Sunday, April 17, 2016

Yi Soon Shin: Warrior and Defender

The ultimate test of a work of art, to each individual subjectively, is “how memorable were the impressions this left?” Well, there's no way to forget the fleets of ships, the charge of warriors, the archetype of command from a time when a leader could choose bravely to withstand the threats he takes on alongside the ones he asks to risk sacrifice and chance victory. You felt life and death everywhere, from the brooding scenes of rulers behind the battle front to the absolutely electric warriors themselves, civilization stripped away, fight or flight impulses naked before blades, arrows, cannons, fire, and sea. You can turn the pages at the end and recognize each figure's progress as a character since their montage premiere at the front.
Any feeling of confusion is utterly heightened if you have the experience of reading this for the first time broken up. The truth is, there's a LOT going on here! Even with quiet interludes roiling in their more personal tempest, not a single chapter lags for action- action that is always of building consequence.
That turmoil defines the atmosphere: only Yi Soon Shin's moral certainty, and Japan's drive for conquest, hold these very human characters together between their opposition.
Yet wisdom dictates even the leaders don't know it all, and those most certain make the most evil actions in their absolute certitude. The hero is only certain of what's right: repulse the invasion, or innocents suffer.
“A war is coming and many are going to die.”
Yi Soon Shin's complex morality is no blind ode to nationalism alone: bloated Korean King Sonjo's vices wreak a cycle of woe behind his human shields. This first volume features singularly predatory villains on the Japanese side, but Kompan’s team finds a way to individuate them. For example, Todo Tokotora memorably holds his foes in grudging esteem. Sen Rikyu makes the first death his own because he believes conquering the world will destroy the soul of his people. Baron Sao makes an especially creepy traitor and master of assassins. Their goals and dream collide, rendering both sides all-too-human. Kwon Chung's defense of Yi's flank ends Michiyuki Gurijima's tragic affair with Todo Tokorora, and Song echoes Achilles' dilemma: flee for love, fight and face the certain death swiftly heading his way. This first volume features singularly predatory villains on the Japanese side, but Todo Tokotora memorably holds his foes in grudging esteem. Sen Rikyu makes the first death his own because he believes conquering the world will destroy the soul of his people. Kwon Chung's defense of Yi's flank ends Michiyuki Gurijima's tragic affair with Todo Tokorora, and Song echoes Achilles' dilemma: flee for love, fight and face the certain death swiftly heading his way. The duplicity of Jin in working her survival sets Admiral Song in the sights of Won Kyun, anguished by his comparative lack of glory in his own name. Yi lets Song's weakness for her bring the wrath of fifty chain lashes, for the sake of the thousands that will die without a unified chain of command. Injung's horrific violation stands between her and the support she wants to offer Yi- who is noble enough a friend to her, and faithful to his command, to focus instead on war first. Night and day he weighs consequences and decides from the facts at hand, while Seo refuses to stay dead and stalks him from the shadows. Li Okki challenges the wisdom of Yi's attack, demonstrating the uncertainty of command that Yi answers with grim persuasion. The modern venacular English dissolves a cultural and historic wall, while its realistic cadence joins us with the faithful visual depiction of its time. In so many ways it's characters we've seen time and again- the ones always evoked by war and conflict. Yet, their complete spectrum- echoing the superb Age of Bronze comic books created by Eric Shanouer, but with more intense action and De Los Santos' remarkable colors held lovingly in these high quality gloss pages-brings the types together through individuals you grow to distinguish by their actions. Timpano's attention to body language utilizes his designs superbly, where in less careful hands, characters might have blurred meaninglessly. The lettering, done in a second language by Saavedra, excites and communicates as graphic expression. The captions and quotations facilitate crucial moments ringing in the mind.
Each page fits together within itself as clear sequences- the only way to maintain order amidst the chaotic savagery that invades most every scene. Gio Temprano gives us clear layouts of the establishing shots of the navies, the watery war zone between ships, and spotlights of groups of warriors on each of them.
Finally, the comic is familiar in one other aspect: the classicist layouts take these characters through poses that have conveyed the power of their (largely American) superhero counterparts for generations.
In this story, natural laws apply, which forms a statement about the inherent forces in ordinary mortals when they engage in non-ordinary ways.
Onrie Kompan, the book's initial visionary and writer, provides a personable extra account of creative turns and the friendship and skill brought together. David Anthony Kraft, co-writer and editor, uses a lifetime of observation to supervise every inch printed count towards an ultimate, super comic book. The pin-ups at the back follow Kirby and Ditko's talent for individualizing the fantasy of characters that have paraded in the pages before. These four stories -echoing, magically, the cover drama of Kirby's debut of Captain America in the Marvel Age with #4's tribute to Avengers #4- create the first of a trilogy, so your attachment to the characters will be rewarded with a further, yet finite, arc. The commitment and resolution epitomize an effort for which one might gamble the meaning of one's very existence on its success to move you and remain with you- which is very much in the death-defying spirit of the central character who called for his story to remain alive through readers yet to come. The compactness of the printing schedule, by design and incidence, calls for only the very best, and guarantees consequences for every character.
I recommend reading it with someone whose company you enjoy. My wife's visceral irritation with Won's piggish appetite to feel like a Big Man showed the team sell him as a most despicable ally. Then his haughty charge into a trap in #3 set up the wonder and excitement of the coolest ship visual of the series -in a moment you have to see yourself!
Yi Soon Shin walks the ships of the minds of the modern reader, in a tome set against corruption, embracing human nature and mortality with sheer will to live, and the cry:

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Bernie America! Marvel Comics Group 1983: Captain America by J.M.DeMatteis and Mike Zeck with John Beatty

Captain America (#275-289) I have none of these, but I tended to enjoy J.M. DeMatteis very much, the maturity in his themes and humor, too. I picked up almost every issue of his Justice League run with Keith Giffen by 2000, and bought the mini-series sequels, too. My friend Johann and I put together a radio drama based on my script featuring the JLI and the 2000 Presidential Election, a 13-person cast---so J.M. is a developmental influence on my writing, for sure! These stories seem to have a stronger supporting cast of regular folks (a Spider-Man strength), as well a new "man out of time" to explore in Jack Monroe, a.k.a. Nomad, and a man out of the future lost, too, in the (apparent) guest shot for Deathlok. Glad to see Spider-Woman again here, too; this is just before the Jessica Drew version sort of slips off to character limbo for a long time. Her series under Chris Claremont's really good, especially if you like the unique style of artist Steve Leialoha. I liked the reveal of Viper as her mother, but even if it's retconned here, at least their rivalry continues over. Primus, Arnim Zola, Viper, and Baron Zemo all sound well-motivated and interesting, from my preview on the aforementioned Super Mega Monkey. I actually start skimming when I realize how great the stories sound, so I don't lose all element of surprise when, one day, I do get to read them. My jaw dropped when I saw the kinds of prices CAP #275's drawing, and there's no collected edition of the DeMatteis/Zeck run, but the prices do generally come down after that and hey, no rush. You know what sold me? Bernie Rosenthal, Steve Roger's girlfriend at the time, figures out his dual identity as Cap, in a very credible fashion, and then they have to work through it. As silly as the Assistant Editor's Month back-up in #289 looks, it's also meaningful to the overall story. Stood up for Thanksgiving and stuck at her family's gathering, mortified, Bernie daydreams a role playing exercise where SHE is "Bernie America." (That's extra cute now that someone with rather similar professed values is running for President in 2016!) Because the writer and art team treat their character with respect and class alongside the surface whimsy, it's a genuine journey for their relationship (alas, lost to the grind of later years of serial storytelling---it's all up for change in comic books). I have a feeling I would enjoy the entire three years or so J.M. wrote the series. Mike Zeck's a wonderful storyteller, with a strong style (inked by John Beatty) I first discovered in Secret Wars (his work here promises to actually be better!). His team-up with DeMatteis on Kraven's Last Hunt is a signature work to explore. His issues of Marvel Team-Up, along with Roger Stern's impeccable Amazing Spider-Man with John Romita Jr., were my strongest initial connection to the quality of Marvel's output earlier in the year I started collecting comics monthly. I realize Marvel Team-Up is rarely a place for pivotal developments, but the stories J.M. and company told fascinated bright adolescents everywhere. One day, he'd help me not only begin my back issue collecting hobby, but also, to sit down with Dostoevsky. I was in love with 60's counterculture, too---there's another vein often mined in a DeMatteis story.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

An alternative Amazing Spider-Man #148, by Fixaverse (the original Clone Saga revisited in 1975)

#148 Cover: Gwen confronts Spider-Man in freakish pose with spider-abilities. Copy: a word balloon from Gwen. “I know your secrets,” “...and now I'm going to use your own powers to END THIS!”
(Pg. 1-4)When they disappear to Jackal's lair with Gwen this time, she's observing their operations and stoking the Jackal's ego in the most vanilla and pleasant way possible. She pokes around and makes the horrifying discovery: Peter's body! (Pg. 5,6)Ned Leeds and Betty Brant both visit Peter, whose embarrassment actually begins as he's answering the door fresh out the shower, expecting only Ned from the knock and the call ahead, so haha, oops, hi ex-girlfriend. Leeds discusses the as-yet-unfounded notion with Peter that this Gwen is a clone. Ned has been researching into the sudden appearance of this second Gwen Stacy, but Betty's actually spent more time with her, which points to how absurd it is not to go to the source. Ned feels like it's a crime story. He believes someone meant harm to either Peter Parker or Spider-Man or both, and asks if anyone had access to a sample of Gwen's cells. Betty tells Peter Gwen said she was heading to E.S.U. Campus to find some answers, but didn't name her contact. Peter suddenly remembers one day during one of Miles Warren's science classes, Warren had an assistant collect their cell samples: Gwen's, too. (Pg. 7,8) Yet somehow, back at the Jackal's lair, Gwen watches Peter wakes up. At this point in his memories, he reacts normally and gratefully to Gwen being alive. His memories end in their freshman year, when the cells were donated for a class project conducted by Professor Warren, and here is a chance for some version of the two to be together, happy. Oh, gosh, but now she mesmerizes him...and by the moonlight, sinks her teeth into his neck. (Pg. 9, 10)Peter and Ned rush to ESU where they ask Miles Warren about the assistant that he had used that day. Miles tells them it was a man named Anthony Serba. With this information, Ned and Peter split up to try and find Serba. Peter does his searching as Spider-Man, going to an old apartment, finds nothing there but the Tarantula waiting for the attack. (Pg. 11-13)Their fight takes them out into the streets, where Gwen appears, telling Spider-Man she knows his secret. (Pg. 14- 16) She demonstrates spider-abilities of her own, and tremendous strength. Despite this emotionally-confusing attack, Spider-Man deals with this threat and the Tarantula simultaneously. Soon, the Tarantula's own pointed shoes cause his defeat when they cause a torrent of water to knock him out when he sticks them into a water tower. (Pg. 17) Dragging the unconscious Tarantula off to the authorities, Spider-Man stops to call out to Gwen, who sees he is stalked by the Jackal. His Spider-Sense saves him from a clawed attack from behind. But it's Morbius the Living Vampire that swoops down to ambush and knock out the wall-crawler. '(Pg. 18)The Jackal leaps forth angrily, determined to play the spoiler, obsessed with his own plan. Morbius explains that he already knows everything. The Jackal uses his drugs to keep Spider-Man from struggling back to consciousness. “Take me back to your laboratory,” says Morbius. The Jackal then takes off his mask, revealing his true identity, spoken by Morbius: “Miles Warren.” Only now can I tell you: my name for this five issue plotline is, “The Gwenpyre Strikes Back”.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

A More Marvelous Comics Group's Amazing Spider-Man #147, from Fixaverse

This is part of an alternative storyline, reworking the end of Gerry Conway's run up to #150 with some ideas of mine. #147 Imprisoned, the Tarantula creates new razor pointed shoes and uses them in a murderous break-out. A drug tunnel provides him access back to the United States, where he gets a lift back to NYC, where he's picked up by another bus, driven by the Jackal, who is no one, as he says. The planned rendezvous provides the money forward on the job to cover Tarantula's ride handsomely. As Anna and Mary Jane Watson escort the newly-discharged Aunt May from the hospital, she talks to Mary Jane about Peter. Upset, Mary Jane says she hasn't seen Peter since Gwen Stacy's impossible return, which feels all wrong. Aunt May lets MJ know she appreciates and understands her and her feelings for Peter, so don't give up: love can be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Speaking of Gwen, she's preparing to leave Betty Brant's apartment, where she's a guest. Betty herself is leaving for work and asks Gwen where she's going. Gwen says she's asking for help on campus, to get her in touch with someone who can help her get a fix on exactly what's happened to her. Betty asks if she means a therapist. Gwen laughs a little laugh. Betty laughs a little, too. “I'm nosey. Newsroom rubbing off on me. But you can see why a person would worry for you. I'm actually glad you're interested in getting out...for your own sake.” “I don't see how a person could put themselves out like you're doing for me,” says Gwen, “and NOT wonder. I appreciate your concern more than I can say. The one person I trust the most won't even darken this door. Not that I completely blame him.” “You mean Peter?” Betty asks. “I admit, I am surprised he's not here, myself. Yet...I'm not. Can I level with you?” “What could be worse than death? Shoot.” “He's a really sincere guy. But he's not boring. I wish he was. I have never known if he could get the thrill of trying to photograph Spider-Man out of his lifestyle long enough to there.” “Do you have that problem with Ned?” “With us both working, it takes a special effort...but no. I guess that's why I tolerate the lifestyle that goes with his passion for the real story. And look, I'd be happy to go along with you for one of these meetings, if you like. I just happen to be now about three minutes behind, getting to good luck, Gwen.” “Thanks.” Incidentally, we join Peter as he heads to E.S. U. Campus, via webline as Spider-Man, to get some kind of grounding for these notions he's having: what if this is a genetic clone? He's so torn by the desire he feels, to accept the relief that Gwen Stacy is, against the odds, alive. But he feels a terrible, aching paranoia about her missing time. He held her in his own arms, the day she died; she was unresponsive. But he didn't take the time to attempt a resuscitation. He isn't a trained physician. He only knows that, while all of the answers surely lie somehow with this woman, even while he's seen so many impossible things, even the police on the scene said she was gone. He was there. There was no way a person comes back from that. It's just too bizarre. Worse, he can't think of a soul with whom to begin figuring it out. Then, he thinks of Professor Warren and Professor Schmidt, from his biology and chemistry studies, and recalls lectures about clones, grown from living cells, replicas of the original organism---a common practice with plants, studied now with animal cells. In fact, human cells might hold the key to re-creating lost or non-functional body parts, even limbs, just as Dr. Curt Connors explored. Dr. Connors' identity as the Lizard is a reminder of what the dark side of science holds, too. A human clone. Is it even possible? And who could even do such a thing, with what resources? What if there's multiple “Gwens” out there? Horrified, he heads now to the first place he ever participated in genetic studies, the Harinton Building on ESU Campus. In this version, the Jackal doesn't know Peter's Spider-Man. Gwen comes to him while he is simply Professor Warren. In our story, Gwen watched the Jackal, followed him, saw him change to Professor Warren. She wants to know the rest of his secrets, and he wants to tell her. First he seems nearly ready to pass out, himself, a reaction she's come to expect. We know it's because he's been growing her replacement in his spare time. His expression reveals a moment of dark thought; what is not yet revealed is that he is the Jackal, that Gwen knows this, and what he's thinking right now is, “did the clone somehow become free of her gestation chamber?” So he's pretty much GOT to go check that out on the double. He seems manic enough to actually take her there, too; after all, if the cocoon is undisturbed, there's no need to alarm the real Gwen. And he would be glad to get a tissue sample and help her work on her enigma. He expresses he's very glad she's alive, overjoyed, to a degree that she finds awkward. From here in, she seems to willingly stick with him whether he's Warren or the Jackal, which plays right into Mr. Conway's character's wildest dreams. Only, he didn't originate this Gwen Stacy, so now, it's surreal for him in a way it also is for Spider-Man. Spider-Man arrives and sees Gwen with Professor Warren. He slips off to change, to engage them as Peter Parker, lost in what to say. In the artist's best idea of an out-of-the-way place on the way into the laboratory, before he can change, he's attacked by the Tarantula. The two fight across the city streets, soon smashing into a city bus. Everyone aboard flees in panic, except for Gwen Stacy. The bus driver leads her off the bus, and reveals he is the Jackal. Distracted, Spider-Man fails to dodge a toxin-tipped razor boot. When Spidey revives, he finds himself taken to the Brooklyn Bridge. Bound in chains, Spidey hears the Jackal rant about the miracle: Gwen Stacy has returned, as an instrument to destroy Spider-Man, whom he blames for her death. The Tarantula now throws the bound web-slinger off the bridge, as per the Jackal's sick revenge. As Spider-Man shoots a web-line to save himself, the Jackal, Tarantula and Gwen Stacy get away. Before the NYPD take him into custody, a police officer unchains Spider-Man to unmasking him in front of the cameras. This is all the pause Spider-Man needs to rapidly escape. Changing back into Peter Parker, Peter returns to his apartment to find that Mary Jane is waiting for him outside. She tries to talk to Peter – unaware his day has been a macabre, surreal nightmare -- so she makes an ultimatum to him: Choose between her or "Gwen." Spaced-out, exhausted, Peter closes his apartment door on her. By the time his sinking gut tells him to reconsider, he opens the door to find no one there.

Monday, November 30, 2015

No to the 90's Clone Saga, no to Women in Refrigerators: a wild alternative take on the original Spider-Man Clone Saga, by Cecil Disharoon.

For your Spider-phile pleasure, here's an alternate story direction inspired by the end of Amazing Spider-Man #144, featuring the shocking return of Gwen Stacy, as though from the grave. This story, when I first read its reprint, built a "Gwen Stacy returns" subplot that was clearly hair-raising, haunting and cool, though it was six years before I found out what happened next. You can find a synopsis online easily, like -I feel much the same! ASM#145, for those of you who know or want to know the source story, is fine, and out of respect and familiarity, I suggest no changes, not even yet to make Gwen any less vulnerable, as these are distressing circumstances.
Well, it would be nice if the New York Police Department didn't hand Mac Gargan his crime-making outfit and equipment, as it seems ill-advised to treat it just like handing back a wallet and keys. There's a few good places to tighten up plot holes. For one, it's too bad a private investigator, like Mac Gargan, didn't recognize Peter Parker's face from the Daily Bugle, and also, too bad he doesn't suspect he's found Spider-Man, as he was told he would, just in civilian clothes. An interesting problem's introduced but thrown away. Missed opportunities are realistic, though.
How did the Jackal know where to find Spider-Man? We will find out in Conway's original tale how he knows to look for Peter Parker, but space permitting, it might have been cool to see Jackal's method of gathering intelligence. He apparently has some way of knowing Aunt May's in the hospital. I would presume Conway's trying to avoid spilling the beans that the Jackal may be using Gwen, with hypnotic suggestion as his method of interrogating and perpetuating her use to him as an unwitting spy. I do have a secret as to how our Gwen's been spending her nights, besides her stay at Betty Brant's.
In our story, the Scorpion decides to look in on May Parker in his civilian clothes. Peter, however, senses a mild warning and then spots Mac Gargan, whom he recognizes as the Scorpion, as he leaves May's room. He's careful not to be seen, because Gargan might recognize Peter, if he can recognize Gargan. He rushes in to check on her, and even though she's all right, he is ready to go beat the snot out of this super-villain for getting so close to his recuperating, elderly aunt!
When Peter leaves, we follow a nurse seen earlier assisting an attendant of May's, very background, no lines yet, as she walks into the blood bank refrigerator and finds Gwen Stacy. She replies she's impressed by the set-up of the facility, she's just taking a look while Candy-Striping. She suggests sweetly the nurse simply forget it; she promises to get permission next time. The nurse placidly agrees. Scorpion's dialogue can get a twist besides the usual generic rants, as he replies to being accosted after his very first step towards being something besides the Scorpion, which seems unfair and gives Mac Gargan a self-righteious rage with which to strengthen his response. But this is an angry Spider-Man attack all the way, some straight-up vigilante one-two for anyone who would dare threaten his innocent surrogate mother, and in three pages he basically tells Scorpion to shut up and go to sleep. Our next change: Scorpion's not led in simple handcuffs back to the bedside of a woman he's threatened, no sir. That's the original, comedic ending.
He's wearing something a bit more durable. Gwen seems to react strongly to what's occurred with May, and says in a way, it's her fault May's here in the first place. She strides up to the Scorpion and demands to know: who sent him? Instantly, Spider-Man's rushed up to stand between them, still running pretty hot. No way is he going to let any Gwen be harmed by a super villain again. As the Scorpion's led away, he seems dazed; one of the cops comments on him being punch drunk already. He mutters a word; we see his lips move but can't hear him. But Gwen stares intently after him in the foreground of the next panel, as Spider-Man's trying to offer reassurance to a figure that, from her stance, seems fearless. He will wonder in the next issue if this reflects a transformation after returning from death itself, somehow. Has it ever. That's my first part. We are going to have some wild fun on the way to ASM #150. I'll give this a few days, then I'll share my re-writes integrated into ASM #147 and 148.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

A new idea grown from Amazing Spider-Man #90, or, if only Stan Lee thought of this...

Part One: A new idea grown from the ending of Amazing Spider-Man #90, or, How to Have a Dream Girlfriend and an even more Marvelous storyline!
I’m not in a position to return to the original issues themselves. Some background, courtesy my friend Nathan Adler: I finally had a chance to look at the actual issues in question, and it’s a bit more complicated than I had remembered. At the end of Amazing Spider-Man #88, Doctor Octopus is seemingly killed in an airplane crash & explosion. At the beginning of the next issue, Peter sees the headline of the Daily Bugle is “Dr. Octopus Killed in Airport Crash.” So, as of the next morning, people in NYC believe Doc Ock is dead. However, Peter notes that no trace of Doc Ock or his tentacles was found in the wreckage. Fearing that Ock is still alive, Peter decides he’d better search for him as Spider-Man. Over an hour later, Spidey comes across Doc Ock wrecking one of the smokestacks on the city’s main power plant. Rubble has fallen onto the roadway below and blocked traffic. Some crowds below can see Doc Ock up on the smokestack, but not clearly. Spidey then attacks him, and they fight across several rooftops. People on the street below catch glimpses of their battle. Doc Ock throws Spidey off a roof, but he swings through a window and hides inside a ventilation shaft until Ock gives up the search and leaves. As the tentacles are withdrawing, Spidey tags one with a spider-tracer. When he finally reaches the rooftop again, Spidey finds that Doc Ock is gone. This whole battle took not more than several minutes.   So some people spotted a figure that most likely was Doctor Octopus, but most of the city still thinks he died yesterday. Peter then spends the rest of the day at the Stacy’s townhouse, then returns home to create the web-formula that will cause Doc Ock’s tentacles to go haywire. When Peter leaves his apartment to search for Doc Ock, Harry is asleep. So you would think that it’s either late at night or shortly before dawn. Spider-Man finally locates Doc Ock 82.5 minutes later, according to a handy caption. The fact that there’s a little kid for Captain Stacy to save suggests that it’s now early morning. The battle again takes only a few minutes. Some people on the street do spot Doctor Octopus battling Spider-Man, including Captain Stacy. Doc Ock’s tentacles clearly destroy the chimney, sending the rubble falling to the street below. Captain Stacy pushes the little boy out of the way and is crushed by the falling bricks. Spidey swings down, digs Stacy out and carries him up to the rooftop. Somebody in the crowd says, “It was Spider-Man’s fault! He killed him!” Doc Ock slips away and disappears. In the next issue, ASM #91, the opening narration says, “Due to a weird quirk of fate, it seemed to those who witnessed the tragic event that the blame for Capt. Stacy’s death belonged to Spider-Man.” No one mentions Doc Ock again, they just keep saying Spidey was responsible for Stacy’s death. Doc Ock lays low until the end of ASM #112. So I interpret that to mean that everyone thought Doc Ock was dead, so the few people who saw him after that were not believed, and it was chaotic enough that they couldn’t be sure of what they saw. Especially since, at the beginning of ASM #88, the tentacles had gone on a rampage on their own, without Doc Ock. Most people accept the narrative that Spider-Man was fighting someone or something on that rooftop when the chimney collapsed, and there’s some wild rumors that it was Doc Ock, but the blame for Stacy’s death is placed squarely on Spidey’s shoulders. Gwen gives no indication that she thinks Doc Ock was involved. Thanks, Nathan! His writing and ideas about the Marvel Universe, explanations and even improvements on problematic portions of its shape, can be found here: So... #91 opens with Gwen going over her Dad's belongings.  She happens upon his journal. This would alarm Peter, because George revealed he knew who he was, right?  Otherwise, we keep Stan's Bullit villain and plot.  I know he's not very subtle, but General Hospital's doing the same premise right now, mob boss/ police chief.  You have to wonder how much better it might have been if he'd gotten in office...but in addition to his racist characterization, the Code probably wouldn't have been patient with a corrupt police chief, however good that story would be under Frank Miller in Batman: Year One. Bullitt's coalition is also tied to the escapades of the arms of Doctor Octopus in #88; his freedom depended upon activation of a deal and a plan from inside the system. I do like it that Ice Man and the Prowler both tried to bring Peter in.. I would've kept the heat up on that Spider-Man: Wanted! subplot.  That tension is what I feel is generally missing in the last fifth or so of Stan's run, but Captain Stacy's death was a true shocker.  There was reason for many characters to reflect on his passing.  First, a salient fact: no one but Spider-Man witnessed Doctor Octopus on the rooftop at the scene of Captain Stacy's death in ASM #90.  No one, except, as we'll find out in (our) ASM #105-107, Spencer Smythe. #92  Gwen evolves from thinking Bullitt and a change in the system towards law-and-order will get her satisfaction---very relatable and human---to more action based on her dad's notes, to accepting Jonah's Spider Slayer help in #94 and 95. (The Tinkerer  actually does some subcontracting for Smythe here; the villains have an acceptable open season on the wallcrawler, they can hunt with a veneer of right and decency---irksome!) #93: The Trapster AND the Prowler come after Spider-Man in unrelated but crossed-up fashion in that second Prowler encounter in the original issue. They are both kind of ersatz embodiments of similar ideas to Spider-Man. This does give him more of a challenge, but The Trapster's fall in this battle leads to a mysterious observer pillaging his gear!   MJ speaks her mind about Gwen's renewed coldness and her anti-Spider-Man crusade.  Harry takes the opportunity to say he doesn't know what he'd do if he lost his dad, and Norman's not been himself lately, for that matter.  The Stacy death has been in the news and in Norman's personal life through the loss of George and through Harry's friendship with Gwen.  Gwen, meanwhile, begins assembling allies, through her connections, a couple of police officers, an ex-soldier, and at least one professional mercenary, as we'll see over the next issue. In the original story, Gwen's role was more passive, confined to the "girlfriend" role. Our plot may depict Gwen hurting over Peter's distance, but she's developing a resolve that may have been unsettling to some readers of the time, and getting more attention and change when she's on-panel.
 Just once-somewhere in #93, perhaps, observing Spider-Man, the Trapster and the Prowler in battle, is an unidentified scavenger who here appears very mysterious.  As we will discover, she is the next neophyte level of experience below The Prowler, but she's methodical, a student.  I imagine she'll be able to fly (jet pack at this point; it's her getaway); she would at least be able to meet him in the air, before she would ever confront Spider-Man.    She wouldn't need a costume yet, but a costumed woman with no explanation is right for the era.  She sees Hobie's gadgets, the Trapster's, Spider-Man in action.  Trapster, she leaves in a cocoon, with his own fairly easy-to-operate paste gun. Great picture to sell the Bugle—but who did this? Next: The Black Widow! Daredevil! Betty Brant! An all-new take on Spider Slayers! A head-spinning alternative take on the classic Goblin Drug Issues! All building up to a very different Amazing Spider-Man #100! Who's in? Feel free to comment here or write me at I'm waiting until I hear back from Nathan, because with that mystery figure, we're crossing over to his ideas in unison with mine, and I want to make sure it's cool. Otherwise, I will probably leave you tantalized with #94 next and my best mock-up of a cover for #95!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Eminem's Rap God sample: that's Captain America and the Falcon, from Power Records!

What do Eminem and most Integr8d Fix readers have in common? Comic books, man. As a boy, I had two Power Records, a brand that released dramatized versions of comic books on 45 rpm, complete with a book sampling most of the comic's artwork. The first was a stand-alone Superman adventure I think was written by Elliot S! Maggin, where aliens fell to earth in the form of silver-hued bullets. The second one, I only had the record, but it was intense: Captain America and the Falcon confront the mystery of The Phoenix, a man whose thirst for revenge is born from Cap's battles in the world war before his frozen suspension. I didn't get hooked on Eminem's 2013 release "Rap God" until I was putting together a hip hop playlist this September. Not unlike when Anj and I discovered Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre back in college, I was wrestling with an angry mood over someone who cheated me of recording time after I gave up eleven Sundays of my life to give...his initials are B.S., no kidding....BS a bassist for his band's practices, among other favors, at zero recompense. DMX's "X Gonna Give It To You" plays as the background for that hilarious Rick and Morty montage where Rick and his grand daughter Summer train together, lifting weights, bulking up, so they can pummel the Devil and random bullies afterwards. I decided to get in touch with my aggression, so I put on that, "Go To Sleep," then found my way to "Rap God," which soon hooked Angela and I with, as always, those deft, juvenile, utterly slik Eminem cadences. I even looked up "Supersonic" by JJ Fad, a song whose hook I knew from school days. Angela said the case for swiping "Hey Lookin' Boy" wasn't worth nearly what the Chicago band that performs "Hey" is suing for, $25 million, I think, but I pointed out that was a way to get a few thousand listens out of the TMZ crowd, too. But who was that voice? It sounds like some kind of gangster movie serial from your grand parents' day. I couldn't get away from how familiar it seemed. I haven't listened to that Power Record in even more years than it's been since I watched cheerleaders dance to "Super Sonic," while we played the beat from the percussion section. (You don't care about the label "band geek" when you get to put showing off and music together in one go. Besides, how else was I really going to get out of the house back then?). But there he is, Captain America. "Look! I was going to go easy on you..." That's Cap talking to his partner, the Falcon, as he's throwing him off the trail with a ruse, so he can take on The Phoenix vendetta alone. Not very partnerly of you, Winghead. "Something's about to happen, I can feel it!" is Cap thinking to himself. "And if he's as bananas as you say, I'm not taking any chances." That's Captain America referring to Baron Zemo II, referred to in this story as "the Phoenix." Here, since Rick and Morty started this whole thing, maybe you'll get a chuckle out of this pairing of Rick and Eminem. Speaking of the Falcon, Anthony Mackie plays him in the Marvel Cinemaverse, but Mackie also plays Papa Doc in 8 Mile! Eminem's interest in comic books is fairly well-known. I wonder what's the chances he's going to find Integr8d Soul Comics Number One, where one page features a Rap Bot with "a laptop in" his "back pocket"? You can pretty much bet Em had the Cap 45 rpm when he was a kid, because he samples it again for "Groundhog Day." (His lyric "Captain America on It could've been Dr. Dre's idea, too, or maybe even a fresh sampling of old vinyl had simply turned this up and caught their ear. Possibly after it turned up in the huge list of samples used by Jurassic 5 a couple years before? If you want a clinic on sampling, check out the LP, Jurassic Five, classic hip hop group (whose new track "Golden" led the way to the J6's invasion of my hip hop playlist), especially track "Lesson Six (The Lecture)." The song samples 31 completely different recordings...and somewhere in there is the Power Records version of"And A Phoenix Shall Rise!" presented in Captain America and the Falcon #168.