Tag Archives: Spider-Man

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse – A Movie Review


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CaptureMany reviews start out with a variation on the phrase “you’ve never seen anything like this” and, upon seeing the reviewed film, one may say to one’s self, “I’ve seen many, many things like this.” In the case of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse “you’ve never seen anything like this” might be true.

Bold, inventive, involving and charming, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is such a delightful film that it entices you to want to line back up, purchase another ticket and see it again. Within moments of the movie’s opening scenes, I was wondering, with all the technological skill and acumen at work in cinema these days, why this movie was not mounted as a live-action project for, surely, the fact that it is an animated movie will significantly limit its box office potential and draw. Anyone who reads my reviews knows that I am a fan of all things comic book in the movies and that I truly enjoyed the latest Spider-Man film Spider-Man: Homecoming. I write this with little fear of being contradicted: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a far more fun and fulfilling movie than that one on every level.

Into the Spider-Verse just works. The visuals work. The story works. The soundtrack works. The humor works. The drama works. The family narrative works. It all works.

The movie tells the origin story of Miles Morales and how he becomes Spider-Man. “Wait,” you might be saying, “Miles Morales? Where’s Peter Parker?” Don’t you worry. Peter Parker is here, too. In fact, a couple Petes show up and, when they do, Into the Spider-Verse does not get bogged down into explaining why they have shown up when they have or why these particular spider-people have made the scene. It simply tells its story trusting that its audience is smart enough and willing to follow along. If you are not in those categories, 1) you may not have a soul and, 2) this is not the movie for you. Into the Spider-Verse does a quick and brilliant job with the superhero origin story but does so from the perspective that the audience has seen this before and doesn’t need to know about why there are radioactive spiders or women spider-people or spider-pigs for that matter. It just wants to sweep the audience up in its story and it wildly succeeds in doing so.

At the core of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a story about family. Miles Morales is like many young people – loving his family but slightly embarrassed by them at the same time, craving his independence but reliant on advice from his elders. He does not know quite who he is or what he will become, but he is engaged in the process of finding out. That he is given superpowers at the same time is just one more problem to handle.

Miles Morales is a Spider-Man for our times, a mixed-race teenager who does not want the power when he receives it, is afraid to tell his parents what has happened to him (because, of course, he gained his power while doing something he should not have been doing) and simply wants to help – to do good. We can use more stories about characters like Miles and I hope we get them.

The voice cast featuring standout work by Shameik Moore as Miles and Jake Johnson as an aging Peter Parker are terrific. Listen for the voices of actors having a blast in this one. There are more than a handful that will surprise you. The direction by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey and Rodney Rothman is terrific and the movie takes the audience on a wonderful, break-neck paced joy ride that one does not wish to end too soon. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse might be (might be!) the best superhero movie released in 2018…

SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE receives FIVE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-PIGS out of a possible FIVE

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The Best Sequential Art I Read Last Week: November 7 – 13, 2018


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I am a comic book collector and happy to be one. I might say “proud” if I hadn’t, over a year ago, switched to reading digital as opposed to print comics. I feel a bit robbed of the tactile sensations of the hobby – of the turn of the page, the sneaking look to the panel a page over, the bagging and shorting and stacking and filing. Though I read my comics in a different medium than I used to, I still treat each Wednesday (comic book delivery day to specialty shops around the country) as different from the other days of the week. I subscribe and now, rather than go to the comic store to be handed the books pulled for my “Hold Slot,” I click a button on my iPad and watch them download.

Then I read them.

Rare is the week that I don’t read them all between Wednesdays and some weeks I have, well… let’s just say more comic books in my digital downloads than a grown man should. Comic book legend Will Eisner (creator of The Spirit) is one of the most influential men even to put pencil to drawing board in the pursuit of making comics. So influential was he that the industry awards (think the Oscars or the Emmys or the Grammys) are named The Eisner Awards. He called comic books “sequential art,” perhaps because he became embarrassed by his profession when he had to admit what he did for a living. This is my weekly reaction to the comics I read.

Comics I Read Last Week:

 

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The best comic I read last week was Spider-Geddon #3

Writer: Cristos Gage

Artist: Carlo Barberi

Spider-Geddon is a nice story. It is well written and well drawn. It is fun.

It is not the best comic I read last week, but, on the day Stan Lee passed away, it seems appropriate to select an issue that, without him, wouldn’t even exist.

Lee created Spider-Man and, therefore, is responsible for all of the characters in this book.

ALL OF THEM.

There are few creators in any genre or art form as influential as Stan Lee, and I do not just mean in comic books. I mean in consciousness.

Excelsior, Stan. Thank you for my imagination.

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The Best Sequential Art I Read Last Week: October 10 – 16, 2018


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I am a comic book collector and happy to be one. I might say “proud” if I hadn’t, over a year ago, switched to reading digital as opposed to print comics. I feel a bit robbed of the tactile sensations of the hobby – of the turn of the page, the sneaking look to the panel a page over, the bagging and shorting and stacking and filing. Though I read my comics in a different medium than I used to, I still treat each Wednesday (comic book delivery day to specialty shops around the country) as different from the other days of the week. I subscribe and now, rather than go to the comic store to be handed the books pulled for my “Hold Slot,” I click a button on my iPad and watch them download.

Then I read them.

Rare is the week that I don’t read them all between Wednesdays and some weeks I have, well… let’s just say more comic books in my digital downloads than a grown man should. Comic book legend Will Eisner (creator of The Spirit) is one of the most influential men even to put pencil to drawing board in the pursuit of making comics. So influential was he that the industry awards (think the Oscars or the Emmys or the Grammys) are named The Eisner Awards. He called comic books “sequential art,” perhaps because he became embarrassed by his profession when he had to admit what he did for a living. This is my weekly reaction to the comics I read.

Comics I Read Last Week:

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The best comic I read last week was Spider-Geddon #1

Writer: Cristos Gage and Dan Slott

Artist: Jorge Molina

Off the wall, gonzo, over-the-top action. That’s what Spider-Geddon #1 delivers. With a title like that, it better, right?

Cristos Gage is working from ideas put in motion by Dan Slott in the neo-classic “Spider-Verse” story line (which also inspired this winter’s motion picture Spider-Man: Edge of the Spider-Verse animated film) and, in this case, good ideas are quite the fruitful playground. Focusing on the engaging Miles Morales Spider-Man, Gage connects the reader to a story that seems made to please. After establishing Morales as the Spider-Man of record, Gage introduces a handful of other Spider-People, giving each and identity and raison d art making the audience care about each. He handles the Superior Octavius very well.

And Jorge Molina is perfectly suited to the world of Spider-Man. His fluid characters blend seamless into creative panelling and the kinetic nature of the story matches what he is doing visually. This is a terrific example of the right artist being on the right book and character (in this case, characters) and Molina’s Spider-Man is a classic rendition. He is key to the success of this book.

Spider-Geddon looks as though it will be a fun ride and one that I am looking forward to taking.

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The Best Sequential Art I Read Last Week: July 25 – 31, 2018


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I am a comic book collector and happy to be one. I might say “proud” if I hadn’t, over a year ago, switched to reading digital as opposed to print comics. I feel a bit robbed of the tactile sensations of the hobby – of the turn of the page, the sneaking look to the panel a page over, the bagging and shorting and stacking and filing. Though I read my comics in a different medium than I used to, I still treat each Wednesday (comic book delivery day to specialty shops around the country) as different from the other days of the week. I subscribe and now, rather than go to the comic store to be handed the books pulled for my “Hold Slot,” I click a button on my iPad and watch them download.

Then I read them.

Rare is the week that I don’t read them all between Wednesdays and some weeks I have, well… let’s just say more comic books in my digital downloads than a grown man should. Comic book legend Will Eisner (creator of The Spirit) is one of the most influential men even to put pencil to drawing board in the pursuit of making comics. So influential was he that the industry awards (think the Oscars or the Emmys or the Grammys) are named The Eisner Awards. He called comic books “sequential art,” perhaps because he became embarrassed by his profession when he had to admit what he did for a living. This is my weekly reaction to the comics I read.

Comics I Read Last Week:

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The best comic I read last week was Amazing Spider-Man #2 (#803)

Writer: Nick Spencer

Artist: Ryan Ottley

Two issues in to this latest Spider-Man reboot, two times I have selected it as the Pick of the Week.

It is a very solid and fun book.

As I wrote upon the premiere issue, Ryan Ottley’s art is a perfect match for the adventures of Spider-Man and, as importantly, Peter Parker. It is a great balance between traditional comic art and over-the-top cartooning. That is a fine medium to strike for Spider-Man. He draws a long and lanky wall crawler, which is the way I like him, and he draws a truly creative and imposing Lizard. I am more impressed with this issue than I was with the first.

Nick Spencer has Spidey’s voice down pat. The humor does not feel forced, the heroism does not feel out of place and the scenes with Mary Jane feel all but perfect. Though there is some inexplicable outcry (can comic book fans ever be happy?) over the potential Mary Jane/Peter reunion, place me solidly in the happy for them camp. Spider-Man and Mary Jane belong together. Anything other than that feels force, in my opinion.

This is an auspicious, two issue, start for the new team and new direction.

Here is hoping they can keep it going!

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Filed under Amazing Spider-Man, Comic Book Pick of the Week, Comic Book Review, Comic Books, DC Comics, Marvel Comics, Spider-Man, Weekly Comic Book Review

The Best Sequential Art I Read Last Week: July 11 – 17, 2018


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I am a comic book collector and happy to be one. I might say “proud” if I hadn’t, over a year ago, switched to reading digital as opposed to print comics. I feel a bit robbed of the tactile sensations of the hobby – of the turn of the page, the sneaking look to the panel a page over, the bagging and shorting and stacking and filing. Though I read my comics in a different medium than I used to, I still treat each Wednesday (comic book delivery day to specialty shops around the country) as different from the other days of the week. I subscribe and now, rather than go to the comic store to be handed the books pulled for my “Hold Slot,” I click a button on my iPad and watch them download.

Then I read them.

Rare is the week that I don’t read them all between Wednesdays and some weeks I have, well… let’s just say more comic books in my digital downloads than a grown man should. Comic book legend Will Eisner (creator of The Spirit) is one of the most influential men even to put pencil to drawing board in the pursuit of making comics. So influential was he that the industry awards (think the Oscars or the Emmys or the Grammys) are named The Eisner Awards. He called comic books “sequential art,” perhaps because he became embarrassed by his profession when he had to admit what he did for a living. This is my weekly reaction to the comics I read.

Comics I Read Last Week:

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The best comic I read last week was Amazing Spider-Man #1

Writer: Nick Spencer

Artist: Ryan Ottley

Do not misunderstand this choice: Superman #1 by Brian Michael Bendis and Ivan Reis is a really, really good book. It is creative and inventive and charts a new course for the Man of Steel.

But Nick Spencer and Ryan Ottley’s Amazing Spider-Man #1 (#802) is a simply perfect first issue of a new era for the Web-Spinner.

Following Dan Slott’s epic run is no enviable task, but Spencer and Ottley sure seem up to it. They have crafted a prologue that is engaging, that established a new status quo (in a brilliant manner) and that paves the way for years of story lines to come. I hope Spencer – who can tend to the controversial, quick burn (“Hail Hyrda,” anyone?) is in this for the long term. He has both Spider-Man and Peter Parker’s voices down and manages to put Peter in the best place for the character – as a lovable loser. But he also gives the perfect, Parker twist to the proceedings.

I know of Ryan Ottley only from his Invincible reputation – no pun intended. Though his art skews a bit to the cartoonish for my typical tastes, it is perfect for the subject matter and once I settled in to his interpretations, I let go and enjoyed the work, which is solid. He is a great fit for Spider-Man.

It is no mean feat to follow a master but this is an auspicious beginning. Tonally different from Slott’s run, but perfectly Spidey, Amazing Spider-Man #1 puts the book to the top of the read pile every month.

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Countdown to INFINITY… Spider-Man | Homecoming


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ONE A WEEK UNTIL Avengers Infinity War opens in May!

Captain America: The First Avenger | Iron Man | The Incredible Hulk| Iron Man II Thor | The Avengers | Iron Man 3 | Thor: The Dark World | Captain America: The Winter Soldier | Guardians of the Galaxy | Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 | Avengers: Age of Ultron | Ant-Man | Captain America: Civil War | Doctor Strange | Spider-Man: Homecoming | Thor: Ragnarok | Black Panther

Week Sixteen: Spider-Man | Homecoming

SpiderMan

Tom Holland is perfect as Spider-Man. Perfect. Marvel directors seem to have unerring instincts in casting and their choice for Spider-Man (who debuted in Captain America: Civil War – a film creatively revisited in this one) in Tom Holland is spot-on. This is a very fun film and does a massive amount of world building while telling a compelling Spider-Man story, too. The filmmakers based their take on the high school movies of John Hughes, and they do a great job generating that vibe.

Spider-Man | Homecoming is absolutely jam-packed with delightful easter eggs… Bruce Banner’s picture on a classroom wall display of famous scientists, the principal of Peter’s school is the grandson of a solider who fought with Captain America in World War II, Captain America’s educational videos, the Sokovia Accords, Donald Glover (soon to explode as Lando Calrissian is on hand), Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is on screen, and Jennifer Connelly – the wife of Paul Bettany who provides the voice of J.A.R.V.I.S. and is the Vision – is the voice of Peter’s suit, which he names Karen. There are many more and, somehow, they do not overwhelm the movie.

Spider-Man | Homecoming also features one of the best Marvel villains in Michael Keaton’s Vulture. Fun, breezy and suitably Marvel, this is the second best of all Spider-Man movies (it does trail Spider-Man 2 by a pretty wide margin). It is also the most multi-cultural of all the Marvel movies (prior to Black Panther) and that casting serves it very well. There are a series of great set pieces here and the interplay between Spider-Man and Iron Man is fun to watch. It is so pervasive, however, that it does lead one to question whether Spider-Man will be able to carry his own movie.

Oh, and the twist ending is very, very well handled.

When Spider-Man | Homecoming opened last summer, I gave it FOUR AND A HALF (because Holland is just SO good) FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOODS out of a possible FIVE.


KEY INTRODUCTIONS:

  • Adrian Toomes, The Vulture
  • Damage Control
  • MJ (Mary Jane, perhaps?)
  • The Shocker (two, in fact!)
  • Aaron Davis (the Prowler)
    • Miles Morales is referenced… he will become a Spider-Man, too!
  • Phineas Mason, The Thinker

CONNECTION(S) TO INFINITY WAR:

  • For a movie that almost immediately precedes Infinity War, there are surprisingly few lead ins to the movie, however…
  • The so-called Iron Spider armor is introduced at the end of the film when Peter turns down Avengers membership.
  • Tony Stark’s relationship with Pepper Potts seems very much back on after the “break” the two were on in Civil War… perhaps setting up for tragedy in Infinity War.
  • The new Avengers upstate New York headquarters features prominently in the last act. It is also remodeled just in time for Thanos to, likely, destroy it.

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Spider-Man: Homecoming – A Movie Review


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Spider-Man Homecoming

Spider-Man: Homecoming has a lot riding on it. Billed as a coming-of-age story constructed in the vein of a 1980s John Hughes movie, Spider-Man: Homecoming is also the first joint venture between Sony and Marvel with Marvel controlling the content of the film. It brings Spider-Man firmly under the control of Marvel Studios and fully into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It is intended to re-launch perhaps the most famous Marvel Comics character into a series of successful solo movies.

It is likely to succeed very well in this ambition.

The best – the very best – thing Spider-Man: Homecoming has going for it is star Tom Holland. Marvel movie fans got a taste of the actor in Captain America: Civil War when he joined the super hero clash and the screen lit up whenever Holland was on it. Pitch perfect in that movie, the actor is even more appealing here in his solo venture. Following two very good performances as Spider-Man (in Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield), Holland had a bit to live up to as he stepped into the high tech tights. He is more than up to the challenge. In fact, for my money, he is the best of the bunch. That is saying something as the others were very good themselves.

Tom Holland makes the movie work. Though he is surrounded by wonderful actors (all the students in the movie are terrific, especially Zendaya as Michelle and Jacob Batalon as Ned), his energy outshines them all. This is quite a feat when considering Michael Keaton and Robert Downey, jr (not to mention Jon Favreau) are all on hand. Keaton and Downey, jr as as one would expect, both fully committed to their roles as the antagonist The Vulture and the mentor Iron Man respectively. Keaton, in fact, is a far more fully developed villain than we have come to expect from most Marvel movies and Downey, jr is so good as Tony Stark that it is difficult to determine where the character stops and the actor starts.

A common issue with these movies is that they try to do a bit too much, and Spider-Man: Homecoming suffers a bit from this malady. I loved the cameos (especially the one at the end!) but are they critical to the film? There are some nice set pieces, though some of the action sequences are fairly muddy in their execution. The entire side trip to Washington, DC seems excessive and unnecessary. It seems to me that everything that scene accomplishes could be handled in New York which is where the character belongs. But Spider-Man: Homecoming is Holland’s movie and, while it is not a perfect film, Holland makes up for all of these shortcomings and then some.

Beyond casting Holland, the filmmakers make two important decisions for Homecoming. First, they do not re-tell the origin of the character. Been there. Done that, thank you very much. Second, they put Peter Parker in high school. Spider-Man has always worked best as a teenager going through the struggles of coming-of-age. This Spider-Man has girl troubles, homework and a curfew (that he regularly breaks). He is trying to understand who he is and what he can do. He is carving out his place in the world and the movie does a terrific job with that arc.

Here is a Spider-Man that changes over the course of the film. Here is a Spider-Man that is funny and engaging. Here is a Spider-Man that is not driven by angst (the best versions of the character are not). Here is a Spider-Man that simply wants to be heroic.

Spider-Man: Homecoming succeeds in evoking a feel of high school movies of the past (think The Breakfast Club but Anthony Michael Hall with superpowers). It succeeds in incorporating the character into the fuller Marvel Universe. It succeeds in launching this version of the character. It succeeds in being a fun, summer entertainment and places itself firmly on the list of very good – not great – Marvel movies.

In many ways, it does feel like Spider-Man has come home.

 

SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING receives FOUR AND A HALF (because Holland is just SO good) FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOODS out of a possible FIVE.

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