Tag Archives: Spider-Man

Today’s Super Comic — Spider-Man #5 (2016)

What a fun series this is!

In #5, Spider-Man (Miles Morales) is captured by Black Cat, foe and ex-girlfriend of the original Spidey, and Hammerhead, foe of the original Spidey but not an ex. His best friend has to cover for him with his mother, shortly after he’s committed a major secret-identity faux pas. His father meets with a certain government agency to protect him. His grandmother hires a certain private investigator to see if Miles is doing drugs. And a former trainee of a certain mutant team has entered his life.

The book is so full of character. Life is never easy for the protagonist. No one in the supporting cast lacks motivation for their behavior. And the various plotlines move forward at just the right pace, always plenty going on.

It’s Spider-Man as he’s meant to be, even if he’s not Peter Parker in this case.

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis

Artist: Sara Pichelli

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: recent back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology; included in Spider-Man: Miles Morales vol. 1

Appropriate For: ages 10 and up

Today’s Super Comic — Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #1 (1984)

marvel_super_heroes_secret_wars_vol_1_1This is one that works much better with kids. When I first read Secret Wars as a middle schooler, I thought it was among the coolest things ever. When I reread the miniseries as an adult, I was far less impressed, but it’s not without its charms.

The concept is simple. An infinitely powerful entity called the Beyonder summons a bunch of superheroes and a bunch of super-villains to a distant galaxy and plops them onto a bizarre patchwork planet. He tells both sides they must slay their enemies, and all they desire will be theirs.

The appeal, then, is also simple. It’s like playing with all your favorite toys at once. You get to watch the Avengers, X-Men, Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, and Hulk all interact over the course of 12 issues as they face some of their more well-known foes. It’s like Battle Royale or The Hunger Games, but with superheroes and far less bloodshed.

Writer Jim Shooter made some good choices with the set-up that’s outlined in #1. He has the Beyonder group Magneto among the heroes, because in Magneto’s mind he is a hero to his fellow mutants. Doctor Doom quickly asserts himself as the chief antagonist, putting himself above the mandated fray to embark on his own personal quest for power. And the world-devouring Galactus, who has often been portrayed as a force of nature above personal conflicts, is present among the villains as a powerful wild card.

Marvel also made a good call during the original execution of this miniseries in 1984. The participating characters ended an issue of their respective regular series by entering a mysterious portal. Then Secret Wars #1 came out. Then in the next issue of those regular series, the characters return to Earth, and some changes have occurred, big and small. For example, Spider-Man has a nifty black costume made of an alien material, and She-Hulk has replaced the Thing in the Fantastic Four. So what exactly happened between issues? Read the rest of Secret Wars to find out! I was too young to read in 1984, but I imagine it sparked a fun How did we get here? type of curiosity.

So, yeah, it’s basically just a fun wild ride for kids, but I absolutely ate it up when I was the right age. Marvel team-ups are often great, and this is a super-sized mega team-up.

Writer: Jim Shooter

Penciler: Mike Zeck

Inker: John Beatty

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology; included in Secret Wars (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 8 and up

Today’s Super Comic — Nova #7 (2013)

nova-7-2013So the first issue wasn’t a fluke. Seven issues in, and Nova is tremendous fun.

I appreciate how the creative teams take their time developing this young new Nova into a superhero. Sam Alexander learned a lot in the first storyline, but he’s still got ways to go before he’s ready for the big leagues (i.e., the Avengers, the team his mother prefers he not join at the age of fifteen—very smart mother there).

Issue #7 is framed around Sam searching for an opportunity to save the day in grand heroic fashion. He flies all the way from Arizona to New York City looking for action. He bumps into a Spider-Man who’s not himself (he’s Doctor Octopus in Spidey’s body, which is a whole other long story), but that’s the closest he gets to encountering a super-villain.

He keeps looking to lend a hand somewhere, and he keeps failing to be of any use—in the big situations, anyway. But when he thinks smaller and stops aiming too high, he manages to perform a good deed of genuine value, and he matures just a smidge.

Much more interesting than reading about a superhero who’s perfect from issue #1.

Writer: Zeb Wells

Penciler: Paco Medina

Inker: Juan Vlasco

Cover: Ed McGuinness, Dexter Vines, and Marte Gracia

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology; included in Nova vol. 2: Rookie Season (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 11 and up

Today’s Super Comic — Damage Control #1 (1989)

damage-control-vol-1-1-1989It’s good not to take yourself too seriously, and Marvel certainly doesn’t in Damage Control, the miniseries that answers the question, “Hey, who cleans up after those big epic super-battles?”

That would be Damage Control, of course. They’re basically like a Public Works crew coming in after a severe storm to clear debris and get the roads back in working order—only it’s a private company, they come in after the Avengers and the like save the day, they have a lost-and-found full of rather distinctive items, and every so often one of their employees randomly acquires super-powers.

In the first issue, the Avengers and Spider-Man topple a skyscraper-sized robot in NYC, and now its inert body is just sprawled out across the city, lying atop and between buildings and impeding the flow of traffic. So Damage Control must figure out how to get rid of it. And poor Spider-Man is trapped in the robot’s head, so they’ve also got to figure out how to get him free. Just a day in the life…if you live in Marvel’s New York.

The writer/co-creator is the late, great Dwayne McDuffie, who went on to write for the excellent Justice League cartoon, so I’m not surprised that this is good fun.

Excellent concept, highly amusing execution.

Writer: Dwayne McDuffie

Penciler: Ernie Colon

Inker: Bob Wiacek

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology; included in Damage Control: The Complete Collection (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 10 and up

Today’s Super Comic — Fantastic Four Annual #1 (1963)

Fantastic_Four_Annual_Vol_1_1Marvel’s early Silver Age was in top form in the Fantastic Four’s first annual.

The story, the FF’s longest-ever at the time, builds on elements previously established, such as the attraction between Namor and Sue Storm. Namor has finally found his Atlantean race, and they declare war on the surface world.

What’s most interesting, and groundbreaking for the era, is how Namor meets his defeat. (I’m going to spoil the ending, but this story is 53 years old, so…) The FF don’t succeed in overpowering the Sub-Mariner, but when the Invisible Girl is seriously hurt, Namor drops everything to get her to a hospital. The Atlanteans see this as a betrayal and abandon him, leaving Namor ostracized both on land and in the sea.

The issue represents what ‘60s Marvel was all about—epic action and big sci-fi ideas, all grounded in character. Sure, it’s dated, but it remains a fun time nevertheless because of the colorful characters inhabiting this imaginative world.

As a bonus, we get a short back-up story that expands a scene from The Amazing Spider-Man #1, in which Spidey crashes in on the FF’s home. And we all know what inevitably happens when 1960s Marvel superheroes meet for the first time…

Writer: Stan Lee

Penciler: Jack Kirby

Inker: Dick Ayers

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology; included in The Essential Fantastic Four vol. 1 (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 8 and up

Today’s Super Comic — Invincible Iron Man #8 (2016)

invincible_iron_man_8In yesterday’s review, the kids bantered when Ms. Marvel dropped in on the younger Spider-Man. Now the adults banter when the older Spider-Man helps out Iron Man.

There’s nothing like a good team-up, and this…is a perfectly good team-up. Spidey provides the comic relief while Tony is preoccupied with trying to locate Rhodey, who happens to be fending off hi-tech ninjas at the moment. Meanwhile, Mary Jane rethinks her employment situation.

Pardon the lack of insightful commentary, but this one’s just fun and that’s that.

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis

Artist: Mike Deodato

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: recent back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology

Appropriate For: ages 12 and up

Today’s Super Comic — Spider-Man #3 (2016)

spider-man-3When is a team-up not a team-up? When the title character is grounded!

The superheroics take a break, but the fun continues in #3 as the new Ms. Marvel visits the new Spider-Man. These two are easily Marvel’s best teen superheroes at the moment, so pairing them up—even for just some banter and visual gags—is a delight.

This series started strong, and each issue keeps getting better…and the ominous shenanigans later in the book bode well for subsequent issues. Maybe not so well for Miles, though.

It’s a teen book done right.

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis

Artist: Sara Pichelli

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: recent back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology; included in Spider-Man: Miles Morales vol. 1

Appropriate For: ages 10 and up

Today’s Super Comic — Spider-Man #2 (2016)

spider-man-2I’m convinced there’s room for two Spider-Men in the main Marvel Universe.

It makes sense, actually. As great as the Spider-Man concept is, it’s always had one significant flaw: Although his teen years appear to present never-ending challenges, eventually Peter Parker will grow up and become incredibly successful. But if he becomes too successful, then he loses that down-on-his-luck “everyman” quality that has so often defined him. Maintaining the status quo has led to such shark-jumping moments as Peter and Mary Jane’s marriage being magically erased from continuity.

Rather than embark on further silliness, another option is to let Peter grow up while a new kid experiences the headaches of juggling the awkward teen years and Spider-Man responsibilities. And that’s what Marvel seems to be doing these days. The Amazing Spider-Man shows us Peter Parker running a major company as basically the new Tony Stark, while Spider-Man shows us Miles Morales in more traditional Spidey scenarios, but updated for modern times. It’s like “Spider-Man: The Next Generation.”

In #2, part of his costume rips during a public battle, and suddenly the Internet is calling him “Black Spider-Man,” which Miles is none too thrilled about. His Spidey activities are hurting his grades at school. And an old associate of the original Spider-Man might be making some trouble for the new kid.

I have a feeling this series will continue to entertain for quite a while. And I should really get around to reading the Ultimate series that introduced Miles.

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis

Artist: Sara Pichelli

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: recent back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology

Appropriate For: ages 10 and up

Today’s Super Comic — Invincible Iron Man #7 (2016)

Invincible Iron Man 7Brian Michael Bendis writes Tony Stark and Mary Jane Watson talking for much of the issue. So of course you know it’s highly entertaining.

That might have been enough, but the issue also introduces an intriguing new villain, gives us a cameo of another new character who will play an important role, and makes room for Spider-Man and War Machine.

Everything I’ve previously said about this series still applies. It hasn’t let me down yet.

And don’t let the “Road to Civil War II” logo dissuade you if you’re averse to crossovers. The issue is entirely accessible if you’ve just been following this series.

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis

Artist: Mike Deodato

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: recent back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology

Appropriate For: ages 12 and up

Today’s Super Comic — She-Hulk #4 (2004)

She-Hulk 4Marvel Comics made a wise decision many years ago—if they were going to launch female counterparts of preexisting male superheroes, these new characters needed to be distinct in personality, style, and tone.

They certainly got it right with She-Hulk. She may be Bruce Banner’s cousin and capable of turning big, green, and strong, but the similarities end there. She retains her intellect as She-Hulk but becomes much more free-spirited and fun-loving. She’s proven capable of working splendidly with the superhero community, joining the ranks of both the Avengers and the Fantastic Four at various times. Her solo series have often adopted humorous tones, even smashing the fourth wall for a bit back in the ‘80s. And she’s a well-respected lawyer.

When She-Hulk relaunched in 2004, writer Dan Slott fused many of She-Hulk’s best elements into a highly entertaining series that focused on superhuman law. An excellent fit for the character, and great premise with endless possibilities for humorous stories.

Issue #4 is particularly amusing and features a story that had needed to happen for many years—Spider-Man sues J. Jonah Jameson for libel. Of course, this isn’t Spider-Man’s book, so you know there won’t be any major status quo shift. Nevertheless, the resolution is pure Spider-Man…after the book spends time poking fun at many years’ worth of Spidey stories (the Daily Bugle staff has lots of ties to super-villains, doesn’t it?).

And though Spidey’s guest appearance does threaten to steal this particular issue, She-Hulk doesn’t get lost in her own book, as she shows off her superb professional skills…even while fighting the Scorpion.

Pure fun from start to finish.

Writer: Dan Slott

Penciler: Juan Bobillo

Inker: Marcelo Sosa

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology; included in She-Hulk vol. 1: Single Green Female (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 11 and up