SpartanNerd Review…The Amazing Spider-Man #1: Renew Your Vows

By now, you know that Spider-Man was at one time the top of my list of comics characters.  I haven’t read any Spider-Man since “Back In Black.”  The story splitting Peter and Mary Jane Watson up repelled me, and I walked away from comics for awhile.  I did pick up Amazing Spider-Man #1 last year after Superior Spider-Man came to a close.  (The idea of Doc Ock as Spider-Man…no as Peter Parker…was also very repulsive to me.)

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So I saw this on the shelf while I was failing at Friday Night Magic…I decided to give it a shot.

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I haven’t been reading Secret Wars…Marvel’s current story…a throwback to the big story from the 1980’s.  This blurb clears things up a bit, and makes the story accessible.  For me, it also represents a disclaimer.  Presented here is almost an “else worlds” or “What If?” story.  I understand that the writers are trying to bring back fans of different past versions of their characters.  DC did this with Convergence.  Now Marvel is doing it with Secret Wars.

Incidentally, I am quite a fan of Dr. Doom.  Maybe I SHOULD be reading Secret Wars.

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The Spider-Man child…this is a new development…and very important to this particular story line.  Her name is Annie.

We are largely seeing a happy family.  MJ is concerned about Peter.  When Peter goes to work, he learns that something is happening to the super heroes.  So he goes to visit the Avengers to see what’s up.

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We get a very enlightening conversation between Spidey and Iron Man.  The Avengers don’t know Spider-Man’s identity.  Some of what was “fixed” with the same story that split Peter and MJ up.  The world “forgot” Spider-Man’s secret identity…divulged during the Marvel Civil War.  (I know this from talking to people at The Tangled Web.)

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Since a major criminal breakout happened, Spidey suddenly knew his family was in danger.  The one guy who knew his secret identity…Eddie Brock.

I would like to say that I am glad to see Venom as a bad guy again!  The SpartanTeen read that Agent Venom story, where Venom was a good guy…Also I was put-off by that story.  Could they PLEASE stop destroying the characters!

Eddie Brock Venom is as disgusting as ever.  “We will suck out her lungs,” in reference to Annie.  Typical rant from classic Eddie Brock Venom, mid 1990s.

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If a psycho said this about my daughter….What would I do…Spidey does just that.  KILLS VENOM!

Sorry for giving it away, readers.  But it is necessary…You see, this story is “The most controversial Spidey story of the year!” You were going to hear it one way or another!

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We learn that there is a bad guy…”Regent” who is killing super powered people and stealing their powers for himself.IMG_6194

What does Spidey say about this…

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Chilling!  And unexpected, really.

A lot of people have said in the past that they preferred the bachelor Spider-Man to the married man.  That Mary Jane became a liability.  Aunt May certainly always was.  The “Back in Black” story arc showed Peter and his family targeted, and Spider-Man beating up Kingpin more than I ever saw him beat anyone.

But this just outright killing of Venom, because his family’s safety was at stake…

Well that’s … controversial!

I am now hooked, and will keep reading!

I give this story a 5/5!  It does what it was supposed to do.  It is a no frills origin story of an alternate universe Spider-Man.  We have the information we need, and what might be fuzzy is clearly spelled out.  The art is good.  I even like little Annie.  (I wonder if she will have powers?)

One of my hopes is when they stitch the worlds back together, we have a married but “normal” Spider-Man!

SpartanNerd gives Marvel’s The Amazing Spider-Man #1: Renew Your Vows a 5/5.  Do you agree, or disagree, oh Hub City Geeks?  Let me know in the comments!

his story is addressing the larger story…Heroes disappearing and dying. Venom is back…as Eddie Brock…Disgusting as ever.  The way I like it.  “We will suck out her brains.” Spider-Man evidently kills Venom! There is an insert talking about “The most controversial Spidey story of the year.”  More than one reason, it seems. The art wasn’t distracting at all.  It was in fact very captivating.   Talk about ASM #1 from last year…and what you thought of the art. Always “With great power comes great responsibility.”  This issue turns it on its head saying that family trumps this saying.  

Comic Review…Thor God of Thunder issues 1-12

First of all, I want to say that I am generally into religiously themed comics.

They generally, probably should offend me.  But they usually don’t.  Why?  BECAUSE THEY ARE JUST COMICS, PEOPLE!  

I have a history of reading Ghost Rider, Spawn, and yes Thor.  All religion themed books.  Spawn is especially demonic in theme, and yet I was almost never close to be offended.  I didn’t like all of it.  But it didn’t offend me.  (I haven’t been reading any Spawn since “Endgame.”)

But Thor is different, because of how close much of the language comes to the actual way in which I personally worship God.

There are times in the “Godbutcher / Godbomb” story where I got pretty close to offended.  Close.  But then I remembered.  IT”S ONLY COMICS!

That pre-qualifier said.  That disclaimer delivered.  On with my thoughts.  

Oh Yeah.  LOTS OF SPOILERS AHEAD

I started reading “Godbutcher” when Marvel said.  “Ok.  DC has the New 52 and the Joker chopped off his face and he’s back now.  IDW is scoring zillions of ratings points with the nerds.  We need to reboot.  Or at least look like we are.”  So they started their Marvel NOW! campaign to get our attention, killed Peter Parker.  Oh yeah.  On the sidelines, Thor got a new book.  Thor, God of Thunder.  With a title like that, we expect to get to know Thor, and how he thinks, and why.  AND we expect to learn a lot about his history and stuff like that.

I was sort of “eh….” about the cover art.  But over time, I began to appreciate it.  A kind of watercolor matte look.  The inside art is fine, with muted colors, but plain figures over all.  And there was a cool AR feature…You scan an AR panel with your phone and get to see the page come to life, hopefully….Maybe it won’t just be a commercial…or a rant from the writer or artist….(It usually was these last two.)  (Actually, I just checked.  The AR panels don’t work anymore at all…except for the ads….:(   )

“Godbutcher” begins with young viking god Thor finding a god’s head washing up on the shore, a native American god at that.  It continues with with Thor the Avenger of the present day finding a civilization that has no gods.  Shocking.  Upon investigating, he finds the planet’s gods all murdered and dismembered.  Their “godflesh” rotting slowly.  This scene should now terrify us.  Gods are supposed to be immortal!  But here we see that someone can kill them.  Something attacks the avenger…A Black Berserker.  It isn’t long before we know it is Gorr the Godbutcher who is slaying gods…And we see future Old Man Thor, the All-Father beaten into hopelessness by Gorr.

I like the way the story goes from young Viking Thor, who uses an axe instead of a hammer, Thor the Avenger, the one that we know best, and future Thor, Odin’s replacement.  This was a grand way of showing us who Thor was, is, and will be, if not confusing at times.  It also shows us that this story could have been revealed VERY slowly.  Over an entire title run.  But the writers showed us this grand story the way they did in a masterful way that makes sense if you are a persistent reader.

(I will take a brief moment to exclaim, this way of showing Thor is not unlike what we see in Conan the Barbarian stories, where he is young, mid-age adult, and eventually king.  Being a fan of the Barbarian, I see a good influence of him on the way Thor is presented to us.)

As the story of the Godbutcher goes on, we see old man Thor defeated over and over by Gorr’s minions.  Thor is the final god, saved for Gorr to kill last.  In the young Thor and Avenger Thor’s stories, we see how Thor is the one that got away from the killer.  This is why he toys with Thor as an old man.

This villain, Gorr, is a truly evil killer.  His weapon channels black energy into it’s target.  It works similarly to a Green Lantern ring in DC or the Symbiote costume for Venom…creating constructs that allow him to fly, makes swords, ropes, and whips, and more.  And when a god is attacked with the weapon, it takes something from them.  Also, the Black Berserkers are constructs of this weapon.  So we see (As Thor remarks in book  2,) Gorr has grown very powerful.

Speaking of Book 2, we get our first taste of combat between Gorr and Thor.  The young Thor utterly loses.  I like the dialogue.  Gorr says, basically “What are you the god of…poetry?”  Thor just says “Thunder,” and a bolt of lighting hits Gorr!

Book 3 is cool because we see Avenger Thor bringing up his guilt complex.  He tells Iron Man that he feels guilty because he did not kill Gorr one thousand years earlier.  And that summarizes it, pretty much.  Thor sees many more dead gods from different worlds.  This story gets more convoluted, as the three different aged Thors are having similar thoughts, and the panels switch one to another quite a bit.  Oh.  And book 3.  Old King Thor is still getting beaten up.

Book four is where I start to get a little offended.  Just a little.  Old King Thor sits on his throne, last of all gods.  In other words, the only god left.  He talks about how he has seen everyone and everything he loved killed.  He is surrounded by those Black Berserkers.  And he seems so powerless and hopeless.  The language here is nihilistic.  “Gorr won’t just let me die…” etc.  The idea of one god being powerless, is abhorrent to me.  Then I remember.  IT’S JUST COMICS.

And we could have seen where this was going.  To somewhere that time-travel can take place.  Chronux, city of the time gods.

Essentially, from this point we see Gorr’s plan coming together.  I think I have it figured out…Then I don’t.  Gorr goes back in time to the early universe, where he sees a baby god sitting and making beings out of clay.  We assume this is a god from Gorr’s own pantheon…He kills this god.  My thought was, “He’s killing all gods by killing this one.”  But nope.  That would be too simple I suppose.  Gor brings back the giant gods heart…He is going to use it as the core of a weapon that will kill all gods at all times.

Along the way, during the time-travel part of this adventure, Avenger Thor manages to rescue Old Man Thor.  The two of them fail to stop Gorr.

Issue six was a break from the larger story…a telling of Gorr’s origin.  Basically, Gorr came to curse the gods his people were devoted to.  His world was dry as a bone, and people were suffering.  His family was all killed off, and offerings, prayers, etc to their gods resulted in nothing.  Finally, as Gorr begins blaspheming, he is exiled.  In his banishment, he sees two gods in battle.  They nearly kill one another.  The “good guy” god begs for Gorr to help him.  Instead, he steals the “bad guy’s” weapon and kills him.  This is the origin of Gorr and his weapon, which we learn later is called “The Anihilablade.”  This issue introduces us to Gorr’s son as well, leaving us scratching our heads….

When I set out to read these stories, I thought they would be a smaller story arc.  Instead, it looks like Marvel roped us into eleven issues total.  Luckily, I enjoyed the book.  Unluckily it seemed that this book had an inconsistent release schedule.  It was like issue after issue came at once, then there was a lull of like six weeks….

The second part of the story is called “Godbomb.”  With the ability to control time, Gorr has gathered gods from all corners of the universe and kept them as slaves to build a bomb that will make their “species” extinct all through the ages of time.  Gorr is making himself into a god, styled after the gods that drove him to become what he is.  But he refuses to admit this to himself.  He also does other things, including giving the slaves the seventh day off, and crucifying gods who try to rebel.  (Here is some of where I got offended.  ITS JUST COMICS.  Whew.  Got that over.)  Viking Thor is among these slave gods, and when he arrives on the planet where the bomb is being built, right away he takes action and manages to escape and meet up with the other two Thors.

This story moves a little faster than the first arc, because we are not jumping around in time.  All three Thors are on the same timeline.  Which is what it would take to bring down Gorr and his plan.  We also see that the Black Bersekers are now a mighty army, and Gorr not only has a son, but also a wife.  These two are hopeful that Gorr’s dream of a godless universe will come about.

What happens basically is that the Thor’s fail.  The bomb explodes, killing ages of gods, past present, and future.

But…Thor the Avenger takes a last desperate breath, grabs his future hammer, and goes into the exploding bomb, absorbing the blast into both Mjolnir hammers.  In doing so, he also steals Gorr’s weapon.  We find out that Gorr’s wife and child were just constructs as well.  And then Viking Thor chops off his head.

I also like the follow up one-shot.  Issue 12 shows the three Thor’s returning to their proper time, forgetting all about their future adventure.

Analysis.

Gorr the Godbutcher represents humanism and agnosticism.  Both viewpoints either deny the necessity of God or deny that we are of concern to him.  Gorr is someone who lost his faith after being burned over and over, having prayers unanswered while devotion was religiously given.  He took action in the most negative way possible.  (Otherwise he wouldn’t have been a villain, right…)

Thor is seen as an evolution of Western religion.  His barbarian self represents what gods were like in early pagan times.  His Avenger self represents the active and visible religions of the world.  (I like how issue 12 portrays Thor!)  Then the All-Father Thor represents that far off and untouchable-ness people often sense from God.

So Thor and Gorr are philosophical opposites.  And in the end, Gorr had no hope.  All of his hope was in himself and his efforts.  And religion won out, living it’s legacy after the god butchers was more or less erased from history….

Hmmm….deep.

My Rating.

I rate this story arc as a 4/5.

I took a point because the story starts to ramble a bit.  I wish it were one of two things.  Either a story spread over a 100 issue series, or a lot shorter…Maybe only six books long.  Instead, we got eleven books and a twelfth book chaser.  Think.  This is a YEAR WORTH OF READING.

But it kept me interested.  I kept buying.  The high idea of the story, Humanism vs Religion as a slasher story, was very entertaining.  The art has its own style, and I am glad to see that Marvel is still printing letters at the back of almost every book.

Figure Review…Marvel Select Deadpool

This is a figure that SpartanSmurf #1 picked up at the MonsterCon.

I wish I got a picture of the unboxing, but sorry!

Let me just say…WOW!  The MOTUC figures have met their match in almost every way!

I mean, Deadpool was only $25!  He is massive!  Has tons of articulation!  And lots of accessories!

Here are some pics and my review!

This is the basic figure.

Here is his diorama and stand

Here are his accessories, minus one sai.  Trust me.  He came with another one.

Here he is with pistol, about to draw the other.

Here he is with machine gun and sai!

I used the extra large pics here to show the detail!  

First thing I noticed was the heft of the figure.  He probably weighs two pounds altogether.  That stand is a chunk!
Deadpool has very nice articulation, with double jointed knees and ball joints in lots of places.  His arms have swivel joints, but his shoulders and hips have ball joints.  His wrists swivel.  His ankles seem to have a rocker, but they are sort of weak.
Lots of detail on Deadpool.  He has extra knives, ammo pouches, a teargas grenade, holsters, etc.
I don’t know much about Deadpool.  I read a couple of the comics since my son has become interested.  They really are not for children.  Maybe I shouldn’t let him read that garbage.  But one thing is certain, this is an awesome figure!
Compared to the OTHER great figure line of today, MOTUC, he has them beat.  Shame on Mattel!  They could sell MOTUC figures in comics stores for a comparable price.  I mean Diamond is not even mainly a toy company!  
Deadpool has triple the accessories of most MOTUC figures, he is taller and even more hefty, he came with a diorama stand.  Mattel says they cannot sell their figures for less than the $28 plus shipping.  This just proves them wrong.  I do not know there deal on the amount they produce, but it could definitely sell better at comic stores.  They are holding out on us collectors!
I saw a Juggernaut Marvel Select figure at the Tangled Web last night.  Same price.  $25!  That figure was three times the size of a MOTUC figure.  In fact, Three times the size of Deadpool!  Granted, it didn’t come with as much other swag, but still.
I think I found my next toy, if they make a Thor.  Or Wolverine.  (The Spider-Man looked kind of small…and came with a big ruined car.  I just don’t think that is as great.  Maybe a Spider-Man and Hobgoblin!)

LOOOONG HIATUS!

Sorry to keep you all waiting.

Lots has happened since May 16, (My last post.)  And I am rethinking a few things.  One of them is the whole “secret identity” thing……

Should I kill Batman, or Bruce Wayne?  Should I become “Joe Clark, Fireman?”  Should I walk away, SpartanNerd’s back facing the sun?  (All three famous references.  Did you get them?)

Maybe we should co-exist, sort of like Iron Man/ Tony Stark.  This is what I am thinking.

First of all, why the long break from the blog.

I tried a giveaway.  No One Wanted What I Got.  So it seemed.  Serious discouragement.  Were all of the hits that Google showed me really non-traffic?  Next problem?  Handicapped MacBook Pro.  This one is reworking itself, however.  I type this entry on the eight year old iMac that my mother got me eight years ago.  This Beast Machine is pretty slow, but we are old friends.  And it is not handicapped in the way that the MacBook Pro is after the Great Fall.  Still, the iMac is not my favorite way to write. I have an iPhone and an iPad mini, but those are more for play than work.

So this brings me to the question.  Should I publicize this blog to my family and friends?  Pester the folks I know of FaceBook?  Promote myself on places like Pop Culture Network and He-Man.org?

Soul Searching….It’s what I have to do.

In the meantime, here’s what I’ll be writing about soon, all things which have happened.

Man of Steel
He-Man and the Masters of the Universe ongoing series
Magic Core Set 2014
Mega Man NT trading card game
Batman: Year Zero
Trinity War
Deadpool
Thoughts on “Batman and …….”
“Aquaman” Snore zzzzzzzz
MonsterCon
Spikor
Thoughts on the failure of Spider-Man
The Wolverine
Excitement for September reveals!
Superman?????

AND MUCH MUCH MORE!

Spider-Man #7, Vintage Comic Review

Spider-Man #6 and #7
     Today I will follow up yesterday’s Spider-Man #6 with a review of the final part of the story, Spider-Man #7.
In Issue #6, we saw that the hobgoblin has done something to the kid, and caused his face to change halfway into a similar face to his own.  Also, Hobgoblin has called Spider-Man “The Devil,” and the Ghost Rider is on his way…..
     In Issue #7, we begin with a scene where Spider-Man seems awestruck that the Hobgoblin is as evil and psycho as he is.  Spidey immediately puts the kid in the front of his mind.  The kid, says, “He sent my Mommy to Heaven.”  Obviously this kid is being brainwashed.
We get a splash page on pages 2 and 3, Ghost Rider busts in, screaming “EVIL!”   Spider-Man just says, “Is the whole world going nuts?”  Of course, Hobgoblin calls Ghost Rider, “Lucifer.”  He sees Spider-Man as the Devil, and Ghost Rider as Satan.  See the connection?  Then we get some narrator blurb, sort of odd for a Spider-Man comic.
Page 4, The Goblin and Ghost Rider are having it out.  Spider-Man is caring for the kid.  he says, “Does it hurt?”
Page 5, the Goblin aims to crash into Ghost rider head on with his sled.  So you turn the page past the advertisement for NBA Hoops cards…..
Page 6, a sort of half splash page.  Ghost Rider is a ghost, remember, the sled goes through him, but he is still able to grab it and damage it.  So what does Hobgoblin do?  He summons a demonic dragon to ride!  Spider-Man, not so quick to the draw, decides to attack, just as the Goblin makes this happen!
Page 7, Spiderman knocks the goblin’s block off.  Ghost Rider more or less talks down to Spidey.  He starts swinging his flaming chain, etc.
Page 8 and 9, we get some banter between Ghost Rider and Spider-Man.  Spider-Man blatantly calls the Ghost Rider a rookie, (in this continuity he is.)  Then Spider-Man heroically calls him on the carpet and reminds him that there is a victim present.  When he mentions the kid, Hobgoblin goes berserk!  He gets on his demon dragon thing and rams at Spider-Man and Ghost Rider.  Spider-Man tells him to cool it, the building is not sound enough to take the abuse they are doling out.
Page 10 and 11, Hobgoblin, having ghost rider on the end of his new ride like a cow catcher might have a cow, rams him through the roof and over the city, where they struggle.  Eventually, the Hobgoblin throws the Ghost Rider back down, sort of like the Ghost Rider did to that criminal in the last issue.  When he hits the ground, it is like an explosion!  Spider-Man says he is getting out with the kid, as Ghost Rider crawls out of the crater.
On Page 12, we get to see the Goblin flying over head, yelling “Repent, Repent.”  Ghost Rider and Spider-Man briefly discuss the Goblin, about how crazy he is.  Spider-Man goes on to give the detail that he has transformed into a REAL goblin.  That kid is still talking nice to the Goblin, etc.
On Page 13, Spider-Man drops the hammer on the kid.  He tells him to cool it.  We find out here that the boys name is “Adam,” an imprortant detail!  Spider-Man decides to dish out some expert hero stuff on the maniac.
On page 14 and 15, the Goblin does what he did in the last issue, sending rays of power in every direction as Spider-Man tries to make some progress.  The Goblin creates some distance between Spidey and himself, and grabs the boy.  We get a panel where we see the ghost rider revving his bike…..  The Goblin hugs the kid, as the Ghost Rider attempts to ram the Goblin from behind, notwithstanding that he is holding the victim!  Spider-Man stands nearly helpless, seeing the catastrophe ahead.
On page 16, we get action.  No dialogue, but some Narrator boxes.  “God Save Him.”  No.”  “Not God.”  Essentially, Spider-Man rescues the boy as he flies from the resulting imact.
On page 17 and 18 we see more hits on the Goblin, while Spider-Man secures the kid.  The boy says “mommy.”  Maybe some sense has been knocked into him now.  Ghost Rider keeps on dishing out the justice, but the Goblin is out cold.  I love the bottom of 18.  Spider-Man is in his most threatening pose, posturing towards the Ghost Rider.  He is pissed!  And he begins a tyrade about how the heroes are supposed to protect the victims.  Not hurt them more.  And the Ghost RIder’s priorities are out of line.
Page 19, the Ghost Rider leaves Spider-Man, not really swayed.  He is apparently angry that he couldn’t hurt the Goblin even more.
Page 20.  The final page of this story.  Spidey always seemed really big to me on this page.  And Adam seems so small in his arms.  We never find out what happens to this kid, as far as I know.  I wonder if McFarlane has anything to say about it in hindsight?
The Letters column is titled “Crawl-Space.”  Basically, readers are writing in commenting on Issues #1-#4.  The writers mostly speak positively of the new title.  One reader talks about the “scripting,” which I think means dialogue.  I love the dialogue in those first issues.  And think it is even better here in issues #6-#7. But this guy thinks McFarlane’s writing “sucks.”  Otherwise, another writer writes in to defend McFarlane.  Apparently some people had been critisising him from the outset.  But the reader says that people should give him a chance…..Mcfarlane only did about 15 of these issues.  (14?)  Then he left Marvel to form Image and Spawn.  I heard Mad Max say, “Todd McFarlane took Spider-Man, Ghost Rider, and Hobgoblin, combined all three to create Spawn.”  This is very true.  A few cues in the costume department from Spidey.  The cape and powers from hobgoblin, the story from Ghost Rider.  There you go!
Over the years, my books have faded a little.  I re-purchased these books, having sold them off several years back.  (This was my Father’s Day present about eight years ago.)  McFarlane’s use of shadows and lighting is for the most part very masterful.  And you can see many details on the page that comics artists don’t always go the extra mile for.  Little jokes, like the Batman Pumpkin Bombs in Issue #6, and Spider’s all over Issue #1, etc, shows that he also had a good sense of humor in his work.  (I wonder if there was a bet about the Pumpkin Bombs?)  Some people think McFarlane has an anime style.  I disagree with this.  His art is his own style.  It doesn’t remind me of anime at all.  Doe anyone look line a Gundam pilot?  Or Yu-Gi-Oh?  Nope.  There are some ray blasts and things that might remind you of Dragon Ball Z, but aren’t these kinds of things in virtually all comics.

I think these books are like a good movie.  They seem to be a screenplay, the way scenes fade in and out, etc.  In later Spider-Man books, in the “Stan’s Soapbox” segments and all, we hear the first rumors of a Spider-Man movie.  We would later see this fall apart a few times, until the Tobey Maguire movies finally took off with sony in the early 2000’s.  (Wow, these were good!)  Another digression!  sorry!

The nerd just flows out of me sometimes!

I measure all comics by these two books.  So in the future if I am referenceing these books when I do a comics review, don’t be surprised!

“Fishy, Fishy!”

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!”