Alex Ross Spotlight: Spider-Man and The Electric Company

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

It all started with Spider-Man.

Alex Ross has that in common with a lot of comic book fans, who were drawn to Spidey as their first superhero. But for Ross, it wasn’t a comic book or a cartoon or a movie that introduced him to the character. It was The Electric Company, a PBS show meant to teach children about reading, that opened the door to Spider-Man, and by extension a lifetime love of comic books and superheroes.

“Spider-Man was the opening door,” Ross said in Marvelocity: The Marvel Comics Art of Alex Ross. “That was the first time I had seen him – or anyone had – in three dimensions, and in action. It was weird and stilted, but it was thrilling: There he was, the costume was vibrant, he was alive! I hadn’t seen the comics yet, but soon did, and that led to all the other characters: Cap and the rest of the Avengers, the Green Goblin, the Invaders. It was amazing to me.”

Ross would later elaborate on the importance of Spider-Man in his love of superheroes via a YouTube video

“If I had seen Superman or Batman or anybody else before then, I can’t recall it … But I was just knocked out. I thought he was the coolest thing I’d ever seen. And I wanted to dress up like him and I wanted to draw him. … Once I saw Spider-Man at the age of four my interest turned really sharply in that direction. And so for the remainder of my life I was drawing characters focusing around superhero themes.”

The Spider-Man costume in particular would impact Ross, and his perception of superheroes at large.

“It was just transformative – that completely covered body, no trace of exposed flesh, was the most exciting thing I’d ever seen,” he said in Marvelocity. “Spider-Man was the design for me, by which all others would be measured.”

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

The Amazing Spider-Man #13 Micro-Review – Spidey’s Helmet

***This is where we keep it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

The Amazing Spider-Man 13, cover, 2022, John Romita Jr, Scott Hanna, Marcio MenyzTITLE: The Amazing Spider-Man #13
AUTHOR: Zeb Wells
ARTISTS:
John Romita Jr., Scott Hanna (Inker), Marcio Menyz (Colorist), Joe Caramagna (Letterer)

RELEASED: November 9, 2022

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

The high quality, high octane glider battle between Spider-Man and the Hobgoblin(s) continues in this issue. I was surprised to learn along the way that the headpiece on this version of Spidey’s suit is a helmet. It seems obvious in hindsight, especially when you look at how it appears on the cover to this issue. But somehow I missed it…

Does this issue mark the beginning of the end for Norman Osborn’s attempt to be a good guy? I hope not. I’ve actually come to enjoy this little ride we’re on with him.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

The Amazing Spider-Man #8 Micro-Review – High Altitude, High Velocity

***This is where we keep it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

The Amazing Spider-Man #8, cover, 2022, John Romita Jr, Scott Hanna, Marcio MenyzTITLE: The Amazing Spider-Man #8
AUTHOR: Zeb Wells
ARTISTS:
John Romita Jr., Scott Hanna (Inker), Marcio Menyz (Colorist), Joe Caramagna (Letterer)
RELEASED:
August 24, 2022

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

As I’ve indicated previously, I really dig this cover. It’s the best Romita has put out for this series thus far.

There’s a cool high altitude, high velocity struggle between Spidey and the Vulture in this issue. Very enjoyable, and again, some of the best work Romita has turned in since he returned to the character.

As this new dynamic between Peter Parker and Norman Osborn continues to progress, I keep coming back to that “so smart it makes you dumb” quote about Peter from issue #2. This is not going to end well…

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Epic Covers: Spidey as Green Goblin?!?

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Over in The Amazing Spider-Man, Spidey’s getting some tech help from an extremely unlikely source: Norman Osborn, a.k.a. the Green Goblin. Thus, the very Goblin-esque look he’s sporting on the cover of this week’s ASM #8.

I like this cover by John Romita Jr. (with Scott Hanna on inks and Marcio Menyz on colors) because it creates instant intrigue. In giving Spider-Man visual traits that line up with his arch nemesis (the glider, the green lighting and…is that the Spidey version of a pumpkin bomb?), the reader instantly has questions about what’s going on. Thus, a desire to open the issue.

I’ve been a critic of John Romita Jr’s in the past. But this one is a winner, right here. Easily the best cover of his to come out of this new ASM volume thus far.

The Amazing Spider-Man #8, cover, 2022, John Romita Jr, Scott Hanna, Marcio Menyz

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

An Amazing Spider-Man #4 Micro-Review – Blood and Authenticity

***This is where we keep it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

Amazing Spider-Man 4, cover, 2022, John Romita JrTITLE: The Amazing Spider-Man #4
AUTHOR: Zeb Wells
ARTISTS:
John Romita Jr., Scott Hanna (Inker), Marcio Menyz (Colorist), Joe Caramagna (Letterer)

RELEASED: June 22, 2022

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Spidey is bleeding from the face in this issue, and naturally, the blood soaks through his mask. It looks a little splotchy in certain panels. But I appreciate the idea nonetheless.

Zeb Wells is as good as any author I’ve read in recent memory at writing the “Parker luck.” In other words, the weight of Peter’s responsibilities bearing down on him, and how he struggles (and often fails) to balance them all. It makes for a product that feels very authentic.

 Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Weekly Comic 100s: Spider-Man: Spider’s Shadow #1

***This is where we keep it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

TITLE: Spider-Man: Spider’s Shadow #1
AUTHOR: Chip Zdarsky
ARTISTS: Pasqual Ferry, Matt Hollingsworth (Colorist), Joe Caramagna (Letterer). Cover by Phil Noto.
RELEASED: April 14, 2021

So what if Peter kept his black symbiote costume? That’s the question this book asks, and the answer is pretty much what you’d think it is. Under the symbiote’s influence, Peter pushes things too far.

I’ll say this much: It’s a little refreshing to go back to a simpler time in Spidey’s career. Even if things are about to get really dark.

Weird is it may sound, I appreciate the depth of the black Joe Caramagna uses for the symbiote costume. You stare into it, and it feels like you’re looking into some kind of twisted abyss…

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Alex Ross Spotlight: Superhero Costumes as “Skin”

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

See, I could have gone with a headline about “naked superheroes.” But that might have led us to some rather flamboyant pornography. Not that I’ve ever seen such things…

Is Alex Ross actually talking about naked people? Of course not. He’s discussing superhero costumes, and how artists essentially draw them as human skin. It’s not about the practicality of the costume, but the use of what is essentially “the human form in its purest state.”

He elaborates, “That’s the kind of entertainment you’re absorbing when you follow comics. It’s sort of like a pure id of humanity. … It’s just stripping the human avatar down to its most fundamental component.”

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Panels of Awesomeness: Spider-Man Annual #1

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

CREATORS: Bryan Edward Hill (Author), Nelson Blake II (Artist), Alitha E. Martinez (Artist), Carlos Lopez (Colorist), Cory Petit (Letterer)

THE SCENE: In his early days as a hero, Miles Morales takes on a Skrull who is impersonating Spider-Man!

WHY IT’S AWESOME: Spider-Man Annual #1 was a welcome read this week, as last month Brian Michael Bendis officially put a bow on the ongoing adventures of Miles Morales. At least for now. My understanding is that a new series is in the works. You’d think there’d have to be, what with the Miles-centered Into the Spider-Verse hitting theaters in December.

In the meantime, most of this annual takes place “years ago,” just as Miles is becoming a hero. The book does a little retcon work here, trying to figure out where our hero was in the main Marvel Universe (as opposed to the Ultimate one, where he debuted) around the time of Secret Invasion. When Miles, Ganke, and their friends are attacked by Skrulls at a party in Soho, Miles is forced to take action. As awful icing on the cake, one of them is impersonating Spider-Man!

The ensuing battle gives us this page…

A bit cliched? Maybe. But when it’s done right, I’m a sucker for stuff like this. It’s important to remember how young Miles is at this point. When we first met him, he was only about 13 or 14. And yet, now he’s facing life or death against a monster. Literally, a monster. So to see him calm himself down, and almost rationalize the situation, is really cool. I love the line, “I can’t do this. But Spider-Man could.”

Then, to top it all off, he delivers a Spidey quip. Not a great one, mind you. But good, considering he’s a terrified teenager in a makeshift Spider-Man costume.

That’s another item to note: Nelson Blake II designed Miles’ makeshift Spidey suit for this outing. I dig it. The shirt is a little on-the-nose for what’s supposed to be a spontaneous costume. But it’s still fun. The goggles even give it a little bit of a Spider-Man Noir vibe.

Email Rob at PrimaryIgnition@yahoo.com, or follow Primary Ignition on Twitter.

An Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, Vol. 1 Review – ANOTHER Genetically Altered Spider…

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, Vol. 1, 2016TITLE: Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, Vol. 1
AUTHOR: Brian Michael Bendis
PENCILLER: Sara Pichelli
COLLECTS: Portion of Ultimate Fallout #4Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1-5
FORMAT: Hardcover
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $24.99
RELEASED: February 15, 2012

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Miles Morales hasn’t even been around a year, and he’s already one of the most intriguing characters in all of comics, and it’s not just because he’s a half black, half Latino Spider-Man.

Shortly before Peter Parker’s death at the hands of the Green Goblin and the rest of his rivals, yet another genetically altered spider is stolen from Oscorp. The spider finds its way on to the hand of young Miles Morales, and bites him. Miles, who has just been chosen via lottery to attend a prestigious charter school, quickly develops abilities much like Spider-Man’s, with a few bonuses: He can also become invisible, and deliver a stinging “venom strike.” Miles is initially hesitant to take on a hero role, but after he sees Peter’s death firsthand, he is inspired to succeed him as New York City’s friendly neighborhood web slinger. But is the city ready for a new Spider-Man? And what will Peter’s comrade’s at S.H.I.E.L.D. have to say about this?

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1, 2011, Sara PichelliThe structure is similar, but the specifics are different. To an extent, it’s the same thing here with the origins of Peter Parker and Miles Morales (only the newer installment isn’t sub-par). They’re both basically good people, with strong moral influences in their lives. They get these incredible powers and don’t know what to do with them. Then tragedy strikes, and they blame themselves for not preventing it. Thus, they have their call to action. Same basic story, different characters, different specifics. I give Bendis a lot of credit for staying true to Spider-Man’s “power and responsibility” values in the creation of the Miles character, while not flat out rehashing Peter’s origin.

Miles’ supporting cast is a nice mix of new and established characters. Unlike Peter, both of his parents are alive as he starts his journey. His father, while seemingly opposed to the existence of mutants, has a solid sense of right and wrong, and tries to instill that in Miles. His best friend Ganke is the first person he tells about his new abilities, and Ganke proves more enthusiastic about Miles’ powers than he initially is. Also in Miles’ life is his uncle Aaron, a thief who calls himself The Prowler (a name Marvel fans may know). Miles trusts his uncle, much to his father’s chagrin. Spider-Woman and Nick Fury both play roles here. Gwen Stacy also plays a brief, yet important part.

I’m a big fan of the black and red costume, though we see it very little in this story. It’s a nice hybrid of the classic suit and the black symbiote suit. It’s not nearly as “busy” as the classic suit, and has a nice sleek look to it. Pichelli also does a wonderful job establishing the Miles character, conveying his emotional roller coaster as effectively as one could hope for. What Bagley did for Peter in the original series, Pichelli has done for Miles here. For better or worse, this is her Spider-Man now.

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, Miles Morales, Sara PichelliFrom a collection standpoint, my only real complaint with this volume is that we don’t see very much action. Miles doesn’t officially become Spider-Man until the very end of the book. I’m assuming Marvel was anxious to get this book on the stands so that readers waiting to see how Miles’ story played out could get a look at him, and possibly jump on to the monthly title. That’s understandable, but I wish we could have seen our new Spider-Man in action. He actually apprehends a D-list supervillain in this book, but we skip over the fight itself, which is frustrating.

One of the thing’s that so great about this title is that there’s so much to look forward to. With the original Ultimate Spider-Man book, we had a sense of the broad strokes. We knew who most of the characters were, and to an extent we could predict what would happen to them (Gwen Stacy dies, Eddie Brock becomes Venom, etc). But this is a whole new ball game. Most of the classic characters are still around, but now there are no rules. Bendis can essentially do whatever he wants with whomever he wants. Throw in a new hero that’s very easy to root for, and that’s grounds for very interesting storytelling. I’m very anxious to see what’s next.

Ironic, isn’t it? Peter Parker’s death may make way for some of the most interesting Spider-Man content in quite awhile.

RATING: 9/10

Image 1 from comiclist.com. Image 2 from author’s collection. Image 3 from spidermancrawlspace.com. 

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