Holiday Catch-Up: Comics Mishmash

Figured I’d crank out one more game of catsup before the new quarter starts. Like I’ve said before, I’m going into the American comics world completely blind outside of things like movie and cartoon adaptations, so take that as you will.

The Amazing Spider-Man #666-675 (Spider Island / Vulture)

I’ve been following with Spidey’s Ultimate universe from start to finish (to uh… re-start), so I wonder what exactly I was waiting for to get me into the webhead’s main universe title. Well… guess it was a massive crossover event.

Not gonna lie—I’m usually not too keen on massive crossover story arcs. I remember reading one of the Crisis events for DC and feeling completely and utterly lost. Random characters popping in and out without much to do or say; references to events a billion issues ago; not to mention the expected techno-babble which is made even worse since I’m not even familiar with the universe or characters… it was just a bad first time.

Spider-Island is different.

The crossover works well in that it’s able to get new fans into the series right off the bat. You’re starting at the start of a new arc, where past interactions with characters doesn’t mean all that much outside of the slightly distracting but still not too bad overall little asterisk notes you get from time to time. The level of danger present is clearly on a grand enough scale to warrant the use of so many of Marvel’s heavy-hitters, but it’s executed in a way that you’re not swamped with so much information that you’re immediately turned off. There’s some kind of virus around the city that’s giving Average Joe’s Spidey’s powers, and it’s up to the original Spidey to bring a stop to it all before things get too out of hand. It’s a simple story at its core presented in a way that can get new readers immediately rooting for Mr. Parker and booing the baddie in Jackal, even though the most noteworthy thing he’s been a part of was turning off readers to the comic via the Clone Saga.

As for the following short Vulture arc, it works as a good short little story to get readers back into the (get ready for it…) “swing” of things. I don’t know why, but the Vulture’s always seemed like a good introductory type of villain to get the story running again. He’s nowhere near on the knowability level as the Goblin or Dock Ock, so the amount of danger he presents comes off as bad, but not too bad.

The Avenging Spider-Man #1-2

Yes, another Spidey title.

From Marvel’s description of the series leading up to its release, I was kinda getting the vibe of a Wolverine and the X-Men (the animated series) in that I didn’t want it all to be about Spidey with some random heroes shoehorned into the series. Though so far, it works. The writers are well aware that it’s ridiculous how many teams Spidey’s part of in the main universe (the Future Foundation, and the Avengers?) and they have him bring it up a number of times in a mocking sort of fashion as he lays the beatdown on the baddies… which looks excellent bytheway. The artwork in this series has been complimented so many times, but I feel like I have to bring it up anyway: the art in this series reminds me of the best mix of East meets West, with its clear attention to detail and nice full page spreads where everyone’s poses look just right—definitely a series to keep an eye out on.

Wolverine & the X-Men #1-3

… not to be confused with the animated series that goes by the exact same name.

Like Avenging Spider-Man, this title is the kind you’d buy because the cover just popped out to you. Unlike Avenging, it comes off as kinda meh.

The series is coming right off the heels of some kind f X-Men crossover I never read, but unlike Amazing Spider-Man, its mentions of past events just end up flying over my head and don’t work to push to plot forward in any way. Besides those, you’re presented with Wolverine who ends up being the head of a new institute for mutants, though many are reluctant to let him go forth with the idea. In the middle of an attack on the school, we’re also introduced to the kids that’ll no doubt make up the bulk of the cast and they’re equally aged villains.

In general, I feel like this series was just messily made all around. Besides the artistic stylings of things that give off a Teen Titans (animated, not comic) vibe, I couldn’t really get behind anything else. The writing reminded me of an American action cartoon on a bad day with the obvious character set-ups and cheesy (even for a comicbook) dialogue. Very much a series you’d pick up for the cover and not the plot.

Bakuman #1-161

Well, it’s been a while, but I’m finally caught up with the one current Jump title I actually care for.

With a manga about two kids following their dreams and making a manga, it does take an overly optimistic mindset. Then again, I don’t think I’d want to read about about a couple dropouts that quit on their dreams and go into the black market business. The duo that makes up the penname of “Ashirogi Mutou” seems to jump through the obstacles they’re faced with a bit too easily at times, as do the rest of their  manga-ka comrades that also happen to be around the same age as them. Not to mention, you’ve got the love interest character that’s decided to go into the voice acting business herself and doesn’t seem to be having too much in the form of any real trouble with making her dreams come true, either. On one level, it’s refreshing to see something to optimistic as to think that hard work alone is enough, but on the other hand, it just makes me want to roll me eyes every other chapter.

What really makes the series for me are the interactions between each character. Between most, it’s a rivalry in wanting to make a manga that ranks higher than the other’s. On the other spectrum of things, you also have the editors overseeing the manga-ka and trying to one up their fellow editors. It gives off a sort of “gods influencing the humans” vibe at times, which makes for an interesting read.

Not to mention, all the details about this particular universe the authors aren’t delving into. The premise for each manga-ka’s series is enough to peak anyone’s interest, with titles like Otters 11 coming off as something that could work on adult swim if the idea were actually followed through in the real world. On another not, keeping in mind that this is the same team behind Death Note, it makes sense that the author is obsessed with having a solid timeline to the plot. You’re not told it often, but every now and then, you’re reminded the exact time period, up to the month, day and year, which leads to so many questions. The characters clearly mention other, older, manga titles and yet are able to top the top 5 on Weekly Jump’s list without having to worry about titles like Naruto, One Piece, or Bleach. For a while, I thought it was ridiculous to think that this oddball group of younger manga-ka are able to beat out such titles. Then I considered that the current time period the manga is up to is a time when all those series have long gone… what an optimistic series, this Bakuman is.

Your Friendly Neighborhood, Spectacular, Ultimate, EX Alpha…


Hey, webheads!

Your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man begins a new saga starting Fall 2011 on Disney XD’s “Ultimate Spider-Man”!

The new series will chronicle the adventures of naive high-schooler Peter Parker as he comes to grips with his new powers.

Along with his new powers, the challenge for the young web-slinger in the new series is balancing his relationships with his friends and family and his super colleagues who can help him gain an understanding of his parent’s legacy and his destiny.

“Ultimate Spider-Man will be a unique journey exploring our favorite web-slinger as he teams up with other fan favorite Marvel Super Heroes in never before seen stories with a new life filled with great challenges, new friends, intense action and character growth,” said Eric S. Rollman, President of Marvel Animation.

Keep it locked to for more on “Ultimate Spider-Man” before it premieres on Disney XD!


While the Ultimate comic line was what got me into the Spidey series in general, I must say that having yet another new Spider-Man animated series is just plain overkill.

But wait, what’s this? Apparently, inklings on the internet say that the announcement of Ultimate Spider-Man pretty much means the end of Spectacular Spider-Man… you know, the other new Spidey series that was doing a pretty good job of combining the best of all Spidey reincarnations into one new show before this new hotness suddenly walked in, leaving Spectacular on a somewhat cliffhanger ending.

Seriously, in the mere two seasons it ran in, each episode of Spectacular had me on the edge of my seat, with each scene making a big difference in future episodes whether the viewer was aware of such or not. As expected of anything Spidey-related, the dialogue was snappy and the stories were developed in a way that never spoke down to the audience, keeping a good balance between dialogue and complete silence to get the point across. In that sense, some may even go as far as saying that it’s the new generation’s Batman: TAS.

So why would anyone in their right mind cancel such an awesome show? Considering that the Toonami era of action cartoons has long gone, it couldn’t be that the series wasn’t holding up with similar shows airing at around the same time slot. I mean, off the top of my head, the only new action cartoons I can think of airing on TV in America are Naruto Shippuden, and the yet to be aired as of this blog Dragon Ball Z Kai.

If anything were to be blamed, I would go for the means the show was aired. For one, Disney XD ain’t your basic cable channel, hacking off a good percentage of potential viewers right there. Also keep in mind that the season 2 episodes of Spectacular were aired overseas before ever reaching the states—a pretty shoddy move, unless Disney and Marvel wanted more illegal episode downloads than TV viewers, that is.

But alas, what’s done is done. I’ll be missing you, Spectacular Spider-Man, and here’s to hoping…

As for this new series coming around the corner, at the least people should be somewhat pumped for it assuming (and I personally think that’s a pretty big “assuming”) that the series will be at least somewhat based on the Ultimate graphic novels. Though going off said assumption, and considering the edits that still go around these days, some details will have to be pretty watered down—not exactly the best thing to do if you’re aim is to accurately adapt a comic series that was made to revamp and grittify one of your bigger cash cows.

Then again, based on the official announcement, one could just as much assume that Ultimate is in response to DC’s Batman: The Brave and the Bold

… in which case I will hate Marvel even more than I hated them after watching the third Spidey movie.

Only time will tell, I guess. Though personally, I’m hoping that all this nonsense will end up being Spectacular seasons 3 and up since honestly, even for a somewhat new fan such as myself, I’ve gotten just about enough Spidey origin stories, thankyouverymuch.

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