Wednesday, January 30, 2013

More From Spider-Man Unlimited

Back to the Spider-Man Unlimited issues I posted on awhile back, a peek into issues #1-5! At the turn of the century, Marvel produced this short lived series based on the Fox Kids animated show of the same title. The talking heads decided this take on the iconic Marvel character may have been a little too far removed for their viewers, hence their slipped ratings. I wasn't paying attention to comics or animated shows at the time, but watching a couple episodes of the show on YouTube and reading the few issues of the comic released entertained me. There were some fun aspects about it. Disappointingly, there isn't any resolution to the story due to it's abrupt cancellation.

Issue #1:  Spider-Man's crash landing on Counter-Earth is followed by an even more harrowing encounter with the Beastials. Curious to know more about his physiology, the Beastials prepare to experiment on him, but the Human Resistance shows up and provides a chance to strike back and make a getaway!

Spider-Man can't believe that John Jameson, son of Jonah and lost astronaut, doesn't want to leave Counter-Earth with him and return home, instead choosing to stay and help the Human Revolution's resistance against the High Evolutionary and his Beastials.

Issue #2:  Some things never change, even across different dimensions! To survive Peter must make a living selling pictures of Spider-Man to the Daily Byte, whose editor treats him with indifference just like John Jameson did back home. Oh the indignity!

Issue #3:  The Reed Richards of Counter-Earth is valued by the Beastial's for his intellect, but when he takes Peter to a soiree in their lair, he is stopped by the Maitre d' asks to scan his chip that all humans must wear! Peter battles the Lizard back home of course, but note the blue Beastial in the corner of the first panel on the 2nd page.  Look familiar?

The Brute, who appears to be a "counter-version" of the Hulk, breaks up the Beastial's party, averting their attention from Peter. As Spider-Man, Peter tangles with the rampaging behemoth, but later discovers his true identity and hidden, noble agenda.

Issue #4:  Curious about life on Counter-Earth outside the city, Spider-Man confides in the Green Goblin, an ally sympathetic to the webslinger's cause, about his lack of tracking chip implanted on all other humans by the High Evolutionary. The initially reluctant anti-hero agrees to show him a tunnel leading Spider-Man off the island, to the world outside.

Outside the city, Spider-Man discovers a forest commune called the Harmony, where Beastials and humans live together in peace...

Realizing the commune is more of a totalitarian society, Peter realizes that he must leave to avoid the unwanted attention of the group's leader, A Gwen Stacy double leads the fugitive hero out of the community and back to Manhattan.

Issue #5:  A mysterious killer has been lurking the streets at night, attacking people and gruesomely removing their sub-dermal ID chips. Anxious to discover the murderer's identity, Spider-Man stumbles upon Counter-Earth's answer to Wolverine, whom he assumes is responsible. He is instead a human who was  transformed by the High Evolutionary's biological experiments, also in search of the serial killer terrorizing the humans. An amulet around the creature's neck tips Spider-Man off to Wolverine's paternal relations to Peter Parker's new Counter-Earth family, Naoko and her son Shayne.

More Later- Make It FUN!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Jet-Pack Spider-Man by Toybiz

I scored this Jet-Pack Spider-Man and took these photos quite awhile ago, but neglected to post them amidst the excitement that is the Super-DuperToyBox. Now is as good a time as ever though, seeing as my last five or six posts have been about the webslinger of New York. ToyBiz produced these nearly a decade ago, along with several other Marvel heroes like Wolverine, Captain America, Iceman, the Hulk, and Thing. My interest in him was due to the current fascination I had with the similarly chunky & cute DC Super-Friends Mattel produced a few years after. Like those, these are simple toys meant for younger children. Their happy colors and bulky tactile appeal make them both comforting and inviting- "Play with me, I'm cute!" Like any good toy, these are made for play.

Spidey is about 6" tall and comes with a removable jet pack and helmet. The basic figure alone has a modified outfit, but is an extension of the original blue & red Spidey, the head treated exactly like the icon we know and love. These are slightly more limited in articulation than Mattel's DC Super-Friends, but he does have swivels at the tops of his gloves. His elbows have less range than the Super-Friends, and he has a simple swivel at the neck as opposed to a ball-jointed head. He is sturdy however, and quite a looker!

The whole thing comes together, however, when Spidey's helmet is on and the wings on his jet pack are engaged... fun!

The jet pack is as chunky in design as the figure, to chubby turbines at the rear, and wings that flip up when the blue button is pressed. He's a "cutsie" toy, but very well designed with lots of detail in the sculpt, great color, and clean paint apps. The helmet looks particularly cool, webbed on top reaching to a widow's peak down the front, and crowned by three scooped headlights painted yellow. Red piping around the helmet's mouth is echoed along the figure's boot soles.

There was also a conventional Spidey released in the line, along with several variants, but  thought this one was one of the better designs. I have snowboard Spidey from the series that is pretty cool as well, but haven't had the chance to inspect him out of packaging. Maybe I'll get a chance to get some shots of him this winter, though I must say I like the way he is positioned in the package, his snowboard upright behind him. These are a little harder to find now, and some folks want a surprisingly hefty price for some of them. I wouldn't be surprised to see some showing up in garage sales for cheap, the toddlers of 2004 now grown out of their toys. These two are particularly rare on eBay lately, but the two you should be on the lookout for.

More Later-Make It FUN!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Superior Spider-Man #1, Avenging Spider-Man #16, & Otto Octavius as Peter Parker

If you haven't heard by now,  Otto Octavius (AKA, Dr. Octopus) diabolically switch bodies with Peter Parker near the end of the Amazing Spider-Man title, and the young hero died while trapped in the terminally ill body of his longtime nemesis. Yes, this is another trick to boost sales, and it worked- well, for myself it did. I went out and picked up Superior Spider-Man #1 the day after reading Amazing Spider-Man #700, and then went on to hunt down most of the Avenging Spider-Man issues, eager for more of the webbed wall-crawler! I realize not all were thrilled about Marvel killing Peter off (again!), but the Otto's sarcastic, selfish dialogue coming from the mouth and mind of Parker was really well done and fascinating. In Superior Spider-Man #1, Otto is so bent on dispatching the Sinister Six, that he alienates his boss at Horizon Labs and Mary Jane, with whom Parker recently reunited- this is somewhat refreshing.

When Otto corners the Sinister Six, who Parker tried to use in getting back into his own body before dying in Otto's, he's playing for keeps, surprising the unsuspecting villains with his ruthlessness. 

The ultra-competitive Otto is stopped just short of killing them before he is stopped by the spirit of Peter Parker, who, unseen by Otto, vows to never allow him to take a life, and to find a way back! So yes, they will bring Peter back to life- I can promise you that! 

Marvel carries Otto over into the Avenging Spider-Man title with issue #16, guest starring the X-Men. I love this title featuring Spidey with different guest heroes in every great issue!

Otto soon realizes a typical day for Peter Parker may involve any number of surreal and often life threatening situations, including a giant Spider scaling a skyscraper.

The X-Men show up, asking Spidey to step aside, but the competitive Otto uses his knowledge of arachnid physiology to bring the spider down- I'm unsure how Otto became familiar with this knowledge other than his genius-level scientific mind, but the others look on dumbfounded as Spidey unexpectedly reacts to Wolverine's condescension, delivering the clawed mutant a swift beat-down.

When Wolverine peels himself off the sidewalk and gets the jump on Otto, he commands Hope to scan his mind to see who is really inside his friend's head, suspicious of Spidey's shifted personality. But Otto pulls from Parker's memories to use the hero's charm to talk his way out it. Spidey knows that the girl who appeared in place of the giant felled spider is a genetically engineered being, but leaves Beast to discover that she's also a clone by himself. But who's behind this? The character on the last page reveals what our heroes have yet to discover...!

This is so much fun! Spider-Man is as big as ever! I also loved the recent Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man with middle-schooler Miles Morales taking over for the Peter Parker killed off in that book (poor guy). So great! In my opinion, both these books took a chance reinventing one of the world's most beloved comic book characters, and did so inventively. Every time this happens, fans and critics dismiss it as hype to sell comics, and that's what it is. Tell us something we didn't know. Something has to happen in the book for it to keep selling, and let's not forget, in the dangerous world Spider-Man comes from, the odds are against him surviving. Why not play with that idea? And why not move Parker into adulthood, far removed from his beleaguered beginnings as a nerdy high schooler? We'll still have all the tales we loved from the character's long & rich history. Yes it's cheezy how almost every comic hero that dies comes back to life, but it's fantasy. I've enjoyed Spider-Man comics from the last year as much as any I've read in my life, perhaps due to my somewhat fresh re-emergence into the subject as an adult, but for another reason as well- that is my belief in appreciation of art not on my terms, but in observance of it's creator's vision.

More Later- Make It FUN!

Monday, January 21, 2013

My Fan Art: Spider-Man

The Amazing Spider-Man, 2013
acrylic, colored pencil on paper, 14 x 20"

I've been reading A LOT of  Avenging Spider-Man lately, inspired by my impulse purchase of Amazing Spider-Man #700, and subsequent pick-up of the new Superior Spider-Man #1. The latter has now bled into Avenging Spider-Man, issue #16, thrilling this dork to no end. Spidey was definitely a favorite character from childhood, and remains so to this day. His youthful exuberance and inherent goodness appeal to me greatly, and his wisecracking ways are a refreshing contrast to the often deadly situations he's put into helping others. Everybody loves Spidey!

This rendering of ol' Webhead is my own mix of Manga Spidey (no sleeves), with Ultimate Spidey (no "boots"). He's also inspired by the Hasbro Grappling Hook Spider-Man action figure I picked up this past July, modeled after Manga Spidey.  A friend asked where his sleeves went, and lamented over their omission, "... well, I don't read much Manga, but it's classic Spidey for me." The truth is that I don't read much Manga either, and am a big fan of Ditko's classic design, but why copy when you can interpret in your own voice? I want to see something new. Remember the first time you saw Spider-Man? Would be hard to remember, but you were probably very interested at that moment. Spider-Man is so iconic, we tend to forget how exciting that character is, what a great idea he was. How do I get that feeling back.. that feeling I had the first time I saw that? Like the Superman I painted recently, I made it new again, by making it my own.  He's my Spidey.

As a kid in school I dreamt of being a comic book artist- I went on to attend school and became a working fine artist. The influence of comics is highly evident in my work today, and though my style developed in a different direction, it did retain a dramatic and narrative quality. Those comic artists are just in a league above and beyond me, but it's still fun way to use my imagination, and that's what we do here Friends  :D
More Later-Make It FUN!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Ultra-Pose Foam Ultimate Spider-Man

In the throes of my current Spider-Mania, I simply could not resist this Ultra-Pose Foam Spider-Man released by Just Play under the animated Ultimate Spider-Man television show franchise. He's about 15" tall, in classic Spidey red & blue, and reminded me of my 12" Mego Spidey from childhood. I found him last weekend at TRU for $21.99, and fumbled with him for only a minute before taking him home.

The box claims hundreds of possible posing options, which is a little overstated in my opinion, but he does have some sort of bendable armature throughout his body. He doesn't hold many poses standing that securely, but he's more useful that a regular plush toy. His ankles contain some sort of ratchet joint that clicks into about three different positions, and he can hold his head in a slightly upward & downward glance.

This Spidey is a very simple toy, but the detail is well done. I'm unsure how well his screen printed deco would hold up under rigorous play, but it's neatly done. His body is above the average stuffed toy as well, molded to emulate the muscled body of a super-hero.

He's just such fun toy with a retro vibe in his bright classic coloring and bendy/suction cup play features. It was love at first sight- I stood there tugging and squeezing him. He's fun and made for play, like a good toy should be- I love him! 

What really makes this toy fun are the suction cups on his palms- they stick to glass really well.  I have another Spidey with this feature- a 10" ToyBiz wall-hanging Spider-Man from '94 in the variant "night shadow" deco. Really cool!

More Later- Make It FUN!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Amazing Spider-Man #700, Superior Spider-Man, & Recent Pick-ups

I had a sudden reawakening in my nostalgia for Spider-Man this week when at The Fantasy Shop picking up some of the new Marvel Now! and DC New 52  titles I'd been keeping up on. While talking to the manager I noticed a postcard advertising the heavily hyped final issue #700 of Amazing Spider-Man,  and casually suggested they must be all sold out. "No, I believe there's one more," said Dan, walking to the racks to show me. As he put it in my hand I realized the times I'd passed on it in my recent comic excursions, and bought the hefty issue on impulse. It added another eight bucks to my bill, but I was drawn to, no compelled to take it home. Friends, this was a fateful moment- I was hooked! Spider-Man is definitely a favorite, but as Dan said, like Super-Man, Spider-Man isn't one of those that comes to mind now when asked to name your top ten. Yes, everyone loves Spidey, but he's so big that he's kinda in a class of his own. He's accessible to us because he is the "every man", and as writer Rob Williams said at the end of the December Avenging Spider-Man Annual #1, his inherent goodness. "Spidey does this more than any super hero I can think of, usually to the cost of his own personal life. And that's why he's so beloved, I think. He does this when he's any ordinary guy." 

I had such a fun time reading issue 700 that I picked up #699 and Superior Spider-Man #1, book-ending this tale of Peter Parker's mind swap with Otto Octavius, and his subsequent death that touched Dr. Octopus so profoundly that he vows to carry on Peter's legacy smarter and stronger than before. I know this sounds crazy, but it totally sucked me in. I was so absorbed that I picked up several odd issues of Avenging Spider-Man as the weekend progressed, including a TPB of the first five issues and the December Annual, hungry for more adventures with the webbed wall-crawler. Avenging Spider-Man is a great title- I didn't know what I was missing! Lots of team-up action with other Marvel heavy hitters like Hawkeye, She-Hulk, Deadpool, and Red Hulk. Greatness!

While picking up Amazing Spider-Man #700, I grabbed more Marvel Now! and DC New 52 titles I'm enjoying: Cable and X-Force, Fantastic Four, and Thunderbolts #3, Thor: God of Thunder #4, and Earth 2 & World's Finest: Huntress & Power Girl #8.  Cable and X-Force and Thunderbolts have been intriguing, and I can't say enough good things about Thor: God of Thunder- wow!  Earth 2 has been a lot of fun, and Wonder Woman's child, Fury, who was raised by Steppenwolf  makes an appearance with the warlord of Apokolips-exciting! World's Finest perked up during #6 and 7, but I mostly hang in for it's ties with Earth 2. I continue to pick up Fantastic Four for similar reasons, it's ties with my favored title FF, drawn by the great Mike Allred. The last month has been filled with a lot of really exciting reading!  

 More Later- Make It FUN!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Currently Reading: Spider-Man Unlimited Comics

Awhile back I watched some episodes of that freaky Spider-Man Unlimited on YouTube, and in a random eBay search discovered that the 1999 animated show on Fox Kids had a very short run in comics. There were five issues printed, along with this Wizard Comics Magazine limited edition 1/2 issue of Spider-Man Unlimited pictured above that I got from Newfire Games in Maryville, Ilinois. Purchased from their eBay store for about five bucks/free shipping, it came with a nice, thick bag/board and a certificate of authenticity. It basically retells the origins of Spider-Man's "Unlimited" evolution, similar to the cartoon's story- his ostricism from New York on account of a shuttle launch disaster involving Carnage and Venom, hitching a ride with Jonah Jameson's astronaut son, en route to Counter-Earth. Peter Parker hijacks a shuttle later in his special new suit, determined to rescue Jameson and clear his name, running into all kinds of high adventure in the alternate Earth. It's whacky kid stuff, but it's fun. The art looks like "amimation-style", but not really like the television show- better actually. And while there isn't a Spider-Man outfit I haven't liked, I am really fond of this one- he even has the air-foil/cape like Spider-Man 2099, another favorite re-imagining of ol' Webhead.

The other five issues I scored from Mile-High Comics' eBay store for about $1.40 per issue. I've enjoyed the first couple of these kid-friendly issues. Neither the show, which saw 13 episodes, nor the comic it was based on lasted long- it may have been too far removed from the popular character's usual shtick  or ironically too limited in concept. I happen to like comics intended for kids, like Batman & Robin Adventures, so it was right up my alley. The simplified graphic appeals to me greatly, like poster art with it's heavy line and contrasty rainbow colors. I'll try to share some of the artwork in another post if time permits...

Mile High Comics sent this nice tri-fold advertisement with information on their four Denver area locations- looks dreamy! You can bet your bottom dollar where I'll be found if I ever get to Colorado! LOL!

More Later-Make It FUN!