Wednesday, July 30, 2014


A tale tastefully told by our Amazing Spider-Team:
Writer: Roger Stern | Artists: John Romita, Jr. & Pablo Marcos
Letterer: Joe Rosen | Colorist: Glynis Wein | Editor: Tom DeFalco
Seeker of True Happiness: Jim Shooter

The Plot: Spider-Man foils a bank robbery while the Vulture escapes from Bellevue Hospital after a chance meeting with Nathan Lubensky in the physical therapy ward. Vulture goes on a days-long crime spree in the diamond district while hiding out as one of Nathan's fellow tenants in the Restwell Nursing Home.

Eventually Peter Parker shows up at Restwell for lunch with Nathan and Aunt May, and recognizes the Vulture. Peter changes to Spider-Man and fights his winged foe inside the nursing home, but the Vulture eventually escapes after briefly taking Nathan hostage before realizing he considers Nathan a friend and letting him go.

The Sub-Plots: No sub-plots per se, though we do get an appearance by Peter's rival photographer at the Daily Bugle, Lance Bannon, who was introduced to the series about a year earlier by Denny O'Neil and John Romita, Jr.

Monday, July 28, 2014


Story: Roger Stern | Dialogue: Bill Mantlo | Artists: Ed Hannigan & Jim Mooney
Letters: Jean Simek | Colors: Ben Sean | Editor: Tom DeFalco
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: After saving a hapless child from falling to his death while trying to emulate him, Spider-Man arrives at Empire State University, where he spots a mysterious figure breaking into the science building. The wall-crawler moves to investigate and the intruder reveals herself as a villainess named Moonstone. In the ensuing fight, bystander Marcy Kane, working late into the night, is injured. While performing CPR on Marcy, Spider-Man allows Moonstone to escape with a piece of equipment stolen from the lab of Dr. Curt Connors.

Soon after, Spider-Man speaks with Connors about the stolen device, the portable enervator pak, which Moonstone intends to use to supercharge her powers for a crime spree with the ultimate intention of attracting the eye of a potential new employer. Connors provides Spider-Man with a tracking device which allows the web-slinger to track Moonstone down. This time Spider-Man bests his foe, knocking her out and removing the enervator from her before it can, as expected by Connors, harm her. The enervator explodes, Moonstone is captured, and Marcy makes a full recovery at St. Luke's Hospital.

Sunday, July 27, 2014


When I was a youngster, I enjoyed the occasional Marvel comic, mostly Spider-Man stuff. But it was a very casual relationship up until around age 13 or so. I became a regular reader of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN with issue 360, cover dated March of 1992. Only a few months later, I was reintroduced to the larger Marvel Universe when a school friend showed me his copy of THE INFINITY WAR #1, a series somewhat along the lines of SECRET WARS, which I had loved as a child due to the epic scope and the sheer number of superheroes involved. So basically, you could say that I owe my decades of Marvel fandom to Jim Starlin's "Infinity" franchise. I'm sure I would've branched out beyond Spider-Man on my own; I was already familiar with the other Marvel characters -- but INFINITY WAR jump-started that transition.

This book isn't about the THE INFINITY WAR, however -- this Omnibus collects the previous, first series in Starlin's "Infinity" series -- hence, THE INFINITY GAUNTLET OMNIBUS. And while I view WAR as a superior installment, both nostalgically and storywise, THE INFINTY GAUNTLET is nothing to sneeze at -- nor is this book which collects the full epic.

Friday, July 25, 2014


Story: Andy Hartnell
Pencils: Nick Bradshaw w/Jonboy Meyers & Billy Dallas Patton
Digital Inks & Colors: Jim Charalampiois | Letters: Comicraft
Assistant Edits: Kristy Quinn | Edits: Scott Dunbier
Danger Girl Created By J. Scott Campbell & Andy Hartnell

Well, I'm not sure why the series is called BODY SHOTS. No one suffered a blow to the stomach or chest, and nobody drank liquor off of another person. But, misleading name aside, this is another fun outing from the same creative team that brought us BACK IN BLACK. The story is perhaps a bit overly complex and twisty, but the characterizations are fine, the action is exciting, and the artwork is excellent.

The premise this time is that a terrorist named Arthur Franco has acquired a gizmo called the Master Key, which will allow him to detonate any nuclear device on Earth from anyplace he happens to be. He demonstrates this ability to the world by setting off two such explosions. Franco's deranged end goal is to destroy all the world's nuclear weapons, ultimately making it a safer place (the environmental fallout from a planetful of nukes exploding is never mentioned by any character in the story). Abbey and Sydney, with aid from Agent Zero and support from Deuce and Valerie, must track Franco down before he can do any further damage.

Following a teaser sequence set in Japan, the action follows the girls briefly to Australia, where Sydney is buying a house, and then to Madagascar, Italy, and a nondescript location "somewhere in Africa", with the adventure culminating in the United States. Franco's scheme is revealed as a scam, though it turns out he was unaware. He believes the Master Key works, but in reality it's a non-functioning dummy device, while suicide bombers have detonated the missiles for him at the precise moments he has used the Key, as part of a manipulative plot by a corrupt U.S. General. Like I said -- a bit overly complex.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


Writer: Roger Stern | Penciler: Greg LaRocque | Inker: Bob Wiacek
Letterer: Jean Simek | Colorist: Glynis Wein | Editor: Tom DeFalco
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: While attending a demonstration on ways to safely control radioactivity, Midtown High School student Peter Parker is bitten by a radioactive spider. Peter soon realizes that the spider has passed along to him its proportional strength, speed, and agility, as well as an extra-sensory "spider-sense". After building a set of web-shooters to complete his power set, Peter becomes the amazing Spider-Man, a nationwide television sensation. But when his own selfish actions eventually lead to the murder of his beloved Uncle Ben at the hands of a burglar he could have stopped days earlier, Peter learns that "with great power there must also come great responsibility" and leaves his celebrity behind to devote Spider-Man's life to the protection of the innocent.

The Sub-Plots: As a retelling of Spider-Man's origin from 1962's AMAZING FANTASY #15, there are no sub-plots per se in the issue, however Stern does retroactively flesh out certain aspects of the character's history, most notably the fact that Peter Parker's jock rival, Flash Thompson, was also Spider-Man's biggest supporter back in high school; a fact originally added to the character subsequent to his first appearance.

Monday, July 21, 2014


Storytellers: Roger Stern, Ed Hannigan, & Jim Mooney
Letterer: Diana Albers | Colorist: George Roussos | Editor: Tom DeFalco
Grand Vizier: Jim Shooter

The Plot: The Beetle easily outclasses the weakened Spider-Man one-on-one, forcing the webbed wonder to retreat. Beetle kidnaps the Gibbon and departs as well. Later, Beetle sends out word for Spider-Man to meet him at the Kreller Building in Manhattan or the Gibbon will die.

Spidey arrives at the Kreller Building, which Beetle had previously rigged with a revolving roof, to find Gibbon manacled to a large "X". The web-slinger fights Beetle while also trying to free Gibbon. Eventually Spider-Man gets lucky and snaps off one of Beetle's antennae, which overloads his battlesuit and stuns him. Gibbon, now free, decks the Beetle with one punch and receives the public's accolades as Spider-Man heads home to rest.

Sunday, July 20, 2014


Living in the Bay Area, San Diego is only about an eight-hour drive south. And in between my sophomore and junior years of college, I made that pilgrimage for the first time with a couple friends -- Chris, with whom I had attended both middle and high school, and Brian, a friend of Chris's from his college. It was 1999, and it was a simpler time. We bought our con tickets online, but we needn't have bothered -- badges were still on sale at the door when we arrived. The whole affair only took up part of the convention center, which seemed enormous at the time.

That year was my first SDCC, and though it remained relatively small for a few more years, that was the last time it really felt like a comic book convention, in the traditional sense, to me. I bought a ton of back issues while I was there; I was going through a Mark Gruenwald CAPTAIN AMERICA phase and plugged some big holes in that run. I got head sketches from several artists during signings at the Marvel booth, including two of my favorites, Alan Davis (at the time the regular artist and plotter of X-MEN) and Terry Dodson (then the artist on GENERATION X). I also paid for a full-figure commission of Moon Knight from Ron Lim, who has, for as long as I can remember, had the most consistently reasonable convention commission prices of any artist I'm regularly interested in.

Friday, July 18, 2014


Story: Andy Hartnell | Pencils: Nick Bradshaw
Digital Inks & Colors: Jim Charalampiois | Letters: Comicraft
Assistant Edits: Kristy Quinn | Edits: Scott Dunbier
Danger Girl Created By J. Scott Campbell & Andy Hartnell

Following a seven-issue series, a one-shot, a two-issue series, and three more one-shots (including the BATMAN/DANGER GIRL installment which I'm not covering in this project), all published roughly annually between the late nineties and 2004, DANGER GIRL returns in 2006, settling into the format which will become the standard for its continuing adventures: the four-issue limited series. This is also the first DANGER GIRL story in my review series (again excluding BATMAN) written by Andy Hartnell alone, with no credited plot input from series co-creator J. Scott Campbell. And Hartnell accomplishes himself nicely without the aid of his co-plotter.

The story finds Abbey and Sydney dispatched by Deuce to track down the Roadkillers, a motorcycle gang in South Dakota, to recover a stolen Sioux indian artifact called the Black Seed -- a skull dating back to the battle of Wounded Knee, believed to hold the power to resurrect the dead. The girls go undercover as motorcycle enthusiasts, befriending a "biker chick" named Ruby and enlisting the aid of her own gang, the Black Widows, in their mission. The girls learn that the Roadkillers have been hired by a mysterious cabal led by an elderly fellow calling himself "the Gentleman", who is also assisted by former Hammer Empire agents Kid Dynamo and Mr. Giggles. The quest eventually concludes in Boston, where the Black Seed is destroyed, but the Gentleman escapes.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


A Roger Stern/Jim Mooney Production
Principle Photography: J. Strzltski | Titles: Simek Titles Ltd. | Colors: Sharencolor
Director: Thomas DeFalco | Executive Director: James Shooter

The Plot: A documentary TV series called "On The Trail Of..." makes plans for a show about Spider-Man. Their grip operator, Marty Blank, claims to know where to find the web-slinger.

Meanwhile, in New York, the Beetle puts his new armor through its paces in preparation for his upcoming battle with Spider-Man. Beetle's sensors locate the wall-crawling wonder uptown, and he heads out to challenge his quarry. But the documentary crew, aboard a helicopter, finds Spider-Man at the same time. Marty dons a costume and reveals himself as Spider-Man's one-time opponent, the Gibbon, and leaps from the chopper to attack.

Beetle hangs back to observe the fight between Spider-Man and the Gibbon, then, after Spidey defeats his enemy, Beetle topples a brick wall onto the web-slinger then moves in to finish him off.

Monday, July 14, 2014


Writer: Roger Stern | Penciler: John Byrne | Inker: Vince Colletta
Letterer: Jean Simek | Colorist: Ben Sean | Editor: Tom DeFalco
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: At a lab that once belonged to the Tinkerer, the criminal called the Ringer picks up his newly refurbished costume. But another, mysterious villain enters, takes out the Ringer, then leaves the lab with both him and a large crate in tow. Later, the shadowy figure instructs the Ringer to find and battle Spider-Man or he will be blown up by a device attached to his costume.

The Ringer finds Spider-Man web-swinging across the city and challenges him. The wall-crawler trounces the Ringer and leaves for a date, then returns later to finish the villain off. The "explosive device" self-destructs after their fight but proves to be a hoax, leaving the Ringer unharmed.

Later, the mysterious figure, having gathered data on Spider-Man via hidden sensors attached to the Ringer's armor, reveals himself as the Beetle and announces his plans to challenge Spider-Man.

Sunday, July 13, 2014


It's a chunky Marvel month hereabouts. First off is a biggie, the INFINITY GAUNTLET OMNIBUS. I've been waiting for this for years, ever since Marvel's Omnibus program started up in earnest. I figured it could be only a matter of time, especially as they started getting into the more obscure old crossovers, before they reached this storyline, a favorite from my youth. Watch for a full-length review of this book coming soon.

Next up are two trades collecting a large segment of Roger Stern's AVENGERS run: AVENGERS EPIC COLLECTION: JUDGMENT DAY, which contains issues 278 - 285, plus assorted odds and ends, and AVENGERS: THE LEGACY OF THANOS, reprinting issues 255 - 261. For those who are interested, the gap in between is collected in AVENGERS: THE ONCE AND FUTURE KANG (262 - 269) and AVENGERS: UNDER SIEGE (270 - 277). Add to these THE TRIAL OF YELLOWJACKET and ABSOLUTE VISION, volumes 1 and 2, and the entirety of Stern's fifty-plus issue AVENGERS run is now complete in reprint format. I confess that I've read very little of Stern's Avengers, and I look forward to someday sitting down and binge-reading the whole thing.

Friday, July 11, 2014


Story: J. Scott Campbell & Andy Hartnell | Script: Andy Hartnell
Art & Color: Phil Noto | Lettering & Design: Richard Starking's & Comicraft's John Roshell
Assistant Editor: Kristy Quinn | Editor: Scott Dunbier
Danger Girl Created By J. Scott Campbell & Andy Hartnell

The second Campbell/Hartnell/Noto collaboration is a much better read than the previous one, HAWAIIAN PUNCH. VIVA LAS DANGER begins with a teaser featuring Abbey undercover in South Africa, involved in a high stakes poker game in order to acquire a one-of-a-kind gem. She wins by cheating and escapes her angry fellow gamers with assistance from Johnny.

I don't think I've mentioned it yet, but one of my favorite things about the DANGER GIRL comics is that they mostly all begin with such quick teasers, sometimes related to the main story's action and sometimes not, evoking memories of the great Connery and Moore Bond films I grew up on. The teasers are then always followed by a double-page title/credits sequence, usually in the form of a montage featuring the girls in varying states of undress in the background. It's another nice, Bondian touch which helps to sell the stories as action movies in comic book form.

Though I have to say that, while Campbell usually provides variant covers for the DANGER GIRL mini-series, I wouldn't mind seeing him devote that energy to these pages instead. I suppose putting his artwork on the cover is a bigger draw for readers, but the montage Campbell drew for the original series was outstanding, and I think he could have a lot more fun with the various mini-series' character designs drawing them into such pages rather than cramming them onto covers which need room for logos, trade dress, UPC barcodes, and more.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


Roger Stern: Words Beyond Compare!
Jim Shooter: Layouts That Are Fair! | Jim Mooney: Artist With A Flair!
Jim Novak: Letterer Extraordinaire! | Ben Sean: Colorist, If You Care!
Denny O'Neil: Editor With Gray Hair! | Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: En route to a high society bash at Jonah Jameson's penthouse, Spider-Man is accosted by a glowing yellow energy cloud. After it departs, he realizes it was probably his old foe, Will-O'-The-Wisp. Then, with the cloud gone, the web-slinger proceeds on his way. At the party, Jameson's girlfriend, research scientist Marla Madison, accepts a job working for the Brand Corporation. But the party breaks up when the bodyguard of James Melvin, Brand's president, reveals himself as the mercenary Killer Shrike and kidnaps Marla.

The police detain the party guests for some time, trapping Peter among them. Finally, when Melvin departs, Peter changes to Spider-Man and follows him to a Brand factory in New Jersey, where Killer Shrike has taken Marla. Shrike's costume is possessed by Will-O'-The-Wisp, who has been rendered non-corporeal and needs Marla to restore him to normal. Spider-Man allows Marla to do her work and holds off the Brand guards when they interfere at Melvin's order.

Finally Will-O'-The-Wisp is restored to normal and escapes, but not before wiping Marla's memory of the entire incident and destroying the factory.

Monday, July 7, 2014


Words: Roger Stern | Layouts: Jim Shooter | Finished Art: Jim Mooney
Letters: Janice Chiang | Colors: Bob Sharen & George Roussos
Editing: Dennis O'Neil | Again: Jim Shooter

The Plot: Spider-Man sees the terrorist called Jack O'Lantern carried into Bellevue Hospital and snaps some pictures, then heads for the Daily Bugle. The next day, Jack O'Lantern's men attempt to spring their boss from the hospital's prison ward, but the terrorist instead decides to hold the hospital hostage. Informed of the situation by Aunt May, whose fiance Nathan is at the hospital for physical therapy, Peter Parker changes into Spider-Man and infiltrates Bellevue. He takes out Jack O'Lantern's men, saving the hostages, then defeats Jack O'Lantern himself.

The Sub-Plots: The Marcy Kane plotline finally comes to an end as Steve Hopkins positions himself over the door to the chemistry department offices and snatches her scarf when she enters, discovering that she has a wig on as well. Marcy runs away but Peter follows, and Marcy tells him that her hair used to be blonde when she was young, but that it went dark so she began to dye it instead -- until her doctor told her the dye was harming her hair and she needed to stop. When Peter tries to cheer her up, Marcy realizes that perhaps he's not as bad a person as she had previously believed.

Sunday, July 6, 2014


I mean, I guess technically Marvel found this guy before me. And according to the internet, he's been a professional artist for over twenty years, first in his native Croatia, and then his first American work was published by DC's Vertigo imprint in the early 2000s. Since then he's done some work for Marvel as well, mostly on the Punisher. But I just discovered him, and isn't that what really matters?

Anyway -- I was perusing the weekly new releases in the Marvel Unlimited app, and my interest was piqued by the thumbnail cover to A+X #16 starring Spider-Man and Psylocke, which appeared to feature a beautiful image of my favorite web-slinger in the iconic John Romita, Sr. style. I opened the issue and thumbed through it, and -- wow! This guy draws the most perfect Spider-Man I've seen in years. Previously the record for "Best Modern Spider-Man Artist" was held by Marcos Martin for the handful of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN issues he illustrated during the "Brand New Day" era. And while I still absolutely adore Martin, and I think his work is a perfect fit for the character, Parlov's rendition is practically a clone of Romita Sr., thus edging Martin out of the top spot.

Friday, July 4, 2014


Story: J. Scott Campbell & Andy Hartnell | Script: Andy Hartnell
Art: Phil Noto | Lettering: John 'JG' Roshell & Comicraft's Wes Abbott
Assistant Editor: Kristy Quinn | Big Kahuna: Scott Dunbier
Danger Girl Created By J. Scott Campbell & Andy Hartnell

Following Tommy Yune's KAMIKAZE! is a Danger Girl one-shot plotted by series creators J. Scott Campbell and Andy Hartnell, with script once again by Hartnell. The story begins with a brief teaser set in snow-blanketed Italy, where Abbey, Sydney, and Johnny Barracuda recover a McGuffin from a group of nondescript terrorists. Following the borderline successful completion of their mission, Johnny suggests a well-deserved vacation in Hawaii. The story proper then picks up with our heroes enjoying their downtime in the islands, little aware that they're about to fall into a devious new plot.

It seems Don Ka Nui, a Hawaiian theme park magnate, is running out of money and believes that the only way to get people into his park and get his revenue back up is to destroy the world's other popular parks. To that end he uses several genetically crafted mind-control leis to turn Johnny and a group of U.S. naval submarine officers to his side. The subs depart Hawaii and launch missiles at two theme parks in California and one in Hawaii. But the Danger Girls become aware of the plan and foil it, with some timely aid from Valerie, along for the ride in Hawaii, and Deuce, who is vacationing in Florida.

The story is silly, but Ka Nui works in a "Roger Moore Bond Villain" sort of way. He has a right-hand hula girl named Lae'ula and several trained fighters at his command, and his penchant for chess results in Johnny tied to a giant white bishop, which is kind of a funny image. There is a story angle missed, however, considering that Ka Nui has a half-completed theme park on of the islands, which could have made a great spot for a final showdown, but which is barely acknowledged as existing after its introduction.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014


Writer: Roger Stern | Penciler: Luke McDonnell | Inks: Jim Mooney
Letters: John Morelli | Colorist: Roger Slifer | Scrutiny: Denny O'Neil
Wake-Up Calls: Jim Shooter

The Plot: Robert Hunter, also known as the villainous Nitro, is released from government custody thanks to an uninformed hotshot lawyer hired by Hunter's well-meaning daughter, Virginia. Nitro immediately goes on the lam and makes plans to track down his enemy, Captain Marvel. He robs a bank to get the cash he will need in order to find Marvel, but runs afoul of Spider-Man while there.

The wall-crawler leads Nitro to a warehouse owned by Chemico, Inc., where he uses various gases in an attempt to stop the villain. Spider-Man finally succeeds by forcing Nitro to explode near several canisters of nausea gas. When Nitro re-forms himself following this most recent explosion, he is rendered sick by the gas he has reabsorbed into his body. The police arrive to take Nitro away.

The Sub-Plots: Peter sneaks out of his apartment building when the landlady, Mrs. Muggins, comes banging on his door for the rent. Peter later worries that his rent may increase soon due to a recent fire at the building.