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2nd book of the year I read.

One of the many blogs I read is News From ME. The ME being Mark Evanier. If you like musicals, comics, comedy, magic, show biz, Mark has one of those memories from all those areas and shares stories all the time. He’s a writer of books, comics, TV shows, it’d ben difficult to collect all his credits in one location. One of his credits was being an assistant to Jack Kirby…yes, THAT Jack Kirby.

When he said this book was being published, I pre-ordered is right away. When Mark speaks about a project I listen. When he mentions one he’s involved with, I pay attention.

I’ve been a comic fan for as long as I can remember. Mark wrote many of those comics I read as a kid. Mostly funny animal comics. I still remember an issue of the Hair Bear Bunch where everything on the menu of the restaurant they were at had cole slaw, so the one who disliked cole slaw decided to get a gumball and instead, got cole slow from the machine. It’s weird to think about things like that.

At any rate, when Mark mentioned that he had an essay in the books, even though I’d read so much about Mark’s time with Jack Kirby, I wanted to get this book.

Yes, I’ve read Fantastic Four many times over the year. I had the version that came with a record and that helped me learn to read. I read reprints, digital editions, and broken up versions. I’ve seen this comic many times. But never like this.

The creators got a hold of an original Fantastic Four #1 in near mint condition and did high quality scans of the pages. They blew up each panel giving it a page of its own. The entire comic is in the back in its original size on the pages. Also included are essays, one being by Mark. It’s amazing to see the up-close detail in the panels and see the coloring and letting. Beyond that, the amazing art Kirby created when almost nothing like this existed. As Mark says in his essay, this book changed comics forever.

It’s true.

Movie Review: Spiderman (May contain spoilers)

Yes, yes. I was one of those detractors that said “It’s too early for a reboot.” I huffed, I puffed, and no one listened. Even though I liked the first two Spiderman movies, I really didn’t like the third and the more I thought about it the first two were okay at best. With the way they’ve gone with the more recent Marvel movies (Iron Man, Thor, Captain America) I was hopeful that the Spiderman reboot would follow in their footsteps and do more character development rather than plot development. I’ve seen too many movies that rush things for the sake of plot rather than let the story unfold in a way that makes more sense.

As a Viewer: This movie takes its time unfolding. It’s not as slow as the start of Captain America, but it does take a good amount of time to build up the characters in the film and their relationships. We get some insight to Peter’s parents (something we haven’t seen much of even in the comics) and Flash Thompson is a big jerk that we’ve grown to know over the years. One of my favorite things is that we get Gwen Stacey. For those who’ve read the comics over the years, Gwen was Peter’s first true love (let’s not talk about Betty Brant). I was disappointed in the first Spiderman movies when they moved straight on to Mary Jane. So this was my first happy surprise.

I wasn’t disappointed that they went, again, with the genetically modified spider. The original was radio active, but I got over that with the first movie. This one made far more sense and Peter’s being at Oscorp made more sense. Gwen working there was a little confusing, but it made enough sense that I didn’t mind. The movie took a good long time to get Peter into his spiderman costume and his hunt for Ben’s killer leading him down the path he went made more sense than the original comic where he found the guy and that was that. In fact this piece never gets resolved and I wonder if that will be revisited in later movies. I’m hopeful.

Dr. Conners. The Lizard. There were some parallels between him and the Green Goblin in the first movie, but the Lizard was done so much better AND *MAJOR SPOILER* He isn’t killed. It always bothered me that in the super hero movies they felt the need to kill off the main villain. Only at the end do we get a glimpse of Norman Osbourne and throughout the movie we keep hearing how he’s close to death. This leads me to believe that we’ll be seeing more of him in the next movie. I’ve also heard rumblings that we’ll be getting a Venom movie in the future as well. I can only hope they stick with it this time and let things play out slower in the movies and build better. Based on how well things went with all the other Marvel movies and the build up to the Avengers, I think they’ve found a winning formula.

As a Writer: This movie stunk on ice.

Ok, I’m kidding. I had a blast watching this movie. As I’ve noted above they did a great time building up the characters and you actually cared when someone died. It wasn’t flash, bang, dead and you didn’t even know who died or why and it didn’t matter to the story much at all. In the reboot things take their time and with a tight plot and good characterization we get a movie that’s well laid out and leads you from a logical beginning to a mostly logical conclusion. Why can’t we get a regular movie like this instead of movies like Avatar and Prometheus?

Recommendation: If you ever read a Spiderman comic as a kid this is the movie you’ve been waiting years for. This one finally got (in my mind) it right. Even if you haven’t read a spiderman comic in your life, this is still a good movie that will do the slow build up and then leave you on the edge of your seat waiting to see what’s going to happen next. No one is safe. Peter is a reckless teen and his actions, although well intended, don’t always have the desired outcome. That adds a little bit of reality to the movie and helps with the suspension of disbelief even when the life a street with cranes in a matter of minutes (the only thing that annoyed me about the movie).

Go see it. You’ll enjoy it.