Posts tagged: Comics

Spider-Man is Dead

By , June 22, 2011

Wednesday is my favorite day of the week, because that is the day new comic books hit the shelves. Back when I was a super busy person, whenever possible I made Wednesday my day off, and spent the afternoon drinking coffee and reading comics. Now, even with my life is in its holding pattern, and ample free time on my hands, I still treat Wednesday as a sort of respite from the rest of my life and hunker down with the new issues.

caveat: This blog contains spoilers regarding issues 159 and 160 of Ultimate Spider-Man.

Quick crash course in comics for non-fans: There are two Spider-Mans… Spider-Men? Anyway. The first debuted in 1962, the second, known as Ultimate Spider-Man, in 2000. They are part of separate comic “universes,” and their stories are in no way related. What happens to one in no way affects the other. Lucky for Spider-Man ’62, because today Ultimate Spider-Man died.

Before anyone chimes in that comic book characters seldom stay dead for long, let me point out that unlike in the main continuity, death in the Ultimate line of comic books is final. Many major characters have been killed, including Wolverine, Magneto, Cyclops, Professor X, Daredevil, and Wasp, and none have returned from the dead as characters often do in other comic books. So if Peter Parker is dead, he’s probably staying dead.
Death of Ultimate Spider-Man
Opinions differ, but in my mind Ultimate Spider-Man is not only vastly superior to the longer-running original series, it is hands down my favorite comic book series of all time. The characters seem far more believable than those of any other comic book, and the interactions and stories are as gripping those found in any “real” literature. The Ultimate characters talk and act the way I imagine such people would in real life, and very little seems gratuitous or contrived. And they make hilarious jokes.

As for the story arc and death, as with most of the rest of the series, it was epic and awesome and some other adjectives, too. Seeing Aunt May kill Electro was an unexpected moment of bad-assery, and the final moment, when Peter died knowing that though he failed to save Uncle Ben, he did save his Aunt, well– that was a clever and powerful moment, and the perfect book-ending to his tragic life.

I don’t have a deeper point to this blog. I’m pretty much just writing it because I’m sad. Even though Peter Parker is not a real person, his death affected me rather deeply. For 11 years I’ve read along as Brian Michael Bendis has unfolded his story, so it seems in some ways as if a real person has died. Apparently someone else will put on the costume and assume the identity of Spider-Man, and I hope the comic will continue to be great, but it won’t be the same without Peter Parker.

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It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s a Potty-Mouthed 11 Year-Old Girl Slaughtering Criminals!

By , April 16, 2010

Kick-Ass gets the star billing, because this is a movie about someone without super powers (Dave Lizewski, a.k.a. Kick-Ass) donning a costume and embarking on a career as a super-hero, but a better name for Kick-Ass may very well have been Hit-Girl, for she truly steals the show. She, and her father/partner Big Daddy, are actual super-heroes inserted into a world in which they ostensibly don’t exist.

Kick-Ass

Kick-Ass saving the day as only he can.

As every previous film adaptation of a comic book has, in my eyes, fallen short of the comic, I went into this movie with mixed expectations, especially since, while I enjoyed the comic book, I didn’t *love* it the way many fans did. I didn’t expect anything amazing; what I saw was quite possibly the best comic book movie I’ve ever seen.

So much will be made of the violence, especially since much of it is being perpetrated by an 11-year-old actress, but to me, that’s beside the point. The movie got everything right that most other super-hero films get wrong. Take Iron Man— I enjoyed that film, and I found the portrayal of Tony Stark as a complex individual who is part alcoholic playboy and part torn humanitarian to be quite gripping. Had the movie been called Tony Stark it would have been a fine character study, but it had no place in a movie called Iron Man. In my mind, the ideal super-hero film is Die Hard with a guy in tights replacing Bruce Willis. Take a few minutes of screen time to introduce us to Peter Parker/Bruce Banner/Steve Rogers/Whoever, then pit him up against someone or something seemingly unbeatable. After about 90 minutes of epic battling, engineer an unexpected method of victory for the seemingly out-matched hero, then roll the credits.

Kick-Ass does exactly that, in spades. There are just enough civilian-identity shenanigans to flesh out the characters, and a couple genuinely tender scenes that never drift into the maudlin. The rest is Hit-Girl kicking ass, Kick-Ass futilely trying to keep up with her, and McLovin’ showing us what the well-to-do super-hero is driving this season.

Hit-Girl

Sure she’s only 11, but she can beat you up.

Don’t get me wrong– Kick-Ass is not populated by one-dimensional characters and stereotypes. You understand why Dave dons his costume, and when he wins the fight that launches him to fame, he does so in a way that is simultaneously heroic and believable. That scene more than any other illustrates why he ultimately is the star of a film that at times seems to focus far more on Big Daddy and Hit-Girl. He is in many ways the Jack Benny of the super-hero set– the guy in a costume surrounded by heros and villains, not grasping the full gravity of any of it, but somehow stumbling through to the final reel. By that time he has come to terms with what ought to be his mantra, with no power comes no responsibility, and he does what he ought to have done all along: get out of the way and let Hit-Girl go to town, while still managing to do a bit of day-saving of his own.

I don’t think I’m alone in my love of this film, or my belief that it is better than its source material. A row of ten über-geeks seated directly in front of us last night all left the theater proclaiming likewise, and I overheard many comments to the effect of “best movie ever,” “way better than the comic” as I exited the cinema. If I didn’t have tickets to see Hot Chip, I’d go see this again tonight; I’ll almost certainly be back in a theater this weekend to watch it once more.

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Just a Perfect Day

By , August 3, 2004

Currently Playing: Lou Reed – Perfect Day

Sunny day + Long Walk + Canopy of trees overhead = visible beams of sunshine

Neapolitan slice at Arinell’s Pizza

Working the N.Y. Times Crossword while eating (sipping?) an affogato at Gelateria Naia.

Paying the extra $1.50 for the cash-strapped couple in front of you in line at Gelateria.

Comic store!

Browsing the used record bins at Amoeba Records.

Playing the saxophone over the din of the Port of Oakland

Pickup game of basketball at the Berkeley RSF.

Dinner and a movie with Fizzy.

Today’s Question: So, like what’s YOUR perfect day?

Interesting tidbit– I met a fellow who was contemplating opening a gelato shop on Fourth St. in Berkeley. He told me the tale of why Mondo Gelato is now called Gelateria Naia. So Mondo Gelato had three shops– Beijing, Vancouver, and Berkeley. The management of the Berkeley store, in true Berkeley fashion, staged a coup and broke free from the parent company. They basically took over the store, closed it, and re-opened under the new name. They had to vary the recipe for each gelato, but otherwise kept things the same. And now it is Gelateria Naia. That is neat and disturbing, all at once.

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Spider-Man 2

By , June 30, 2004

I will begin this quasi-review by stating that I think Spider-man is an excellent film. I seldom see a movie in the theater more then once during its initial release, but I saw the first Spider-man three times. I don’t think I’d gone twice to see a film since O Brother, Where Art Thou?, and normally I tend to want to wait awhile before re-watching a movie, but I got really into Spider-man. Also, I super heart Sam Raimi. I’ve been a huge fan of his since I saw the Evil Dead movies, so I was excited when I heard he was directing the movie. Anyway, the point is– I really liked the first movie, so bear that in mind as I extol the virtues of its sequel.

Spider-Man 2

I like the new one even better than the first one! The story is engrossing, the characters are deeply developed, the villain is more intriguing, and the special effects are better. There is a scene in, on, and around a runaway subway train that has to be seen to be believed; it actually had me on the edge of my seat and breathless.

I promised my nephew and his friend that I would take them to see it Thursday (tomorrow), but then decided to see it at the midnight am showing late Tuesday/ early Wednesday morning. I was a little hesitant to do that, as I wasn’t sure I wanted to sit through it again with the kids, but I am kinda tempted to go again in between and make the viewing with the kids number three. It’s just that good.

I can’t wait for Thursday.

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