Spider-Man, and other films, non-MCU

ANOTHER iteration?

The_Amazing_Spider-Man_theatrical_posterI started watching the movies in what was eventually labeled the Marvel Cinematic Universe back when it started in in 2008. Now for those of you NOT seeped in these things, not every Marvel character that appeared in a movie this century is an MCU film.

For convoluted aesthetic and licensing reasons, the films with the X-Men, Fantastic Four, Blade, and Deadpool films, among others, are not part of the canon. The Spider-Man films in 2002/2004/2007 and 2012/2014 are not MCU. But the recent ones with Tom Holland, including Captain America: Civil War and the last two Avengers films, ARE MCU. Got that? There will be a test.

Despite having had collected comic books for over a quarter-century, primarily Marvel products – and I still own some Marvel Masterworks books – I hadn’t watched all that many of the films. Before I tackle the MCU, I thought I’d check to see which ones of the other Marvel films I’ve seen.

Howard the Duck (1986) – the movie was previewed in Albany in a movie theater, sponsored by FantaCo, the comic book store where I worked. I related to the “trapped in a world that he never made” description in the comic book, which also transferred to the film. It was roundly panned, and perhaps deservedly so. Yet I had an odd fondness for it.

Fantastic Four (1994 – unreleased) – at some point in the 2010s I saw this, possibly on YouTube. It was not very good. In fact, it was so awful, it was mildly enjoyable.

Friendly, neighborhood…

Spider-Man (2002) and Spider-Man 2 (2004) . These are the ones starring Tobey Maguire. I saw the first one in a cinema, the second at a resort in the Berkshires. Never saw the third one. I liked the first two enough to get them on DVD.

X2 (2003) – I watched in a hotel in Oneonta on New Year’s Eve many years back. Maybe because I didn’t see the first X-Men film, it didn’t make as much sense as I thought it should.

Fantastic Four (2005) – I thought Michael Chiklis was actually quite good in this. That is high praise since he was all but unrecognizable as The Thing. The rest of the story, as I recall, was pretty pedestrian. That’s necessary, I suppose for an introductory piece, but still… Never saw the follow-up.

The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) – for reasons I’ll explain soon, I have been watching a LOT of MCU movies this summer. So in early July 2020, I needed a palate cleanser before starting on Avengers: Infinity War.

Why did we need ANOTHER iteration of the web-slinger? I say that as someone whose favorite Marvel character is Peter Parker, the awkward young man with a secret.

Maybe we didn’t. But I felt Andrew Garfield was a credible Peter. And since the earlier Sam Raimi stories focused on his relationship with Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst), it seemed natural that the series deal with his first love, Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). Her internship with Osgood Corp may have been a bit too coincidental for my taste.

Still, I appreciated their relationship. Her father, the cop (Denis Leary) felt like a real dad, as did Peter’s uncle Ben (Martin Sheen). Aunt May (Sally Field) fretted a lot. If the villain was more tortured soul than actually evil (Rhys Ifans as Curt Connor/the Lizard), that would be in keeping with the comic book narrative.

Ultimately, I didn’t enjoy it as much as the films I had seen a decade and a half earlier. Still, it was time well-spent. I’m still warming up to the new Spider-Man. But that’s a story for another time.

Seven comic book covers I’m supposed to tout

The commercial and artistic success of the X-Men, specifically the issues done by Chris Claremont, John Byrne and Terry Austin, sucked me further into the Marvel Universe

fantasy_quarterlyI’ve been nominated by Eddie Mitchell, the Renaissance Geek, to post seven individual comic book covers that are significant to me to promote reading.

The rules say, “They are offered without comment in no particular order,” but I’m not particularly compliant. I’m also supposed to nominate someone else to take up the challenge if they’re a-mind to. So I nominate YOU because you KNOW you want to.

Fantasy Quarterly #1 – this is the first appearance of Elfquest. It was on crappy newsprint. Wendy and Richard Pini were VERY disappointed in it and decided they could do better themselves. They started WaRP Graphics which began a successful run of DIY.

The Pinis came up from the Mid-Hudson to FantaCo, the comic book store where I worked in Albany, and did regular store signings, quite possibly every one of the original 20 issues. I have to think that the Pinis’ success in part motivated Tom Skulan in FantaCo’s publishing adventures.

x-men137-phoenix-colossus

X-Men 137 – the commercial and artistic success of the X-Men, specifically the issues done by Chris Claremont, John Byrne and Terry Austin, sucked me further into the Marvel Universe. So much so that when FantaCo decided to publish a magazine about comic books, the X-Men were the obvious premiere topic.

Moreover, I was the editor of the X-Men Chronicles, soliciting the articles and the artwork. That included carrying a still wet cover by the late Dave Cockrum home on a train.

I compiled an index of X-Men appearances under the pseudonym Arro Verti, difficult in 1981 and it’d be overwhelming now. And I had to get the late Raoul Vezina to help create a Smilin’ Ed story related to the X-Men at the 11rh hour.

Amazing Spider-Man 121

Amazing Spider-Man #121 – my first Spider-Man comic book. I didn’t know that civilians died in these things. Reading back issues in Marvel Tales, plus the then-current issues. Spidey became my favorite Marvel character.

I bought every appearance he was in until in early 1990s, when Todd McFarlane was writing the title; mon Dieu, I HATED those stories and gave up after three or four issues.

Moreover, I edited the FantaCo Chronicles highlighting the webslinger, and I still believe it was the best issue I ever put together.

Hero_for_Hire_Vol_1_1

Luke Cage, Hero for Fire #1 – it was the first comic book I ever bought since I was a kid. Dragged to the local convenience store by some Piscean I still know, I was surprised to discover a black superhero. And since it was a #1, I didn’t need to learn the backstory.

Oh, I’m supposed to do seven of these? Maybe some other time. (I told you I wasn’t very good at following rules.)

Antics of comic books and film

Marvel can (and probably will) bring back the Fantastic Four, because, as someone who read the four-color items for three decades, almost nothing is permanent in the comic books.

FourEverI was, as noted, very happy that Jack Kirby, co-creator of the Marvel Universe (at worst) won his legal action with Marvel Comics. But it points out how much money must be involved, a rumored $30 million to the Kirby heirs.

It appears that Marvel Comics is cancelling the Fantastic Four comic book, one of its flagship titles, and it’s likely it’s because of too little money, not from the comic book, but from the movies.
Continue reading “Antics of comic books and film”

BOOK REVIEW: Using Content-Area Graphic Texts for Learning

Regarding the graphic novel: I remember when the title was first being bandied about in the 1980s, I hated them, because they seemed like large, squarebound comic books.

I’m someone who used to sell graphic novels in a comic book store, not a teacher. My wife IS a teacher, though, and was excited to see that I had received a review copy of Using Content-Area Graphic Texts for Learning.

Even Meryl Jaffe, co-author of this book, with Katie Monnin, mentioned in her blog that the title of this book is a bit of a mouthful. Basically, this should be called “Teaching with Graphic Novels.” Regardless of the name, this volume makes a convincing argument for using graphic novels in teaching math, language arts, social students, and science. More importantly, very early on, it makes the case, in the strongest terms, that the graphic novel is a legitimate teaching tool that broadens the educational palette for an increasingly diverse population.

Not that Meryl was always a believer. Continue reading “BOOK REVIEW: Using Content-Area Graphic Texts for Learning”

The X-Men Chronicles Cover: SOLD!

FantaCo had asked Wendy Pini to do the X-Men Chronicles cover. Wendy and Richard Pini were known for doing the Elfquest comic book, and had done a number of in-store signings. She called back on May 21, 1981, to decline, but she gave us Paty Cockrum’s number at Marvel so that we could contact her husband Dave.

From here.

Lot 92038 Dave Cockrum The X-Men Chronicles Painted Cover Original Art (FantaCo Enterprises, Inc. 1981)….
Auction: 2011 May New York Signature Vintage Comics & Comic Art Auction #7033

Auction Ended On: May 5, 2011
Item Activity: 12 Internet/mail/phone bidders
700 page views

Dave Cockrum The X-Men Chronicles Painted Cover Original Art (FantaCo Enterprises, Inc. 1981). This Bronze Age beauty is but the third Cockrum X-Men-themed cover we’ve offered to date. Most devoted 1980s Marvel fans will remember the Chronicles, which was packed with good information on the team and its creators. The X-Men issue sold 50,000 copies, a record for a fan magazine at the time.
As a note of provenance, our consignor, the publisher of this fan-favorite publication, bought this iconic cover directly from Cockrum after the issue was published. This mixed media masterwork has an image area of 10.5″ x 15.75″, and the piece has been matted to an overall size of 23.5″ x 19″. The art is in Excellent condition.
Cockrum, Dave: Dave Cockrum was born in Pendleton, Oregon, the son of an Air Force officer. After spending six years in the U.S. Navy, he moved to New York and accepted a job at Warren Publishing, his first professional work. After Warren, Cockrum became a background inker for Murphy Anderson at DC comics. Eventually, he got his first big break, landing the dream job of penciling the Legion of Superheroes. His groundbreaking work on The Legion’s character designs and costume changes lasted for over a decade. His tenure at DC was short lived however, as a dispute led him to work at Marvel. At the House of Ideas, Cockrum co-created, along with Len Wein, The New X-Men, the franchise that went on to give Marvel enormous financial success in the following decades, introducing such characters such as Colossus, Nightcrawler, Storm, and Mystique. He later went on to create the comic book, The Futurians, which had a short run as a monthly series and then as a trade paperback. In his later years he drew covers for the Blackhawk relaunch, and worked for Valiant, Defiant, Broadway and Claypool Comics. Dave Cockrum suffered from diabetes and finally succumbed to his illness on November 26th, 2006 . Comic Art
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I’ve told the story of this cover before:

FantaCo had asked Wendy Pini to do the X-Men Chronicles cover. Wendy and Richard Pini were known for doing the Elfquest comic book, and had done a number of in-store signings. She called back on May 21, 1981, to decline, but she gave us Paty Cockrum’s number at Marvel so that we could contact her husband Dave.

As editor of the publication, I had arranged with Dave, the artist who helped revive the X-Men, to have the cover drawn and sent up to us. Unfortunately, Dave got a little behind. So I took a train from Albany to NYC, to the Marvel offices, and met Dave. He gave me the painted cover – WHICH WAS STILL WET! He was very pleasant and apologetic. I carried the cover carefully on the subway back to the train station, then back up to Albany.
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So I have an odd emotional attachment to that cover. It’s not that I wanted to buy it, certainly not for $7,767.50. But it did hit my nostalgia bone.