Tag Archives: Spider-Man

Top 5 Rogues Galleries in Comics – #2

Coming in 2nd in the villain-collection countdown is my favorite superhero, Spider-Man. His cast of bad guys is most definitely one of the best, and is surely one of the most colorful. His villains tend to not be massive level threats, but rather smaller-scale ones that often focus their evil deeds directly at Spider-Man himself. Also one distinction Spidey has over other heroes is that it could be argued that he has two nemeses.

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The most vicious, personal, and psychologically damaging among his rogues gallery is the Green Goblin. Norman Osborn was the first villain to learn Spider-Man’s secret identity, and has continually used that knowledge to torture Peter Parker ever since. Brilliant both in science and tactics, and given enhanced strength and durability (but driven insane) by an experiment gone wrong, the Green Goblin attacks Spider-Man and his family on all fronts, and is responsible for arguably the defining moment of Spidey’s life: the death of his first love, Gwen Stacy.

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Almost on par with the Green Goblin is Dr. Octopus. He has been Spider-Man’s most consistent enemy having made his first appearance in just the third issue of Spider-Man’s solo comic, and has been wreaking havok on him continually since. Equipped with mechanical arms that he can control telepathically, Otto Octavius is almost singularly obsessed with killing Spider-Man, even once saving him from another villain that was about to kill him, just so he could kill Spidey himself. The history between Doc Ock and Spidey became even more entwined when their consciousnesses were swapped and Ock was dying. Inside Peter’s body he swore to be an even better Spider-Man, but ultimately failed as he didn’t hesitate to kill criminals instead of bringing them to justice.

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As part of his obsession with defeating Spider-Man once and for all, Dr. Octopus formed the Sinister Six, a super group of some of the Wall-Crawler’s greatest foes. Though the line-up has changed throughout its history, the team usually consists of: Electro (ability to shoot and control lightning), Mysterio (expert illusionist and effects specialist), Sandman (body composed of shape-shifting sand), Vulture (brilliant criminal with a bodysuit equipped with wings), Kraven (the world’s greatest hunter who sees Spider-Man as the “ultimate prey”), and lead by Doc Ock. Spider-Man typically requires help from other heroes to defeat the Sinister Six.

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After Spidey manages to remove the Symbiote that had become his black costume, the Symbiote falls onto Eddie Brock, a humiliated reporter that Spider-Man had proved a fraud. Their combined hatred for Spider-Man and Brock’s cancer-ridden body producing extra adrenaline (which the Symbiote feeds on) come together to form a new and totally vicious entity known as Venom. With full knowledge of literally everything about Peter Parker, the ability to block Spidey’s Spider Sense, and a twisted sense of morality, Venom immediately becomes a major threat to everyone in Spider-Man’s life.

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When the offspring of the Symbiote is left in Eddie Brock’s prison cell after his escape, it bonds with his cellmate, the psychopathic serial killer Cletus Kasady. Fueled by hatred for its “parent” and Kasady’s psychosis, Carnage is born. Breaking free and going on brutal killing spree, it took a truce between Spider-Man and Venom to defeat him. Even after his initial defeat, Carnage has continued to be a sadistic thorn in the side of the Web-Slinger.

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When biologist Curt Connors experiments on himself with reptile DNA in an attempt to regenerate the right arm he lost in the military, he is instead transformed into the mindless reptilian monster simply known as The Lizard. He eventually changes back, but will occasionally revert back to his monstrous form without warning. His story is one of the more interesting of Spider-Man villains, as Spidey is stuck trying to stop The Lizard’s deadly rampages but also trying to do so in a way that doesn’t permanently harm Connors.

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Biochemist Michael Morbius attempted to cure himself of a rare blood disease by experimenting on vampire bats, he inadvertently gave himself a form of “psuedo-vampirism” where he must subsist on human blood in order to survive and gains superhuman strength, reflexes, durability, and the ability to fly. His appearence also changes to resemble that of a bat, becoming known as Morbius the Living Vampire. His need to feed has set him at odds with Spider-Man on multiple occasions.

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While J. Jonah Jameson may not be the type of character you think of when you’re discussing a hero’s rogues gallery, but he has been every bit as big of a thorn in Spider-Man’s side as anyone else. Being Peter Parker’s boss at the Daily Bugle means that Peter has to listen to Jameson’s constant hate-filled defaming of Spider-Man on a daily basis. Jameson hasn’t settled to just attempt to destroy Spider-Man’s reputation through the media, but has also been behind several supervillains’ attempts at killing Spidey, including being responsible for the creation of major Spider-Man villain, The Scorpion.

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Reader’s Poll: Who Has the Best Rogues Gallery in Comics?

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What good is a hero without great villains? No matter how incredible or interesting the protagonist in a story may be, if he/she is not met by equally incredible or interesting antagonists, the story just feels flat. Aside from Star Wars‘ Darth Vader, who is without a doubt the coolest bad guy in pop culture, there’s no better place to find villains than comic books. So which hero has the best rogues gallery? You as the reader get to determine which ones I write about. Vote below and I’ll feature the top 5 vote-getters in a future post (might be a multi-parter).

 

Quick Shots From Comic-Con – Part 2

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Wrapping up the coverage of the major news coming out of Comic-Con 2016.

Captain Marvel casting –

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After months of speculation, and several women throwing their hat into the ring including former UFC Banthamweight Champion Ronda Rousey, Marvel finally announced who would be playing the titular character in their first female-led film: Brie Larson! Before she the casting was announced, MCU veteran Chris Evans had given his endorsement of her for the gig, which certainly helps her credibility. While I’m not overly familiar with her work, I’m optimistic about her potential to bring Carol Danvers to life. Marvel rarely misses when it comes to casting.

 

Justice League sizzle reel –

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While Wonder Woman amazed with its trailer, the sizzle reel for Justice League was a rather big disappointment. I get that DC is trying to lighten up the feeling of the universe after the overly serious nature of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, but the footage was just too focused on humor. Bruce Wayne was particularly jokey. And why is the most paranoid member of the Justice League revealing to each potential member that he’s Batman?  I also appreciate that they’re trying to make Aquaman seem more badass, but let’s face it, he’s still one of the lamest superheroes imaginable.

 

Ghost Rider on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

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When a train in San Diego was seen with an Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. advertisement that seemed to contain a fiery chain, speculation ran wild that Ghost Rider might be headed to the Marvel television property. That speculation was affirmed at Comic-Con, when it was announced that the Spirit of Vengeance would in fact be a major part of Season 4. While I am slightly disappointed that the version that will be present on the show won’t be Johnny Blaze, but the All-New Marvel’s Roberto Reyes, I completely understand and support their decision to bring in a minority character. AoS might have already been the most diverse show on television, and it’s going to be even more so now. That’s not a bad thing. I am a little surprised that Ghost Rider didn’t end up on Netflix, where his violent nature would seem to fit in better. But I’m still very much looking forward to seeing the character come home to the MCU.

 

Spider-Man: Homecoming concept art –

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It’s not much, but the concept art reveal for Spider-Man: Homecoming was still exciting. Spider-Man is and always has been my favorite comic character, so it doesn’t take much to get my anticipation up for anything regarding Ol’ Web-Head. Tom Holland was absolutely incredible in his small role in Captain America: Civil War, and I can’t wait to see him in a starring role. But this gave us our first look at the upcoming film’s big bad, Vulture. I’m glad they took a different approach with his flying suit to make it stand out from Falcon’s. And Michael Keaton playing the part gives the role a definite epicness.

The 25 Greatest Comic Book Movies (Revised) – Part 4

Today we have a very Marvel Comics heavy installment, with 4 of the 5 being based on the comic giant’s properties.

10. Spider-Man (2002)

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The Web-Slinger’s silver screen debut. Legendary horror director Sam Raimi was initially regarded as a strange choice to bring Marvel’s flagship property to the big screen. The decision, however, turned out to be a brilliant one. He gave the film a slightly dark aesthetic with splashes of vibrant color that give the movie a very original look. Tobey Maguire gives a good, if not great, performance as the titular hero. Willem Dafoe also gives a wonderfully memorable portrayal of Spider-Man’s nemesis, the Green Goblin.

 

9. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

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A fitting end to Christopher Nolan’s brilliant Dark Knight Trilogy. While this chapter in the series fell a little short of the lofty standard set by the first two, it is still a great movie. Christian Bale and Gary Oldman give their usual incredible performances, and Marion Cotillard is great as Miranda Tate (spoiler alert: AKA Talia al Ghul), but Tom Hardy’s portrayal of Bane is the best part of the film. Some dog his voice, but I personally thought it added a memorability and an interesting wrinkle to the character. He also has some of the most quotable lines in the entire series.

 

8. The Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

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While not as groundbreaking as the first MCU team-up, The Avengers: Age of Ultron is still a great movie. Seeing the way that these characters that we love have grown and changed over the course of the franchise was interesting and a driving force of the movie. It also clearly lays the groundwork for many things that are to come in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Finally getting to see Vision on screen was awesome, and James Spader’s performance as Ultron, while not quite what I was hoping for, was a treat as well.

 

7. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

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The blockbuster that no one saw coming! Funny and exciting with engaging and interesting characters, the Marvel Cinematic Universe hit it out of the park with their first intergalactic installment. The writing is crisp and witty and the special effects were amazing. The acting is great all around as well, but the real star of the movie is Bradley Cooper’s voice work as Rocket Raccoon.

 

6. Deadpool (2016)

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The Deadpool movie that Deadpool fans had been begging for and easily the best movie in the X-Men franchise. Ryan Reynolds plays the Merc With the Mouth to absolute perfection. Chock full of all the violence, humor, and f-bombs that one would expect from a film about Marvel’s fourth wall-breaking mutant mercenary. Everything about this movie is perfect. There’s really no other word fit to describe it.

 

We’re almost there folks. Come back next time for the final chapter in my newest edition of the greatest comic book movie countdown. The absolute best of the best lie ahead. See you then.

25 Greatest Comic Book Movies (Revised) – Part 1

I know I posted my list of the 25 Greatest Comic Book Movies last year, but with so many comic movies having been released since then, I feel the time has come to revise said list. In fact, I may make this a running thing. Every year post my list with revisions made for movies released since. Maybe. We’ll see how it goes. With this being a revision, instead of just posting the list with the poster of the film, I’ve decided to give brief descriptions and explain any changes to where a movie ranked.

25. Ant-Man (2015)

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We’ll kick things off with a newcomer to the list, Marvel Studios’ Ant-Man. An extremely fun film that was equal parts superhero blockbuster and heist flick. Paul Rudd gives a funny, endearing performance as the titular character, and holds up very well in the action sequences. Something I wasn’t sure he could do.

 

24. The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

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The movie that has fallen the farthest on this list. While I initially raved about this movie, once considering it a top 5 comic flick, but the more time passes, the more flaws I see. Andrew Garfield gives a very good performance as everyone’s favorite Wall-Crawler, and Emma Stone was fantastic as Gwen Stacy, but the story falls a little flat. The movie also continued the trend of fumbling Spider-Man’s origin.

 

23. The Crow (1994)

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An R-rate comic movie before R-rated comic movies were cool. Dark, gritty, and violent, the film is a fitting adaptation of James O’Barr’s comic series. Brandon Lee’s tragic death on set, and production’s movie-making magic that allowed them to finish the film afterward, helped the movie to achieve the major cult classic status it has today.

 

22. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)

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A wonderful mash-up of elements from the original comic book and the popular cartoon series. For me, as far as visual media goes, this is the definitive version of the Turtles. Funny and engaging, highly quotable, with action sequences, and a dark, somewhat grainy cinematography that pays tribute to the art style of the comic. It’s not perfect, but it’s sure close.

 

21. Superman (1978)

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The film that put comic book movies and Christopher Reeves on the map. For my money, the be-all and end-all of Superman portrayals. Sure, Reeves didn’t have the physique Kal-El sports in the comics, but he brought a realness and dry humor to the role that helped endear the character to the movie-going public. While most of you know, I’m not a fan of the character of Superman, but a good movie is a good movie. And this folks, is a very good one.

 

That’s it for the first installment. Come back next time for the next 5 on the list. I’m going to try to hammer these out quickly. Hope to see you back here soon.

Greatest Comic Artists – Part 2

In today’s installment, we have a father and son, a couple of comic book hall of famers, and some of the grittiest artists comics has to offer.
John Romita, Sr. – (Spider-Man, Captain America)
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With so many great artists having drawn the character, you can’t really say that there is a definitive Spider-Man artist. But if there is one, it might be John Romita, Sr. He was the artist for most of Spidey’s defining moments in the 70’s. With his son following in his footsteps, he also created one of the greatest legacies is comic history.
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John Romita, Jr. – (Spider-Man, Daredevil, Kick-Ass, Iron Man)
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Undaunted by the immense shadow cast by his father, John Romita Jr. became a legendary artist as well. And while his humble nature won’t allow him to admit it, I’d argue that his skill probably surpassed that of his famous father. After notable runs drawing for Spider-Man and Daredevil, Romita Jr. went on to co-create the ultra-violent Kick-Ass.
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Denys Cowan – (The Question, Deathlok, Steel, Power Man & Iron Fist)
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One of the best in the business at telling a story with artwork and framing an action scene. Gritty, emotional art is his calling card. Denys Cowan is so good that he managed to actually make Steel seem interesting. Cowan even drew the cover art for GZA’s album Liquid Swords. He has since gone on to work for BET.
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Frank Miller – (Daredevil, Batman, Sin City, 300)
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The standard bearer for gritty, ultra-stylized comic art. Also an acclaimed writer. Miller is credited with saving the Daredevil franchise and returning Batman to his darker roots by turning both into the violent vigilantes we know them as today. Created the Sin City franchise and drew/wrote some of the Caped Crusader’s greatest stories, including The Dark Knight Returns and Batman: Year One.
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Steve Ditko – (Spider-Man, Dr. Strange, The Question, Blue Beetle)
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Originally working in Jack Kirby’s studio, Ditko eventually became a major artist in his own right having created Dr. Strange and co-created Spider-Man and The Question. His tendency to focus on intricacy and fantasy elements allowed him to become a legend in the realms of science fiction, horror, and the supernatural.
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Come back next time where I’ll finish the list of the greatest comic book artists of all-time!

Spoiler-Free Captain America: Civil War Review

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Due to a very busy schedule, and then an unfortunate stomach bug, I wasn’t able to see Captain America: Civil War until this past weekend. This delay gave me plenty of time to read tons of reviews, which pretty much unanimously praised the movie. Some went as far as to call it the best offering from the MCU to date, and more than one said it was the greatest superhero movie ever. Even with those very lofty remarks, I tried my best to go in with lowered expectations. Though with my love for Captain America, and the fact that my favorite superhero of all, Spider-Man, would be making his MCU debut, I probably failed to lower them too much.

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I can say with certainty that my expectations were met. Can I say that they were exceeded? Sadly, not really. With that said, I don’t want to make it sound like this was in any way, shape, or form a “bad” movie. Quite the opposite, it was a great movie. But lofty expectations will make cynics of us all.

Fear not, faithful reader: NO SPOILERS lie ahead.

The tension between Cap and Iron Man (the real crux of the war) is palpable and feels genuine. Both Chris Evans and Robert Downey, Jr. stayed true to form and played their parts to perfection. Scarlet Johansson’s Black Widow was very good in the somewhat limited role she was given. But the real gems are Black Panther and Spider-Man, played brilliantly by Chadwick Boseman and Tom Holland respectively.

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The Russo Brothers did an incredible job fleshing out every character’s motivation and each character had their moment to shine without becoming tedious. Which is no easy task for a cast this large. Much like Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the fight scenes were amazing in their storytelling. The fight choreographers deserve a ton of praise for their ability to create seamless fights with each character fighting with an individual style (Cap and Bucky fight with a very gritty, visceral style, Black Widow is much more acrobatic and Judo-based, Black Panther, while also very high-flying, is more focused on striking).

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The one negative that I’ve read from a lot of critics is the film’s villain, Helmut Zemo. I, however, really enjoyed him. He’s not your typical super villain, and is much more about working in the shadows, and I thought that was a great choice for this type of movie. Plus, let’s face it, aside from Loki, most of the villains in the MCU have been pretty one-dimensional. Zemo is anything but. Without giving anything away, he is very much a product of the world in which the MCU takes place. It is a little disappointing that he never dawns his signature mask from the comic.

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The only real problem I had with the movie was that while for the most part, the pacing was crisp and constantly moving forward, it did tread water for a little bit about halfway through. But once the big battle between the dueling hero factions takes place, the film is propelled forward for the rest of its run time. While the film uses the “Civil War” story arc from the comics as a guide, the two are very different. So even if you’re a fan of the comic book story, there is plenty to keep you entertained and guessing.

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Overall, I cannot say that Civil War is the greatest superhero movie ever…I’m not sure I can say that it is even quite as good as Winter Soldier. But it’s certainly close. It is definitely better than The Avengers: Age of Ultron. I would definitely recommend this movie to anyone that enjoys superhero cinema, or just enjoys a good action flick (though without seeing at least some of the other MCU movies, you might be a little lost from a plot standpoint).

Final verdict: 9 out of 10.

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