7/25/2009

American Son Conclusion and Amazing Spider-Man #600


A few weeks back I did a write up about how amazing the first four issues of the American Son storyline in Amazing Spider-Man was. I just picked up the final issue and the conclusion is everything it was led up to.

Without giving away too many spoilers (be careful from here on in) the final chapter is a knock-down, drag-out battle between the Osborns. Harry finally proves to Norman that he is exactly opposite of what Norman thought of him. Norman assumed his son to be weak, powerless, and a failure of a son. In American Son, however, Harry shoves Norman’s words up his ass. Harry uses his new-found power to beat his father into submission, only stopping when Spider-Man convinces him to kill his father. Harry takes the moral high ground by ignoring Spider-Man’s prodding, and instead casts off all relation to his father, and his heritage.

This was the blow up that has been coming for some time. Having seen Harry in the past, the reader knows that he is anything but weak. His time as the Green Goblin has proved that. But even in recent issues, as Harry has been leading a normal life, it can be seen that he is a strong person. His desire to make his own way in life and not live in his father’s shadow, for instance. Even though Norman sees this as weakness, it isn’t. It’s easy to live off the purse-strings of a parent, especially when that parent is as wealthy as Norman Osborn. But to strike off on your own and earn your way through life, as opposed to having it handed to you on a platter, is a strength that is unparalleled. Being a murderous, blood-thirsty villain is not the epitome of strength, as Norman believes.

The issue ends on a high note, in my opinion. By the end of the team-up with Spider-Man, Harry has the opportunity to discover Spider-Man’s true identity. But he does not use his chance to learn the secret that could help him in his quest to destroy him. Instead, he respects Spider-Man’s privacy and allows him to leave with his secret intact. Though this does not mean the hatchet is buried between the two, but it is a step closer to allowing Harry to forgive Spider-Man for his perceived transgressions. Perhaps, the Spider-Office has a plan to have Peter reveal his identity to his best friend, or maybe something will happen that will reignite the ire that Harry holds for the webslinger. Either way, I’m sure the creative team at Marvel will make one hell of a story out of it.

All in all, American Son is the story I have been waiting for since Brand New Day. I have been feeling like the reboot of the Spider-Man title was a bit of a cop out. The stories that followed have been less that spectacular, just reasons to create new villains for Spider-Man to face. And some of these new villains were more than a little irritating (I’m still annoyed at the whole Anti-Venom thing.) So to see a classic bad-guy like Norman Osborn rear his head again was a refreshing change of pace. Seeing Spider-Man’s mental aguish at himself for not killing Norman all those years ago is the type of story-telling that only Marvel can do. And to have him even consider the option, like he does at the end of American Son shows the set of balls that Marvel has, since Spider-Man has always been that character who will not resort to murder.

Speaking of classic villains, Amazing Spider-Man #600 hit stores this past Wednesday. With the hype that was built up around it from the folks at Marvel, it was an issue that I couldn’t wait to pick up. To celebrate the milestone, Marvel gives its fans one hundred and four pages of all new material, with no advertisements. This is the kind of thing that doesn’t happen very often in the comics industry. Not very many comic books have made it to the 600 mark, so Marvel celebrated it with style.

The main story featured the return of Doctor Octopus, with a few new changes. Doc Ock takes it upon himself to imprint his brainwaves into every machine in New York City, but his subconscious is bent on destroying Spider-Man for thwarting his plans all of these years. The city turns on Spider-Man man, forcing the wall-crawler to enlist the help of his super-powered friends, such as the New Avengers and the Fantastic Four.

Oh, and all of this happens just as Aunt May is about to marry J. Jonah Jameson Sr.

Though the main story was good, it just paled in comparison to the follow up stories. The first was a humerous look at all of the strange transformations of Spider-Man through the years, written by the creator of the Marvel comics himself, Stan Lee. The story features Spidey as his multi-armed self, in the black alien costume, as Spider-Hulk, as well as others, as he confesses his problems to a psychiatrist. Fast-paced and funny, it’s everything you would expect from Stan Lee. And Marcos Martin’s art puts a beautiful touch to the story.

I won’t go through every back-up story in the issue, but there are two others that stick out in my mind. The first was a touching admission of failure, which doesn’t feature Spider-Man in a single page. It’s about Uncle Ben and his relationship with a young Peter. It talks about how he came to be Peter’s guardian and the steps he took to raise the young boy. The story is very sentimental, but in a good way. Readers rarely get the chance to see the past from Uncle Ben’s point of view, so to do so, and see the early stages of Peter’s and Ben’s relationship is both interesting and a thankful change of pace.

The last story also does not feature Spider-Man, but instead sets the stage for the next year of storytelling in Amazing Spider-Man. Written by Joe Kelley, who also wrote American Son, the final story features Madame Web, who has some disturbing visions of the future. It is so short that anything more I say will just ruin it, so let me just say that it’s a great ploy by Marvel to whet the appetites of their fans.

I totally cannot see what 2010 has in store for The Amazing Spider-Man.

7/22/2009

The Colony

I just gained a little respect for reality television.

Last night saw the premiere of “The Colony” on the Discovery Channel. I hadn’t heard about this show prior to seeing a commercial for it during “Deadliest Catch,” but I was quickly intrigued. The premise behind the show is in a post-apocalyptic world, 10 survivors have to make due for 10 weeks, foraging for whatever they can and living with no amenities besides what their skills can supply them.

The show’s contestants were isolated for 30 hours with no sleep and little nourishment and sent out to find food for themselves before searching out shelter. They wind up in a 50,000 square foot warehouse, which they will call home for the next two and a half months. They have to scour for food and water and whatever tools they can find. But, in addition to that, they have to fend off the aggression of a biker gang who are looking to take what they have.

The amount of detail put into the show by the producers is astounding. The desolation that is Los Angeles is something out of a movie, and it feels real. It’s so real that it seems almost as if you are watching news footage after a cataclysmic event. Discovery called on the help from experts in Homeland Security, psychology, and engineering to design a world that looks and feels like a truly destroyed world. So much has been put into the show that it is less “Reality TV” and more “Social Experiment.” How will normal people who are used to free-flowing electricity, running water, and a Piggly Wiggly every few blocks fare in a world where none of that exists? It becomes an interesting case study into the human psyche.

The people that they chose are from all walks of life; doctor, engineer, general contractor, martial arts expert. You can tell that they were each chosen for the knowledge that they have, in hopes that they can bring something to the table to help the team survive. This is where I’m a little skeptic of the show. Everyone has a necessary skill that it seems like they can’t fail. I feel that they should have picked at least one “average Joe” guy, or girl, with no discernible expertise. The social experiment would fly with someone like that, seeing how that person would contribute anything, showing how far the human spirit would go to survive. Throughout the show, these experts chime in on what the group is doing and why they are reacting as they are. It gives some insight into who we are as a species and how quickly survival instincts resurface after years of dormancy.

Although, I can foresee some bad things happening later in the show. Out of the 10 survivors, only 6 of them were allowed into the colony at the beginning. A day later, the remaining four were sent out to find shelter. The problem was, both parties had been ignorant of the other. When the second group got to the Colony, they were met with hostility by the first group, who greeting them with metal pipes and suspicion. Even when the biker gang stole their food in the beginning, I don’t know how they were able to retrain themselves from causing harm to the thieves. Though they state that everything feels so real that their perceptions are beginning to blur, there is clearly a distinct line between reality and fantasy. So far, none of them have crossed that line, but it would be interesting to see someone do so.

I’ve never been a huge fan of shows on the Discovery Channel, but I think “The Colony” has changed that. For once, a show manages to put together a good principle and ties it together with deep, psychological study. With the way the world is now, many people would believe that a catastrophe is looming, and life in “The Colony” will soon be more science than fiction. If that’s true, then I’ll continue to tune in just so I have some pointers when the end of the modern world does come. I’ll be ready, assuming, at least, that I survive the first wave of destruction.

7/21/2009

Batman: The Brave and the Bold


I have always had a lot of respect for cartoons based on DC characters. From the days of “Superfriends” to the new “The Batman,” the animation team at Warner Brothers has rarely let me down. And following in their fine tradition, DC gives us “Batman: The Brave and the Bold.”

If you are a comic book fan, then you know the origins of “The Brave and the Bold.” The original series began in 1955 and continued through 1983. The first stories acted as a spotlight for random super heroes, including Robin Hood and Silent Knight, but it eventually found its focus with Batman, teaming the Caped Crusader with other DC heroes. Though the title fell into obscuring, it was resurrected in 2007, and concentrated less on Batman and more on the team ups of the other heroes (although Batman did appear in the first storyarc of the new series.) The new series featured a number of great writers in the industry, including Mark Waid, Marv Wolfman, and Dan Jurgens. With so much great writing and the popularity of the series, it’s no surprise that DC would option the premise for a cartoon series.

The first episode I watched featured Batman teaming up with Blue Beetle and the Huntress. What I like most about the show is that they use lesser known super heroes, and are not just constantly throwing the likes of Superman and the Flash at as. Even though writers can make some interesting stories with the characters, but if you are always using the heavy hitters, it just gets too easy. When you throw Superman and his God-like abilities into the mix, there is no sense of danger for the heroes. And Batman becomes a secondary regardless.

One of the most attractive things about the show is the animation itself. The look of the characters are very sleek and stylish; they are a far cry from the nineties’ “Batman: The Animated Series,” but that is in no way a criticism. I enjoy the bright colors. I also like the blending of current cartoon sequences and the fun campiness of the past. Batman in this series looks more like Adam West than any other Batman incarnation. To add to the campy nature, the Batmobile even transforms into a Mecha-Robot. A lot of people would be turned off by this, but I find that it adds to the fun.

The writing is also witty as hell. All of the situations the heroes find themselves in unravel in a very fluid way, showing that the writers know and care about these characters. The snappy dialogue is enough to warrant a few laughs, even if the audience finds nothing else positive about the show (just imagine Blue Beetle uttering the phrase “I’m sorry but your hotness distracted me” in the midst of peril. How can you not laugh at that?)

Another benefit of the show is the voice casting. There are quite a few big names doing the voices for these characters, the most notable being Diedrich Bader as Batman. I was quite surprised to learn about Bader lending his voice talents as the Dark Knight, having seen him in “The Drew Carey Show” and Office Space. In addition to him, you have Kevin Michael Richardson, who voiced the Joker in “The Batman” and Bishop in “Wolverine and the X-Men,” as well as Will Friedle, better known as Terry McGinnis in “Batman Beyond.” Even Paul Ruebens, a.k.a. Pee Wee Herman, makes an appearance (well, his voice does, at least.) Talent oozes from every episode of the show that it becomes exciting to learn who I will hear next.

When I first heard about “Batman: The Brave and the Bold” I didn’t expect much. I just kind of thought it was another Batman cartoon, of which there have been plenty over the years. When I finally found the time to sit down and watch it, however, I kicked myself for not getting into it sooner. The show may not win any awards for writing or animation, but it is definitely a fun ride. I may be wrong about the awards thing, and I hope I am, because “Batman: The Brave and the Bold” deserves as much recognition as it can get. I can’t wait to see what’s in store in future episodes.

“Batman: The Brave and the Bold” airs Saturdays at 10:30 AM on Cartoon Network.

7/19/2009

I’m beginning to think of the Kings of Leon as the Wyld Stallyns.

Now I realize that most everyone won’t get that reference, so let me explain.

In the movie Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Bill and Ted are a couple of slackers who concentrate more on their music than on their studies. Because of this, their academic future is in jeopardy, causing Ted’s father to threaten him with military school if he doesn’t clean up his act and get his grades up. It is after we learn this that Rufus makes his appearance and offers them the time-travelling phone booth. The purpose of the phone booth is to help Bill and Ted travel through history to learn about it first hand, giving them the knowledge they need to write their history final, which is to be read in front of the entire school, including the students and faculty.

Anyway, as you probably know, hijinx ensue as the two visit different eras and interact with famous figures, such as Billy the Kid and Socrates. But they gather up these heroes from history and pass their final exam.

But why was their passing history class so important?

As Rufus explains, if the two of them fail, then Ted will go to military school, an action that would split up their band, Wyld Stallyns. Rufus goes on to say that the music of the Wyld Stallyns has become so important to the future because of the way it unites society. Under their music, the future becomes of one mind, and everyone lives in peace. But, if Bill and Ted were to be separated, then Wyld Stallyns would not exist in the future, and there would be no unity.

Hearing a lot of the buzz concerning the band Kings of Leon, I feel that there is a definite connection between them and the Wyld Stallyns. Though the Kings of Leon have been around for years, they have recently been given a lot of exposure, with two popular songs playing on the radio, as well as their recent appearance on the MTV Movie awards. What I find staggering is that it seems everyone I talk to has a high opinion of the group.

Now, this is not an official survey or anything, but the Kings of Leon have been well received by many different people. This is somewhat surprising because popular bands tend to have their nay-sayers; peoples taste vary so not everyone will enjoy a particular genre of music. However, it seems that the Kings of Leon are immune to such variances. Once people hear “Use Somebody,” they tend to enjoy it.

As I said, I haven’t done an official survey, so I may be wrong. Perhaps I’m just reading too much into the popularity of a band that I’m somewhat partial to. Or maybe the Kings of Leon will be the catalyst to lead our society into a Utopia.

7/16/2009

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Originally slated to be released in November of 2008, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was pushed back eight months. Why? Maybe Warner Brothers felt that Harry and Company could contend to be a summer blockbuster. Another answer is that Warner Brothers was afraid of a different book to movie adaptation featuring a hunky vampire and the girl who falls in love with him. Either way, fans of the film were forced to endure close to a year’s wait to see the sixth film in the series. Was the wait worth it? Depends on who you ask.

I’ll admit, I was a little excited to see Half-Blood Prince. I was never a big Harry Potter fan when the books came out. I didn’t really get into it even when the movies started being made. But right after the last book was released, I decided to see what all the fuss was about, and I read the entire series. I read all seven books in the span of three weeks, and I found I enjoyed them. Not so much the first few, but the later stories were very exciting. They had a darkness that I didn’t expect, and the characterization was so deep that it became apparent to me that Harry Potter deserved the adoration that he received.

Which is why I’m a little sad to say that the film version of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince didn’t tickle my fancy as I hoped it would.

The movie clocked in at around two and a half hours. Most of that was spent on silly teen love stories. The relationship between Harry and Ginny Weasley begins to blossom in the film, but doesn’t really come to a head. There is a brief moment of tenderness, some assumptions made on Harry part, but most of the time they spend pining for each other. The real let down, however, is the Ron/Hermione/Crazy Girl love triangle. Anyone who has read the books knows the fate of Ron and Hermione. But the build up of that romance is so drawn out that it just becomes repetitive. I felt the time in the film would have been better spent concentrating on the perceived resentment toward Ron that Harry feels, with Ron being put in a position of power as a prefect. But that aspect of the book never sees the light of day in the film. The writer and director chose to concentrate solely on Ron and Hermione, which should have been given some screen time, but not as much as it did. My girlfriend and I actually discussed this point during the final credits, with her argument being that it was necessary to include all of this so that the characters can arrive at the point they need to be by the end of the series. But my point is that by doing this, there is no further characterization with Ron. Granted, we see Hermione’s emotions from the get-go, but Ron is so oblivious to her feelings that he comes off like a stooge, and this is not how I remember him from the book.

The last hour of the movie was as good as the later chapters of the book. Harry and Dumbledore set out on a quest to find Voldemort’s weakness, which ends in tragedy. Though I began to nod off in the earlier parts of the movie, I was wide awake toward the end. The film translation is almost exactly as it was in the book, and I loved it. From the creepy sea of skeletons to the trap hiding the horcrux to the final fate of Dumbledore. Just about perfect.

What I enjoyed the most about the movie was the way Draco Malfoy was portrayed. In the first five films, Draco is, for lack of a better word, a dick. He is a rich, arrogant kid whose father is a very powerful man, and he makes sure everyone knows this. He strives to follow in his father’s footsteps, despite knowing that his father may have a few evil tendencies. In Half-Blood Prince, Draco is charged with a very important task by Voldemort himself. But he has difficulty fulfilling that task. Given everything we know about the character from before, it is strange to see him struggle so much. Though his hesitance is faithful to the character from the book, Tom Felton plays the boy with such emotion and power that it becomes a sight to see on screen.

I was also greatly disappointed by the underuse of Neville Longbottom. I know I’m strange for saying this, but Neville is my favorite character in the series. Every since he won the House Cup for Gryffindor in the first film, I have been a fan of the gangly, goofy, ne’er-do-well. And to see him relegated to the status of cater waiter was an insult to his true inner strength. They better, better, give him the screen time and proper history in Deathly Hollows. His story is so emotion and powerful that it needs to be told.

I feel my opinion on the film is irrelevant. If you like Harry Potter, you will enjoy this movie. If you don’t then, honestly, it could go either way. The film was well made, and the effects were certainly top-notch. Maybe I am alone in my opinion that it should have taken a different direction for the first half. But I felt that the faithful translation of the final events more than makes up for the earlier deviations. And as long as Book 7 is translated as loyally, then at least I won’t be let down then.

7/13/2009

Natalie Portman comes to Thor!

Marvel announced today that Natalie Portman has been cast as Jane Foster in the big-screen adaptation of Thor.

I couldn’t be more excited. Natalie Portman is probably one of the finest actresses ever to grace the silver screen. Having her in this film adds much more depth to the production. Not to mention that I’m a hell of a lot more excited about it.

You can read all about the Thor production as well as a little bit of Portman’s resume. According to the article, she will be appearing with Chris Hemsworth, who will star as Thor, and Tom Hiddleston, who will play the Trickster God, Loki.

Now that the major roles have been cast, I’m interested in learning a little more about the film. I can’t wait to see the costume designs as they continually leak to the internet, as well as hearing snippets of plot details. I was never a big Thor fan, but recent comic book events, as well as other appearances in some of Marvel’s animated films, have piqued my interest in the character.
I’m also looking forward to see how this film relates to Marvel’s final endgame, when all of their film’s characters culminate into a huge Avengers film. Finally, Marvel is able to do the film thing right. DC always had the option of doing big character crossover movies because they are owned by Warner Brothers. Yet they opted out of having film continuity. Marvel, on the other hand, isn’t afraid to make five or six films to introduce their characters before they make the team-oriented movie. Once again, you have to see how, throughout all of their troubles in the past, Marvel has been able to succeed in the industry.

Thor is set to be released on May 20, 2011.

7/11/2009

Google's Plan For A New OS

An article in the New York Post the other day talked a little about Google’s plan to create an operating system for PCs. Most of the article dealt with the hardships the search company will face in implementing such a major undertaking.

The operating system will be based on their Chrome web browser, which I admit I am ignorant of its functionality. The problem, according to the NYPost, is that computer manufacturers, such as Hewlett Packard and Dell, may be hesitant to use the software on its products. I can certainly see the logic in this. Windows has been the standard on PCs for years. Why change what is working? My feeling, however, is that giving people a choice makes them more comfortable in their decision to purchase.

Most people don’t know their ass from their elbows when it comes to computers. They have been using Windows for as long as they have had a computer, so they most likely won’t see any reason to switch. However, the number of people that want something new may be enough to warrant using the Google Chrome OS. Why? Because they realize that Microsoft has problems. I for example, refuse to upgrade to Vista, mostly because of the aesthetics. I hate the way it looks.
The only other choice out there is Apple, and the price of their computers is what keeps me away, as I am sure it does most other people. Why pay $1200 for a computer when I can get one with similar specs for half that? But I would like to have a choice in an OS.

Personally, I hate both Microsoft and Google. In my opinion, I think that Google is trying to bite off more than they can chew in the past couple of years. But, if what they are trying to achieve can give Microsoft a run for their money, then I’m all for it. Microsoft does what they want because there is no competition. Show of hands of people who are completely satisfied with Vista. Not many, I can assure you. Will Microsoft make any changes based on customer feedback? Probably not, and why should they? They did away with sales of XP so all that’s left is Vista, until Windows 7 is released in a few months. And I’m even more scared of that.

I don’t feel Google’s biggest hurdle is the hardware. I feel it’s the software. Computer programs have to be compatible with an operating system; we have all seen the Windows Version/ Mac Version. Will software companies be willing to develop programs for Chrome? Is there a market fr it? That is the real issue.

Look at one of the biggest selling computer programs out there; the Microsoft Office package. Will Microsoft develop an Office Suite that is compatible with Chrome? Not likely. Why would they want to feed their competition. But Microsoft is whores. They did eventually create an Office Suite to run on a Macintosh, who is their only competitor at the moment. They saw that there was a big enough market to warrant the production, and they are making money on the decision. So, if Google Chrome’s following is large enough, then they will. And other software manufacturers will follow suit, if they do not lead the way.

The whole situation is a Catch-22. I can see computer companies offering the new OS. There is no reason Dell can’t allow their customers the choice, being that many of their computers are custom built. But until the OS takes off somewhat substantially, then there won’t be much to do on the computers that run it. What good is a computer with no software? And until the software issue is resolved, many people will stay away from Chrome.

I’m happy for the plan Google has. I want a choice. I’m tired of being a slave to Microsoft. A little competition never hurt anyone, and it’s about time someone stepped up to challenge the giant that is Microsoft.

7/09/2009

X-Men and Philosophy

The other day I purchased X-Men and Philosophy, another outstanding addition to the popular book series that finds philosophical meaning in many of the pop culture items that surround us, such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Sopranos, and Batman. Having read a few of these, one of which being the Super Heroes and Philosophy, I decided that a book like this concentrating on my favorite group of heroes would be a good way to pass the time.

For the most part, the essays in the book are really good. One of them concerns the character of Wolverine and the idea of personal Identity. Another involves Jean Grey and the morality of suicide. The majority of the essays is well-written and thought provoking. However, there is one that made me cringe.

The essay is called X-Women and X-istence and it was written by Rebecca Housel. In it, she discusses the existentialism in a few of the female mutants. The essay starts off in a logical sense, discussing the existence of Jean Grey as it relates to her essence, much of the way Jean Paul Sartre described. Housel goes on the talk about Rachel Summers and Wanda Maximoff and everything seems to go smoothly, though I am beginning to see some flaws in her arguments. It wasn’t until she began to dissect Mystique that her credibility really plummeted. Housel’s rationale of who Mystique really is concerning her character is so riddled with clich├ęs that it becomes almost unreadable. Besides the fact that none of her arguments are accompanied by defining examples, her writing turns really sloppy. Yes, Mystique can “slither out of bad situations” and “live to fight another day,” but what in her past has shown that? I can name many examples, but I am also a comic book fanatic. This book should not have been written for people like me, but for people who know very little about the characters, and thus educate them on the X-Men. I can, and have, have conversations just like this one with others who share my knowledge, so to write to someone like me is senseless. By not providing proof to her claims, Housel comes off as a two-bit writer who doesn’t know her subject well enough.

She describes Mystique as a ‘person’ who makes “bad faith” decisions. The idea of a “bad faith” decision comes from Sartre, and it implies that a person will deceive themselves when it comes to the truth. That person knows the truth, but ignores it. What Housel doesn’t realize about Mystique is that she believes what she knows, so there is no self-deception involved. Mystique firmly believes that her actions are justified, despite what others tell her. The X-Men are wrong for fighting for the weaker humans, not Mystique for fighting for herself. She doesn’t do the things she does to benefit mutants; she does them to benefit herself. A better philosophical analogy for Mystique would be to compare her to Ayn Rand and her justification of selfishness. The hero of Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged, John Galt, exemplifies the idea of selfishness, and that the idea of self-sacrifice is illogical. There is no “bad faith” in Mystique, but there is plenty of self-serving goals.

As I kept reading the essay, I got more annoyed when Housel came to Rogue and Shadowcat. These are two of my favorite X-Women, so her two-dimensional descriptions of these two characters damn near infuriated me. Rogue, in the writers mind, is comparable to Sisyphus, the mythological hero who must roll a boulder up a hill everyday, only to have it roll back down, and repeat the process for eternity. I had to scratch my head at this analogy. Yes, I agree that Rogue’s power is a curse and not a blessing. She cannot enjoy the touch of another human being. But I hardly would compare her suffering to Sisyphus. I wouldn’t look at Rogue in terms of existentialism; the wisest philosophers in the past could not have considered a creature such as Rogue, so likely nothing has been spoken about her condition. Rogue can be described in terms of Karl Jung’s archetypes. I would think Rogue fits more along the lines of The Wanderer. This webpage gives a list of archetypes used for characters, and it describes the wanderer as “an invisible barrier stands between the mind of Man and the Mind of God.” If we consider Rogue’s power as the invisible barrier and human contact as being the ‘Mind of God’ this would be an accurate description. Granted I understand that Jung’s theory of archetypes is psychological, not philosophical, but my comparison still holds.

Shadowcat is also given a half-assed philosophical treatment. Housel concentrates on the Days Of Future Past storyline, in which a future Kate Pryde sends her consciousness into the mind of a young Kitty Pryde, in order to stop an event that causes the downfall of mutant kind. She describes Kitty in a way that Jose Ortega y Gasset calls a ‘substantial emigrant on a pilgrimage of being.” As Housel explains, this idea is that people have no set nature at birth. It is through the events of life that we come to be the people we are. While this could be said of the older Kate Pryde, who had lived a full life and seen much destruction in her time, this is inaccurate of Kitty. True, the young girl is still in flux and her sense of self is still being shaped. But the author seems to focus on the older Kate when she makes her distinction, which is wrong. Kate Pryde sacrificed herself and her future by going to the past to change things. She did not want to see the events that made the hellish world she lived in come to pass, and by changing the past, she would alter her own perceptions and the events that shaped her. She would not have had to live through the imprisonment or destruction of her friends and colleagues. She would have had the chance to find a husband and start a family in peace. While Ortega’s ideal may hold true for Kitty and Kate Pryde, it becomes inaccurate to take the personality of Kate Pryde that we know, and apply it to Kitty.

While I greatly enjoy the idea behind the book of X-Men and Philosophy, I feel this essay is a major fault with the book. It will not keep me from reading on, nor will it keep me from purchasing other books in the same vein as this one in the future. But I think the writers and editors should have done a better job of conveying their opinions, as well as staying true to the ideas of the characters they write about. Of the eight or nine characters talked about in the book so far, these were the most off base. Thankfully, most of the philosophers understand their subjects. It is just a shame that Ms. Housel failed to follow the lead of her peers.

7/02/2009

American Son

Though I read comic books, I rarely get the chance to purchase them. I’m on a pull list at my local comic shop, but I only pick them up about once a month. That’s why, when I went this past Sunday, I was greeted with one hell of a surprise in the form of everyone’s favorite wall-crawler.

Tucked within my bag I found four issues of the Amazing Spider-Man, comprising the first four chapters of the ‘American Son’ storyline. Since the Spider-Man relaunch in ‘Brand New Day’ I have been very wary of the direction the character has taken. Marvel took a lot of liberties with Spider-Man, bringing him back to “his roots,” as they referred to it. But, to be honest, I wasn’t feeling it. I enjoyed the relationship that Peter Parker had with his wife, Mary Jane. I liked that Peter had become a teacher for a short time, and that he actually had to deal with a sense of personal responsibility for once. I felt that the ‘One New Day/Brand New Day’ sequence of events was a cop out for changing the things that Joe Quesada didn’t like about the character. And it showed in the resulting storylines. None of Spidey’s classic villains made an appearance, with the exception of a couple. Instead, Spider-Man faced off against some new bad guys, like Freak, Paper Doll, and Menace. While some of them were exciting, most of them were just dull. Even the storylines were unexciting, like Eddie Brock’s transformation into Anti-Venom. What the hell was that?

I was really beginning to lose my patience with the entire Spider-Office over at Marvel. Right up until I read Amazing Spider-Man # 595. The issue opened with an interaction between Peter Parker and Harry Osborn. Not since Harry returned at the beginning of “Brand New Day” have these two characters had such an intimate conversation, one that really belies the true friendship that they hold. And from there, the story gets better.

Later in the issue, Spider-Man has a heart-to-heart with Wolverine, in which he laments his decision to not kill Norman Osborn, despite the fact that he has had many chances over the years. This confession adds so much more intensity to Spider-Man than all of the stories over the last two years. Since the 1960s, Spider-Man has been one of those heroes that will not kill. He has seen a lot of death, and many of these deaths were caused by his inaction. Spider-Man has been given many chances and many reasons, but in the end, he chooses humanity over finality. So when Spider-Man confessed this regret to Wolverine, it really brought a lot out of him.

Not only this, but through the storyline, we see how far Spider-Man will go to expose Norman Osborn, who has become the most powerful man in the Marvel Universe, for the criminal that he is. (There will be spoilers coming up, so you may want to turn away if you haven’t read the story yet.)

Peter Parker is giving the idea to go into the depths of Osborn’s plan by going undercover. So he asks Reed and Susan Richards to create a suit that will mimic the powers of Venom, who is currently posing as Spider-Man on Osborn’s team of Avengers. After taking out Venom, Spider-Man slips into Avengers tower and Osborn’s plan starts to unravel itself. Until the Avengers realize that Venom is not really Venom.

Spider-Man is caught, and Norman reveals his plan to him, moments before he is set to kill him. However, Harry Osborn rushes in to save Spider-Man despite the hatred he feels for the hero. What’s spectacular about the rescue is that by doing so, Harry fulfills Norman’s plan by donning a suit of Iron Man-type armor made especially for him.

This story takes place in five chapters, and I have already read four of them. I cannot wait for the final part to be released, to see how this story ends. There have been a great many awesome writers and artist work on Amazing Spider-Man since Brand New Day, but never once have I been this enthralled by a storyline. I have to thank Joe Kelly for an excellent story that creates deepens the nature of a character that has been around for almost 50 years. This is a tough thing to do, but Mr. Kelly manages to make it happen. I also need to thank Phil Jiminez for the beautiful art throughout the series. Many artists have a tendency to draw things so dynamically that the action becomes difficult to follow. But Mr. Jiminez keeps everything straight forward, and still manages to keep the story exciting. It just shows that you do not need a hundred different angles within one page of story. And if you do, they you better know what the hell you are doing so you can pull it off correctly without making your audience puke.

I’ve never been one for trade paperbacks. I realize that they serve their purpose in that they collect a number of issues for people to catch up on a storyline. I’ve bought a few in the past to read stories that I missed. It also greatly annoys me that publishers have their writers write for trades. One single storyline that wraps up neatly after issue six will sell well as a trade paperback. I am a collector. When I buy an issue, I see no purpose in purchasing the trade. However, I might neglect that policy once the ‘American Son’ trade hits the stand. This is something that I would like on my bookshelf, instead of being buried within my collection. I will likely pull this story out every couple of months, and re-read the fantastic story put forth my Joe Kelly and Phil Jiminez.

For a while, I wondered how Marvel would bring Spider-Man into the folds of the Dark Reign. Sure, one of his oldest enemies is running the show, but the entire idea just seems beyond Spidey’s scope. Now, I see how the braintrust in the Marvel Offices works, and they managed to pull one big, beautiful, white rabbit from the hat once again.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...