The Amazing Spider-Man

It’s strange, I was so not excited for this remake.  I loved the original Spiderman movies, except the third, I don’t think anybody liked the third. I felt it a bit of insult to remake the film so close to the originals.  What’s next remaking Lord of the Rings? Having said that, I really was pleasantly surprised by this film.  Heck it blew the original out of the water!  I loved this film.  This was a Spiderman movie.  They got it right, well action wise. Not that I’m saying that the action was bad in the original, but they’ve made Spiderman even more flexible. I’ve always imagined Spiderman’s movements with a touch of parkour.

This was the better Spider Man film, but I mean no disrespect to the originals, they were amazing, and proved superhero films could be done and done well. (except for the third film.)

I must admit that it’s irritating that every time they reboot the franchise we have to start with the origin story.  Its getting a bit tired, but Spider Man gave us something a bit fresher, a bit different than the same tired old story that every Spider Man fan knows.  I will be honest, when I saw the first trailer for the film, with Peter wearing his hoody up, I thought ‘Oh goodness they’re making him emo.’  Which Peter can be, often, like every second or so issue, but that’s not really the case.

I like that they seem to be drawing a lot of their subject matter from the Ultimate Spider-Man comic series.  I started following later on in the series, but it’s a fantastic read, really well developed characters, really cool revamps of classic and somewhat hammy Spider Man villains and the resurrection of certain ‘dead’ characters.  For example Gwen Stacy. Now I will have to say, I wasn’t very happy with the casting of Gwen Stacy.  I liked Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy, don’t get me wrong, but she is far better suited for Mary Jane.  She has a very strong presence, and she has this fantastic sweet yet saucy attitude, which is what Mary Jane is.  In the Ultimate Spider-Man comic series Gwen Stacy is goth!  She is a fantastic character, strong, no-nonsense, kind, she’s even best friends with Mary Jane which is funny since both girls date Peter at different times.  In the Ultimate Spider-Man series it is really funny how well all three of Peter’s girlfriends get along with each other.  The third is Kitty Pryde, Shadowcat, from the Ultimate X-men comic series.  Now she and Peter were a surprising match and she was such a fun character when she joined the main cast in the Spidey series.

Oh man, way off the point.  What I was trying to say is that the Gwen Stacy character could have been so much more than a smart, preppy blonde with access to Oscorp.  The way they created her didn’t have to be what moved the plot along.

As for Peter, daw he’s such a honey.  I loved how Andrew Garfield portrayed Peter, he was a quirky, shy, awkward character.  He felt far more real than Toby Maguire’s Peter Parker, who was far more subdued in his personality, which isn’t Peter Parker.

My favourite awkward scene is when Peter is trying to ask Gwen out. It’s the most disastrous conversation EVER!  Nothing gets said, it’s mumbled, no numbers are exchanged or arrangements made, they’re so nervous that the whole conversation is just trying to get out the line ‘Wanna get together?’  It was so funny.

I found it interesting that this is the first Spiderman film/ cartoon/ comic (that I have read/watched) that doesn’t immediately have Norman Osborn and Harry Osborn.  I wonder who will play Norman Osborn.  I loved Willem Dafoe as the Norman Osborn/ Green Goblin.

I liked that Aunt May and Uncle Ben didn’t look like they were suddenly going to drop dead.  I found the original couple too old.  I guess it made Uncle Ben’s death all the sadder.  I enjoyed Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben, but then I have loved Martin Sheen since the West Wing.  I loved him as the President.  So when Uncle Ben dies, this is not a spoiler, everyone knows he dies going in, so when he died, I bawled my eyes out.  Andrew Garfield’s performance also helped.

Apparently there was this huge stink over not using the Spider-Man iconic line ‘With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility.’  It is a good motto, but by continually referring to it over and over again for the last fifty years it loses it impact. They didn’t create and exact equivalent of the phrase but Uncle Ben gave a speech with the same message, which made far more impact in the film, than the time honoured classic.

So Amazing Spider-Man is an AMAZING watch. I can’t wait to see what they do with the next movie. Who knows maybe Gwen Stacy will go goth!

On another note go read Ultimate Spider-Man, it’s a fantastic read and a new spin on an iconic Marvel character. I enjoy this series because it is brilliantly written, it has great artists and its’ supporting cast of characters are just as enjoyable as the young Peter Parker. It gets even more enjoyable when Shadowcat, Iceman and the Human Torch join the series.

Advertisements

The Avengers

Only the most anticipated movie EVER! Fans everywhere have been waiting since 2008, when at the end of Iron Man not only did we get Samuel L Jackson’s Nick Fury, but the hint of an Avengers movie! Iron Man was Marvels first movie that was written and produced by them, so fans accepted that if they were going to make such a promise they would try their hardest to ensure that it would happen. Four years later and an Iron Man sequel another Hulk movie, a Thor and a Captain America film with a sneak peak of the Avengers film later, The Avengers was finally released a week earlier world wide than its American release. I don’t know why this appeals to me, it just does.

So we have a star studded cast, an amazing director and the assurance of stellar special effects. So the question is does Avengers do justice to the hype that surrounds it? My answer is: HELL YES AND A BAG OF CHIPS!! It’s been a long time since I went to a film that not only lived up to its hype, but surpassed it! The Avengers hit the spot, with equal blends of action, comedy, suspense and gob-smacking special effects. I guess that’s the only thing that has really been holding back the superheroes movie genre, the special effects, but Iron Man, Thor and X-men movies have proved that they can been done.

I was really worried that the Avengers wasn’t going to live up to the mass amounts of hype started for it until Joss Whedon was brought on board. Then I didn’t have a single worry, why because: JOSS WHEDON IS GOD. Now not only was I getting and Avengers movie I was getting an Avengers movie scripted and directed by Joss Whedon. We know his genius from Buffy, Firefly and Dollhouse, and I’ve read his run on Astonishing X-men and the Buffy Season 8 comic series, so I know that this guy will know how to deal with superheroes.

One thing that really irritated me was the advertising campaign for the Avengers. Ok so here in SA we didn’t really get much of it, but the internet was lit up lit a Christmas tree with all the trailers for America, Russia, Japan, all the TV spots, there was just too much. I didn’t watch any of it, well maybe 4 no 5 of the earlier trailers, but you have to stop at some point before you spoil the movie for yourself. Like I tried very hard not to watch trailers with the alien enemy in them because I wanted to be surprised, I still haven’t managed to figure out who they are. Obviously alien villains I haven’t read. Oh well. BUT I have finally figured out who the villain is that was shown during the credits! Would you like to know?

So I can’t really speak about the film because most of my favourite bits are kind of spoilery. One of my absolute favourite little moments is during the epic battle at the end of the film, between Thor and Hulk, in Grand Central Station. Let me just say, it was taken straight out of the Avengers cartoon series. Which by the way is a fantastic series, brilliant stories and character development, I can’t wait to watch the second season. I also loved the Shield Base. Was such an epic scene to see in live action!

I loved this film; I cannot wait to see what they have planned next! What would really make my day is if Luke Cage and his wife Jessica Drew, Spiderman and Wolverine were on the cast for the next film. This won’t happen because Marvel doesn’t have the film rights for Wolverine. Wolverine and Spiderman on the Avenger’s roster are such fun. Spiderman is such a fan boy, and brings a lot of witty one liner’s that eases the tension. Wolverine is just awesome, and can be quite funny in his own dark and brooding way. Well one can hope and dream.

 

X-men My Beginnings

I’m constantly being told that should write about the comics a read, put my opinions on them on my blog. Which I will do, I just feel I need to do an introductory piece on how I got into comics, especially since a lot of people out there want to get into comics but don’t know where to start. My foray into the comic world was slow, but it was destiny that I would find comics. I blame my mother.

But more on that later. Ever since I was little I was primed to become a fan of the super hero genre and then X-men. When I was little every Sunday morning I would sit with my dad and little sister and we would watch Superman, Batman and Spiderman together. But it was the X-men animated series I craved to watch. Back then we didn’t have satellite TV, and X-men was aired on K-TV which was a satellite channel. But twice a year, for a week, my family would go on holiday to Plettenberg Bay, and we would stay at the Beacon Island hotel, which had satellite TV for its hotel guests. One week, and in that week, K-TV would air an episode of the X-men. I was pretty young so the logic of trying to find out what time and X-men played at Plett was beyond me, but I knew the channel, and I roughly guessed Friday or Saturday morning. It went on for years, my desperation to watch x-men. If memory serves, I don’t think I ever caught a full episode, what with either leaving or arriving on the day it aired, or doing outdoor activities and coming back to the hotel during an episode. I think I saw little bits of at least 5 episodes, out of I think 5 seasons. And when my family finally got satellite TV, K-TV had stopped airing it! But that was the start of my love for the X-men.

My foray into comics began with Archie. My parents were just happy that I was reading. The book store I used to buy Archie from would sometime have a two rand bin, where old stock or overprints of comics from overseas where put on sale. My mom found the R2 bin and brought home a pile of Archies for me, and a couple of other comics that caught her eye. A lot of it was Superman, and they were weird story arcs, they also had gaps, but I never really liked Superman, he was just too wooden a character. While I never got any R2 X-men comics, I did get a couple of other Marvel series, my favourite among them was a Fantastic Four issue 12 1998. I loved the artwork; I loved the story of that issue. The Fantastic Four were on Genosha, and The Invisible Woman, The Thing, and the Torch had all had their bodies switched with terrorists. It was written by Chris Claremont and illustrated by Salvador Larroca. It was a brilliant issue, I loved the comic to death, the cover eventually fell off and I cello taped it back on. Many years later I finally got a hold of the other issues before and after that one so I could get the full story.

Fantastic Four issue 12 1998, Salvador Larocca

I started properly collecting X-men comics in 2001, a year after the movie came out. The X-men was fully planted in my brain, I wanted to know more, but where the hell to start? Especially with the X-men, who have like 10 spin-off titles running at any given time. Which do you choose; where in the story do you start. Just accept that when you pick up a title like X-men, Spiderman, The Avengers, Batman, Superman or any of the long running series, the first little while you are going to be thoroughly confused. With me I actually had a fairly good background knowledge of X-men by the time I started following religiously. First my mom found me a Dorling Kindersley book on the X-men, with individual bios on the most important characters, their histories, powers, back story on all the teams, it was a fascinating read, I wanted more. Second my dad went to England around the same time, and I asked him to buy me some X-men comics, since I didn’t know where to buy them here, and my local comic shop only moved to my area a few years later. I said anything would do; just find me some comics and I’ll start from there. When I think about my dad’s marching orders I realise they couldn’t have been vaguer. My dad was magic, he went to England, and he got me X-men comics, no clue where, but he did more than that, he bought me classic X-men. Essential Uncanny X-men, an omnibus book in black and white of all the original Uncanny X-men issues. These volumes had 24 issues a volume, on thin paper in black and white. They were absolutely magic, I loved reading them, and they were fun, but serious. My characters suffered, sacrificed and died, but they also had fun wacky adventures. My favourite story arcs where the one’s where the X-men were in space, and how Kitty got Lockheed her alien dragon. I also loved the issue where Kitty tells a bedtime story to Illyana and it’s a fantasy adventure featuring all her team mates. It was such fun. These four volumes gave me such a firm grounding on the X-men, those four volumes are continually referred to, and made me comfortable with the series and characters. After I finished those volumes I was ready. I went out and bought my first singe Uncanny X-men issue 394, 2001. I was stupidly lucky I had picked up an issue from the beginning of a story arc, and I knew all the characters, although I couldn’t understand why Angel was blue, he was blond in my comics.

My First Issue, Uncanny X-men issue 394, 2001

Essential X-men Vol 1, most iconic image ever

Here’s my next tip, if you have no clue what precedes your current story arc, research. I used the official marvel site for a while, but it was too download heavy for my computer, and the information was poor. Ergo, fan sites, I found a really good one that gave seriously in-depth histories and issue appearances for characters, which further solidified my knowledge base. Uncannyx-men.net was incredibly useful. The best site to use is Comicvine.com. The character bios are fan written, so they are far more reliable than the Marvel site ones, where they selectively exclude info from the early days or the more ridiculous and improbable story arcs, to give the characters more plausible and more realistic origin stories. Comicvine also has a huge database of images for characters, and it lists every series and issue a character has been in. They also have synopses for most issues, plus who it’s written by, illustrated, edited, inked plus all the characters featured. It is a great way to find out what missing issues are needed to fill in empty holes in your collection. Don’t use Wikipedia, it has far too many spoilers.

http://www.uncannyxmen.net/

http://www.comicvine.com/

Nowadays the way I choose my comics is by the artwork. I’ve dropped titles because I didn’t like the artwork. And don’t be fooled by the cover art, the artist who does the covers isn’t necessarily the one who illustrates the issue.

Ultimate Spiderman 118

Currently all the comics I collect on an issue basis are X-men, I also collect Fathom, but that’s by Aspen Comics, and it doesn’t release very often. I collect X-men Legacy, Wolverine and the X-men, Uncanny X-men and Generation Hope. I do collect other Marvel titles, but I usually wait for the graphic novel format. I’m pretty sporadic in that regard. I used to collect Ultimate X-men in graphic novel format, and then dropped it when I didn’t like the artist. The same goes for Ultimate Spiderman, which I only started collecting 12 volumes in because it got an artist I liked. I will discuss these series and artists at a later date.

Wolverine and the X-men #4

Currently the X-men are going through this big shake-up, with the X-men splitting into two factions. The Uncanny X-men title/ team lead by Cyclops believing every mutant, including children are now soldier in the fight for their races survival living on the mutant island of Utopia, and Wolverine and the X-men title/ team lead by Wolverine who believes the children should be given a chance to grow, to maintain their innocents, so he becomes head master of his own school. Big drama. In light of this momentous occasion, Marvel decided to take the Uncanny X-men title, and start it at 1 again. I hate it when they do that. Marvel has done this often over the years, and then they go back to the status quo and change the numbering back to what it originally was, so issue 12 is actually issue 556, and it just makes your comic collecting difficult. I had this problem with Fantastic Four so I had no clue what number the issue I wanted was, took a lot of research to figure it out. Thankfully nowadays there are incredibly detailed databases on comics so it makes comic collecting easier.

Now I would consider myself very well read on matters relating to X-men, other series I follow in graphic novel format are The Runaways, X-23, Young Avengers, the Ultimate storylines, and New Avengers, I keep an eye on the other series. Now I’m not that clued up on DC, I monitor it, felt disdain with the huge revamping that DC did to their major titles, I take an interest when I see art I like. I also look at upcoming titles from other comic companies, so I’m pretty up to date with the comic world.