-chief, turning the job over to former city editor Robbie Robertson.

Sunday, November 16, 2014


I've been quiet around here the past couple Sundays, and the trend continues today. Originally November's "The Unboxing" was to go up, but it's been delayed as my wife and are moving this weekend to our new home. I lived eight years in my condo, but after getting married we started looking for a place of our own, and eventually we found it. So I'm spending the weekend hauling things from one town to another, and "The Unboxing" has been placed on hold, ironically, as I find myself boxing and unboxing pretty much all our belongings.

I hope to have November's "Unboxing" up by month's end. In the meantime, your regularly scheduled Spider-Man and Transformers posts will continue to appear during the week -- and next weekend will bring a review of the bonus material in the SPIDER-MAN BY ROGER STERN OMNIBUS, as I prepared that post some time back.

Friday, November 14, 2014


Writer: Simon Furman | Breakdowns: Guido Guidi | Finisher: Stephen Baskerville
Colorist: John-Paul Bove | Letterer: Chris Mowry | Editor: John Barber
Editor-in-Chief: Chris Ryall

Cover by Andrew Wildman
The Plot: The Dinobots are displeased that the proto-Transformers have been "reintegrated" into society by way of what is essentially a ghetto. Meanwhile, Rodimus Prime speaks with Jhiaxus, who reveals that he used the power of the Underbase to cyberform multiple worlds into a series of Cybertrons called the Hub. Rodimus declares Jhiaxus a madman, and a fight breaks out.

Elsewhere, Jhiaxus's men attempt to "purge" the proto-Transformers, but the Dinobots step in to defend them and are nearly killed. Ultra Magnus arrives with reinforcements, but Jhiaxus calls for his men and they depart Cybertron. Nightbeat informs Rodimus that Jhiaxus was on-planet long enough for the Autobots to scan him and his men. Armed with this intelligence, Rodimus prepares to strike against Jhiaxus.

Meanwhile, the space bridge between Earth and Nebulos is completed and about to be tested. And on Nebulos, Fortress Maximus is reunited with his head, but goes momentarily berserk upon reactivation. Aboard the Ark Starscream explains to Shockwave that, like him, Jhiaxus is one of "The Five".

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


Writer: Roger Stern | Artists: John Romita, Jr. & Klaus Janson
Letterer: Joe Rosen | Colorist: Christie Scheele | Editor: Danny Fingeroth
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: Spider-Man exits the Century Club, changes back into Peter Parker, and meets up with Harry Osborn inside. Harry informs Peter that the club members have decided not to report the Hobgoblin's extortion scheme to the police.

Later, with no spider-sense to guide him to the tracer planted on Hobgoblin last issue, Spider-Man uses a list of the victims' names provided to Peter by Harry and traverses New York looking for leads, but finds none. Finally he realizes that he can find the tracer with his old receiver device. Peter repairs the receiver and follows it to the Hobgoblin's warehouse, where the two begin a battle which quickly sets fire to the goblin's lair.

The Sub-Plots: Jonah Jameson decides to one-up the Hobgoblin by admitting his culpability in the Scorpion's creation via a Daily Bugle editorial. Spider-Man pulls the editorial from Jameson's typewriter, telling him to keep it to himself, but as soon as the web-slinger leaves Jameson's office, the publisher begins his confession again. On the issue's final page, Jameson gives the manuscript to a copy boy for composing.

Monday, November 10, 2014


Written by: Roger Stern | Breakdowns by: John Romita, Jr. | Finishes by: Dan Green
Letters by: Joe Rosen | Colors by: Bob Sharen | Edited by: Danny Fingeroth
Chiefed by: Jim Shooter

The Plot: While hosting a housewarming party at his new home in New Jersey, Harry Osborn receives a blackmail package from someone aware of his father's identity as the Green Goblin. In Manhattan, Jonah Jameson finds himself with a similar demand. The next day, Harry is accompanied by Peter Parker to the Century Club, where a number of blackmail victims, all wealthy and powerful men, are gathered to meet their blackmailer. Peter waits outside while Harry and the others enter a meeting room to find themselves in the presence of the Hobgoblin. When Jonah and Harry stand up to the goblin, he is revealed as a robotic stand-in. The true Hobgoblin then bursts into the room, having used the robot to ferret out troublemakers, but is attacked by Spider-Man.

Hobgoblin gets the better of Spider-Man by using a gas on him which dulls his spider-sense. Thus incapacitated, the wall-crawler is easily defeated by his foe. As Spider-Man passes out, he attempts to tag the goblin with a spider-tracer, but fails. Hobgoblin prepares to kill Spider-Man, but is stopped by the Kingpin of Crime, another club member. The goblin, unwilling to challenge the Kingpin, departs, unaware that the crime lord has planted the discarded spider-tracer on his glider.

Kingpin brings Spider-Man around with smelling salts and informs the web-slinger that, believing Hobgoblin to be a potential threat to his operations, he has planted the tracer. But unknown to the Kingpin, Spider-Man is unable to follow the tracer's signal without the aid of his spider-sense.

Friday, November 7, 2014


Writer: Simon Furman | Penciler: Guido Guidi | Inker/Finisher: Stephen Baskerville
Colorist: John-Paul Bove | Letterer: Chris Mowry | Editor: John Barber
Editor-in-Chief: Chris Ryall

Cover by Andrew Wildman
The Plot: In the distant future, near the end of his life, Rodimus Prime reflects on the past. And in that past, the Autobots are cleaning up after Bludgeon's attack. Bludgeon himself is still alive, and Rodimus decides to spare him rather than give him the honorable death he expected.

On Earth and Nebulos, Optimus Prime and an Autobot team construct different ends of a space bridge to ferry the surviving human population off-planet. Prime takes a break to join a conference call with Cybertron, and appoints Rodimus the official leader of the Autobots. Rodimus then declares his intention to find and deal with the four loose ends Primus showed him: Jhiaxus, the Deathbringer Matrix energy, Galvatron, and Spike.

Ultra Magnus and some men find Galvatron, but he is taken underground by a cult of Uncron worshippers. Soon after, Jhiaxus arrives on Cybertron, declaring peaceful intentions. Starscream somehow senses his arrival just before it happens.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


Plot: Roger Stern | Script: Bill Mantlo | Penciler: Ed Hannigan
Inker: Jim Mooney | Letterer: Diana Albers | Colorist: George Roussos
Editors: Tom DeFalco & Danny Fingeroth | Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: Milton Farr, publisher of sleazy men's magazines, is kidnapped by mobsters who are aware he has information which could topple the Kingpin. Meanwhile, Peter Parker attends the pre-reunion mixer for Midtown High School's class reunion, where he bumps into former classmates Louie Minelli, now an insurance salesman, and C.J. Vogel, a comedy writer. Peter leaves the mixer and changes to Spider-Man, and as he departs he spots Louie coercing C.J. into delivering a package for him by invoking the name "Remington Colt".

Peter learns that Colt was a pen name for writers working for Farr, and also that Farr has been kidnapped. He follows C.J. on his delivery run and gets in between two rival gangs, both after Farr's dirt on the Kingpin. Spider-Man saves C.J. from the gangs and nurses him back to health as Peter Parker. After C.J. leaves Peter's apartment, Spider-Man heads out to Farr's office, where he finds a hidden safe C.J. had described to Peter. The web-slinger takes a file which would identify C.J. as Remington Colt, then departs to let the police in on the safe's location, which still contains the evidence on the Kingpin.

But Farr finally breaks under pressure, and his captors head for the office to raid the safe. C.J. has headed there as well, to recover the Colt file, and is cornered by Louie. Spider-Man returns from calling the police in time to find one of the gangs holding Louie and C.J. both at gunpoint. The wall-crawler saves them and webs up the gang, but C.J. burns Farr's safe, still believing the Colt file to be inside.

Later, at the Midtown High reunion, C.J. gives a monologue filled with cruel jokes about his former classmates, and the alumni are not amused. Backstage, Peter gives C.J. the Colt file and informs him that Louie has been arrested for his part in recent criminal activities. C.J. evidences his selfishness to Peter, who berates him and walks away.

Monday, November 3, 2014


Writer: Bill Mantlo | Artists: Al Milgrom & Jim Mooney
Letterer: Diana Albers | Colorist: Bob Sharen | Editors: Tom DeFalco & Danny Fingeroth
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter | Gracious Plot Assist: Roger Stern

The Plot: The Hobgoblin finally perfects Norman Osborn's strength enhancement formula in the form of a chemical bath. After immersing himself in it, the villain emerges super-strong. He sets out to test his now power by killing Spider-Man.

The goblin conveniently finds the web-slinger out for an evening constitutional with the Black Cat, and attacks. Spider-Man proves a match for his foe's newfound strength, but when the Cat attempts to offer aid to her love, she spoils his hastily planned trap and allows the Hobgoblin to escape into the night.

The Sub-Plots: Harry and Liz Osborn host a lunch at Central Park's Tavern-on-the-Green, where they announce to their assembled friends -- Peter Parker, Mary Jane Watson, Ned and Betty Leeds, Flash Thompson, and his girlfriend Sha Shan -- that they're expecting a baby.