SpartanNerd Review…”1602: Witch Hunter Angela Part One”

Regular readers know that I already reviewed “The Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows.”  This book is along the same lines.  A result of the current spin on “Marvel Secret Wars,” “1602…Angela” takes place in an alternate storyline.

Before I write any more, let me explain why I was drawn to picking this title up at “The Tangled Web” on June 13…

Me and Angela go back aways.  I used to read Spawn comics quite a bit.  I don’t own many of those anymore.  But I remember enjoying the story immensely…I couldn’t put it down.  And even recently I read back over “Spawn: The Dark Ages.”  Angela and angels of her ilk were a key component to all of these stories.

In Spawn, the angels were depicted as a group of business women you definitely didn’t want to be your boss.  They worked in a tall skyscraper, and dressed in pants suits or similar…on the high end of the “professional dress” spectrum.  Then, if they suspected a Spawn or other demonic force nearby, the clothes would come off…and wings were revealed, and very very skimpy battle ribbons would be what adorned the woman.  Oh yes.  Generally a huge weapon as well.  These angels were the toughest fight for Spawn.  But Angela was different.  She and Spawn “hit it off.”  A very forbidden relationship came to a head until right at the 100th issue, Angela killed Malebolgia, (basically the devil…but not Satan.)  However, she would be killed as well.  Then Spawn would go downhill and I would stop reading, as McFarlane “jumped the shark,” wanting to take the book into a more “horror” direction.

Similarly, (but not as relevant), Immaculata was the Dark Ages Spawn’s enemy.  As a story told around the same time period as “1602”, there are things that pulled me to purchasing because I read and enjoyed this so much.  Immaculata wasn’t a “business woman,” but a nun.  She was suppressing her angel-ness.  But when Spawn came around, those animal angel instincts awoke…and similar to described above, this terrific warrior appeared in place of the nun.

The angel stories I am recalling here were AWESOME.  Later I would learn there were ownership disputes about Angela between Todd McFarlane and Neil Gaiman.  And I heard nothing more about it for a long time.

In the middle of my reading of “DC New 52,” Marvel come out with “Age of Ultron.”  I didn’t read it.  Ultron rang a bell, as I read “Secret Wars” from the 1980’s.  The final issue had a black bag so you couldn’t see the cover.  It was hiding “Angela”!  Marvel had secured the rights to the character.

The only knowledge about this, besides what I just told you, is that I have seen some Angela titles on the shelves.  I skipped them not, not immersed in Marvel’s ecosystem.  But it is clear that she is “Asgard’s Assassin,” implying to me that she works for Odin, or similar.  (Explaining how she is an angel in a universe not really having a consistent God.  Spawn’s universe eventually, very slowly explained how God’s angels worked.)

All that to say why I was drawn to this story.  I expected the barbary of “Spawn: the Dark Ages” and the awesomeness of Angela, the thing who killed Spawn’s devil.

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The cover art was OK.  Angela here appears Elizabethan but also science fiction.  There were some prettier alternate covers, but since I am not immersed in the Secret Wars, or Marvel’s version of Angela, I skipped those. The cover does show a remnant of McFarlane’s version, in there are those ribbons floating around her.  We see these throughout the comic.  She doesn’t use them for any purpose…they do serve in the place of a halo, I believe.  Though they might have some kind of weaponized use.

The art in this book is inconsistent.  Some of it “old school” Marvel.  Some of it more modern.  Why?I liked it, though.  And here is one of my favorite pieces from the book.  The color scheme reminds me of “Jem and the Rockers.”  Basically, Sarah and Angela are a team of angels hunting “witchbreed.”

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I’ll not show you a picture, but just let me say that one of the witchbreed has claws like Wolverine!  Maybe it is that she is hunting mutants…

Angela describes Sarah and themselves as “Angels of Doom.”  Throughout the book, where God’s name would probably be mentioned, instead we hear “Doom.”  This echoes the larger Secret Wars story, where we are told that Victor Von Doom is “god and master.”

Because this book just came out, I am blurring the words here.  But this is one of my favorite pieces of art from the book, right near the end.

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Basically, Sarah has been cursed.  And so the lead-in to a larger story.

SpartanNerd’s rating of “1602: Witch Hunter Angela.”  Well, did this story meet my expectations?

This is a dark story, with two brutal killings and Sarah being cursed.  It kept me reading…I read it three times to be sure I got it all.  There is a lot here.  I still have some questions.

I’m confused.  Who is Kit Marlow?  Was that Shakespeare of Marlow?  Why is there someone with glasses…glasses weren’t invented for two hundred years….Is there more implied in this story than the reader can just see?  Sarah’s flashback led us to believe that she was training to be a warrior, and not a lady…though her words said otherwise.

The art was good, but varied in style.  There is more than one artist on this book…they need to work to smooth it out.  I enjoyed the “Jem” color scheme.  And the more modern “muted” look as well.  But the two styles are jarring when going from one place to another.

I think I will read part two, which will come out on July 29, evidently…according to the last page.  The book is going to feature the Guardians of the Galaxy in the next issue, it seems.

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I think I will read it.

The SpartanNerd rates “1602: Witch Hunter Angela” at 3/5.  While I have plenty of complaints and questions, I have read it over three times.  And am curious about what will happen next.  Angela (and Sarah) gets a point for coolness anyway.

Do you agree or disagree?  Let me know in the comments, oh Hub City Geeks!

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Figure Review…The Walking Dead "Governor" by McFarlane Toys

I have quite a long history with Image comics, mostly just Spawn, but I am sort of aware of other properties from them.  And if you have been reading my blog awhile…(someone has, don’t know who), you know that Todd McFarlane is my favorite comic artist.

Over the years I have seen a few McFarlane Toys as well, but never owned one.  But aside from Spawn toys, which were largely sculpted by the Four Horsemen, the other toys are liscenced images.  Sports figures, rock stars, The Simpsons, even Where the Wild Things Are.  But the toys are always perfect likenesses.

Which is one reason why this Walking Dead figure is sort of…lacking.

Here is my review, with pictures.  Incidentally, this isn’t my figure, it is SpartanSmurf #1’s figure…

Here he is, in box on the Magic Card Table at the Tangled Web.

Here is the back of the box…showing other figures from the line.  Notice that this figure is billed as an AMC figure….you know, from the show.

Here he is at home, on my review table.  He doesn’t look like the actor to me…
I have been known to have poor sight, though

Here he is with his famous eye patch.  It should be noted that
in order to change heads, it took a ton of effort.  And SpartanSmurf #1 told me
it was so hard that it scared him he would break it.  In fact, when I removed his other head
the entire torso popped apart!

This blurry pic is trying to show you that the ball joint is on the head, rather than on a next peg.

Here is the governor’s weapons.  He uses all of these in the show, and more.  Wish there were more included.

But this is the worst thing about the figure.  This hand WILL NOT STAY ON.  It came off right out of the box.
Seriously, this thing is worse than a Star Wars figure when it comes to his right hand.

Here is an evil pose…His hand fell off right after I snapped the photo.
Guess that Machete was pretty heavy!

Here is my summary and score.

This figure has a loose sculpt that vaguely resembles the actor.  But the articulation is pretty good, with joints everywhere you would expect.  However, he loses some playability because his hand falls off repeatedly.  His included extra head is too hard to swap out.  And he should have came with more accessories.

So my score…2 out of 5.  This figure gets a 40.  F.  The Governor is far more evil a character than the walkers in the show, and he deserved a better figure.  I mean, he could have been worse…

Spider-Man #6 Vintage Comic Review!

Spider-Man #6 and #7, by Todd McFarlane

So this is going to be a two parter, oh faithful Hub CIty Geeks!  Feel free to comment on what I say about these two in the next couple of days!  I apparently have some readers, but no one has left any comments.  You can be among the first!

I fell in love with these two.  I read them over and over.  They are a part of my soul like the Bible is.  They are what I measure comics by.  They are the greatest comics ever published in my opinion.

I am going to go a little at a time through each one.  So here we go!

The cover of #6 features four CBG Fan Awards stamped across the top.  “Favorite Character, Favorite Penciler, Favorite Cover Artist, and Favorite Letterer.  Then the haunting dialogue box “Face it Spidey–Awards don’t mean #@*!! against the Hobgoblin!”  and a small bubble “…and wait till you see our surprise guest-star!  You also get the left hand box featuring Spider-Man under the Marvel Comics logo, and the issue number and “The Comics Code Authority” logo.  That probably shouldn’t have been there!

The cover itself features what I now know to be Todd McFarlane’s own style of posing Spidey, and this has been emulated by basically every other artist who draws him.  (I know now that Spidey was depicted as much less like a spider in the pre-McFarlane days.)  The Hobgoblin is throwing pumpkins headless horsemen style.  The pumpkins have what for a mouth?  Batman’s symbol!  What gives!  Well, Batman was super popular at this time because of his Summer blockbuster movie.  And Todd McFarlane was always sliding in humorous bits like this, (Batman being a DC character and all.)

Page 1 of this book got my attention right away…Hobgoblin removes his own face!  And all of these little purple word bubbles are hurling insults at him.  I don’t know if this is only in his mind, or if the people really are saying this stuff.  But he doesn’t like it one bit!

Pages 2 and 3 are a splash page, showing off the Hobgoblin to the reader for the first time.  On the cover, his face was blacked out.  Now you can see that this is someone demonic.

The Hobgoblin, a truly evil and powerful villain in 1990

Of note, my copy is really old!  When I was a kid, the blacks were deep dark.  These have faded.  I e-mailed Val Staples about this because he is a colorist and I heard him discussing it with Earl Norem on the Roast Gooble Dinner podcast.  Val says that the way they used to color comics was by using film, and that nowadays they are printed digitally.  So if different intensities of black show up, it is an artifact of the aging books plus the way that they were printed.

Page 4 we see the villain torturing a boy and his mother.  The woman stands out because she is so pretty.  The other women in the picture are fat, etc.  These people are “webbed” to the place by Hobgoblin’s powers.  It looks like brown goop that resembles his cape.  The scene is akin to something from “Aliens,” where people are cocooned to a wall awaiting the hatching of an alien baby!

Page 5 and 6, of course the Goblin kills this woman.  On page 5, she resembles Sigourney Weaver!  He shoves her into the goop.  He doesn’t kill her kid though….  He takes him and treats him as a favorite….He is going to make him into a disciple.

Page 7, we see a different setting.  McFarlane makes the Hobgoblin hugging the kid fade into a husband and wife…then you realize, OH!  This is Peter Parker!!!  And you see his costume thrown around the room.

Page 8 and 9….A different setting yet.  Spidey’s costume gives way to a real spider in a web with some fire around it and creepy speech bubbles…..We see the Ghost Rider hanging a criminal upside down from the top of a skyscraper.  I don’t think McFarlane had it a coincidence that this guy resembles Hobgoblin’s severed face.  He is also wearing a crucifix.  A lot could be said about this, and will be said on some other day by the old SpartanNerd.  Anyway, this criminal has been making child pornography apparently.

Now let’s stop a second…..I was 12 years old when I was reading this.  Besides my unfortunate incidence with the “WWIII” comics, I thought comics were all fluff stories.  But here, this is serious.  I am not reading a kids book at this point.  I felt I was reading an adult book, I was allowed to read it, and I was enjoying it.  This was one of the first times!  Now my family didn’t understand this still.  When my mom read this story, she just scratched her head.  Why was it such a serious subject matter?  This wasn’t “The Electric Company” Spider-Man, or the old cartoon version.  This was something entirely different.  I loved it.

Back to page 9… So Ghost rider drops this criminal!  and … on Page 10 he catches him.  Then I learned about The Penance Stare.  Ghost Rider has the power to make criminals experience the pain of their victims, by staring into their soul!  Then he rides away on that nifty motorcycle.

On Page 10 and 11, we see Peter Parker trying to sneak out the window without waking Mary Jane.  He is unsuccessful, however.  She awakes, wearing a neglige, and fussing at Peter for sneaking out on her.  Then we see a full page on Page 11 of Spidey shooting too much webbing!  (This was a joke reference to some of the criticism McFarlane received about his style.)

Peter and Mary Jane are presented as such an inseparable item, in the two pages that we have seen of them together.  Their banter, body language etc.  is so good, this aspect of Spider-Man became part of what makes him who he is, in my mind.  This is why “A Brand New Day” sucks.  “A Moment in Time” is a failure.  And this is why the “Dock Ock/Spidey” doesn’t live in my comics shelf.  At least during the clone saga, MJ still loved Peter.  In 1990, they would have been recently married.  I’ve heard the arguments for a single Spidey, and I say that Spidey should be single, for the movies and cartoons.  But he should have stayed married for the comics…..

Oh, but I was having a nerd tantrum again, wasn’t I!  So back to the story.

Page 12.  We nearly forgot about the Hobgoblin.  But here he is.  He decides that finding the kid was the purpose of his kidnapping all of those victims.  So he leaves them, takes the kid, and blows the place up!

Page 13 we hear the cops talking.  They are sort of blaming the heroes for whack job super villains.  Ghost rider is looking on the wreckage.

Page 14 features some art that McFarlane would imitate again later in Spawn….

Here we see Spidey on an antenna.  He is listening to different cable news anchors talk.  We actually see four little TV screens with talking heads and a speech bubble, each with a different “voice.”  All of them are discussing the tragedy that the Hobgoblin has caused.  It is striking that The Fantastic Four have said that Spider-Man would take care of it.  Why not them?  This was the first time I ever gave a thought to the fantastic four as well!  And they always seemed to be off the mark because of this page, in my mind.  (I like Ben Grimm.  The Human Torch is OK.  But I have never really liked Sue Storm or Mr. Fantastic.)

Page 15 and 16, a different setting.  An alleyway, where a drug user is about to snort some cocaine.  He has it in a little tube, and calls it his “angel,” in case anyone wonders if I know what I am talking about.  Spidey uses the criminal’s habit as a means of getting information about the Hobgoblin’s whereabouts.  I like what Spidey does here.  He leaves the drugs out of the criminal’s reach.  The webbed up drug-head screams at Spidey “What kind of Monster are you!!?”

Page 17 gives us a shot of how Ghost Rider gets his info.  He kicks the crap out of his information source!  His man is a gun runner.  Ghost Rider says he’ll come back some other time to deal with the guns.  This is the one page of the book I have not ever been fond of.  Ghost Rider is in the shadows.  But how can a guy with a flaming head have a shadow cover half of his face? DOH!

On page 18, we see more of the Goblin.  He’s talking more nonsense to his new kid “disciple.”  Page 19 is where Spider-Man shows up and gets called “The Devil.”  You see, Hobgoblin seems to believe he is Jesus….So of course Spider-Man is the devil.  Strategically, we don’t see part of the kid’s face.  Spider-Man doesn’t pay much mind to him either, focusing on Hobgoblin instead.  Of course, the Goblin throws some pumpkin bat symbol bombs at Spidey!

On page 20, we see how powerful Hobgoblin really is.  Rays of energy are zapping off of him everywhere.  Spider-Man says “What am I dealing with?”

Spider-Man says “What am I dealing with?”

The kid is screaming, “Stop!  Please Stop!” In my copy the Bullpen Bulletins cover the back of page 21………so when you flip the page you get a surprise!  The kid’s face is deformed, and is transforming so that half of it looks like the Hobgoblin’s faceless visage!  (Two-Face style, another Batman reference.)

This issue did not feature a letters column, so I won’t address what was said!  But Issue #7 does, if I am not mistaken.

This book captivated me so much!  I fell in love with the characters right away!  Back in 1990, the colors were very vibrant, and the art was unlike any comic art I had ever seen.  McFarlane’s take on Spider-Man was a revelation to me….I was largely unaware of the Spider-universe before this book.  The Hobgoblin was new to me.  I did not know about the Green Goblin.  I did not know about Philip Macendale.  I did not know about his dealings with the devil.  I only new that here was a villain.  A real bad guy that deserved getting his butt kicked.  And so far it seemed that the nut-job was winning!  I was inspired to find out as much about this universe as possible, which was why I began buying up Marvel comics by the dozen!

About the Comics Code…..I guess this book didn’t feature zombies…..I guess there were also no curse words…..but other than that there was 1) Violence, 2) Sex, 3) Religious elements, 4) Drug Use.  Todd McFarlane was pushing the envelope of what could be allowed under the rules of the Comics Code.  I got hooked on comics right at the end of an era, so it seems.  Nowadays, the only comics featuring that arcane logo are books like “The Adventures of the Super-Family,” “Spider-Ham,” and other similar “kiddie” titles.  Thank You Todd, for freeing the medium!

Next blog entry will feature my Vintage Comic Review of Spiderman #7, the “conclusion” of this story!

“Oh No!  I spilled Peanut Butter in my Chocolate!”