Archive for the ‘Spider-Man’ Category

Superior Spider-Man #1   1 comment

Gotta say, the covers for the last 2 Spider-Man comics don't really do much for me.

Gotta say, the covers for the last 2 Spider-Man comics don’t really do much for me.

I should have known that Marvel wouldn’t really kill off Peter Parker.   After a lifetime of reading comics; after seeing the “death” of countless heroes and villains, and seeing them come back in one form or another, I should have known that Marvel wouldn’t really kill the one true Spider-Man.  If there’s one thing that comic companies love to do, it’s “kill” their heroes or their villains, and then bring them back.  I guess the whole idea of returning from the dead has been the big story on Earth since the time of the ancient Greeks–Persephone  gets carried off to the underworld, and then her mother gets her back.  Hercules had to go to Hades and bring back Cerberus.  Just getting in and out of the Underworld is a job for a superhero.  Jesus Christ died for our sins and came back to life.  And on and on and on!  If there’s one lesson we all should have learned by now, it’s that Death is not the End–it’s just another phase that people go through.  Especially in comic books!!!

So, Ock-Spidey shows tendencies to be his old ruthless self, including showboating for women and killing his enemies, but he is prevented from murdering anyone by a remnant of Parker’s conscience inside his brain.  Just about the last panel shows Parker in ghostly form saying “I am still in the game.”  That’s an interesting statement.  This implies that it is not just a remnant of Parker’s personality preserved in his brain cells, but the true Parker personna. We saw Ock’s body die in Amazing Spider-Man 700 with Parker’s consciousness still trapped inside.  How can he be alive?

I have a theory, and I believe it will take Marvel quite a long time to prove or disprove it one way or another.  Marvel has had Dr. Strange run around in his astral form for decades.  We all have astral forms, but most of us never consciously experience the state of going astral.  The astral form is tethered to the physical body by a “silver cord” that is infinitely stretchable, and that cord is usually only sundered by the death of the body.  Ock, being a scientist, wouldn’t know anything about astral forms, but even though he managed to evict Parker’s self from his own brain and body, he wouldn’t have severed the “silver cord”.  That can only be broken by the death of the body.  Parker’s body survives; ergo the cord survives, ergo Parker is still in the game.  Who knows?  (Dan Slott and his cronies at Marvel know.) Parker and Strange were friends–they’ve adventured together many times in the past.  Strange may even be helping Parker maintain his connection to his old body.

Drawn by curiosity, I put Superior Spider-Man on my comics pull list.  I’ll probably let it stay there for 3 issues, and then cancel.  No, I don’t really want to buy every issue of Ock-Spider-Man, but I am curious enough to follow for a couple more issues.

If you have any thoughts about how long Doc Ock will be in charge of the Spider-Man being, why not leave a comment?f  Or a prediction? You think this will last a year or longer in the real world?

–end

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The Amazing Spider-Man number 700   8 comments

I don't think I understand this cover.

I don’t think I understand this cover.

A hero died last week.  The villain won, and in a big way.  Doctor Octopus, Otto Octavius, managed to switch his consciousness into Peter Parker’s healthy  young body and put Peter into his own dying, cancer-ridden carcass.  That happened in Amazing Spider-Man #698.  In #699 Peter comes up with a desperate plan to save himself.  In #700, he gives it a hell of a try, but he fails.

Ok, it’s a comic book.  Not real.  In the real world, hundreds, perhaps thousands of real heroes die every week.  Cops, firemen, doctors, soldiers, professionals of all sorts who help real people, die, and no one except friends and family of those real life heroes ever knows or cares.  Every one of those deaths is a tragedy for someone.

But there is a sense in which the imaginary death of the imaginary Peter Parker is more real than that of the real death of real heroes. Spider-Man has been on the world scene since 1963–that’s 50 years.  He lived in that timeless comics world where he aged about 10 years while the rest of us got old.  I remember the first issue of Spider-Man.  I owned it at one time, and foolishly sold it when I thinned my comics collection in 1973 when I got married.  Peter was known to and admired by tens of millions of people.  The heroes of the real world are lucky to reach a hundred or a thousand people.

They are clever bastards at Marvel.  Peter’s body lives on.  His memories remain in his physical brain.  All that has really happened is that he has had a personality change.  He’s no longer Amazing.  From now on he will be the Superior Spider-Man.  I think that may come back to bite them.  How long before the new Spider-Man gets to be known as the Inferior Spider-Man?

Some people are saying that no one ever stays dead in comics, and that is pretty much true.  Peter Parker could return from the dead–writers have infinite power in imaginary worlds.  I have already thought of a way to do it, and I’ve read about at least two other methods that could be used. Bringing people back from the dead is easily accomplished.  D.C. Comics is perhaps the worst offender.  Superman, Batman, Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman, Hawkman, and Green Arrow–just to name the big guys have all really died, and really come back to life in the last decade or so.  A little over a year ago, D.C. killed off (discontinued–it’s pretty much the same thing) the entire universe, and rebooted it.

None of those deaths affected me emotionally the way the recent death of Peter Parker has affected me.  I haven’t bought Spider-Man comics for decades, but I made a point of buying this issue.  This tragedy will be the comic book event of 2013.  I’m wondering about buying The Superior Spider-Man #1 which comes out next week.  These two issues will certainly be highly collectible in 10 or 20 years if the world and comics last that long.

I’ve been a comics fan all my life.  I’ve seen dozens of comic book deaths.  They all saddened me, but none has made me feel as bad as this one.  And that is because all of those deaths had one thing in common–the hero died heroically.  They may have been killed, but they weren’t defeated.  Their deaths accomplished something.

Dan Slott, the writer who killed Peter Parker, might say the same thing for his story, but it’s a lie.  Peter’s final action is to make Otto understand that with great power comes great responsibility.  Otto vows that he will continue the Spider-Man legacy of heroism, and will be a better Spider-Man than the original.  He will be THE SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN!

Does anybody see the same arrogant selfish pride that characterized Doc Ock for the last 50 years?  Ock is callous and scheming.  He treats people like objects–he calls Mary Jane “woman”, and bosses her around like a hired hand.  Despite his promise to the dying Peter, I don’t think Otto Octavius has been redeemed at all.  I think the bad guy won.

Marvel has always been slightly more “realistic” in its depiction of the world and the people in it than DC has.  This death of Peter Parker follows that trend.  In the real world bad guys often win, at least as often as good guys do.  In the real world it isn’t often easy to say who is good and who is bad–none of us are perfect.  Villains have won before in comics, but never on this scale–never with quite this emotional impact.

I am not so much saddened or enraged by the death of Peter Parker as I am betrayed.  I feel that Marvel comics has betrayed their public by letting Parker die this way.  I feel betrayed in a way that the death of Superman or Batman did not make me feel.  I really feel that Evil has triumphed.  Good has been perverted and crushed, just the same as the dying body of Doc Ock was crushed.  Every time I think of it, I feel sick.

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There are some other issues that the “death” of Peter Parker raises for me that I haven’t seen addressed anywhere else.  (They may have been.  I haven’t really searched the web to see what other bloggers are saying about this event.)  This gimmick of mind switching calls up the Question of Identity.  What is identity?  What makes you or me who we are?  Is it our memories?  Octavius mind in Parker body has Parker’s physical brain and all of Parker’s memories.  Parker in Octavius body had Ock’s brain and memories.  When they made the mind switch, they also carried all their personal memories across the gap.  In essence they became the same person, but with different mind-sets/personalities.  The Parker personality died, but everything else that was Peter Parker lived on.

Or is it soul that determines identity?  There is a short sequence in 700 when Parker is “dead” for 3 minutes, and goes to “heaven” where he is re-united with all the important people that have died in his life:  his parents, Uncle Ben, Gwen Stacy, Silver Sable (wait a minute!  Sable is dead? Awwwww!  She was such a fox.  When did that happen?)  This is portrayed as a happy ending for him.  Death is not a tragedy.  Death is the final victory.  If you believe in souls, you could see things that way.  I call bullshit on that.  We will all die.  Some will die horribly; some will die well; most of us will probably expire quietly in a hospital some time.  I happen to think it matters how we die.  Slott gave Parker the most horrible death he could imagine–cut off from all his living friends and family, in agonizing pain, in another man’s wrecked and ruined body, cursed and reviled wrongly by everyone in the world that he had spent his life helping and saving.  Talk about your martyr’s death!  We have all been empathizing and identifying with Parker for a long time.  In a sense Slott gave us all that same hideous death–it is not a death any of us would have wanted, nor would many of us even wish it on our worst enemies.  I feel sick.

The people who run Marvel Comics are probably laughing all the way to the bank about how much money the “Death of the Amazing Spider-Man” has brought them.  Slott has said that even though fandom feels betrayed and sickened right now, the fans will get over it.  New readers will come to the title, and Parker will mean nothing to those newcomers.  Spider-Man will continue.  Spider-Man is a title, not a person.  Whoever wears the suit, whoever swings on the webs, that’s Spider-Man.  That is one way of looking at it, and it is a true way of looking at the situation.  Spider-Man is the institution.  It doesn’t really matter who is behind the mask.  It could even be a total creep like Otto Octavius, so long as he fights the fight and carries the colors.  I don’t believe it.  I feel sick.

otto-octavius-spider-man

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If you were at all affected by the “death of Peter Parker” why not leave a comment?

Prescott   3 comments

On Saturday morning October 27, 2012 I got into my beautiful black Kia and took a ride up the Black Canyon Freeway–destination Prescott, Arizona.  I tried to get there once before this year, but wound up stopping at Arcosanti.  This time I successfully navigated the road construction–very confusing cloverleaf the state is building–imho, a big disimprovement to what was already there–made the crazy left turn and headed west from Cordes Junction to Prescott.

Prescott used to be a large town with an Old West atmosphere–a small city full of cheap motels, antique shops, art galleries, and trading posts.  It still has all those things, but is now totally surrounded by miles of suburbs and strip malls.  In addition to Prescott itself, there is also Prescott Valley and East Prescott.  Prescott was twice capitol of Arizona, once from 1864 to 1867 and again from 1877 to 1889.  Since 1889 Phoenix has been the capitol and most important city in the state.  The city is sometimes called the Mile High city (yeah, like Denver) because it is 5200 feet above sea level.  The city was named after William H. Prescott, an American historian who wrote some truly epic histories of the New World.  The 2010 census population was about 40,000 people, but it is the center of a metropolitan area that contains more than 200,000.  With a lot of traffic on the roads and suburbs sprawling in all directions, it feels like there are hundreds of thousands of people there.

I drove through town on what used to be the main drag, Gurley Street, and parked near the Sharlott Hall Museum.  Then, I disembarked, had some breakfast in a nearby cafe, and walked around town for a while.  This is not an organized tour of the city, but just things I saw as I ambled around.

My first stop was the Dinner Bell cafe–one of those old style Mom and Pop eating establishments that used to be the small restaurant scene in America. It had been in business since 1939 at the same location.

I left home without any breakfast, and so I was very hungry by the time I got to Prescott.  I also needed to use the facilities, so the cafe was a logical first stop.  Prices are a little higher in these places than they are in fast food joints like Wendy’s, but the food is much better.  I ordered a Denver omelette, a delicacy I haven’t had for several years, and coffee.  They were good–plenty of real food.  There went my calorie count for the day.

Inside, the place was cramped, but I got a booth. Clearly the place has a lot of regulars. Like many American diners, the walls were covered with memorabilia of all sorts. I’m sure every picture has a story, but I didn’t get any of them.

My waitress had sparkly pockets on her blue jeans. The place was heavily decorated for Halloween, and most of the people seemed to know each other.

Fortified with breakfast, I went out and immediately found the true cause of my visit to Prescott.  I remembered there was an old bookstore in this part of town, and I wanted to see if it was still there.  Yes, it was.

The pink shop across the street from the Dinner Bell is called The Book Nook. It is an old style bookstore crammed from floor to ceiling with used books–most of them in only fair condition. It is full of treasures, and most of them at reasonable prices.

While I was inside the shopkeeper asked me if I was looking for anything in particular.  I mentioned Edgar Rice Burroughs and Otis A. Kline, and was introduced to Marilyn, the shop owner, who told me that the better, rarer stuff was downstairs.  I talked her into letting me go downstairs with her and found a basement crammed with old treasures not really much different from the stuff upstairs.  She had a computer down there, and could look to see if she had anything that would tempt me.  I asked her about Talbot Mundy, and she came up with a thick novel called “Old Ugly Face”–a tale of mysticism and espionage on the India-Thibet border set in the 1930s–not in very good condition and she wanted $55 for it.  That was too much, but I might try to find it via inter-library loan.  I asked for various other authors, most of whom she didn’t have, but she did have one by Aleister Crowley.  This proved to be the find of the expedition, and for $35 I acquired an excellent magician’s manual.

Title page and frontispiece. The book is bound in black buckram with gold stamping on the spine, but nothing on the cover. It must have had a dust jacket once upon a time, but that is gone. The author is Aleister Crowley. The title is Magick. New York, Samuel Weiser, 1973, c.1934. illus., plates, index. 511 p.

I am such a dabbler.  After spending the money on it, I hope I can find time to read this book.  There is no chance in hell that I’ll ever be able to practice magick the way Crowley describes it.

I found a second book that I wanted in the Book Nook, PETER AND THE SHADOW THIEVES by Dave Barry and Riddley Pearson.  This Children’s novel is a continuation of the adventures of Peter Pan as imagined by modern authors Barry and Pearson.  Actually there are at least 3 or 4 books in this series and they are prequels to J. M. Barrie’s work.  Barry is notable for his humor, Pearson for his thrillers.  It seems like an odd team to do Peter Pan stories but they are surprisingly effective together.  I read the first one, PETER AND THE STARCATCHERS about a decade ago, and when I saw the second one I bought it on impulse.  Peter Pan has always been one of my heroes.

I spent more than half an hour in the bookstore, and it was very pleasant.  Such places are packed with treasures, and I’m sorry I can only afford to take maybe one or two pieces when I find them.

IMHO, this is what bookstores should look like. Not elegant! Not spacious, bright, and clean! A narrow place, crammed with wonders, by an old magic-worker who loves her treasures and shares them with those who are wise enough to find them.

Leaving the bookstore behind, I walked into the central touristy part of Prescott.  I also came to visit the antique stores, trading posts, and galleries.  I love that kind of stuff, though I have neither money to spend on it, nor places to display any such loot.  Oh well, a man can look and admire without buying.  I also planned to get my day’s exercise walking around downtown.

I kind of like it when artists do murals and bizarre gigantic paintings on the walls of buildings. This splash of color is hidden by foliage on the banks of a creek that runs through western Prescott and is close to the cafe.

I would like to eat dinner with this fellow some time.

I found another bookstore, this one on Whiskey Row in the heart of town. It is called The Sage, and it is the antitheses of the Book Nook. Here everything is immaculate and in excellent condition, and the prices are all double and triple what they are at the other place. I walked through this store and admired it very much, but I didn’t buy anything.

This shop is underground on Whiskey Row and specializes in western memorabilia–definitely a tourist trap, but a great place for those who might want some authentic old western costumes.

I found this wooden Indian inside another store on Whiskey Row where I stopped to admire the bolo ties, and wound up buying a couple of geodes.

Prescott was holding a Pumpkin Festival for charity in the park around the Yavapai County Courthouse. There has always been something going on here whenever I visited Prescott. There was an anti-Romney rally going on, with a bit of gentle satire involved.

Can you tell that it is almost Halloween?

There is nothing remarkable about this building. I took the picture just to prove I really was in Prescott that morning.

a pleasant day for a festival in the park. Pavilions all over the place. That massive building in the background is the Yavapai County Courthouse. One has to climb two flights of stairs just to get in through the front door.

Festival booths seen from behind.

Fry’s Wheel of Fortune. Spin it and win a bat, cat, pumpkin, or lunch at Fry’s food store. It is hard for me to pass up free stuff, but the line waiting for a chance to spin it was too long.

Life sized statue of horse and rider. I really admire these old bronze masterpieces.

The Shootist–this old gunslinger is watching a costume contest for kids under the age of 7.

The Over the Hill Gang, some old cowboys enjoying the fine weather. I spent a few minutes talking to them.

A pumpkin festival has to have a pumpkin patch. Neither Charley Brown nor the Great Pumpkin were in attendance, but one could buy a pumpkin for charity here.

Damn that fat woman in black blouse and blue jeans. She walked right in front of me as I was shooting a papparazzi picture of Spider-Man and Tinker Belle. Seems like an unlikely combination. Darth Vader was there too.

I finally left the festival behind and took a tour of the nearby antique stores. I admired some pretty trinkets, but didn’t buy anything else. Stopped to take a picture of a typical store though. I believe I’ve been here before. Deja vu!

Nothing else worth mentioning happened.  I walked back to my car, and drove home, getting confused again at the Cordes Junction turnaround, but quickly correcting and heading south.  The whole trip took about 7 hours.  I got my exercise for the day, two old books, and a pretty rock.  And I’m wondering where I can go next time the wanderlust overcomes me.

If you’ve ever been to Prescott, Arizona, or any other old town where you can find rundown bookstores and plenty of characters hanging out in the local diner, why not leave a comment?

–end

The Ape, the Bat, and the Spider   4 comments

I love superhero movies–always have.  And there have been more and more of them lately as Time-Warner (D.C) and Marvel get their acts together.  In the last couple of weeks I’ve made an extra effort to get out and see The Amazing Spider-Man and The Rise of the Dark Knight.  I enjoyed them both very much.  Spider-Man was more fun.  Batman was more epic.

Talking with my son about them, I started to mentally compare the movies.  At first glance Batman and Spider-Man don’t seem very similar, but the two heroes actually have a lot of similarities.  In fact I’d argue that they’re both literary descendants of Tarzan who was the original swinger.

Tarzan was the original swinging super hero.

Then Batman got into the act.

Then Spider-Man made it his chosen mode of travel.

First Edgar Rice Burroughs had a super hero Tarzan swinging in 1912, although it was probably 1920 before he showed it off in the comics.  Then Bob Kane created the swinging Batman in 1929.  Finally, Stan Lee did it with Spider-Man in 1961 (and later with Daredevil in 1964.)

There are a lot of resemblances between these three male supermen.  They are all orphans. Tarzan’s parents died in the African jungle while he was still a baby.  Batman’s parents were shot down by Joe Chill in Crime Alley while Bruce as a ten-year-old boy.  Spider-Man’s parents perished mysteriously, when he was a young boy also.  Then Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben got killed by a petty criminal, so Spider-Man suffered the dead father figure twice.  (Superman’s parents died  when Krypton exploded.  Conan’s parents are generally thought to have died when he was young; Robert E. Howard never said, but the movie scripters kill them off when Conan is young.)  Is there something about being an orphan that creates heroes?

All three heroes base or get their powers from animals: apes, bats, and spiders.  My original comparison was simply going to be Batman and Spider-Man.  Both characters model themselves after animals that are loathed and feared–bats and spiders, and use an animal symbol on their costume.

Not too visible in this rubberized armor, but the bat symbol is right in the middle of Batman’s chest.

Spider emblem right in the middle of his chest. Granted, it is the best place to put a symbol on a costume, and all the heroes do it, but still . . . it’s a similarity.

Both Batman and Spider-Man are primarily known as crime fighters, and not just ordinary crime, although they will take out everyday thugs and such if the occasion arises, but freaky super-villains.  The Batman’s arch nemesis is The Joker (whose theme colors are green and purple).

Scary looking guy in green and purple, maniac, mass murderer.

Spidey’s all time worst enemy is The Green Goblin, whose theme colors are green and purple.

Scary looking maniac and mass murderer in green and purple.

Both heroes are scientific geniuses, coming up with all sorts of inventions to help themselves.  Batman does it more than Spider-Man does, but neither one is challenged in the IQ department.

Both of them have a tendency to get their girlfriends killed.  I won’t go into that, but ladies, stay away from superheroes (and villains) if you don’t want to die young.

Both of them developed female versions.  Batman has Batwoman and Batgirl.  (many different versions of both)

Kate Kane is the latest and perhaps the hottest Batwoman. She hasn’t made it to the movies yet, but it’s only a matter of time.

Barbara Gordon is the original Batgirl, and still the best. She’s back, somehow, since DC rebooted their universe.

Spider-Man has his female imitations.

Spiderwoman, deadlier than the male.

Arana (should be a tilde on the n but not available while typing here) aka Spider-Girl.

Then there was the Batmobile and the Spidermobile, the Batcycle and the Spidercycle.  And who knows how many other similarities there are between the two heroes.  Is it just me, or is Marvel simply imitating D.C. as far as their hero characters go?

Batman is perhaps the most important figure in the DC pantheon of heroes.  Superman might be equal, but then why are there more Bat books than Super books?  Spider-Man is perhaps the most important figure in the Marvel pantheon of heroes.  It just had to be that way.  The two characters carry the same karma, and so achieve similar positions of prominence.

I’m not saying that Batman and Spider-man are identical, but dang, when you start to look at them, there sure are a lot of similarities.

If you can think of some comparisons that I may have missed, please go ahead and leave a comment.  If you’ve seen both of their new movies, and you’d like to weigh in on which was superior, then do that too.

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