Tag Archives: Spider-Man

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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The Best Sequential Art I Read Last Week: December 14 – 20, 2016


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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.

I read 6 comics last week: Wonder Woman #12, Poe Dameron #9, Spider-Man #10, Star Trek Boldly Go #3, Action Comics #969 and Detective Comics #946.

The best comic I read last week was Wonder Woman #12.

wonder-woman-12

 

 

Wonder Woman has been a consistently great read since the DC Rebirth initiative unfolded this past summer. It has cleverly told stories on two separate tracks: one taking place in the present and one playing out in the past. They are related stories, most notably tied together by a strong and familiar supporting cast including Steve Trevor, Barbara Minerva (the Cheetah) and a nicely redesigned Etta Candy. They are also linked by a very well written Wonder Woman – a character that writer Greg Rucka knows well from a celebrated run he had on the title years ago.

He has returned to re-define Wonder Woman in this new DC continuity and he was the absolute perfect choice to handle the title.

I’ve been more partial to the “origin” story playing out in the even numbered issues of this book. Told with a definite sweetness and, well, wonder, this origin arc is both updated and familiar. Using the well worn framework and plot points, Rucka recounts Diana’s first contact with “Man’s World” in a compelling and wide-eyed fashion. Wonder Woman is perfectly portrayed. She’s awestruck by all she encounters. She’s loving and friendly. And she tries to avoid violence at every turn which is a core element of her character (take that, United Nations). She is readily connected to her supporting cast and the reveal of the “big bad” at the end of the issue – a big bad which ties this story to the one taking place in the present – was very well delivered.

Rucka knows what he is doing and DC would be wise to avoid interference in his work and tie him to the title for a very long time.

Unfortunately, I read that artist Nicola Scott is leaving the title after this first arc and that is truly as shame. Her work is really incredible and she seems perfectly suited to draw Wonder Woman. Her Diana is striking and commanding while still approachable and compassionate. Scott draws Wonder Woman with a restrained power and a definite grace. Losing her will be significant for the book. There are not many who approach this level of mastery of and connection to a character.

Wonder Woman is a terrific book. Hopefully it can maintain this quality into next year, Wonder Woman’s 76th and, perhaps, biggest yet as the Gal Gadot film opens in the summer. If the film makers can come to striking the tone set in this book, they will be well on their way to delivering a great movie.

 

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Filed under Action Comics, Comic Book Pick of the Week, Comic Book Review, Comic Books, DC Comics, Detective Comics, Marvel Comics, Spider-Man, Star Trek, Weekly Comic Book Review, Wonder Woman

The Best Sequential Art I Read Last Week: December 7 – 13, 2016


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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.

I read 7 comics last week: Avengers #2, Champions #3, Spider-Man Clone Conspiracy #3, Batman #12, Superman #12, Justice League #10 and Nightwing #10.

The best comic I read last week was Batman #12.

batman-12

 

It’s hard to not like a comic book that takes a significant risk. Batman #12 does this. It toys with the backstory of Batman’s origins in a very risky manner and the alteration not only pays off, it significantly changes the character.

It is also shockingly depressing. Without revealing too much, I’ll say that the revelation relates to the “I Am Suicide” title of this arc and does not only relate to Batman.

Mikel Janin is some kind of artist. His line work in this issue is simply tremendous. The action sequences are deftly and excitingly staged and his character work is solid, too. There are moments where no words are needed to convey what’s occurring in the characters’ heads, and that’s a testament to Janin. I loved his Nightwing. His Batman is even better. Paired with David Finch in alternating arcs, Janin has proven himself to be a worthy counterpart to his more well known partner.

Tom King had an almost impossible task following up Scott Snyder’s run on Batman and, though I have enjoyed what he’s been doing, this issue may well mark something of a turning point. This issue is so engrossing and drive by deep character work that it is the defining issue of his run. While it remains to be seen what he is able to from here, this issue clearly illustrates why DC felt comfortable putting him on the book.

Beyond the origin twisting revelation of the issue, Batman #12 also features a probing look at the “Bat” and “Cat” relationship between Batman and Catwoman. I am not familiar with the events that have been referenced here – that Catwoman has killed some 237 people – but my lack of familiarity with that plot point doesn’t hinder my enjoyment of the manner in which King handles their relationship. This look into them is very well done.

The entire issue is. It’s the pick of the week in what was a strong week of books (Champions #3 almost took the award this week and, if you’re not reading this book, do yourself a favor and pick it up!).

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Filed under Avengers, Batman, Comic Book Pick of the Week, Comic Book Review, Comic Books, DC Comics, Justice League, Marvel Comics, Nightwing, Spider-Man, Superman, Weekly Comic Book Review

The Best Sequential Art I Read Last Week: November 23 – 29, 2016


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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.

I read comics last week: Detective Comics #945, Action Comics #968, Titans #5, Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1, Star Wars #25, Wonder Woman#11, Civil War II #7 and Han Solo #5.

The best comic I read last week was Detective Comics #945.

detective-comics-945

 

When DC relaunched their comic book universe with Rebirth, the did something very cool with Detective and Action Comics: they returned both books to their original numbering. So, while the majority of DC books are in double digits (and likely to be renumbered prior to them ever reaching even issue 100), Detective and Action Comics are approaching 1000 issues. Impressive. The decision to renumber pays homage to DC’s vast and sustained publishing history and to the staying power of Batman and Superman who have been the headliners for the overwhelming majority of Detective and Action Comics respectively.

The new story arc James Tynion IV is crafting in Detective is called “The Victim Syndicate” and it is both clever and involving. The set up (surprisingly similar to the current set up on the CW’s Arrow, by-the-way) is that there has been collateral damage created in Batman’s war on crime and those victims of Batman’s initial villains have found powers of their own and have banded together to suggest that the real enemy is not Batman’s rogues gallery, but Batman himself.

While it remains to be seen if the villains themselves will have any staying power in the overall Batman mythos, the conceit is engaging. It is made all the more pertinent in the context of what Tynion has done with Detective Comics since its relaunch. He’s populated the book with Batman’s sidekicks being trained by Batwoman to fight the war on crime. They believe they’ve already lost Red Robin to the cause – they haven’t but that’s some good dramatic irony – and now the Victim Syndicate suggests to the trainees (especially to Spoiler) that the root of the issues that plague Gotham City may well be Batman himself. Nice twist.

The rotating art is a bit uneven from issue-to-issue and its particularly challenging here. Though Al Barrionuevo and Carmen Carnero do fine, their styles don’t seamlessly blend and the combination of the two is a bit off putting. They are both good, but the quality of the work is not entirely on par with the drafting of Eddy Barrows who handles many issues of the title. The inks and colors of Scott Hanna and Adriano Lucas lend some consistency, but things seem a bit off.

So it’s all the more a testament to the great story Tynion is telling that this was my favorite book of the week. And who wouldn’t like a book with actual dialogue on its cover! I’ve not see that in years!

 

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Filed under Action Comics, Amazing Spider-Man, Batman, Comic Book Pick of the Week, Comic Book Review, Comic Books, DC Comics, Detective Comics, Han Solo, Spider-Man, Star Trek Discovery, Titans, Weekly Comic Book Review, Wonder Woman

The Best Sequential Art I Read Last Week: November 16 – 22, 2016


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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.

I read 11 comics last week: Superman # 11, Trinity #3, Nightwing #9, Spider-Man #9, Batman #11, Star Trek: Waypoint #2, Justice League #9, Amazing Spider-Man #21, Infamous Iron Man #2, Black Panther #8 and Doctor Strange #14.

The best comic I read last week was Trinity #3.

trinity-three

 

The magic continues…

Over the course of the last months, I’ve paid attention to fandom bickering about the dark DC Universe of the Zach Snyder movies and the hopeful DC Universe emerging in recent comics. As someone who has enjoyed the Snyder films and likes the direction they have taken the DC Cinematic Universe, I’ve been a bit taken aback by the vitriol aimed at them and their tone. I’ve simply seen them as a different interpretation of classic characters and the interpretation worked for me.

However, when reading Francis Manapul’s Trinity, I admit I can see validity in the critiques of the dark DC. Manapul has crafted an initial arc in Trinity which will serve to redefine the dynamic between the top three heroes of the DC Universe in the most hopeful and heroic of manners: by connecting them all the more intimately with one another. Through story machinations I won’t spoil here, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman are forced to revisit the events which made them heroes – their origin stories – and they are forced to do this together. The friendship and compassion they show each other is, clearly, far more important than whatever adversary they are facing and that compassion serves to bring the three together and will likewise serve to reestablish them as the core of the DC Universe.

Remember, this Superman is an outsider – a newcomer to the Rebirth Universe – and an easy story out would be for Batman to continue his paranoid mistrust of the character and for Wonder Woman to pine for the deceased Superman of this universe – a man who was her lover. Manapul doesn’t do easy. Rather he writes a story with rich emotional resonance. It is also a reflection on what it means to be a hero, and can only be read as an intentional rebuke of the darkness that can invade comics and has invaded the DC films. Again, I like the DC films, but books like this make me realize how much more I like my heroes, well, wholly heroic.

The issue suffers a bit from fill-in artist Clay Mann’s work as opposed to Manapul’s art. Dont’ get me wrong: Mann is terrific and does a great job keeping the visual style of Manapul front-and-center in the issue, but Manapul is Manapul. However, if having as capable and artist as Mann on hand to keep Trinity shipping regularly, readers could do a lot worse. Mann is more than capable and shows some real dynamism in his work.

I said this last month – let Manapul do ALL the comics. He’s that good.

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Filed under Amazing Spider-Man, Batman, Black Panther, Comic Book Pick of the Week, Comic Book Review, Comic Books, DC Comics, Detective Comics, Doctor Strange, Iron Man, Justice League, Marvel Comics, Nightwing, Spider-Man, Star Trek, Superman, Weekly Comic Book Review, Wonder Woman

The Best Sequential Art I Read Last Week: October 11 – 18, 2016


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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.

I read 7 comics last week: Wonder Woman #8, Detective Comics #942, Spider-Man: Clone Conspiracy #1, All Star Batman #3, Darth Vader 25, Han Solo #4 and Action Comics #965.

The best comic I read last week was All Star Batman #3.

all-star-batman-3

 

I believe that’s 3-in-a-row for All Star Batman. All three issues of this title have been the best read I’ve had in any week they’ve been published.

That’s not too surprising as my affection for the work of writer Scott Snyder has been chronicled many times in “Best Sequential Art…” blog. I am certainly not alone in my admiration for his work with the character of Batman. He’s been writing him for over four years now and his stories remain both fresh and daring. This arc he’s put together in All Star Batman is a great example of this. The story is shocking and that is not a word I chose lightly. The story here does shock. It shocks in the best way.

Snyder knows the character, has defined the current status of him and continues too play with it in exciting ways.

This story is no different, well, it might be because it is so much better than the last arc he wrote on Batman – the Mr. Bloom arc that just never… bloomed for me.

What he’s doing here is writing the character with confidence.

Almost as much confidence as the legendary John Romita, jr is using the illustrate the book. I am hot-and-cold on Romita. He’s clearly one of the most storied and best illustrators in the business, but I don’t always love his work. I love it here. It may have to do with the solid inks of Danny Miki. These two seem perfectly suited to one another and the character.

All Star Batman is supposed to feature Snyder working with the best-of-the-best and, so far, it has been.

And I didn’t even mention the terrific back up story with art by Declan Shalvey. Shalvey would be great on the main book as well.

What a terrific comic this is. Truly one of the best.

 

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Filed under Action Comics, Comic Book Pick of the Week, Comic Book Review, Comic Books, DC Comics, Detective Comics, Han Solo, Marvel Comics, Spider-Man, Weekly Comic Book Review, Wonder Woman

The Best Sequential Art I Read Last Week: October 5 – 11, 2016


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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.

I read 9 comics last week: Nightwing #6, Superman #8, Champions #1, Batman #8, Death of X #1, Invincible Iron Man #14, Doctor Strange #12, Amazing Spider-Man #19 and Justice League #6.

The best comic I read last week was Champions #1.

champions

 

Huberto Ramos can draw kids and that’s a good thing because this new iteration of an old Marvel property features teenage heroes (and an android) as lead characters. Ramos’ style is a perfect match for the book as he captures the kinetic energy of kids, he has fun with his renderings and his young characters are readily distinguishable from older ones. Ramos has been doing this for years and he’s an artist whose work rarely disappoints. I hope he’s on the book for longer than the launch arc. His presence would help keep me buying it.

Not that I am not inclined to do so already. This book is a great read and has such a “pulled from the headlines” quality about it, one forgets that comic books are produced months in advance of publication. Its young vs. old, freedom vs. authority, Millennials vs.  Baby Boomers themes really work.

This should be no surprise as the book is written by Mark Waid, an all time great comic book scribe. Though the “new” Marvel status quo has been challenging to understand and something of a mixed bag in terms of realization, Waid’s Marvel books have been bright spots. When he’s allowed to do his thing free of unneeded editorial edicts, Waid is one of the top five writers working today. Hopefully, Champions can be free of too many company-wide story lines and plot restrictions because the imposition of those and the resultant lines of dialogue and plot developments related to them are the only places where the issue lags.

Clearly planned to launch after the delayed Civil War II conclusion, Champions suffers from readers having to fill in blanks that should already have been revealed. Something very significant clearly happens to Miles Morales in Civil War II, but Waid cannot disclose it and the reader is left wondering.

Marvel, let Waid and Ramos go do their collective thing and you have a monster hit here!

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Filed under Comic Book Pick of the Week, Comic Book Review, Comic Books, DC Comics, Marvel Comics, Weekly Comic Book Review