Thursday, May 30, 2013

I´m recommending a Spider - Man book

Who had ever thought you´d see the day where I recommend a Spider - Man comic ? And not an old one but a new one. Well, a rather new one.

After Marvel successfully crashed and burned the old webheads magazine - first with BRAND NEW DAY and then with SUPERIOR SPIDER - MAN - I wanted to stay away as far as possible from the franchise. But I still read the occasional german translation because of the art - which means mainly Stefano Caselli´s art.

And really it´s the fault of fellow blogger Bob Mitchell ( you can find his fine blog BOB MITCHELL IN THE 21ST CENTURY on the blogroll ) who posted this cover which is a reprint of AMAZING SPIDER - MAN 151.

Now this cover brings back a lot of memories because it was the second issue of DIE SPINNE way back in the 80s when Condor started printing Spider – Man comics again in Germany. You can see that it was really long ago by the fact that we had real money, the good old Deutschmark back then.

Ah, I was really excited when you could finally read Marvel comics again in Germany after going years without it. I was a bit confused because they started right after the first CLONE SAGA which wasn´t published in Germany for many years ( that particular gap was filled decades later with the famous Spider - Man Schuber ) but it was all good. It was still a long time before the first Condor pocketbook reared its ugly head.

Back then reading Spider - Man was a big thrill and even if I was slowly becoming interested in certain artists the main reason to get those comics were the heroes. I know that because I bought tons of comics which make my eyes hurt when I look at them now. I ask myself how I ever could spend some money on them but then there´s this voice in my head that says : " But that´s the issue where Spider - Man and Mr. Fantastic team up against Every - Man who shoots his special stupid gun on Reed so he´s only as intelligent as a normal person and Spidey has to help him to figure out his own gizmos and it´s just so freaking weird and hilarious. How can you not love this comic ? "

Yes, there really was a stupid gun in this comic. If you don´t believe me here is the full story of Marvel Team Up 132 " The common denominator ".

That´s just how it works. Anyway, the cover of DIE SPINNE 2 reminded me of how much fun it was to read Spider - Man and that there was ONE recent story I read that was actually a lot of fun to read and which I wanted to write about but still haven´t gotten around to do because of all the problems I had with the computer.


So Today´s topic is the SPIDER - MAN : ENDS OF THE WORLD hardcover ( 197 pages ) that collects Amazing Spider - Man 682 to 687 written by Dan Slott and illustrated by Stefano Caselli and Humberto Ramos. Included are also Amazing Spider - Man : Ends of the Earth 1 written by Rob Williams and Brian Clevinger and drawn by Thony Silas and Avenging Spider - Man 8 written by Dan Slott and Ty Tempelton with art by Matthew Clark. But before we go any further I have to give the usual spoiler warning. From now on I will talk about story and art of the hardcover and while I try to avoid too many spoilers there will some - I just can´t help it.

If you don´t want to get spoilered you should skip the next part. Consider yourself warned !

I have to say I was a regular reader of the german issues of Spider - Man until last year when the art was just too all over the place for my tastes. So normally I get the impulse to buy one of these collectinos when I see the german monster editions at the newsstand. In this case I hadn´t bought any of the issues in question previously and while I was a bit disappointed that not all the art was done by Stefano Caselli most of the other issues where drawn by Humberto Ramos.

You can´t go wrong there. And judging from the reviews most readers fall into on camp or the other with not much middle ground between them.

Now there are some readers who personally like Humberto Ramos´ art more and others who prefer Stefano Caselli so it seems the decision by Marvel to put both artists on the story was a solid one because it manages to make both camps of readers happy. Also you have to keep in mind that it´s a monthly book and you  just have to give artists like Stefano Caselli some space and time to come up with his stunning visuals - so this was probably the best decision they could make.

Let´s say right here and right now that I´m a huge fan of Stefano and that I really liked most of the art in this one. Caselli is of course tops in my book and the fact that he gets to draw so many heroes and villains and a big brawl between the new Sinister Six and the Avengers as well as a new Spider armor ( yes, another one ) makes me almost flip out. And the women, he draws the women so well that I´m a bit sad there are not more of them in this story. Okay, we get Spiderwoman, Black Cat and Silver Sable but would it have hurt to throw in a scene with She Hulk and the Valkyrie at Avengers Mansion ?

With major hotties Black Widow and Silver Sable we´re off to a good start but where´s the follow up ? It´s not like there aren´t any sexy women in the Avengers. 

What about the rest of the art ? Humberto Ramos WAS one of the artists I followed until that strange X - MEN story where I really liked the art but had no freaking idea what the f - word was going on. Since then I have decided to only buy comics with Humberto on art where I´m interested in the story and have at least some idea what has been going on in that book for the last few years. Otherwise it just gets too frustrating because the guy is on too many books. With Humberto he has his good days and his bad days artwise and while I´m not going so far to call his art on the issues " phoned in " I would say this was one of his regular days. Nothing too ghastly in here but also nothing really amazing ( pun intended ).

Now I have never heard of Thony Silas who does the art on the Ends of the Earth Special but I like it. There are some very good pages in it and a good buttshot really goes a long way to sell comics to a male audience.

Gogo Tomago from Japan´s premiere superhero team Big Hero 6 

The art in Avenging Spider - Man 8 on the other hand is just awful, as awful as the whole series. I understand that it was supposed to be an epilogue on the whole story but it just so horribly fails in any kind of way.

For a special issue that is supposed to spotlight Silver Sable ( who is number 3 on my list of COMICBABE BATTLE : SPIDERBABES ) not only does it fail to convey to the reader what´s so special about her you also have to wonder why of all the tales Spidey picked this one. There is nothing noteworthy happening in the events that are told and from the top of my hat I can think of 10 stories that would easily make the TOP TEN LIST OF SILVER SABLE F- WORD YEAH ! MOMENTS and Avenging Spider - Man 8 is not anywhere near that list. But what else would you expect from a series that has been inventing new lows of storytelling with each passing issue being worse than the one before ?

But I´m not writing about how bad that series is. If you have read an issue you already know that and if you haven´t you don´t want to find out. Seriously, dude, you DON`T.

Okay, let´s talk about the story. I really enjoyed reading this which was something I wasn´t expecting. I bought FALLEN ANGELS and this at the same time and I thought I would love FALLEN ANGELS but ENDS OF THE WORLD not so much. Artwise it would probably be a win / win situation with Caselli and Ramos on one book but I totally believed I would like FALLEN ANGELS better.

Well, the exact opposite happened. I bought FALLEN ANGELS because its an 80s comic that I missed back in the day with art by Kerry Gamill who sadly doesn´t do much comics anymore. And I hate to say you can see that it´s an 80s book even without knowing anything about it. The story seems a bit dragged out and there´s really not so much happening that expedites a miniseries apart from NEW MUTANTS.

Was this supposed to be a spin - off ? A new group ? I have no idea but it´s just kind of bland and Kerry Gamill didn´t do the art on all issues which was a huge letdown. But that´s just how it was in the 80s, there were so many miniseries and limited series that there were three or four artists on them to finish them monthly. So that wasn´t too exciting.

With END OF THE WORLD it was the other way around and I guess a big part of why the story gelled with me as much as it did was that I had no expectations going in. I didn´t know that Marvel built this story up as the last big battle between Doctor Octopus and Spider - Man, the battle to end all battles, the final saga, the big epic. I mean Dan Slott can do epic. He has proven that quite a few times but if you expect the ultimate brouhaha you might feel let down in a few instances in the story. If on the other hand you go in without any expectations this is just full of clever ideas, unexpected plot twists, intelligent use of continuity and even small quiet character moments for most of the players involved in this little drama. And it´s really a drama in the greek sense.

It´s Verdi, Puccini. It´s the big, sad and wonderful italian opera, the part where the fat lady sings respectively.

I haven´t read SPIDER ISLAND ( aside from one issue with art by Stefano Caselli ) so I don´t know how it compares to that story that has gotten accolates from critics as well as readers. To me the whole idea of all people in New York having the same powers as Spider - Man doesn´t sound too interesting. It´s the same with Superman when he´s in Kandor. There everybody has the same powers as him so he´s just a regular Joe Schmoe. He has no superpowers there which makes the story boring. And the same applies for when everybody has spiderpowers. On top of that Peter would have to come up with an explanation why he´s so much better at using spiderpowers than everybody else. So - unless I have missed one of the big spidersagas - I´m probably not going to read it.

Back to ENDS OF THE WORLD ( and here´s where the spoilers really do come in ) : the gist of it is Doc Ock is dying and he plans to go out big. He supposedly found this out in issue 600 of Amazing Spider - Man and apparently Dan Slott has built up this story for quite some time. Now that he knows he´s dying Otto Octavius has made his own bucket list :

a. ) save earth from global warming and be remembered as a benefactor
b. ) get amnesty for himself and the new Sinister Six in turn and
c. ) a deposit of two billion dollars in their personal bank accounts
d. ) the construction of the Otto Octavius Academy

or maybe, what Spider - Man really suspects :

e. ) just accomplish the utter and final destruction of Spider - Man

How about all of the above ?

Doc Ock and the Sinister Six just want a hug. And the cash up front.

While the world at large may believe that Doc Ock has the best intentions ( since he really has the scientific genius to work out a way to reverse global warming ) there are of course more layers to his plan and what begins now is a high octane chess game between Spidey and Steelarms McGruff during which Doctor Octopus manages to outsmart Spidey, the Avengers and even political world leaders.

Not that all of them are that easy to fool mind you, not if you include Angela Merkel ( yes, that´s the name of the german cancelor who got the famous back rub from George Bush ) . And you have probably seen this image on the interwebs and wondered what´s up with that.

Yes, that´s really Spider - Man in his new armor. Looks kind of weird but not too bad when Stefano Caselli draws it.

Oh, that bloke who Spidey smacks right in the kisser ? No idea who that is. Some dude called Gorey Al or something. Who cares ? But that new mecha suit is just sweeet. I guess that´s a nod to all the manga readers out there.

Now all kidding aside what´s really great in this story is how Slott includes the Avengers and in a way that benefits the story. Spider - Man has been an Avenger for a very long time now and I always cringed when he was doing solo stuff that would normally be an Avengers priority alert. Maybe that´s just me because I´m not so self centered like Peter who blames himself for everything and who always has to deal with everything alone. I would totally bug my heropals all the time and they would be almost sick about it.

" Yo, Thor, Iron Man, dudes, you gotta back me up. This villain is kind of insanely strong and I think I strained my ankle or something. " Something like that.

So the Avengers - like the rest of earth´s population - discuss if they should believe Doctor Octopus until Spidey steps in and takes charge. Which makes sense since it´s one of his rogues and they should trust him on this. I have to say, during the discussion the best quote comes from Red Hulk, a.k.a. El Toro Rojo in this blog : " Only thing that should come outta Ock´s mouth  is teeth ! " and it is true that there are several ex - villains in the ranks of the Avengers present.

Which doesn´t mean that Doc Ock´s switched to the side of the angels. I have to say a lot of the aspects of the story - like the techno menace by Doc Ock or the way Spider - Man takes charge - remind me of DOCTOR WHO and it wouldn´t surprise me at all if Dan Slott had a little Doctor Who marathon right before writing the plot for ENDS OF THE EARTH.

And while Spidey is positive that he is ready for " whatever Ock throws at me. " he most definitely isn´t. A lot of people say that superheroes who always go up against the same supervillains are repetitive and boring. Villain escapes from prison, has new gadget / new power to defeat hero, when all seems lost hero comes up with great idea, villain gets defeated and ends up in prison only to plan his next big thing. Rinse, repeat. Well, what those people don´t get is that if a hero only ever fights once against a villain you can´t build up the kind of relationship as between Spider - Man and Doctor Octopus. They have fought against each other for years and Spider - Man has always defeated Doc Ock.

Dan Slott uses this yearlong feud - or better decades long - to great effect playing to the intelligence of both contrahents. Of course Peter has come up with new ways to take out each member of the Sinister Six.

And Doc Ock not only knows that but also anticipates how Peter will most likely do that and comes up with a way to counter that. He even uses Peter´s biggest inventions that he created at Horizon Labs against him. And if Spidey thinks he´s bringing the cavalary in form of the Avengers Otto just lets his Sinister Six take them down ( in very clever and intelligent ways ) only to later turn them against Spider - Man and his allies.

And speaking of the Sinister Six, I have always liked the idea of Spideys villains banding together against our hero and I think with the exception of the Flash´s rogues most villains don´t play well with each other.

It´s one of the oldest comic tropes that lets the heroes win whenever supervillains band together. It doesn´t matter if it´s Doctor Doom and Namor, Lex Luthor and his Secret Society of Supervillains or any other collection of neverdowells. In the end they always turn on each other. Not so much with the Sinister Six who for the greatest part managed to band together because they had something in common : their hatred for a certain webslinger. And while it was difficult enough to beat the toughest villains his rogue gallery has to offer singularly it was almost impossible to go up against all of them at the same time. At least without getting the stuffing beat out of him. 

Whenever the Sinister Six appear it´s bad news for Peter and the fact that they manage to defeat the Avengers shows them as a power to be reckoned with. If you´re with the Sinister Six you´re in the majors, like Mysterio tells the Chameleon when he discovers a spidertracer on him.

Now there are some minor quibbles I have with the comic. For one, while it may be great to have lots of Avengers in the book Thor´s new clothes still look like s - word. Definitely not good.

Thor´s actions rule, his outfit not so much.

Second if you have somebody like Sandman who used to be a hero for some time go up against his former boss Silver Sable and his former colleagues, the Avengers, you should work that into the story. I mean he probably knows best how their security works, their teamwork and what their most likely strategies will be when attacking the Sinister Six. I find it hard to swallow that Doctor Octopus, who never was an Avenger nor went up against them that many times should be better qualified to come up with strategies against them. In this instance Slott fumbles the ball by deciding that Doc Ock should be the main mastermind and ignoring the contribution Sandman could make to the team. I understand that Octavius is the main character here but I would have like the Sandman to take a bit more centerstage here. It´s not like he hasn´t been one of the longest members of the Sinister Six.

Who Dan Slott really writes the hell out otherwise. It´s difficult to give everybody their 5 minutes of fame in such a big ensemble but here everybody has his moments and you have to give Dan credit for not giving them new costumes and sticking with the classic costumes instead, including fishbowls and striped shirts. Especially Mysterio has some unexpected moments of greatness in here. Or is that selfishness ? I never could tell one from the other.

Another thing for me was that when Peter has to assume the leadership role he´s uncertain and doesn´t trust his capabilities even if he has been around the block for quite some time.

That´s something I always found stupid as well as this other writers crutch of why Spider - Man hasn´t been an Avenger before. Like he´s only good with street crime and small villains but he´s in over his head when it comes to cosmic villains and the end of the world. People who believe that have not been reading Spider - Man for a very long time. Peter has gone up against everybody and anybody, from neighborhoo thugs to universal enslavers to demigods. He has been on the moon, in the Negative Zone, yes, probably everywhere in the Marvel universe. He has teamed up with everybody and his mother and if it´s out there he has seen it. So every time a writer plays Peter like a newbie I get a headache. But I guess that´s something you just have to deal with in this post BRAND NEW DAY spiderverse where he´s a rookie all over again.

Also, it might just be me and I don´t know how it was in the single issues but I have this crazy idea that these two pages were supposed to be a doublepage spread and that somebody just got it wrong. If that is right then this is a major snafu that could have been corrected by putting one of the many variant covers Dell Otto did for the series differently and which are all included in the bonus section somewhere else.

You be the judge. Is this a doublepage spread or not ?

And last but not least for the final battle of Spider - Man between Doc Ock this story ends with a bang and with a wimper at the same time. I´m not sure how I should feel about that because on one hand this may be the realistic part about the story. On the other hand you probably have to read the stories before and after this event to really see the bigger picture and I´m not sure if I really want to do that. Reading the story I had the impression this might be the last good Spidey story in some time to come so that´s why I wanted to do a post about it.

But before we come to the final verdict here are some reviews on which I just have to elaborate . Some guys are much more qualified to analyze this story and much more eloquent so I´m giving the spotlight over to them. As all reviews that follow there are spoilers so don´t read them if you want to be surprised by the story.

First up is ShatleyQ at Pop Matters who bring ups some really interesting aspects in his article Global Powers 1 : The Elon Musk of " Amazing Spider - Man #683 and while I´m not sure that " Dan ( Slott ) finds the emotional core of the character, one we seemed to have lost decades ago, without even noticing it. " he makes some valid points.
" With Spider - Man event  stories over the last few years it seems that Peter Parker and his alter ego have really come through slaughter. We’ve seen Spidey unmask, revealing his secret identity to the public. We’ve seen a switch to a red - and - gold techno - armor, replete with six artificial limbs. And, after the events of ONE MORE DAY and BRAND NEW DAY, we’ve seen a Spider - Man ready to face the world with a mystically renewed secret identity.

But what of the Spidey from back when Spidey stories were simply “ Amazing ”? Remember the “ Amazing Spider - Man ” ? Stories from when Spider - Man captured the imagination of a generation ? What of the Spidey who tilted at the world and found his adolescent life complicated rather than simplified by his recently - acquired superpowers ?

Did the character really go through ultimate turmoil over these last few years? Or were the events of ONE MORE DAY and BRAND NEW DAY a necessary way to reset the clock on a kind of aestivation the character had entered into since his marriage to Mary Jane Watson ? Was Spidey broken, for longer than we realized?

Dan Slott’s really effected a renaissance for Spidey. Not just cosmetic shifts and artificial dramas for the character, but Dan’s really effected a fundamental reorientation of the character, bringing Spidey closer to an adult version of Peter Parker. "

You should really read his piece where he has more nice things to say about the story that are too many to quote them all here and without spoiling too much about the story.

Now this review of issue 685 from SPIDERFAN.ORG on the other hand has lots of spoilers but it poses the question why Marvel - and with Marvel I mean Joe Quesada - went to all that trouble of making Peter Parker single if they write him like he was still married. I mean when Peter was with MJ it made sense that he would give them a negative answer when Black Widow or Silver Sable were hitting on him.

But when he wasn´t together with MJ he wasn´t just involved with the Black Cat on a professionel level. So why is Peter now living like a monk ?

It takes the throwback to 20 or more awful years of Peter dating ad absurdum and makes me question if Marvel just wants change for changes sake. Or maybe they just don´t know why their books are selling and who buys them. In the review of issue 687 from Spider - Man Crawlspace  Steve Wacker quotes the old saying " Never give the reader what they think they want. " but he forgets that there is a second part to that. " Give them what they really want but didn´t know instead. " which is the more important thing. Because without it not giving the  readers what they want is just what Marvel is doing for years, pissing off more and more readers. When I read statements from Marvel CEOs about " not wanting to recruit certain writers from the independent scene because all they write would be fan service for thousand of fanboys " I really don´t think they have any idea about the comic business or business in general.

I don´t know if there´s any other industry where the companies insult their customer base and do everything in their power to drive them away. " Fan service for fanboys " really is Marvel´s derogative way of saying " supplying our clients with a product that sells " isn´t it ? And not a product that doesn´t sell as good as it could but readers are still buying it because there´s no alternative. Yes, those fanboys who Marvel would love to get rid of have kept the Spider - titles going all this time but that´s not good enough. Heck, in an economy where every other industry is lowering prices and giving their customers huge incentives ( just look at the automobile industry ) prices for comics have gone up.

It´s almost as if Marvel doesn´t want to sell comics. Or rather Disney since they haven´t lowered prices which they easily could, being a gazillion Dollar company and all.

The only good thing about this is that with the inflated prices independent comic companies are now on an even level with the big two since they sell at the same price, offering better content in most cases. What I find a bit disappointing is that so far no company has used that advantage. I´m still waiting to see a " Now for less that your average Marvel comic " blurb on an issue of SAVAGE DRAGON. Which is the truth since your average Marvel comic costs 3.99 now while SAVAGE DRAGON and a lot of other independent titles are at 3.95. Now that´s not such a huge difference but when you add the higher quality of the content the argument is made.  

Okay, back to the book in question. Is ENDS OF THE WORLD perfect ? No. Are there things that could be improved ? Yes. Does that diminish your enjoyment of the story ? Absolutely not. I mean there are hundred things that you could nitpick from " Why doesn´t Stefano Caselli draw the whole book ? " to " Why isn´t the other artist Frank Cho or Carlos Pacheco or at least Art Adams ? " to " If it´s so epic why isn´t this 12 issues long ? " to " It´s not Bendis. " but you could say that about any comic. The gist of it all is that this is a fun read with the highest stakes possible ( in a Doctor Who episode this would be " bad wolf " time ), lots of guest stars, some really hot superheroines and quiet character moments as well as big brawls. Here clever strategies go hand in hand with opening a can of whup - ass and the needle gets used as often as the crowbar.

Spider - Man gives a mindcontrolled Spiderwoman a taste of his own brand of escrima : Spider - Fu !

For an event comic - and let´s face it, Marvel seems to be doing nothing else in the last few years - this is one that surprisingly was done almost exclusively in the pages of the regular series. The only exceptions are the Ends of the Earth special that has some really cool guest stars like Union Jack ( he really makes british superheroes look cool ) and issue 8 of Avenging Spider - Man which I would have left out. I know what purpose it was supposed to serve but since it failed miserably in that aspect including it here does more harm than good as it drags down an otherwise quite enjoyable read at the last moment.

So if you want to read a story where Spidey steps up to the plate and uses his brains as well as his brawn in a no - holds - barred battle against one of his oldest foes this is the story for you. The art is really above and beyond in most issues and Dan Slott thankfully works really well with the continuity the higher ups at Marvel let Spider - Man keep.

Here is the usual list of links without which I couldn´t have done this post. First here are some previews for more stunning art. I wanted to include more pictures but then this post would have been too long. Nevertheless I wanted to include them if you want to see more before deciding if you want to buy this.  

preview issue 682 / issue 683 / issue 684 / issue 685 / issue 686 / preview Spider - Man : Ends of the Earth 1

And here are the reviews that I couldn´t include in the text. The list was much longer but I have deleted the ones that didn´t add anything to the post except spoilers. Naturally the remaining ones are also FULL OF SPOILERS so don´t read them if you don´t want to learn major plot points before reading the comic.

review of issue 682 from SPIDERFAN.ORG / from Chasing Amazing

issue 682 from So Entertain Me / from Comic Book Revolution

issue 682 from Weekly Comic Book Review
issue 683 from SPIDERFAN.ORG / from Crave Online

issue 684 from SPIDERFAN.ORG  / from Inside Pulse / from Population Go

issue 684 from IGN / from Weekly Comic Book Review

issue 686 from Crave Online  / issue 687 from Crave Online

issue 687 from Multiversity Comics / issue 687 from Population Go

Once again I want to thank everybody who worked on these posts even if they are not included higher in this post. Your dedication and hard work is greatly appreciated. And for those who have been out of the loop concerning Spider - Man here is a little link that catches you up to speed from everything that happened before this storyline to the end of issue 700 of AMAZING SPIDER - MAN.

The events that lead up to Superior Spider - Man explained

Well, this was kind of a long post ( especially considering that Today was one of my days off and all I wanted to do was lie in bed and recuperate from Yestedays superlong internet session ) but I wanted to do the story justice. Plus I can´t expect my readers to shell out their hard earned money for this book without providing all the tools so they can come to a qualified decision.

Now, after mentioning Doctor Who twice in this post you probably expected another 50th anniversary video but I just have to post something else before that.

This video is Conan O´Brien doing his CLUELESS GAMER bit with the latest Laura Croft videogame. His comments are 100 percent spot on and his reaction when Laura dies is just hilarious. And really, it´s Laura not Lara. Isn´t it ?

New to the blog ? Everything you need to know about TALES FROM THE KRYPTONIAN : top ten posts / more posts of interest

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Tales from the Kryptonian 2.0

Just when things started to look bad for this blog I have decided to put up or shut up. So I have bought a new laptop to post on a regular basis from now on ( hopefully ).

Okay, I already experienced the downside , meaning problems because of not enough sleep, but that happens when a guy has a new toy. So far I have spent the last few days since Saturday - when the laptop arrived after work - with trying to figure out how to work it best.

Right now I have switched from explorer to firefox because explorer kept adding ads to the posts and behaving strangely with almost everything. As could be expected the laptop has Windows 8 installed and so far I couldn´t make heads nor tails of the new desktop icons. I try to avoid that at best. I had to install a few programs to get everything working right but a few kinks are still there. Figures. And I have to put up all the bookmarks again or at least the ones I can still find. Which is why it´s so important to put those most important links on the blog - so you can get them easier when you have a new laptop. In Today´s day and age you have to count on getting a new computer every few years because technological progress is so fast.

The good news is I have managed to get the screen a bit darker so I don´t get blind. At first it was very bright and I could have probably used it as a flashlight. Much better now. I also plugged in my old mouse because I´m not so good with the whole touchpad thing. That mother got a mind of it´s own, always opening stuff that I don´t want to open. Yeah, I´m a freaking dinosaur when it comes to computers. Deal with it. The only thing I haven´t managed is getting an USB cable to get my picture files to the laptop which is why the blog may not be up to its usual high standards imagewise. You´ll just have to deal with that for a few weeks.

There are still some strange moments with the new laptop like when I thought the it wasn´t reacting until I realized I was using the computer keyboard instead of the laptop keyboard. Yes, old habits die hard.

Another good thing is that my new baby got wireless LAN so it will be probably working without an internet cable but for emergency cases I also got one of those. I hope I can get my posting quota up a bit in the next few weeks although this week I have to keep in mind to get more rest. Otherwise it´s going to be over as soon as the new improved blog has started. What I already love about the laptop is that it has a lot of storage space - I think three times what my computer has - so there´s enough space for all the things you download like all the wrestling you don´t get to see on german tv like female wrestling and new episodes of DOCTOR WHO. Although things are looking up where wrestling is concerned because one german tv station has started showing IMPACT WRESTLING. And they also show the knockouts so there´s much to see with massistas Gail Kim, Mickie James, Taryn Terell and all the others.

Man, I really don´t understand the germans. They are always promoting soccer which is the sport that gave us mindless destruction and senseless violence with the hooligans but they really have a problem with two babes beating the stuffing out of each other. Come on, it´s only show.

 Everybody knows that. But in the meantime wrestling is not included in the Olympic Games anymore. What´s up with that ? I mean that´s one of the classics : discus throwing, marathon, greek - roman wrestling. How can you have Olympic Games without wrestling ?

Anyway, speaking of DOCTOR WHO : I finally managed to see HIDE, which is the episode I was missing. I tried to download it a hundred times with the old computer but it always crashed. Now I finally succeeded. I had already seen JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE TARDIS and was going to watch THE CRIMSON HORROR but I belayed that until I got to watch HIDE first. I know I have a lot of catching up to do on the new episode front but I don´t want to go too fast through them sincer the special 50th anniversary episode is coming in November. I´m trying to stay away from any news about that as long as possible. I already know that two of my favorite characters return and that´s enough for me. So please no spoilers. So NIGHTMARE IN SILVER and THE NAME OF THE DOCTOR will stay on the backburner for the moment.

So far the latest season of The Doctor has been enjoyable although not as good as the seasons with the Ponds. On one side I guess it will get some time to get used to Clara as the new companion, on the other side the seasons with the Ponds have been so extremely brilliant that it´s hard to keep that level of quality up. But I´m still enjoying the show.

Okay, what else ? The weather - for those reading us from outside Germany - has become colder and colder and I already had to unpack my winter stuff for work. No kidding, the gloves, the pullover, scarf, the full monty, dude. Germany gets really cold in springtime. I mean, what the F - word is going on ? I was promised some serious global warming and here I am at the end of May ( MAY for crying out loud ! ) and I´m freezing my butt off. I knew you couldn´t trust those treehuggers and potsmoking hippies with all their hogwash about the so - called greenhouse effect. Where´s this greenhouse you´re talking about now that we need it ? Where ? I´m annoyed.

I´m still lagging behind on comic stuff but here are a few links I wanted to include in the post :

The very first thing I want to post is the news that the blog COMICS MAKE NO SENSE is back in publication. You can see that I am so waaay behind actual things on the internet that I didn´t even realize there were some new posts.

 Back in April of 2011 Adam Barnett wrote the last post - which I mentioned on the blog - but ever since I was too busy to notice that it´s once again back in business since September 2012. Mea culpa. Anyway, to bring the blog to my readers attention it´s going to be on the top of the blogroll for the next few months. If you were a regular reader ( and you´re not already reading it again ) you will cheer at its return. And if you don´t know the blog you definitely have to check this out.


For those who skip most of DC´s new stuff and look to their great past for some reading material, MAN OF BRONZE has a post on Jim Starlin´s COSMIC ODYSSEY ( sorry, it´s in spanish ). A great story with art by Mike Mignola that still holds up and that has stayed in continuity for a long time. Well, until the new 52. Anyway, old geezers like me might get a hankering to drag out the four prestige issues again and for those who haven´t read it yet there´s a trade of it which you can get at finer comicstores for 17 bucks. This one has my recommendation.

Speaking of Walter Simonson, it seems a re - edition of the trade with his Fantastic Four stories has just come out in Spain and I wanted to mention that I would really like to have one hardcover that collects his Avengers / Fantastic Four crossover ( I wrote a bit more about the story in this post ). Back when he was on Avengers he wrote a great story that was later continued in FF and I think this would really be fabulous for the bookshelf. And I mean John Buscema and Walter Simonson in one book ? How cool would that be ? 

There´s also a new George Perez art post on the site. Great stuff.

And while you´re at it you might also want to check out the newest comissions by Carlos Pacheco where you can find this groovy rendition of Thor with the Simonson armor.

Anything I have to mention before closing Today´s post ?

Oh, I have gotten some comments about the lack of Power Girl related stuff on the blog. Well, since I haven´t got access to my picture archive at the moment my next TOP TEN FAVORITE POWER GIRL COSPLAYERS post will have to wait a bit. But for those already feeling the symptoms of Power Girl withdrawal ( since she just got her REAL costume in the last issue of WORLDS FINEST ) you can head over to this new website I have discovered : I LOVE POWER GIRL has just tons of art and cosplay pics of everyone´s favorite Maid of Steel ( Holey Moley ! This model is hot ! ) .

Now DC still seems to have problems finding artists to draw  Power Girl judging from the fact that they have three or more artists in each new issue. So instead of just bashing them I suggest they get in contact with Franchesco who drew this terrific Power Girl piece.

Here is the link to his DeviantArt gallery ( in case DC says they don´t know how to find him ). For those interested in getting the first trade of WORLDS FINEST called THE LOST DAUGHTERS OF EARTH 2 which contains issues 1 - 5 and the 0 issue, here is a good review from fellow blogger COLLECTED EDITIONS. David G at DELIRIOS DE GRANDEZA paints a rosier picture in his review but in my opinion these are the best issues so far of the series. You get the most of George Perez here even if his art is not up to his usual standards and Kevin Maguire doesn´t contribute as much in following issues. Although more than Perez.

There are also reviews for WONDER WOMAN - BLOOD  and WONDER WOMAN - GUTS the first two volumes of the new series. It´s one of the few good series left at DC and one I still read although I have switched from single issues to the hardcovers. I find it easier to read and the issues by guest artists are easier to swallow. I´m really anxious to see how Brian Azzarello pus his spin on Jack Kirby´s NEW GODS. And for those interested in the art ComicGeekSpaek has an interview with series artist Cliff Chiang . What I really liked about the series is that they went back to a more classic look and got rid of that awful jeans and jacket costume. That just brought back bad memories of the time when the Avengers all wore those leather jackets for no apparent reason. I mean it would have been one thing if Marvel would have produced a line of jackets that you could buy and that was their way to promote that. But that wasn´t the case so it made no sense. Back to Wonder Woman´s costume from that awful storyline I say : Good riddance !

And once again that´s all I have time for Today. Sorry that it was such an unfocused rant but since it has been quite a while since my last post it all kind of bottled up. Now that I can once again post from home I can finally do topic posts ( maybe even finally the one about my independent favorites ) so my next posts will be more coherent.

Since I mentioned the 50th anniversary of DOCTOR WHO Today´s video is a trailer for that. Don´t worry, it´s mostly old stuff so no spoilers there. I know, it´s really long until the special can actually be seen but there are a few of them on the net. I will post them on my next posts to give those who are not familiar with the series a peek at the who - niverse starting with the shortest.

New to the blog ? Everything you need to know about TALES FROM THE KRYPTONIAN : top ten posts / more posts of interest

Be unique - just like everybody else.

Monday, May 13, 2013

The long overdue return of comic news

As promised here´s the first post with the ever - so - popular selection of comic news, weird findings and the usual internet curiosities.

It´s been a while since I have read any news at all and concerning DC my life has been better without it. Now some people may say that I´m just bashing DC because they flushed the DC universe I liked down the toilet but I think the trainwreck that is called THE NEW 52 is going more and more off the rails. And I´m not even talking about the recent news that they will have three different artists on JUSTICE LEAGUE. No, the snafus by the DC execs have become so numerous that there is a brandnew website called Has DC done something stupid Today ? where you can get the latest disaster news.


Fellow blogger Pedro Angosto at MAN OF BRONZE has added another batch of John Byrne commissions . I have to say I still get a kick out of his cover recreations and DC / Marvel crossovers. As well as his books from IDW. After COLD WAR he has started HIGH WAYS and I think after that wraps up DOOMSDAY 1 is next. Yup, plenty of Byrne stuff for old school fans like me.

Oh, and there are also new ones about George Perez - without comment.


Calvin Reid has written an article at Publishers Weekly about Archie Comic´s continued growth thanks to their collected books

In 2010, Archie switched its bookstore distribution to Random House Publisher Services, which lead to a revamped approach to get into the book market, adding more book formats such as trade paperbacks, and children’s book formats, said Harold Buchholz, senior VP of publishing, who joined Archie as head of its book division in 2010. Archie published 11 book titles that year and by 2012 it published 33 titles. This year the house will release about 40 titles and it expects to release 50 in 2014.

As somebody who has just recently re - entered the world of Archie after a decades long absence I have to say they are doing everything right. Okay, right now I´m only reading the MARRIED LIFE collections but when I see all the news about Archie Comics I really want to get into it more. Because as good as the MARRIED LIFE series is the wait between trades is really awfully long. On the other side most of the issues I got through FREE COMIC BOOK DAY or other giveaways seem to go into the one - gag story direction which is really not that appealing to me. The great thing about MARRIED LIFE is that it is a long, continuing storyline ( although the first big part is concluded in the third trade ) so I can get involved with the characters over a long period of time. I don´t know if that´s something new to the Archie universe but apart from Norm Breyfogle´s art that has ben the biggest pull for the series.

Anyway, Archie seems to avoid the mistakes other publishers are making and who knows ? Maybe there is a title for me after all......

Speaking of growing : it seems predictions for the death of floppies were premature as they are making a comeback. Now how about that ?


No news post is complete with some previews and this one has the motherlode. Previews galore can be found at this link from Comicbook Resources which can be found at the blog roll.

My picks : FF 7 , NOVA 4 ( I´m so waiting for the trade on this one, but they got me once again with the racoon - don´t ask ), WOLVERINE 3 ( also waiting for the trade even though it is Alan Davis ), X - MEN 1 ( not sure about Olivier Coipel´s all girls team, I´d have to see more issues ) , WORLDS FINEST 12 ( Power Girl finally back in costume.......her real costume I mean ), AQUAMAN 19 ( I hope Paul Pelletier stay a while on this title ), ARCHER & ARMSTRONG 10 ( best relaunch of a series this year ), SAVAGE DRAGON 187 ( I can´t pimp this book high enough ) and ALL NEW X - MEN 11 by Stuart Immomen.

I have been a fan oif his art since his LEGION OF SUPER - HEROES issues and he´s hitting it out of the ballpark again. I just read his FEAR ITSELF hardcover this weekend and while it´s Marvel´s usual event - centric story that leaves little room for characterisation the art is worth the price of admission. Now the story in itself ( no pun intended ) is not as bad as it sound when you hear " the Red Skull´s daughter resurrects the asgardian God of Fear who gives seven hammers to guys like Hulk, Juggernaut and the Thing and then it´s Armageddon " and to tell the truth when I kind of rushed the reading since I was busy downloading the last episodes of Doctor Who. Since my computer has been constantly crashing the last weeks I´m four episodes behind, what the heck. Anyway, back to FEAR ITSELF, I finally ordered the thing from amazon when I saw the german monster edition and the beautiful art. I think I´m going to re - read it Today since it does have a few F - WORD YEAH ! - moments and I think the reader has to read it a few times to appreciate it. Anyway, good stuff and I´m anxious to get my first ALL NEW X - MEN hardcover.    

Nope, the pic has nothing to do with X - Men. I just like it.

And with that I´m once again over the 2 hour mark at the internet cafe ( 2 hours 45 minutes to be exact ) so I´m going to wrap this post up. Today´s video is one I think I haven´t posted before : Drawing Comics the Marvel Way with Stan Lee and John Buscema. The constant rapping by Stan can get tiresome but it´s a great chance to see one of the true comic masters at work.

New to the blog ? Everything you need to know about TALES FROM THE KRYPTONIAN : top ten posts / more posts of interest

Don´t get into a spaceship with a madman. Didn´t anyone ever teach you that ?

Monday, May 06, 2013

The working dead

I know the title sounds a bit ominous but since I have slept approximately less than six hours in the last three days combined that´s exactly how I feel. And to top it off I´m sitting in an internet cafe right now writing this post instead of heading home to get some sleep.

Back when I was unemployed not being able to sleep was not that big a problem because I did what most people nowadays do when they can´t sleep : surf the internet. I mean, that´s where most of my posts on this blog came from. You can´t sleep, you fire up the old machine and it´s once again time to wax about comics. Is there anything better in the world than that ?

But when you have to work you have to get up at a certain time ( or at least try to get up at something approximating that time ) so you can´t spend hours in front of the computer until you´re either finished with your post or so tired you hit the sack. Whatever comes first. But that´s not an option anymore when you´re a working class stiff especially when your old computer´s not as reliable as it used to.

There has been a longer wait since my last post but only because I tried to write from the privacy of my own home instead of using an internet cafe. I guess I´m just stubborn this way. I tried for too long to find a way to do it at home but the blue screen is almost a permanent thing - if I manage to get the computer to boot at all. It's like the machine has digital Alzheimer. So I probably have no other choice than to buy a new laptop and in the meantime use the internet cafe.

Which is kind of difficult if I want to write about certain comics because I have all the material at home. So I will probably write more about things you can find on the interwebs like new previews, top ten lists and news. It´s been a while since we had a news post around here so that´s a nice change of topics. And in regards to my independent comic reading list - I can take a hint. I mean, at first the computer started acting up whenever I mentioned the topic but now he has gone into full strike mode to eliminate even the slightest chance I might do so. So the topic is shelved for the moment but not forever.


Like usual there is something that goes back to a previous post, in this case the one about Dark Horse reprints of the classic Warren EERIE comics in their EERIE ARCHIVE collections. Now, while the last one I mentioned - volume 11 - has gone back to the price of 37 EUROS volume 10 is currently available for 19.63 EUROS. There are only 6 copies left so don´t wait too long. And if you want a little bit more info about volume 10 you can find it here .


This is my fourth and final attempt to finish this part of the post. I thought since it´s  really not possible to do a just review without having the book in question at hand I cut my second session at the internet cafe short and tried to finish this at home. I really felt that I would be doing a disservice to my readers if I didn´t include all the things you can only see with the actual review copy but my computer bailed out on me after 15 minutes. So I´m once again at the internet cafe with some notes I made at home. It´s not the perfect in - depth review I wanted to make after three failed attempts I have to finally wrap this up :

Since we are on the subject of amazon there is something I absolutely wanted to mention before going on to other things. There´s a book sold at a real bargain price right now and there are still 14 copies left.

The book in question I´m writing about is IRON MAN OMNIBUS - Volume 1 by David Micheline, Bob Layton and John Romita Jr. I know it´s a big sucker, in fact you probably need a weapons license for that thing. It definitely qualifies as a foreign object in wrestling.

Now this is one of Marvel´s new 99.99 mammoth books and usually I wouldn´t dream of going anywhere near this sucker. Even if you get it from an internet comicshop or from amazon you pay between 85 and 75 EUROS which is out of my normal price range.

The reason why I still was adamant about mentioning it on my blog is that RIGHT NOW amazon Germany is offering the collection for 56.95 EUROS which is totally mindblowing. I don´t want to influence my readers into buying these comics or those.....well, that´s a lie. I do. I admit it. I try to warn my readers about comics which - I think - are a waste of money and steer them to some books that I think are more deserving of their hardearned dollars ( or EUROS in this case ). I´m not ashamed of that. And I also want to inform my readers of every comic bargain I come across. That doesn´t always work out as planned since some of these bargains are going faster than I can post them but I´m still trying my best. Because as somebody who has to pay for the comics on his blog out of his own pocket ( except the comics from BLACK TOWER COMICS that they send me out of the goodness of their heart and which I´m way behind on reviewing - sorry ) I know that sometimes you just can´t afford those nice hardcovers you´d like to buy. Especially with most comic books now going for 4 bucks. You just pay a lot of money for your usual subscription and there is nothing left for things outside of your pull list.

So, whenever I come across on of these bargains I feel obligated to mention it on my blog. Okay, back to the IRON MAN OMNIBUS, like I said, usually not something I would consider buying and at first I was not going to buy it. Bargains are one thing but 57 bucks is still a lot of cash for one book. But there were two factors that finally changed my mind about that.

The first one was being able to actually hold the book in my hand at my trusty comicshop and seeing how big it is. The second one was that last year I ordered the third volume of the TEEN TITANS OMNIBUS.

Now the thing never arrived and since it has been rescheduled to June I canceled my order but I was willing to pay pretty much the same amount of money for a collection that has only 792 pages. So that convinced me to order the book, especially since I don´t have to schlepp the thing home myself. And there is not much you can do wrong with the material collected in here. I mean this is probably as good as it gets with IRON MAN stuff, the gold standard so to speak - at least for my generation. The dream team of Micheline, Layton and John Romita Jr have created most of the classic Iron Man stories and a lot of them are included in this volume like DEMON IN A BOTTLE ( which just made the number 1 spot on Comicbook Resources list of The 25 Greatest Iron Man Stories Ever Told and the writing team of David Micheline and Bob Layton is currently in the lead on their Best Iron Man writer poll ), HULK IS WHERE THE HEART IS ( number 18 ) or DOOMQUEST ( number 3 ). Especially Bob Layton has been connected to the book - or better the Iron Man franchise since I think he was involved in the movie versions in some capacity - in some way over the years may it be as a writer, artist or inker.

Heck, Bob Layton may be one of the first inkers whose work I sought out and to this day I still look his stuff up whenever I ink something metallic or shiny. He´s just the godfather of heavy metal inking. And John Romita Jr is just one of the go - to guys when you have to put robots or mechas in a book. It´s either him or George Perez for me.

Back to the collection, it has 994 pages and collects the first legendary run by this comic creator trifecta - issues 115 to 157 -  that pretty much was a big thing when I was reading comics in my school days. John Romita Jr was just starting to stretch his artistical legs and like Marvel never gets tired to say the trio managed to capture lightning in a bottle.

The stories in this book include the aforementioned DEMON IN A BOTTLE story which I first read in the spanish version ( which was EL INVENCIBLE HOMBRE DE HIERRO which sounds waaay cooler than Iron Man ) and it´s one of the few Iron Man trades I have. The collection also features issue 147, the first american Iron Man copy I ever possessed in which BLACKLASH, the new modified version of Whiplash has his first appearance. I must have read this copy a few hundred times which may be the reason why the splash page is kind of etched into my brain.

And I still remember this particular text : " Three heads nod. And nod. And nod. "

There are a lot of other things I still remind of the issue like newly hired SI Vice President Yvette Avril saving the day only to have her thunder stolen by Public Relations chief Artemis Pithens as he takes credit for it. Or if I remembered correctly Iron Man just assumed it was Pithens who was the hero of the day and Artie didn´t correct him. Well, that´s the male chauvinism of the 80s at work here. I don´t want to go into more detail here but for those who want to know more about the issue they should definitely check out Gutter Talks review of Iron Man issue 147  called FIDDLING ABOUT WHILE STARK INTERNATIONAL BURNS.

Speaking about firsts, a lot of people and things are introduced into Iron Man lore in this volume that have later on become canon like Justin Hammer ( now known from his appearance in the second Iron Man movie ), the dreadnaughts, the stealth armor or the outer space armor. You also get Tony´s legendary clash with Dr. Doom during King Arthur´s time, a brutal battle against the Hulk, Namor, Madame Masque, the Melter, The Living Lazer,Blizzard and the Titanium Man.

Additionally to the 42 issues in this collection the hardcover also has 58 pages of extras including a re - colored version of issue 144 ( not issue 114 as it was misprinted in my copy ) that was done for IRON MAN : REQUIEM, one page about the true story of Jarvis´ resignation letter in issue 127, unused covers, covers for issues 113 and 114 by John Romita Jr, 13 original penciled and inked story pages, splash pages and covers, a calendar pin up, the hilarious one page story WHAT IF IRON MAN HAD A EATING PROBLEM ?, Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe character profiles and armor schemantics, the introductions for the DEMON IN A BOTTLE and the DOOMQUEST trades as well as covers for the POWER OF IRON MAN, DEMON IN A BOTTLE, THE MANY ARMORS OF IRON MAN, IRON MAN VS DOCTOR DOOM and DOOMQUEST trades. There´s also John Romita´s new cover for this collection and I should mention that of course all the original covers are included.

Now one of my brother told me that I´m always buying books I already have and in this case it´s right that I have read some of the issues in one form or the other. But since those are scattered issues at best and the ones I read were either in the spanish version that were missing a few pages or the german version which were mostly the dreaded Condor Pocket Books that reduced the size drastically and cut off most of the text this is the first time I have them all in the original size, with all pages and the original text. So I think for me it´s a good investment. 

Okay, this is the end of my sales pitch although I never was very good at this. I´m not one of these persons who can do the whole salesman spiel and belive me - I was involved once with a position that would have been very lucrative but I´m just not cut out for it. I´m more the kind of guy who presents a deal with all the pros and cons and that let´s the client decide on his own. So I never went into sales.   

The only thing I want to add that if you were already thinking about getting this book now is the right time, especially if you don´t have the DEMON IN A BOTTLE hardcover ( which alone will cost you around 24 bucks ) or any of the other trades contained in this collection.

Well, as usual that´s all I have time for Today, as the counter on the internet cafe nears the 2 hour mark. I´ll try to complete this post Tomorrow if the internet gods are willing and with a bit of luck the hardcover will also be delivered at home. I don´t envy the guy who has to do that. There are not many links I can add that were essential to making this post ( otherwise than the ones I already included ) but be sure to check out The Comics Cube´s Top Ten Most Influential Comics Artists No 9: George Perez , it´s a great read and required for all people who don´t know him.

Now usually I put one video at the end of the post but since it has been so long since my last post I want to include to videos of movies that might have been overlooked by the regular movie goers.

The first one is WRECK - IT RALPH which really surprised me and is one heck of a film with a story that starts deceptively easy but has a deep message. And I think we can all relate in some way to the hero. I totally have to congratulate Christian Ulmen who does the german voice of Ralph. He´s a guy who I normally find enourmously irritating but he does a terrific job here. If you don´t have the greatest of times watching this movie you really need help.

The second one is JACK REACHER, in my opinion Tom Cruise´s best movie of the last years. Here in Germany it played in movie theaters closed to the public and it´s a damn shame if you miss this one.

New to the blog ? Everything you need to know about TALES FROM THE KRYPTONIAN : top ten posts / more posts of interest

I´m always careful about horses. It´s the women that get me into trouble.