Spectacular Spider-Man #1: Chip Zdarsky’s joke machine debuts with slew of extras

Peter Parker fans had high hopes for the past few months as Chip Zdarsky’s Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man neared its released date. Dan Slott’s The Amazing Spider-Man, even for those who enjoy his work, is like eating a ham sandwich every day for roughly 10 years. Therefore, you can’t blame a guy for grabbing peanut butter and jelly at the first opportunity.

But was it any good? The short answer: It’s complicated.

If you think Peter Parker should be a joke machine, then this book may be for you.

If you think Spider-Man must constantly have an ensemble cast around him in order to truly shine, then this book may be for you.

If you think Peter Parker would have a hard time trouble-shooting his own web-shooters, then this book may be for you.

There is more to say, but for that I invite you to check out my latest YouTube review. As always, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below. I’m interested in hearing your take.

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Amy Pascal officially Kevin Feige’s Mephisto with MCU blindside, proves this blog’s 2015 warning prescient

Kevin Feige
The world is only days away from Spider-Man: Homecoming, but the Spidey buzz got real over the weekend when Sony Pictures producer Amy Pascal blindsided Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige during a promotional event. She directly contradicted previous statements by Mr. Feige that Sony’s “Venom” and “Silver & Black” (Silver Sable and Black Cat) would not be connected to the MCU.

Ms. Pascal said:

“Well, those movies will all take place in the world that we’re now creating for Peter Parker. They’ll all be adjuncts to it. They may be different locations, but it will still all be in the same world. They will all be connected to each other as well. […] There’s a chance [Tom Holland will appear]. There’s always a chance.”

The look of utter disbelief on Mr. Feige’s face — and one monstrous swallow — are proof that he severely underestimated how devious the woman can be.

It also proves that Mr. Feige would be wise to take some advice from yours truly, perhaps the only one who warned that his “deal” with her to get access to Spider-Man was his very own “One More Day” moment.

Yes, that’s right, Amy Pascal is Kevin Feige’s personal Mephisto.

Mephisto Amy Pascal

I wrote on Feb. 10, 2015:

“Question: Will Amy Pascal become Kevin Feige’s Mephisto? […] It will be a sad day if Kevin Feige’s name is attached to future Spider-Man failures because of Amy Pascal’s intransigence. While Spider-Man fans should be thrilled that the character will show up in future Marvel Studios movies, they should seriously ask themselves if Marvel made a deal with the devil when total victory was within reach.”

Marvel Studios had Sony on the ropes. Through Sony’s own moronic moves under Pascal’s leadership, the studio ran its reputation into the ground. And while it’s great that the world will now see Spider-Man in the MCU for Avengers: Infinity War, there is no doubt that individuals like Ms. Pascal are petty, vindictive, and untrustworthy.

The Sony hacks by North Korea demonstrated it, and the point was hammered home further by the viral video.

The good news is that Kevin Feige is about 10,000 times more intelligent than anyone at Sony. He will likely come out on top in the end. The bad news is that Sony’s suits know this and will subject Marvel Studios to all sorts of public and private pain for the ignominy of taking orders from their betters.

Cross your fingers that Spider-Man: Homecoming isn’t a train wreck, but if it is then just watch this video with Ms. Pascal to remind yourself who is to blame.

Subs Dare Doug: Answers on Jordan Peterson, Star Wars, and Marvel politics

A friend of mine used to call me “Daring Doug” when I was a kid because I was willing to do all sorts of crazy stuff in the neighborhood. That fun element of my past has morphed into a new segment on the YouTube channel called “Subs Dare Doug.” In short, my subscribers dare me to answer questions on all sorts of subjects, and then I answer in a future broadcast.

Today’s “Subs Dare Doug” is focused on Dr. Jordan Peterson, Star Wars: Episode VII, politics at Marvel Comics, a comic recommendation, and progressive activists.

If this is something you’d like to take part in, then just head on over to the YouTube channel on any day and ask in the following format: SubsDareDoug: [Insert question here].

I can’t promise I’ll answer everyone’s question, but I’ll try my best.

Iceman #1: Purifiers show Marvel’s double-standard, cowardice

Marvel Comics is known for having a “world outside your window” approach to its storytelling, and for decades the company did it well. These days, however, editor Axel Alonso appears to have issued a fiat that creates the politically correct world outside your window.”

Iceman #1  — along with its Christian villains known as “Purifiers” — demonstrates the state of affairs quite nicely.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Would Marvel Comics ever have an anti-mutant group called “The Sons of Jihad” that hunts down metaphorical minorities?
  • Would Marvel Comics ever have an anti-mutant group  called “The Sword of Allah” with costumes featuring a star and crescent moon?

Magic 8 Ball says, “Not likely.” But yet, for some peculiar reason, the “Purifiers” and their Christian crosses are on full display. Meanwhile, the defining national security threat of the last 20 years has had nothing to do with Catholic guys like me.

If you want to hear more about the double-standards and hypocrisy of Marvel, then check out my new YouTube video below. And, as always, feel free to sound off in the comments section.

Editors Note: Make sure to stay tuned after the “outro” music for my “letters to the editor”-type idea for future broadcasts.

Wonder Woman: Patty Jenkins nails the directing, Gal Gadot nails the role

Last weekend I made the mistake of not reserving my movie tickets for Wonder Woman ahead of time and ended up having to decide whether I wanted to see a later showing or go home. I opted for an extra hour’s wait — and it was worth it.

Here is what I wrote **pseudo-spoilers ahead** for Conservative Book Club:

Director Patty Jenkins can make a strong case that she had one of the most pressure-packed Hollywood tasks in recent memory — making Wonder Woman a blockbuster for Warner Bros. She needed to please fans of a character with over 70 years of history while overcoming doubts about the direction of the DC Extended Universe and Gal Gadot’s acting.

Mission accomplished.

Wonder Woman, much like Joe Johnston’s Captain America: The First Avenger in 2011, was the kind of job where studio executives pull one off to the side and say, “Good luck, but don’t you dare screw this up.” Ms. Jenkins, like her creative peer, responded by churning out an upbeat film of solid craftsmanship across the board. Gadot’s Princess Diana just so happened to make her debut during World War I instead of World War II (both ideal backdrops for films pitting good against evil).

As is the case with most quality superhero origins, Wonder Woman takes its time establishing the character’s backstory before fists start flying and guns go blazing. This fish-out-of-water tale required the women of Themyscira to meet military men like Captain Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), and Ms. Jenkins wisely dictated slower pacing. The DC Universe is one where Greek mythology meets Judeo-Christian beliefs, but writer Allan Heinberg (story byJason Fuchs and Zack Snyder) made it work.

The plot is simple: The first World War literally breaks through a protective bubble put in place by Zeus to hide the Amazons from the god of war, Ares. Diana saves Captain Trevor when his plane crashes into the ocean, which serves as the impetus for her to leave utopia and save mankind. She believes that locating and defeating Ares on the field of battle will end all war. Steve humorously goes along for the ride as a means of getting home, although a romance between the two heroes eventually grows.

Perhaps what is most impressive about Wonder Woman — besides a memorable “No Man’s Land” scene and the iconic “lasso of truth” — is the way Diana’s improved understanding of love and free will allow her to fully realize her potential. The god of war eventually comes across as a Satan stand-in, and Wonder Woman adopts, for all intents and purposes, a Catholic definition of love (i.e., willing the good of the other as other).

Check out the rest of the review here.

 

Amazing Spider-Man #28: Dan Slott’s nostalgia smokescreen can’t hide horrible writing

The Amazing Spider-Man #28 sounds on the surface like it would be a great book. It features classic bad guy Norman Osborn going face-to-face with Peter Parker in a “no holds barred” brawl. Neither man has his powers to rely on, which means it’s just a gold old fashioned slugfest — the winner will likely be the guy with a deeper reserve of intestinal fortitude. Sadly, writer Dan Slott once again over-promised and under-delivered.

If you ever wondered what Marvel’s editors like Nick Lowe do these days, ASM #28 provides the answer: not much.

  • This is the kind of comic you get when you use nostalgia as a crutch to hide a lack of character development.
  • This is the kind of comic you get when you want to be buddies with your writer instead of his editor.
  • This is the kind of comic you get when you, as the writer, create a digital echo chamber and block anyone who offers intelligent criticism of your work.
  • This is the kind of comic you get when you think that giving a tacit nod to your critics somehow erases the legitimacy of their claims.

Aspiring writers should read ASM #28, if for no other reason than to see what happens when a decent idea crashes head-first into a wall of hubris.

Listen to your critics. Learn from them. Humble yourself before the collective wisdom of your fans and then adjust to what you’re hearing because if you don’t then you will write stories that fall flat.

For more on this topic, I invite you to check out my latest YouTube review. As always, make sure to subscribe if it’s up your alley and leave any feedback you have in the comments section below. Whether it’s on YouTube or this blog, I read them all and try to respond to as many as possible.

Secret Empire #3: Nick Spencer event is really his ‘Secret Lecture’

Marvel’s Secret Empire #3 came out this week, although at this point it really should be called Secret Lecture. As I have said before, writer Nick Spencer is an intelligent man who knows a thing or two about the technical aspects of storytelling. The problem, however, is that he uses his gig at Marvel as a psychiatrist’s couch and a college professor’s podium. He seems to care less about entertaining readers than he does about working out his own political issues and lecturing America for electing President Donald Trump.

There’s much more to say, but for that I invite you to check out my latest YouTube review. If the format is up your alley, then make sure to subscribe and leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Marvel’s ‘America’: 50 Shades of Ororo, more race politics in 3rd issue

It was only a few months ago that Marvel Comics released America, by writer Gabby Rivera. Fans who thought Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso had reached a saturation point with politicized comics were proven wrong, as America turned out to be the perfect storm of social justice activism meeting Alonso-vision. I analyzed the first two issues on my YouTube channel and thought I would be done with it, but the sheer interest in this train wreck all but guaranteed another review.

Behold, brave readers! America #3 is what happens when Marvel superheroes mix with racial politics, the “fly girls” from the 1990s show “In Living Color,” bizarre sexual fetishes best left to 50 Shades of Grey, and elderly luchadores.

DC’s ‘The Button’ offers lesson for Marvel, Axel Alonso

I used to have an irrational disdain for DC superheroes as a child. I was a “Marvel kid.” Sure, I loved Batman, but outside of his adventures I turned up my nose at DC fare. The echoes of my own irrationality reverberated into the future as I stuck to reading The Amazing Spider-Man, Captain America, and then occasional X-Men book as an adult. But somewhere along the line, Marvel decided to adopt a business model that needlessly alienates long-term readers. That, my friends, is where our discussion on DC’s The Button comes in.

Marvel Editor-in-chief Axel Alonso and everyone who takes their marching orders from him would be wise to look at what DC is doing under the watchful eyes of Geoff Johns. DC Rebirth was a creative home run, and now it seems as if the same can be said of The Button.

Check out my latest YouTube review on parts 1-3 of The Button, which is a great blueprint for Marvel to follow if it wants to win back fans. And, as always, I’m interested in hearing your feedback in the comments section below.

Spider-Man #27: Ends justify the means in Dan Slott’s ‘Private War’

Question: What do you get when you take 3/4 of a cup of “ends justify the means” and 1/4 of a cup of “moral relativism” and mix it in a bowl with one serving of Peter Parker and a bag of goblins?

Answer: The Amazing Spider-Man #27.

My new YouTube review details how “A Private War” is a sterling example of what happens when every character in a comic adopts a “might makes right” mentality. It’s hard to root for any character — including the protagonist — when a properly functioning moral compass is nowhere to be found. The heroes in ASM are whomever Dan Slott says are heroes, even if their idea of justice is defined as, “Whatever I want to do at any given moment.”

Check out the video below and be sure to ask yourself the following question: Would Spider-Man really make a moral equivalency between his personal vendetta against Norman Osborn and  Captain America fighting with the Allied Powers during World War II?

I say “no.”