Tag Archives: The Amazing Spider-Man

2013 New York Comic Con

2013 NYCC 2

The New York Comic Con was held October 10-13 at the Jacob Javitz Center in NYC.  To me, NYCC is an annual holiday that allows me to add to my growing collection of original comic book art.  When tickets went on sale over the summer, I had just missed out on purchasing my usual three day pass, but was fortunate to get individual tickets for Saturday and Sunday.  I had to make up for the lost day by tackling my wish list of artwork and the show, particularly Artist Alley, didn’t disappoint.

I arrived on Saturday about 30 minutes before the doors opened and was near the front of the crowd.  When the doors opened at 10 AM, I went directly toward Artist Alley, which for the second year in a row was located in its own section of the Javitz Center separate from the exhibit hall.

2013 NYCC Artist Alley 2

This year I decided to hold off on purchasing original art pages from published works in order to concentrate on obtaining sketches for the sketch book I started back in 2005 (some of them can be seen on my Comic Art Fans page).  This year’s NYCC boasted a great lineup of artists and I knew I would get some great additions to the sketch book.  I actually got an early start on Friday night when JHU Comics hosted a creator signing with New Paradigm for the new comics Watson & Holmes and World War Mob.  At the event, Rick Leonardi (Cloak & Dagger, Spider-Man 2099) added a great Spider-Man to my book.

Rick Leonardi - NYCC 2013

Spider-Man drawn by Rick Leonardi

I started Saturday by stopping by the The Artists Choice table to meet the great George Perez.  His work has been a favorite of mine since his work on The Avengers and The New Teen Titans in the early 80’s, and going into NYCC I had realized that although I’ve gotten sketches from George in the past, I didn’t have one in my sketch book.  George added this drawing of the Flash.

NYCC George Perez Flash

George Perez at the 2013 New York Comic Con

Saturday brought an unexpected surprise when Kevin Eastman (co-creator of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) provided fans with autographs and free sketches throughout the day.  I waited on line for about an hour that morning, but had to leave to get John Romita Jr. to autograph both my copy of Marvel: Five Fabulous Decades of the World’s Greatest Comics and my Captain America jam page (both were must-haves on my list).  I thought I had missed out on the opportunity to meet Eastman, but later that afternoon I had heard that he would be back to sign and sketch.  That second time around I was about 10th on line and got a great sketch of Michelangelo in my book and Eastman’s autograph on my NYCC badge.

Kevin Eastman - NYCC 2013

Kevin Eastman at NYCC 2013

NYCC - Kevin Eastman Michelangelo

Michelangelo drawn by Kevin Eastman

Adam Hughes is always high on my list for a sketch and I stopped by his booth first thing Sunday morning.  Twice a day, he provides quick marker sketches in exchange for donations to his favorite charity.  I was third on line and got this Batgirl sketch for the book.

Batgirl drawn by Adam Hughes

Batgirl drawn by Adam Hughes

My final sketch of the day was from DC artist Ivan Reis (Green Lantern, Aquaman, Justice League).  In the past I had always been too late to get on his sketch list at NYCC, but he had time on Sunday for brush sketches and I was able to get this amazing drawing of Aquaman:

NYCC - Ivan Reis

Ivan Reis at the 2013 New York Comic COn

NYCC - Ivan Reis Aquaman

Aquaman drawn by Ivan Reis

Other highlights of the weekend were chatting with legendary artists Klaus Janson (Daredevil, The Dark Knight Returns) and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez (Batman, Jonah Hex, Superman) and meeting fellow comic art fans.  Overall the show was a great success and I’m already counting the days to the 2014 New York Comic Con.  As I walked out of the Jacob Javitz Convention Center Saturday night, I thought about how much the show has grown since the first NYCC in 2006.  I looked up and noticed the Empire State Building was lit up with the blue and red colors of Spider-Man’s costume.  The first thought that came to my mind at that moment was “Excelsior!”

2013 NYCC Empire State Building

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The Amazing Spider-Man #700 (Spoilers)

Amazing Spider-Man 700 Cover

The Amazing Spider-Man #700
Copyright Marvel Comics

Peter Parker is dead.

Well, for now at least.

The Amazing Spider-Man #700 hit comic shops on Wednesday December 26th.  Normally I look forward to a milestone issue with a sense of celebration as a comic book withstands the test of time and reaches another multiple of 100.  But the internet was buzzing in the weeks prior with rumors of Peter Parker’s death in this final issue of Marvel Comics’ flagship title, and I approached Wednesday December 26th with a sense of dread.

I bought a copy of The Amazing Spider-Man #700 from my local comic shop that morning (autographed by writer Dan Slott), but I needed to prepare myself  before reading this final issue because regardless of the quality of the story, by the last page Peter Parker would be dead (for now at least) and there would not be an Amazing Spider-Man #701 next month.

One of the first comic books I ever owned was The Amazing Spider-Man #175 (read the About section of this website).  Of all of the characters in the Marvel Universe, I could empathize with Peter Parker the most.  That sense of empathy only increased back in 2010 when I had the opportunity to see Steve Ditko’s original pencil and inked splash page to the first Spider-Man story in Amazing Fantasy #15 at the Library of Congress.  This page was our introduction to Peter Parker, the young man who would become Spider-Man and carry the responsibilities and burdens of his powers for the next 50 years of his comic book life.

Part of my emotional investment was from nostalgia, but most of it was respect for the character and the creators that worked on the Spider-Man titles over the last 50 years.  Leading up to Wednesday December 26th, I was fully prepared for the outcome of Dan Slott’s story.  I didn’t agree with it, but I had to accept it as reality.   If The Amazing Spider-Man was going to end its run, I could only hope the final issue would be worthy of its history.

For me, issue #700 doesn’t measure up.

Leading up to issue #700, Doctor Octopus pulled a mind/body switch with Peter Parker and is now fully entrenched in Parker’s body while Parker is trapped in Octavius’ dying body, each man with access to the other’s memories. Parker/Octopus, with hours to live, breaks out of prison with the memory of an Octavius escape plan and the help of Scorpion, Hydro-Man and The Trapster.  A showdown ensues and Octavius/Spider-Man is victorious.  But as Parker/Dr. Octopus lays dying, he forces his memories onto Octavius/Spider-Man though a link their minds still share.  Parker’s key memories as Spider-Man (the death of Uncle Ben, the death of Gwen Stacy, etc.) are too much for Octavius/Spider-Man to handle and he is overcome with emotion and the realization that “with great power, comes great responsibility.”  Octavius finally understands, and with his dying breath Parker declares him Spider-Man and makes him promise to keep his loved ones safe.  At that moment of Peter Parker’s death, Octavius/Spider-Man promises to use his “unparalleled genius” and “boundless ambition” to be an even greater version of Spider-Man.  From that moment on, he will be THE SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN!!!

Which reminds me, The Superior Spider-Man #1 comes out Wednesday January 9th.

But back to Amazing Spider-Man #700…

The Freaky Friday-esque plot was disappointing enough, but the ending was the true disappointment for me.  I find it hard to believe that Dr. Otto Octavius, one of Spider-Man’s greatest nemeses, could suddenly feel sympathy for Peter Parker to the point where he becomes overcome with emotion and converts from evil to good.  Even with full access to Peter’s memories, he is still first and foremost Dr. Otto Octavius.  After an intense fight sequence, this resolution is a letdown.

I hope the death of Peter Parker is just a sales gimmick that will be reversed down the line.  But regardless of whether or not this happens, the damage has been done: The Amazing Spider-Man has ended.

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My Amazing (Fantasy #15) Visit to the Library of Congress

In honor the 50th anniversary of Spider-Man’s first appearance in Amazing Fantasy #15 in 1962, I wanted to write a post about my trip to see the Holy Grail of the Silver Age of comic books.

In November 2010 I took a weekend trip to Washington D.C. with my girlfriend.  It was my first time in D.C. and the long weekend was packed with seeing the sights along the mall.  I enjoyed every monument, memorial and museum we visited, but by Sunday I was slightly preoccupied with the thought of our plans for Monday morning’s visit to the Library of Congress.  I wasn’t there to admire the architecture or take a tour, I had some research to do.  About a month earlier I had contacted curator Sara Duke of the Prints and Photographs Division in order to schedule our appointment, and from that moment I was counting the days.

If there’s one thing I’m passionate about it’s comic book art, as both an admirer and collector.  Each published page of original art is a piece of history, with a select few pages fitting into the category of monumental.  When I think of the most culturally significant comic book stories, the first few that come to mind are the first appearance of Superman in Action Comics #1, the first appearance of Batman in Detective Comics #27, Fantastic Four #1 ushering in the Marvel Age of comic books, and of course the first appearance of Spider-Man in Amazing Fantasy #15.

In 2008 an anonymous donor had donated all of the original pages of art from Amazing Fantasy #15 to the Library of Congress.  How this anonymous donor had originally acquired these pages has not been made public.  Considering how much artwork from the Golden and Silver Ages has been destroyed, lost, or stolen, it’s a miracle that every page from this issue was saved.  My mission, with my trusty (and extremely patient) sidekick, was to schedule time to see the complete Spider-Man origin story in its original drawn form.

I woke up at 7:00 AM that Monday morning.  Anyone who knows me knows that I never get up at 7:00 AM.  Ever.  But that morning was different.  We had a short window of time that began at 9:30 AM sharp and we had to make the most of it.  After all, this is the first appearance of Spider-Man and there’s probably a list of folks lined up after us to see it, so I was going to make the most of every minute.

We arrived a little early, checked our backpacks with the security desk and signed up for our research cards.  By the time we made it up to the research room, my spider-sense was tingling.  Sara met us when we arrived and wheeled out a cart with several large folders.  Not only did she pull the original Spider-Man pages from Amazing Fantasy #15 for us to view, she was also kind enough to pull the original comic art to the other three stories that comprised the issue, twenty six pages in all.

I opened the first folder, and there was the opening splash page of Peter Parker standing in the background, ostracized by Flash Thompson and the cool kids.  One thing that struck me right away was how much detail there was in Steve Ditko’s inks.  Every reprint I had seen growing up was a copy of a copy and lost a lot of the detail in Ditko’s brush work.  Seeing the original art allowed me to actually feel the disappointment and angst in the expression on Peter Parker’s face.

At the top of the page is a paste up of the Spider-Man logo that covers Ditko’s original hand drawn logo.  I wish I could have been in the room in 1962 to hear the reason for changing it.  And if you look in the margins, Stan Lee’s original hand written notes “direct” some of the scenes in Ditko’s panels.

I took a lot of pictures, but unfortunately rights restrictions keep me from posting them.  Thumbnails are available here at the Library’s website and you can order scans, but if you’re a fan of comic art I highly recommend seeing them in person.

We had a good hour to see all twenty six pages and were never rushed.  Sarah sat with us the entire time and pointed out details that I never would have noticed.  I thanked Sarah for her time, and mentioned that I would love to come back to see the pages again one day.  I chuckled when I realized my tax dollars made me a part owner of them.  By my calculations, which I won’t bore you with, I estimate that my personal portion of these 26 pages of original art is .000035 square inches of a page.  Hey, I’ll take it!

This was a Bucket List moment for me, ranked up there with seeing Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel and statue of David (next up is Leonardo DaVinci’s The Last Supper).  Prior to reading that article in 2008 about the LOC’s acquisition of the Amazing Fantasy #15 pages, I didn’t think they even existed.  And now I saw them.

God Bless America.

But the story doesn’t end there.  Prior to our bus ride back to New York, my faithful (and patient) sidekick surprised me with a copy of Marvel Masterworks: The Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1, complete with scans of the original Spider-Man pages we had just seen that morning.  She never ceases to amaze me.

These original pages to Amazing Fantasy #15 were featured on the History Channel back in 2009.  That clip can be found here.

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Thoughts On The Amazing Spider-Man Reboot

The Amazing Spider-Man
Sony Pictures Entertainment

The numbers are in and The Amazing Spider-Man has pulled in $65 million for the weekend, $141 million for the 4th of July week, and $341 million worldwide.

Here’s a film that one month ago I had very little interest in seeing.  Not because the previous three films directed by Sam Raimi were too fresh in my mind or because I felt that theaters are over saturated with comic book films (that thought is sacrilege in my mind!).  Since this reboot was first announced, my first and only thought was: Why?  The origin story was already covered in Spider-Man 1, which for the most part was pretty accurate to the original 1962 story in Amazing Fantasy #15.  By now people know how Peter Parker became Spider-Man even if they’ve never read the comic books.  Socially awkward bookworm Peter Parker gets bitten by a radioactive spider, can climb walls, develops web shooters, lets it get to his head, Uncle Ben gets…you know what I mean.

Then a month ago I watched the trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man.

Hmmmm.  Liked it.  OK, I’m curious now.

When my interest level reached that point, I couldn’t help thinking about the one major thing I didn’t like about the Sam Raimi films.  Don’t get me wrong, I liked Spider-Man 1 and I loved Spider-Man 2 (I prefer not to discuss Spider-Man 3, I’ll just leave it at that), but there was one element of those films that the comic fan in me couldn’t ignore: replacing Gwen Stacy in the first two films with Mary Jane Watson, which was absolutely unnecessary.  It goes beyond the dynamic of nerdy kid falls in love with and gets the pretty girl, which in my opinion was the only dynamic between Peter and Mary Jane in the Raimi films.  Having Gwen Stacy in The Amazing Spider-Man brings a lot more to the story.  Peter’s relationship with Gwen in turn creates a relationship with her father, Captain Stacy, which existed in the comic books but didn’t exist in the first two Raimi films.  Seeing Emma Stone in the role of Gwen made me want to give The Amazing Spider-Man a chance.

I checked out The Amazing Spider-Man at a matinee on the 4th of July.  The theater was about 2/3 full for the 11:30 AM screening.  By the time the movie ended, I was satisfied and for the most part the rest of the audience enjoyed it as well.  While people will continue to debate the need for a reboot in 2012, whether it’s necessary/justified or not I think The Amazing Spider-Man stands on its own.  That’s not to say it’s perfect.  It’s not as visually dynamic as the Sam Raimi films.  Some of the CGI looked a bit cartoony, particularly the Lizard.  Most importantly, a couple of details from Spidey’s comic book origin were simplified, particularly Uncle Ben’s murder (for the record, I refuse to consider that tidbit a spoiler alert and prefer to give my readers the benefit of the doubt) and the events that led Peter to understand “With great power comes great responsibility.”

Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man is less action and more drama compared to Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 1.  It changed several elements of the Spider-Man canon (e.g. Peter’s discovery of the extent of his powers, the circumstances of Uncle Ben’s death), a greater emphasis on Peter’s parents and their disappearance, and more drama to Peter’s relationship with Uncle Ben and Aunt May.  Personally I thought Martin Sheen was fantastic as Uncle Ben (this coming from a huge Cliff Robertson fan), and I think an actress of Sally Field’s caliber will bring a lot to Aunt May’s character in future films.  Andrew Garfield’s portrayal of Peter Parker wasn’t as socially awkward as Tobey Maguire’s.  Garfield was a bit too confident as Peter at times, but was effective in bringing some of Spider-Man’s smart-aleckyness from the comic books to the screen.

Things I liked about this film:

Gwen Stacy
The web shooters are back
Peter’s relationship with Uncle Ben
The Lizard

Things I didn’t like as much (SPOILERS):

Gwen’s connection to Dr. Connors wasn’t very plausible.
Not including the famous line of dialogue regarding great power and great responsibility.
The circumstances leading to Uncle Ben’s murder.
Spider-Man was unmasked in a scene that should have made his identity public.

The one question I have difficulty answering is whether or not the reboot was necessary.   Most likely it wasn’t, but overall this film stands on its own even if the first three were not made.  Despite a few caveats, it was still very enjoyable and I’m looking forward to the next film.

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Avengers Fans Assembled! Bring on the Comic Book Movies!

I’m blown away by the $207 million U.S. box office gross for The Avengers last weekend.  Sadly, I wasn’t able to be a part of the opening weekend but I’ll definitely check it out next week.

Some non-comic book fans may lament the number of comic themed films that will be coming out in the next few years (Avengers 2 without a doubt, Captain America 2, Thor 2, Wolverine 2, Man of Steel, etc.) but I can’t get enough of them.  My prime comic book reading years were the late 70’s to the mid 80’s, and with the exception of the Superman films it was slim pickin’s for comic book heroes on the big screen during that time.  I remember back around 1981 my brother mentioned an X-Men movie was in the works.  I have no proof of the accuracy of that statement, but it got my 9 year old mind racing to the possibilities of who would play Professor X, Cyclops, Phoenix, Storm, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Wolverine, Angel and Sprite.  And for years I waited…and waited…until 2000 when X-Men was released in theaters.  My brother drove down from Boston and we watched it in our hometown theater just like we did Superman: The Movie over 20 years earlier.

With The Avengers performing way above expectations, my mind is racing again to the possibility of even more comic book films.

Upcoming comic related films I’m looking forward to:

The Dark Knight Rises – Very high hopes for this one.  And I’ll have a surprise post the week of its release.

The Amazing Spider-Man – I was puzzled when they originally announced this reboot.  I didn’t think I would want to see another origin story, but the new trailer reminded me of what I didn’t like in the first Spider-Man movie, particularly Mary Jane’s role as Peter’s love interest instead of Gwen Stacy.

Man of Steel –  I’m not sure what to expect with this.  Superman Returns was a disappointment, mostly because it needlessly re-hashed plot points from Richard Donner’s Superman.  One of the main criticisms I’ve heard from fellow fans is that it’s time for Superman to fight a super villain like Doomsday.  I agree.

Dredd – After the 1995 debacle, I didn’t think Judge Dredd would ever get another shot at a feature film.  Dredd will be released in the U.S. this September with Karl Urban (Star Trek, The Bourne Supremacy) in the title role.

Here’s my wish list of comic book films.

In development:

Fantastic Four #242
Copyright Marvel Comics

Fantastic Four – I wasn’t impressed by the first two Fantastic Four films.  The super team that ushered in the Marvel Age of comics didn’t get the respect it deserved.  There’s a reboot in development (Fantastic Four Reborn) at Fox.  Fingers crossed.

Daredevil #230
Copyright Marvel Comics

Daredevil – I’m looking forward to this reboot based on the Born Again arc by Frank Miller and David Mazzuchelli.  But the storyline I always hoped to see on film would be from the Frank Miller/Klaus Janson run.  Unfortunately the first movie took away the possibility of a Bullseye/Elektra story.

Holding out hope:

Doctor Strange #56
Copyright Marvel Comics

Doctor Strange – I remember watching the made for TV version of Doctor Strange in the late 70s.  I don’t remember too much of it, except the terrible plot, acting, costumes, and special effects.

Justice League of America #165
Copyright DC Comics

Justice League – George Miller (Mad Max, Happy Feet) was attached to direct this several years back.  Hopefully Warner Brothers will give their super team the big screen treatment.

Wonder Woman #253
Copyright DC Comics

Wonder Woman – One of the Golden Age characters that I would like to see set in the 1940’s.  Superheroes fighting in World War II is kind of a recurring theme on my wish list…

Black Panther
Copyright Marvel Comics

Black Panther – I’d love to see a Black Panther feature film set in both Africa and New York City.  He’s a very underrated character in the Marvel Universe.  At the very least he should make an appearance in an Avengers or Fantastic Four movie.

Luke Cage, Hero For Hire #1
Copyright Marvel Comics

Luke Cage – Nothing like Luke Cage, Hero For Hire, opening up a can of whoop ass.  If this film ever gets made, please set it in the 70s.

Giant Size Invaders #1
Copyright Marvel Comics

The Invaders – Captain America, The Sub-Mariner and The Human Torch fighting the Nazis in World War II.  Need I say more?

Awhile back I had asked a comic artist what he thought of the large number of comic book related movies that had been released over the last five years.  His response:  “We rule the world now!”

I couldn’t agree more!

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