Comic Review: The Amazing Spider-Man: Threat Level: Red

Published: January 24th, 2018
Written by: Dan Slott, Christos Gage
Art by: Stuart Immonen, Mike Hawthorne, Alex Ross (covers)

Marvel Comics, 69 Pages

Review:

I’m reading a lot of The Amazing Spider-Man stuff leading up to issue 800, which is to be the finale of the Dan Slott era. Having just finished up Venom Inc., I jumped right into the next story arc, Threat Level: Red, which spans issues 794 through 796. It’s not a long story arc but it is Slott’s penultimate story before getting into Go Down Swinging.

This also serves to setup Go Down Swinging by dropping little hints about something bigger being in the works, as you see the original Green Goblin, Norman Osborn, acquire the Carnage symbiote.

This short arc is really just three standalone stories.

The first deals with Spidey and his girlfriend Mockingbird going to London to stop Scorpio. The second is an adventure that teams up Spider-Man and Loki, who has replaced Doctor Strange as the Sorcerer Supreme. The third and final tale sees Spidey and Flash Thompson as Anti-Venom defend a facility from the Goblin King and his Goblin minions.

While the three stories were fun, it was all mostly filler and the important bits of the story were the evolution of Norman Osborn into the Red Goblin a.k.a. the Green Goblin with the Carnage symbiote under his control.

This was enjoyable and it set the tone for Dan Slott’s final story.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: The story before it, Venom Inc. and the one following it, Go Down Swinging.

Comic Review: Venomverse

Published: January 9th, 2018
Written by: Cullen Bunn
Art by: Iban Coello

Marvel Comics, 128 Pages

Review:

In preparation for the new Venom series that recently started, I wanted to check out some of the more modern Venom stories out there. Venomverse came highly recommended from a guy at one of my comic book shops. I figured that I’d give it a read, as the premise sounded interesting.

In a nutshell, after stomping a mudhole in Jack O’Lantern’s bum, Venom is zapped away to a different dimension where all the Marvel characters have symbiotes. So what you get is Venomized versions of Captain America, Doctor Strange, Wolverine, Deadpool, Mary Jane Watson, Black Panther, Rocket Raccoon and everyone else in-between. They are fighting a war against the Poisons, who are tiny aliens that absorb the symbiote heroes and villains into their own bodies and become perfect killing machines: the apex predators of the universe. Doctor Strange has been pulling all symbiote heroes and villains into the “Venomverse” dimension in an effort to turn the tide in the war.

Man, if you are a fan of Venom, this is just a really cool and fun book to read. Seriously, I absolutely loved this. I mean, Rocket Raccoon with a Venom symbiote? C’mon, man! All this thing needed was Spider-Ham and Howard the Duck in it too.

The story is really good but I barely even cared about the setup because any reason to have a Marvel Universe full of Venoms is just an awesome time. These stories don’t work so well in the regular Marvel dimension but in this Venomverse pocket of existence, things just seem to flow naturally. Plus, the Poisons were just a really cool idea and added something more to the story than just having a symbiote war for the sake of having a symbiote war.

Granted, I felt that this ended a bit anticlimactically but you also get a post credits scene just like the Marvel movies, which I thought was a neat twist. And that ending sets up the potential for the Poisons to expand into other universes and dimensions.

This was just a damn good book and pretty refreshing and entertaining, as Marvel has produced a lot of duds lately.

Rating: 9.75/10
Pairs well with: Any of the great Eddie Brock Venom stories. But for more recent stuff, the new Venom series and the Venom, Inc. story arc from recent issues of The Amazing Spider-Man.

Comic Review: Spider-Gwen, Vol. 4: Predators

Published: October 31st, 2017
Written by: Jason Latour
Art by: Robbi Rodriguez

Marvel Comics, 112 Pages

Review:

Finally, a series of Spider-Gwen comics that are action packed and back on track! The last collection was full of holiday one-off issues and a lot of filler. Now we are back in the thick of it!

This collection brings back Harry Osborne, who is still infected by the Lizard syrum. His father Norman also plays a key role here, after refusing to help his son previously. We also see this universe’s evil version of Matt Murdock finally push Gwen Stacy into an uncomfortable direction, as she is forced to work with The Hand in an effort to capture her friend Harry.

We also get to see Spider-Gwen do battle with Wolverine, the original one, as well as this universe’s version of Shadowcat, who is more like X-23 than the Kitty Pryde we all know and love. Rhino also returns and we get to see the first appearance of the Venom symbiote but in the Spider-Gwen universe, it has a different origin.

At first, Spider-Gwen has to protect Harry from Wolverine, Shadowcat and The Hand but she eventually defies Matt Murdock and is able to turn Shadowcat and then Wolverine into allies against The Hand. All the while, she is mulling over the idea of whether or not she should become one with the Venom symbiote, as her exposure to radiation makes it “safe” for her to use, where it is lethal to any other living mammal.

The book benefits from not having Gwen go all emo, as she seems to do a lot in the earlier collections. She just jumps into the action, which there is a lot of and things don’t really ease up until the final chapter in the book, which is a side story about the Mary Janes band.

In fact, the only real negative is the Mary Janes story. Not that I don’t like their part in the Spider-Gwen universe but in this collection, it pulls you out of the running narrative and doesn’t allow this series of issues to feel like it has any sort of conclusion.

But I do like this much better than the previous set of stories and I’ll pick up the next collection when it is available.

Rating: 8.25/10
Pairs well with: Other Spider-Gwen collections.

Comic Review: Spider-Gwen, Vol. 2: Weapon of Choice

Published: January 3rd, 2017
Written by: Jason Latour
Art by: Robbi Rodriguez

Marvel Comics, 112 Pages

Review:

I’ve been flying through these Spider-Gwen books but I can’t help myself because I’m in love with this series.

However, this one regressed the character of Gwen after she seemed to reach a breakthrough in regards to her emo slump after the death of Peter Parker.

When she fought Harry Osborne in the book before this one, she seemed to reach some closure. But once this chapter in the series picks up, she’s back to being Queen Emo Gwen. While I understand her emotional stress, by this point, it’s really pushing this series down into the muck and holding it back from progressing. At this point, as a reader, I’m just about over it as much as her band mates in The Mary Janes.

That being said, apart from that aspect of the story, this chapter was still quite enjoyable. However, it did seem to be less cohesive than the previous two collections. But I also felt like it had a much needed slower pace after the two volumes that preceded it.

Still, a lot does happen and there are tussles with the debuting Kraven and an amusing Mysterio story. We also get out first look at Fantastic Four characters in this universe or at least, the first time I’ve encountered them.

Frank Castle returns to his evil Punisher ways and gets much closer to ruining Gwen’s life. However, his actions work against him and his obsession is made much more apparent to his colleagues and friends.

We also get more of this universe’s evil Matt Murdock and the groundwork is set for Spider-Gwen being much more involved with the Kingpin and his organization. Really, there’s just a lot of stuff established in this volume that should lead to some solid things the series can explore going forward.

This is still a pretty good collection, even if it gets held back by Gwen’s emotions and apprehension.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: The other Spider-Gwen collections.

Comic Review: Spider-Gwen, Vol. 1: Greater Power

Published: May 24th, 2016
Written by: Jason Latour
Art by: Robbi Rodriguez

Marvel Comics, 136 Pages

Review:

This seemingly picks up after Spider-Gwen. Vol. 0: Most Wanted? Like it’s numerical predecessor, it features some stellar art, great character development and a lot of interesting twists to the Marvel Universe, at least how it exists in the small pocket that is Spider-Gwen’s version of Earth.

This volume is also packed with a lot of other characters. We get the debut of Green Goblin, as Harry Osborne is hella pissed over the death of Peter Parker, whom he deems Spider-Woman (a.k.a. Spider-Gwen) responsible for.

We also get to see more of this universe’s versions of Daredevil and the Punisher. We meet a very different Captain America and get to see Gwen interact with the other Spider-Woman, Jessica Drew. Plus, we learn a lot more about the world Spider-Gwen lives in, the Lizard problem, as well as S.H.I.E.L.D. and S.I.L.K.’s hands in all of it.

The only real downside is we don’t get to see Gwen interact with Spider-Ham like in Most Wanted? Sure, he was a figment of her imagination in that story arc but I loved the camaraderie between the two.

Where Most Wanted? dealt a lot with Gwen’s guilt over Peter Parker’s death, her battle with the Green Goblin here, helps her to see things differently and to start to make peace with that earlier tragedy. It also drives her towards trying to save Osborne from himself and his delusions. We also get to see what happens when you mix the Green Goblin with the Lizard’s mutagen. Just sayin’, who wouldn’t want to see the results of that?

A lot happens in this book and the characters develop and change quite a bit from beginning to end. We get to see a new side to George Stacy, Gwen’s father and the cop originally leading the manhunt for Spider-Woman. We also see how evil Daredevil is in this universe and have some clues dropped about Tony Stark and who he is in Spider-Gwen’s realm.

I’m digging this series a hell of a lot and frankly, I’m ready to jump right into the next volume.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: The other Spider-Gwen collections.

Film Review: The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)

Release Date: March 31st, 2014 (Tokyo premiere)
Directed by: Marc Webb
Written by: Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Jeff Pinkler, James Vanderbilt
Based on: The Amazing Spider-Man by Stan Lee, Steve Ditko
Music by: Hans Zimmer, The Magnificent Six
Cast: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan, Campbell Scott, Embeth Davidtz, Colm Feore, Paul Giamatti, Sally Field, Felicity Jones, B.J. Novak, Denis Leary, Chris Cooper

Marvel Entertainment, Arad Productions, Inc., Matt Tolmach Productions, Columbia Pictures, 142 Minutes

the_amazing_spiderman_2Review:

Man, where do I begin with this film? To start, it was pretty awful overall. Granted, I wasn’t a fan of the first one and I didn’t expect much from this outing but despite a few things I liked, the vast majority of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was complete shit.

Every male actor in this film was horrible. Andrew Garfield is not all that likeable and I can’t relate to him like I did to the previous Spider-Man, Tobey Maguire. Garfield just can’t sell the “nerdy photographer” shtick all that well and most of the time he is borderline emo (I am ignoring Maguire’s fall into emo madness in Spider-Man 3 because I pretend that that film doesn’t exist).

Speaking of emo, Dane DeHaan’s Harry Osborn was atrocious. He was an emo girl’s wet dream, whining and crawling on the ground and whining some more with his burnout lizard-looking face and Dashboard Confessional haircut. I never felt threatened by this dime store wuss and his attempts at being bad ass were laughable when they weren’t just irritating. His look as Green Goblin was just goofy and ridiculous. I felt like I was watching some waify angsty morally conflicted rich kid at Comic-Con trying to dress up as Sting in Dune but doing a bad job at it.

Jamie Foxx as Max Dillon a.k.a. Electro was probably the worst performance of his illustrious career since Booty Call. The character was also unlikable and so one-dimensional that almost every piece of dialogue that was written for him was completely predictable. He may have been the stupidest smart person in the history of cinema.

Then there was Paul Giamatti as the dude who becomes Rhino, talking in the worst Russian accent I have ever heard while just being completely idiotic. I typically love Giamatti, but in this film, I felt embarrassed for him.

Weirdly, all the females in the movie were pretty good. Emma Stone was great, adorable and mesmerizing, as always, Sally Field was fantastic and Felicity Jones was good with the limited role she had. But even the strong female presences couldn’t save this pile of insipid juvenile crap.

As far as the plot goes, there was so much nonsensical bullshit that it became a complete clusterfuck and the plot was just secondary and didn’t matter all that much. The whole film was a cookie cutter superhero love story with a predictable outcome mixed in with over-the-top CGI orgasmfests that offered nothing new or captivating.

And why was it so friggin’ long?

On a positive note, it wasn’t as dull and boring as the first film in the series.