I bring this story to your attention mainly because the next big Superior Spider-Man arc’ll deal with his war against Green Goblin which has been building up since the series began. Our dear cop and former Spider-Man roommate Vin Gonzales counts among Green Goblin’s ranks and I figure if he’s going to show up again (no guarantee, but good chance), we should all take a look at why.
In Amazing Spider-Man #587, written by Marc Guggenheim and drawn by John Romita Jr., our hero policeman gets arrested. For a crime he actually committed.
Notice all that shenanigans involving the “tracer killings” and conspiracy and other complicated words? Y’see, when the police would investigate murder scenes in their fair city, the bodies would consistently contain a spider-tracer (the GPS device Spider-Man uses to track bad guys) on them. Well, turns out some of the officers who had a bit of loathing in their heart for the dear web-slinger planted them on the dead dudes they came across. Some officers like Vin Gonzales. He explains himself in Amazing Spider-Man Extra #3, written by Guggenheim and drawn by Fabrizio Fiorentino & Patrick Olliffe.
Remember yesterday’s article? To throw suspicion off, Spider-Man lies that he uses Gonzales as a decoy secret identity. Because of that, Gonzales gets kidnapped and beaten by Ana Kravinoff. Well, not because of that, but that’s what Gonzales believes and Spider-Man let him believe.
Gonzales goes to jail for six months. You know how some inmates find religion in prison? In Amazing Spider-Man #647, written by Fred Van Lente & Zeb Wells and drawn by Max Fiumara & Michael Del Mundo, our supporting character returns to the pages of the comic he premiered in. If you remember my previous article, that’s also the same issue Parker and Carlie Cooper become an official couple. The same Carlie Cooper that Gonzales used to totally crush on.
Unfortunately, he can only make apologies and not confessions of love. Cooper’s into Parker now. And by the way, Parker also slept with Gonzales’ sister Michelle a few dozen issues back. No wonder Gonzales hates Spider-Man. During Harry Osborn’s farewell/Halloween party — he’s taking his newborn son and going underground to escape his father — Gonzales has a goodbye as well.
Look, the Green Goblin name still carries with it a certain amount of dread and fear. But to Harry Osborn? That man has been through way too much crap with his father to be scared anymore. We’re talking drug addictions, revenge plots, supervillainy, chemical overdoses, faking death, kidnappings, etc. His father even steals Osborn’s girlfriend Lily Hollister (the mother of that baby attached to his chest). So while his father can parade around in his wild schizophrenia to accomplish whatever delusional goal he’ll eventually bungle, Osborn will not let Norman dictate anymore aspect of his life. Time to send a message, and Harry knows the only way supervillains listen.
Vin hasn’t shown up in comics since. But at least now if his face pops up in the next few months, you’ll know why. And my goodness, can Harry Osborn be horrifically terrifying.
To make up for the delay of today’s article, I promise it’ll be super long. I’ll combine two articles into one and resume normal schedule on Wednesday. Thanks! I love you guys and girls.
Instead a lengthy introduction (which I’ll still do), let’s pick up as the two best friends Spider-Man and Daredevil hang out/club criminals:
Today, I hope you enjoy Amazing Spider-Man #565-567, written by Marc Guggenheim and drawn by Phil Jimenez. We’re sitting in the perfect late-2000s Spider-Man. His marriage has been freshly dissolved by devil fistbumps, and he still struggles to maintain a successful (and financially stable) personal life now without a supermodel waiting at home to ease his major emotional baggage. I know dear Peter Parker makes jokes in costume, but y’know — tears of a clown and whatnot. Though a little less than a hundred issues after this (and they pump out a new issue every other hour, so it’s like two years of real time), he finally gets that fancy job and beautiful girlfriend he so badly deserves. I mean, until he dies a few dozen issues later.
Anyway, Spider-Man currently faces another problem all too familiar and wildly annoying: a Kravinoff.
Comic book rule: if a supervillain’s offspring shows his or her face in comics, there’s a 100% chance he or she is either horrifically emotionally or mentally damaged. Most likely both. Seriously, think of supervillain children: Harry Osborn, Scarlet Witch/Quicksilver, Sin, Cassandra Cain, Jericho/Ravager, Talia al Ghul, etc. And now meet Ana Kravinoff, the lovely daughter of Kraven the Hunter. And like hunting lions in the African savannahs, first you have to weaken it by forcing the lion into unemployment. Then ruining its lion roommate’s life. Finally drag the lion deep into those African sewers for a fun game of run-or-be-speared. Probably. I’m not really much of a hunter.
Speaking of Spider-Man’s roommate, you should learn about Vin Gonzales — a NYPD cop, all around good dude, and with a horrible hand dealt by the oozing aura of Parker’s awful luck.
I think you may have a vague idea of where this is going. The dark lighting and article title pretty much give away Kraven Jr.’s mistake.
Cool eye makeup, right? It doesn’t do much for camouflage, but I figure that matters little when she can just cut out the heart of anyone who gets too close. For reference, Vin has no idea Parker’s Spider-Man. And he’s also wearing Parker’s only outfit. Our hero can’t fight crime in street clothes — Luke Cage already claimed that costume. Though remember in Ultimate Spider-Man when Venom battled Parker in a hoodie in the rain on his school’s football field? That was a great arc.
I know there’s a grammatical error in that last panel. It bothers me too. More importantly, the Daredevil costume looks strange with eyes — and it took me years of reading comics before I even realized Daredevil’s outfit doesn’t include eyeholes. But even as Spider-Daredevil rushes to save his roommate, poor baby Kraven keeps making mistakes. Y’see, New York City includes hundreds of superheroes and supervillains who scurry over every block of the city. Including underground. Like this nasty fellow:
I agree that “interloper” and “defiler” are big words for a giant rat man. Vermin shows up every once in a while when superheroes traverse sewers. Mole people too. Occasionally the Lizard. Luckily, he also provides enough time for Spider-Daredevil to receive information necessary to save poor Vin’s life. And unlike Batman, Spider-Daredevil uses kindness — a far more effective weapon than concussing thugs on rooftop ledges.
MGH gives its user superpowers for a brief amount of time. The same stuff that lil’ Kraven injected Vin with and the same stuff that definitely flows in Ana Kravinoff’s evil veins. Also, with Vermin an established part of Spider-Man’s rogue gallery, we shouldn’t allow our antagonist as the only one who gets to rumble with the huge talking rat.
To up the embarrassment for Vermin, did you know Ana Kravinoff’s only about twelve years old? I’m serious. The very last page of this arc (which I skip) lists her birth date as 1996, making her twelve when this story came out. I know she looks like an adult, but kids hit puberty more quickly when they spend their childhoods killing elephants with their bare hands. We shouldn’t sweat the details — Parker has been in his late twenties for like four decades by now.
Baby Kraven’s game has simple rules. Spider-Man runs around the sewers until she impales him. It’s a hunt! Though despite Vin being just a normal cop (usually cannon fodder to showcase supervillains), he still gets his moment. His very brief moment.
Remember, Spider-Daredevil just kicked a preteen in the face. While Parker’s a fantastic fighter, he relies mostly on his speed and spider sense and not really any formal training, which is all Kraven Jr. has. That and a full dose of MGH, I guess.
The full extent of Ana Kravinoff’s superpowers sort of rely on the writer’s wishes. Essentially, MGH serves as comic book technology, which like comic book magic, has potentially no limits to what it can do. Honestly, I’m making the assumption she shot herself up based solely on her matching Spider-Man’s superhuman agility. She could just be simply the world’s most sober and impressive seventh grader. Either way, the fight rages on. Our dynamic duo’ll need some assistance from man’s best sewer friend.
Happy ending for all! Except lil’ Kraven mauled by a human rat, but she totally survives to stalk another day. Still, the next scene (and one necessary to prevent a cop’s natural inclination to question oddities), sets up Vin’s destiny and his eventual fall from grace. But more on that Wednesday.
To be fair, that was a pretty terrible explanation by Spider-Man, but at least the curious stench has faded from Vin Gonzales’ mind. The anger and frustration, though? Oh, that never goes away.
In honor of Doc Ock Spider-Man’s battle against the Sinister Six next issue in Superior Spider-Man Team Up #7, I figure we should check out his first fight against the sextet. And buy the next issue, it’ll be awesome!
See? Spider-Man and his buddy Sun Girl versus Sandman, Vulture, Electro, Chameleon, and Mysterio. Notice only five supervillains? Y’see, Doctor Octopus (currently inhabiting Peter Parker’s body) assembled them to form his own superhero team. It turned out badly.
I adore Superior Spider-Man. It’s perfect Doc Ock — all his potential and all the wonderful things he’s attempting as a superhero slowly falling apart by his own ego and brutality. While he may be a better crimefighter than Peter Parker, he’s not a better person, and that’ll eventually be his downfall. Morality tends to matter far greater than talent when it comes to longevity in the comic book world anyway. With his upcoming arc against Green Goblin, I’m a giddy schoolgirl every time a new issue comes out. That and I prefer the comfort of dresses.
Way back in 1964, Spider-Man (actual Peter Parker) first met the Sinister Six led by Doctor Octopus (actual Doc Ock) in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1, written by Stan Lee and drawn by Steve Ditko. The success and praise from this issue comes from a brilliant artistic choice: every time Spider-Man lands the finishing blow (or close to it), we get a gorgeous full page punch. You’ll see.
There you go, the original lineup. We have Doc Ock, Sandman, Electro, Mysterio, Vulture, and Kraven the Hunter — actually pretty close to the current lineup. Kraven’s currently off stabbing dinosaurs with spears in the Savage Land somewhere. Also, he’s cursed with immortality due to the sacrifice of an imperfect clone of Spider-Man in his resurrection ritual, but that’s a different story entirely.
First on the agenda: bait Spider-Man into going through a gauntlet of supervillains.
So if you’ve been reading the beautifully cheesy 1960s dialogue, Spider-Man has no superpowers. I don’t know why, but that side plot gets resolved in two pages, so I wouldn’t think too much on it. Also, I love that J. Jonah Jameson assumes Spider-Man’s illiterate.
To save you from my rambling mid-fight, I’ll post each battle in full (usually three or four pages) and then I’ll ramble.
Round 1: Electro
Yessir (or ma’am), you’ll be getting six of those beautiful full page smackdowns. Electro, like many of Spider-Man’s supervillains, has received some major upgrades in the past two decades or so. Now he can travel through electrical currents and he no longer looks like an ornate Ku Klux Klan member. Though to be fair, he’s still just as punchable.
Round 2: Kraven the Hunter
For reference (and I had to look these all up), Spider-Man talking about Thomas E. Dewey, the Republican candidate for president in 1944 and 1948. Gunga Din references a 1939 movie based on a poem about an Indian Bhishti. I can’t tell if Spider-Man’s being racist or not. Sometimes I get jealous I can’t appreciate name drops back from my grandparents’ day.
Round 3: Mysterio
Beast has a good eight years left before he becomes that blue furball. Also, remember the good ol’ days when a superhero’s power could only be flight (Angel)? Nowadays, if a dude can fly, his wings also double as a portal to a lost dimension of angry giant pterodactyls or something. Also, could someone write that for me?
Round 4: Sandman
In the right environment, Sandman should truthfully be the most dangerous of all Spider-Man’s baddies. You can’t really punch sand. I mean, if he stays away from a hose, Sandman’s pretty much invulnerable. Though he does lack breath-holding spider-strength.
Round 5: Vulture
No one tell Vulture that an old man in a bird costume doesn’t classify him as “the most dangerous of all.” Also, add spider-lassoing to Spider-Man’s set of skills. The 1960s were really a wonderfully silly times for comics. Now while Spider-Man obeyed the conditions of the fight, Batman would have just slammed Vulture’s head into the sidewalk until he talked. Different strokes and whatnot.
Final Round: Doctor Octopus
Oh yeah, and Aunt May declares Doc Ock a gentleman. Sure, he kidnapped two women to lure Spider-Man to his death, but he minded his P’s and Q’s around the ladies. I realize a more effective Sinister Six plan would have been to sic the whole team on Spider-Man all at once, but this way ups the drama. Remember next month to see how Doc Ock Spider-Man deals with his old team. If I were to guess, he’ll probably use webs and punches.
One more won’t hurt, right? Besides, it’ll serve as a fantastic contrast to how comics have evolved as a medium over the past fifty years. I’m not here to argue whether the changes have been for the better or worse (definitely better), but this’ll be a fantastic lesson if you’re not caught up on the beginnings of the Marvel universe (everyone under 35?). Today as we explore #14 on Comic Book Resources’ Top 70 Most Iconic Marvel Panels of All-Time — the full list available here — don’t be afraid to read closely. The dialogue’ll sound cheesy, the plot silly, and the action brief, but The Avengers #57-58, written by Roy Thomas and drawn by John Buscema, is a perfect example of 1960s Marvel comics. Plus it contains this fantastic (and iconic) panel:
Meet Vision. While I can’t explain the color scheme, Vision may be one of the most powerful superheroes fighting crime today. Vision — an android with a human mind and the rest consisting of robot parts — can shoot lasers, become intangible (like Kitty Pryde), and increase his body density to become super strong/durable. He also married Scarlet Witch back in the day, so that sort of makes him Magneto’s son-in-law. Also, he can cry. But in his introduction he serves as a foil, because the Avengers lacked a villain to punch that issue.
Certainly not the worst moment in their relationship, but Hank Pym has always been a fairly notoriously bad boyfriend/husband. But then again, so has Mr. Fantastic. And T’Challa blindsided Storm with their divorce. Tony Stark certainly can’t hold a meaningful relationship. Turns out that super geniuses lack that important intimacy that allows their significant others to feel wanted and loved. Wakandan calculus? No problem. Making it through an entire dinner without their lady crying? Much more difficult. Except Beast. He’s a total gentleman.
Oh yeah, and Vision fights the Avengers.
Well, not for long. Vision’s father/creator Ultron put some sort of empathy chip or something, because the Vision only needs ten pages to go from unrelenting evil to pushover good guy.
I adore the characterization of Hawkeye. He’s wildly rude whenever he opens his mouth. Watch as he condescends Black Panther, a legitimate monarch of a well-liked and respected country:
I can’t tell if Black Panther shouting “By the crags of Kilimanjaro!” is racist. Probably not, but I miss the era of catchphrases and meaningless outbursts. Luke Cage’s “Sweet Christmas!” Dr. Strange’s “By the hoary hosts of Hoggoth!” Beast’s “Oh my stars and garters!” At least The Thing still works his into every other issue or so, even if no one currently going through puberty knows what the word clobberin’ means. Oh, and Vision wants to become an Avenger:
In a test befitting any new recruit, Vision has to prove he has the metal cajones to rumble with the Avengers’ big three.
Are the Avengers satiated? As the ritualistic vote begins to determine Vision’s worthiness commences, it really feels more like a fraternity pledging than an open door into the world’s greatest superhero team. But to be fair, dressing up in costumes and getting into fights can also be used to describe fraternities.
Marvel gets applauded for their diversity, as well they should. Comics creating characters of different races, backgrounds, and origins even before the Civil Rights Movement deserves every bit of our praise and respect. And now the diversity gets upped once again, as the Avengers welcome the newest member into their ranks — robot and all. Only supervillains judge.
On Wednesday, we’ll return to the modern age. But this detour has been fun right? And can someone give Vision a hug?
Remember a few years ago when Captain America died? And by died I mean trapped in time to eventually come back and fire missiles at a giant Red Skull robot? Well, that’s not the first time he fake died. And luckily for me, that happens to coincide with #23 on Comic Book Resources’ Top 70 Most Iconic Marvel Panels of All-Time. Check out the full list here. With a wildly poetic rallying call at the top of the page and a heroic pose from our hero as he stands on top of a bad guy mountain, how could this not be one of the most iconic panels?
But before all that, he has to fake die. Y’see, turns out too many villainous people know Captain America’s true identity (spoiler alert: Steve Rogers). That’s going to inconvenience his social life when terrorists drop out of air ducts every time Rogers walks into a restaurant. So he decides on a genius plan. One that’ll emotionally destroy his friends and family in Captain America #111 and #113, written by Stan Lee and drawn by Jim Steranko.
Maybe the first clue of something fishy should have been the superhero jumping into bullets. Most do-gooders tend to avoid gunfire (except Wolverine). While congrats to Hydra for killing the hero of World War II, we all know who was the real Captain America. It’s that warm feeling as we place our hand over our hearts.
Yes, Hydra has a new brilliant scheme which doesn’t involve praying superheroes hop helplessly while they shoot guns. Unfortunately for Rogers to have that freedom he so desperately seeks, he’ll have to make a complete break. That means cutting ties with all his costumed buddies, ignoring any details that they may be devastated that their dear friend lost to the world’s most ineffective terrorist organization.
Hydra’s new master plan involves gassing the other superheroes and stuffing them into coffins. They totally succeed because I imagine it’s difficult to fight bad guys with tears clouding vision. But someone’ll save the Avengers, right? How about Bucky?
Not the World War II Bucky. He’s too busy being a brainwashed assassin for the communists. No, this is Rick Jones dressed up as Captain America’s former sidekick. Rick Jones, who you may remember as the boy who recklessly wandered into a gamma radiation test zone that accidentally transformed Bruce Banner into the Hulk. As probably the luckiest kid in the Marvel universe, Jones traveled the world as the Hulk’s buddy, Captain America’s number two, and Captain Marvel’s partner before turning into a Hulk-like superhero called A-Bomb. But currently, he has to have his butt saved by all that’s good and wonderful about the US of A — the captain, a motorcycle, and bloodying terrorists.
Thus begins the coolest comic battle of 1969. I’m just saying this issue is followed by us landing on the moon two months later. It was a good year to be an American. I mean, if you ignore Vietnam.
While I admire the grandiose speech Lee wrote, I imagine the Hydra goons thoughts were less of “How do you destroy an ideal — a dream?” and more of “Aaargh, my face!” But who knows? Even henchmen can be poetic during moments of trauma.
She doesn’t actually die. Fake death applies to supervillains as well. Though as we wrap up our story today and watch as the next phase of Captain America’s life begins, remember that despite all of America’s problems (so, so many problems) — at least our heroes totally rock. I mean, Captain Britain uses magic. Wuss.
Let’s continue my ongoing series to uncover the stories behind Comic Book Resources’ Top 70 Most Iconic Marvel Panels of All-Time, something which is definitely not a desperate grab for an article when I run out of ideas. Check out the full list here, but today we’re going to explore #20, which includes one of the most famous Captain America lines of the past decade:
Angry, bleeding, condescending Captain America remains my favorite interpretation of the character. The Ultimate universe’s Captain America absolutely rocks you and everyone you love. Back in the infant days of my blog, I covered his shrine-worthiness here. Honestly, Ultimate Captain America is everything I’ve ever wanted in a superhero and we get to see him in all his patriotic, Nazi-bashing glory today in Ultimates #12-13, written by Mark Millar and drawn by Bryan Hitch:
Right? Most people born in 1920 can’t log onto a computer, much less pilot a top-of-the-line fighter jet. I mean, if you ignore the fact that he pilots it into tankers full of gas:
Any yoga pose by Captain America must be surrounded by explosions. The dude on fire screaming? That’s Herr Kleiser, a shapeshifting alien disguised as a Nazi, who started a beef with Captain America during World War II. Time to settle their hash with two men who would still say things like “started a beef” and “settle their hash.”
As a full disclaimer, I’m an American. And yes, we’re a proud people. Maybe too proud. Pride bordering on delusion. But no symbol of our country will ever have his butt handed to him by a dirty, evil Nazi. Even an alien masquerading as one. Blast “God Bless America” until the walls shake. Wave that flag valiantly over the unkempt lawn. Choke on hot dogs and apple pies until you’re red, white, and blue in the face. Not one American — not in comics books, real books, movies, TV shows, poems, laser light shows, whatever — will ever get his brains bashed in by the world’s agreed upon most vile enemy. I mean, not immediately. Soon. We’re the good guys, gosh darn it.
As the situation reaches its hopelessness apex, that’s when the music swells and our hero stands up for truth, justice, and the American way. The Marvel version of that, anyway.
It feels good no matter which country you’re from, right? Well, except France probably. Ultimate Spider-Man took a bullet for this man, and despite it leading to the teenager’s death, there’s no better man to make that sacrifice for. To lay some of the guilt off the good captain, Spider-Man singlehandedly fighting the Sinister Six on his front porch was the real culprit, though I imagine the gaping bullet wound didn’t help any. But back to our story, happy ending for Ultimate Captain America.
On Friday, let’s not ruin a good thing — we’ll enjoy another Captain America famous panel story. Because you deserve it. You always deserve it.
Or at least strongly like — let’s not put a label on things. Peter Parker certainly doesn’t. While Peter’s a good-looking, fit, caring, and hilarious man, he also comes with major emotional issues from the whole blame-himself-for-everything tantrum that he does whenever anything goes wrong. Usually every other issue or so. But in Amazing Spider-Man #647, written by Fred Van Lente and drawn by Max Fiumara, dear Spider-Man gets that moment (though brief) of happiness he so badly deserves. I’m excited too.
Carlie Cooper, introduced a hundred issues previously, serves the New York City Police Department as a forensic scientist. She and Peter crush on each other and go on a few dates. Keep in mind, this is the first girl he has dated since his marriage dissolved with Mary Jane. I mean, he went out with Black Cat a few times, but romance won’t bloom when the evening’s spent clawing terrorists.
Look, love takes a long time. Especially for Peter, who’s notoriously bad at women despite having previously married a supermodel. And while I would like to break down his romantic faults, Mary Jane does it far better than I would in like six pages from now. But to be fair, very few superheroes can maintain a healthy relationship — and not just because they’re constantly shot at by aliens and lasers. Y’see, writers understand characterization. And unfortunately, the most interesting characters also tend to be the most flawed. Simply, superheroes suck at relationships — whether that be status quo reasons or deep personality faults. Except Superman, because he’s perfect.
I enjoy the choices of costumes at the party. Especially Betty Brant’s obscure Jewel outfit.
Peter getting shut down by Carlie hurts way more than Rhino’s uppercut or Shocker’s gauntlets. His body has been forged into a powerful concrete wall able to withstand the force of any evildoer’s blows, but his emotions still remain that cracked glass window with a small tap shattering his fragile, unstable heart. More importantly, Peter dressed up as J. Jonah Jameson.
Spider-Man does eventually ruin Peter and Carlie’s relationship. Just like it ruined Peter and Gwen’s as well as Peter and Mary Jane’s. Sadly, Spider-Man has to sacrifice for that great power he holds dearly. Great responsibility or something like that. But with a job like Spider-Man’s, which involves mainly dodging pumpkin grenades and punching sand monsters, a cheerful personal life can definitely offset the downsides of the superhero gig. Plus, readers want their favorite characters to be happy — and today, despite it being only momentary, Peter embraces that rare joy. Thank god.
Today, she saves Alaska! When we left off Wednesday, Hellcat, the chipper martial artist who can sniff out magic, gathered up a crew of talking animals and traveled the tundra to save the shaman’s daughter from a scary monster. A scary monster that wears striped pants. If you forgot the feel good insanity of this story, allow me to remind you:
Patsy Walker, while not a terribly popular character, has a fairly intense back story. She married young to an abusive husband, and thanks to some blackmail towards the X-Man Beast, he gave her power-enhancing costume so she can claw crime or whatever. Then she hooks up with the son of Satan, commits suicide, and fights for a long time as a crazy gladiator of Hell before returning to the living. Though her costume’s just simple spandex now, her years of training with Captain America and Moondragon have paid off enough to compensate. Now she fights a yeti.
You see that fine coat the yeti’s wearing? That’s not a coat. So despite being a terrible person, the shaman’s daughter at least has the capability to love a man for his heart and not those notoriously good-looking Sasquatch genes. But the plot twists don’t end here. Y’see, shamans don’t breed through osmosis. One shaman doesn’t chant for a few days before splitting into two baby shamans. I love family reunions — especially between a long-lost daughter and her absentee father.
Look, a superhero needs skills beyond kickboxing. They have to be emotionally aware, able to counsel traumatic victims and use their words to defuse a situation before anything gets any worse. Sometimes that can be accomplished with threats, logic, or tugging on those heartstrings. But Hellcat has to deal with a teenager, and while I absolutely do not endorse this method of debate, it’s surprisingly effective:
Once Hellcat can get the girl home, the job’s complete and she can go back to nursing maple syrup liquors at the local igloo. If she has to be stationed in Alaska, she should at least make the most of the situation by befriending some caribou and romancing a local lumberjack. But first, she has a mission to finish.
Because we’re reading a comic, even a delightful one like this, Plan A always fails. Always. In this case, two women, a few talking animals, a yeti, and a giant stone map can weigh down a jeep. Especially a jeep that wants to jump a deep crevice. But remember Hellcat’s power to detect magic? Turns out yetis dabble in wizardry.
Lafuente’s a skilled artist to have the rabbits conveniently hide a character’s private parts mid-fall. Finally, and after a few bandages (physical and emotional), our story can end happily and satisfactorily. Thankfully, silly stories always end that way. Bullseye doesn’t jump out of a helicopter and behead the yeti with a playing card, because that would absolutely be a real fear in a Daredevil comic.
Magic’s a tricky, colorful tool. Its users tend to be mentally tilted and stubborn. Normal, stable people don’t wield any dark arts or brew potions or summon ice golems. You’ve read Harry Potter — those wizards are damaged. Alaskan shamans fit that stereotype just as snuggly. Still, all’s well, because miniseries usually wrap up much more nicely than ongoing series. Closure feels good.
More wonderful stories on Monday! Do something great this weekend!
After Iron Man won the Marvel Civil War and basically the boss of superheroes, he decided that having a team full of heroes in each of the fifty states wouldn’t be a bad idea. After all, sometimes Hawaii gets attacked by octopuses or something. On a side note, octopuses is the correct plural form, for which I did more research than anything else in this article. Patsy Walker, peak martial artist and with an ability to detect magical energy, gets called to serve her country in Patsy Walker: Hellcat #1-5, written by Kathryn Immonen and drawn by David Lafuente.
I understand that art’s subjective. We don’t all have to like certain writers or artists. But today, if you have anything but wild praise for this miniseries, you are wrong. Objectively wrong. Immonen wrote a beautifully quirky, fun story with absolutely gorgeous art from Lafuente. A perfect comic.
Anyway, with half the superhero community in hiding or incapacitated, Iron Man rings up our protagonist to milk that whole work-for-the-government contract she signed. But before that, don’t feel bad if you haven’t heard of Hellcat. A fashion model and surprisingly upbeat for a superhero, she had a rough stint in the ’90s when she married Daiman Hellstorm, the son of Satan. Don’t judge her bad romantic choices, Daimon is so good looking that his costume doesn’t include a shirt. As demons tend to get, he became progressively more evil over time, and it eventually drove Walker to suicide in a majorly depressing scene from Hellstorm: Prince of Lies #14, written by Warren Ellis and drawn by Peter Gross. When Walker returned from the dead, she resumed her optimistic crime-fighting career and divorced Daimon.
Now the former Mrs. Hellstorm gets to save Alaska.
By the way, that’s totally the way Beast talks. He’s verbose and eloquent and uses words like verbose and eloquent. Though Hellcat can totally kick butt, the government is basically sending one female Bruce Lee to protect half a million people from yetis or oil barons or whatever.
Everything in this comic borders on insane. Every scene. Every character. I’m skipping huge chunks of plot and weirdos, but you’ll be able to notice and appreciate everything about it. Turns out Alaska can be a dangerous place, and not just from angry moose.
Time for our hero to present herself to the Alaskan wilderness. By the way, I think sometimes we misuse the word cliche (or at least associate it with a negative connotation) when talking about comics. The literary medium builds itself around certain themes and styles, because comics themselves are larger than life. I want that giant half page/full page heroic entrance complete with appropriate quip. We shouldn’t hate the classic ideas if they’re still awesome. Hell, we read stories about dudes in pajamas uppercutting other dudes in pajamas — we as readers agree to embrace the theatrics of superheroes as soon as we open to the first page.
Shamans grant Hellcat a mission. And she fights a tentacle monster. Not in that order. Though I’m not showing you any of the Alaskan kraken brawl.
To complete her dangerous journey, she’ll need a slew of trustworthy buddies. Reliable transportation. The support of her employer. No more fights against polar bears with antlers. She receives none of that.
Companion number one: a talking rock. Y’see, with no precedent of Alaskan characters and parameters, Immonen can basically create whatever and whoever she wants. We instantly accept talking rocks. And talking wolves. Everything talks in this comic.
Some pages, while not that important in the story, do contain fantastic artwork. So when Hellcat throws an exploding mouse at a group of trees, it’s absolutely necessary that you see this. Not just because I love explosions, but comics as a medium benefit or lose value from the talent of the artist more than any other form of literature. Dialogue and text boxes can only go so far (very), but my goodness can story moments be improved with the right artistic flair. Like when Hellcat chucks exploding mice at a group of trees.
Yes, the mystery thickens, especially because I’ve made zero effort to explain anything that’s happened so far. But on Friday, our tale concludes with exciting sucker punches, thrilling plot twists, and way more talking animals.
Oh, why not? I’ll find something epic or romantic or extraordinary for Monday, but today, one more round shouldn’t hurt. In AvX: Versus #2, written by Kieron Gillen and drawn by Salvador Larroca, we see the X-Men deploy their toughest weapon. I’m talking Colossus Juggernaut, who’s like normal Juggernaut except encased in metal. He’s unstoppable:
But can this unbeatable force take on the most lovable of the Avengers? Can Colossus defeat my personal hero and inspiration to preteens everywhere? Oh my goodness, yes, Spider-Man doesn’t stand a chance.
Round 1: Colossus vs. Spider-Man
We’ve discussed Spider-Man’s strength level before — he can lift roughly ten tons, which won’t be anywhere near enough to even dent the Russian monster. Think of Peter Parker as a fly constantly buzzing in Colossus’ ear. Yes, the fly’s annoying and frustrating, but you really don’t want to squish it if you don’t have to. Still, persistence only leads to trouble and flies tend to be dumb. Poor foreshadowing for Spider-Man.
For lack of proper diction, the Avengers took on the hero role in this Marvel event. The X-Men ended up all villainous or defecting to the “good guys.” We’re supposed to be cheering for Spider-Man, and because of my unashamed bias, I always cheer for Spider-Man. But to be honest, this fight’s meaningless in the Marvel universe. No one gains anything from victory, except maybe a panel a few years down the road where the victor mentions this beatdown during combat banter.
Though both combatants end up in pretty bad shape after this thing wraps up. Colossus joins X-Force as a fugitive with out of control superpowers and Spider-Man dies an embarrassing death by his arch-nemesis of the 1980s. Still, for the moment, all’s well. Sort of.
Ready for the big finale? Spider-Man does possesses a genius intelligence. Certainly he can out-strategize the lumbering brute.
A well-earned win for Colossus. Eventually a few issues later, Spider-Man defeats Colossus and his sister Magik using manipulation, ego, and all those normal debate tricks that work on power-hungry maniacs. Because even while Spider-Man never ends a fight without his costume in tatters and his body bloodied and broken, he’s always victorious in the only place that matters: my heart. I regret nothing I’ve said.
Round 2: Toad vs. Jarvis
I have good stuff for Monday! I love you all. Do something awesome this weekend!