Monday, November 20, 2017

SPIDER-MAN NEWSPAPER STRIP PART 9

DECEMBER 24th, 1979 – FEBRUARY 24th, 1980
FEBRUARY 25th, 1980 – MAY 24th, 1980
By Stan Lee & John Romita

Christmas of 1979 finds Peter Parker, as usual, with barely two nickels to rub together in a story arc the BEST OF SPIDER-MAN book called “Requiem for a Super Hero”. Embarrassed that all he can afford for Aunt May and Mary Jane are handkerchiefs, and sobered by Aunt May’s accumulating bills, Peter decides to cast off his costume, retire Spider-Man, and become Peter Parker full time.

But as usual, things don’t work out as planned for our hero. He goes looking for a job, but runs into the age old “experience required” trap. Peter discovers what I learned when I finished college many years ago: you can’t get a job without experience, and you can’t get experience without a job. He also tries out for the ESU football team, but gets the boot. However, at the very least, Peter’s relationship with Mary Jane is looking up, as the specter of Spider-Man no longer pulls him away from her every night — but soon, as Spidey’s enthusiasm dies down and stops bleeding into Peter’s personal life, our hero becomes brooding and dull, pushing MJ away.


Further, Peter bumps into a few situations where he has no choice but to act heroically even without his costume. In the first, he saves a young child on the verge of falling from an under-construction building, then later, after Aunt May is kidnapped by a group of bank robbers, Peter pursues them and secretly uses his powers to save her.

But in the end, it’s learning that a child saved another child from drowning because he knew Spider-Man would have done the same thing that convinces Peter to don the webs once more.

Friday, November 17, 2017

G.I. JOE VS. THE TRANSFORMERS: THE ART OF WAR #1

Written by Tim Seeley | Pencils by Joe Ng, James Raiz, & Alex Milne
Inks by Rob Ross, M3th, & Alan Tam | Letters by Brian Crowley
Colors by Kevin Yan, Rob Ruffalo, & Tom Liu | Edits by Mike Sullivan

The Plot: At Area 52, a U.S. government research center in the New Mexico desert, scientists work on both deactivated Decepticons and a new robotic lifeform called Serpent O.R. Meanwhile, several levels above, at G.I. Joe headquarters, Perceptor, Bumblebee, Grimlock, and Arcee arrive to assist with deactivation of all Cybertronian technology still on Earth.

Cobra attacks the facility and Cobra Commander activates Serpent O.R., but but it quickly turns on him. Naming itself the son of Megatron, Serpent O.R. downloads the history of Cybertron from Megatron's deactivated head and then declares he will find the Autobot Matrix of Leadership.

Continuity Notes: The human scientists are working on the heads of Megatron and Soundwave, still offline since the first G.I. JOE VS. THE TRANSFORMERS miniseries. Among the scientists is one Doctor Chase, actually Zartan's sister, Zarana, in disguise.

The Autobots are disabling all Cybretronian technology on Earth under orders from Optimus Prime, to ensure the planet remains free of further Transformer influence. This includes the mechs provided to the Joes by the Autobots when they left Earth in volume 1 (and which were briefly seen at the start of volume 2).

G1 References: Among the memories he pulls from Megatron, Serpent O.R. sees Quintessons, Alpha Trion, Optimus Primal, Unicron, and the Matrix. The flashback confirms that this continuity follows the cartoon series' idea that the Quintessons created the Transformers.

Monday, November 13, 2017

SPIDER-MAN NEWSPAPER STRIP PART 8

JULY 16th, 1979 – OCTOBER 7th, 1979
OCTOBER 8th, 1979 – DECEMBER 23rd, 1979
By Stan Lee & John Romita

Kraven’s back! And for all the praise I heaped on the prior “Cult of Loomis” installment for its sophistication relative to the strip’s standard fare, this storyline goes in the opposite direction. But, while the plot is a little simplistic and silly, the arc is no less entertaining than the web-slinger’s exploits against the cult.

The basic story is that Kraven decides it’s time to hunt Spider-Man again, so he returns to New York (accompanied by his assistant and apparent lover, Mary Jane*), and gets Jonah Jameson to spread the word that Spider-Man is a space alien who Kraven will expose. The public quickly turns on our hero and he eventually agrees to have his blood tested on live television to prove his humanity. He succeeds and is declared an Earthling, but Kraven never truly thought him an extraterrestrial in the first place. The entire scam was a ruse to get hold of the wall-crawler’s blood and create a “jungle potion” which will sap our hero’s strength.


But Spider-Man gets the better of Kraven in the end, and the hunter’s honor demands once more that he call off the hunt and go home. Mary Jane elects to remain in New York with Peter, and despite his lovesickness over the missing Carole, our young hero is in excellent spirits as his adventure ends.

Friday, November 10, 2017

G.I. JOE VS. THE TRANSFORMERS II #4

Written by Dan Jolley | Pencils by E.J. Su, Tim Seeley, Emiliano Santalucia, & Guido Guidi
Inks by Andrew Pepoy & Sean Parsons | Letters by Dreamer Design
Colors by Jeremy Roberts & Val Staples | Edits by Mark Powers

The Plot: On Cybertron, the Joes and Cobras, having escaped from Shockwave's clutches, discus their options. Since Transformer sensors don't find anything of interest in organic material, it's decided that Lady Jaye and Roadblock should strip to their underwear and infiltrate Decepticon headquarters. There, while Roadblock distracts the enemy, Lady Jaye reactivates the time portal which Shockwave had disabled. The final Joe/Decepticon group returns from prehistoric times with the Dinobots, who quickly rout Shockwave's forces.

Later, the Autobots send the Joes and Cobras back to Earth, while elsewhere, Starscream pleads with Shockwave for his life. But when a recorded message from Cobra Commander plays from inside Starscream's cockpit, warning anyone against dealing with the traitor, Shockwave turns on him.

Three months later, on Earth, Doctor Mindbender is released from prison by the NSA and flown to a secret faclity. But the agents aren't what they seem, and Mindbender finds himself in the clutches of Pythona and the forces of the Kingdom of Cobra-La.

Monday, November 6, 2017

SPIDER-MAN NEWSPAPER STRIP PART 7

JANUARY 29th, 1979 – MARCH 31st, 1979
APRIL 1st, 1979 – JULY 15th, 1979
By Stan Lee & John Romita

In a first for the Spider-Man strip, the next story arc continues directly from the prior one — not in terms of a simple teaser set up as the prior storyline ended, which we’ve seen before, but in that the Kingpin, who was pulling strings behind the scenes for the entirety of the last arc, now moves into position as the main villain of this one (sort of).

Still behind bars, the Kingpin orchestrates a prison break — but while most of his fellow inmates flee one direction as unwitting decoys, the Kingpin gets one man, an ex acrobat named Nino, out separately. Kingpin himself remains behind to serve his sentence while instructing Nino in his latest plot: the young acrobat dresses up in a Spider-Man costume and begins committing crimes to ruin our hero’s good reputation. When Nino eventually threatens to walk out on the Kingpin’s scheme, the ganglord reveals that he’s holding Nino’s girlfriend, Marie, hostage against the acrobat’s good behavior.


Meanwhile, the Kingpin’s plot has an unexpected effect on Peter Parker, who suddenly wonders if he’s losing his mind and sleepwalking to commit Nino’s crimes. It’s a stretch, but Lee and Romita have already established that this version of Peter has a tenuous grasp on his sanity as he imagined he was going insane in the second Doctor Doom arc not long ago.

Friday, November 3, 2017

G.I. JOE VS. THE TRANSFORMERS II #3

Written by Dan Jolley | Pencils by E.J. Su, Tim Seeley, Emiliano Santalucia, & Guido Guidi
Inks by Andrew Pepoy & Sean Parsons | Letters by Dreamer Design
Colors by Jeremy Roberts & Val Staples | Edits by Mark Powers

The Plot: Barbecue, Spirit, Doctor Mindbender, Tomax, and Xamot are attacked by Decepticon Sweeps in the post-apocalyptic wasetland, but the Dreadnoks, now more cyborg than human, rescue them. Buzzer, Torch, and Ripper take the humans to the leader of their resistance, Duke (also now a cyborg). Duke explains that the Decepticons invaded Earth in 2014 and have ruled ever since -- but two years ago an Autobot appeared who joined the rebels' cause. Realizing this is the Transformer they came to find, the Joe/Cobra team leaves Duke to search for him. Torch joins their quest in hopes that returning the Autobot to the past will erase his history from existence.

Back in the present, Shockwave and Cyclonus discuss the imminent failure of the force field protecting the remaining Autobots and Joes from an all-out Decepticon assault. In the future, the Joes and Cobras are led by Torch across the wasteland to find their quarry, Ratchet. Now hardened by his fight against the Decepticons, Ratchet agrees to discuss returning to the past if the Joe/Cobra group will help him rescue a group of human slaves from a nearby factory. Their mission is a success, but Ratchet refuses to leave the timeline. Barbecue forces him back to the past, but as soon as the group materializes on Cybertron, Ratchet is shot in the back by Shockwave. The force field has failed and the Autobots have been defeated.

Monday, October 30, 2017

SPIDER-MAN NEWSPAPER STRIP PART 6

SEPTEMBER 11th, 1978 – NOVEMBER 19th, 1978
NOVEMBER 20th, 1978 – JANUARY 28th, 1979
By Stan Lee & John Romita

Spider-Man’s latest newspaper adventure finds his greatest fear realized, as a mysterious young woman discovers his street clothes — with ID inside, thus revealing his secret identity to her — in an alleyway while he’s busy stopping a robbery across the street. The entire story hinges on a silly premise, though: Peter, wired late at night after finishing his thesis, decides to go outside and clear his head. Literally every other time he’s done this in the history of creation, it’s meant some web-slinging across the city. But tonight, for some bizarre reason, he decides to go for a jog instead, which leads to his needing to change into Spider-Man when he spots the robbery in progress.


But, false premise aside, this is a pretty fun story as the woman, an ex-model named Vera Arlen, blackmails our hero with her knowledge of his true identity into harassing her former employer, beauty magnate Raymond Dexter, who replaced her as his company’s top model with a younger woman when the public demanded a new face for his products. Vera, leaving Dexter’s office in a huff, was disfigured by some chemicals and holds him responsible.

Thanks to the circles in which Dexter travels, there are some fun seventies styles on display in this arc. Big, wavy hair on all the men and women, open shirts for everyone (again, men and women alike, so cleavage connoisseur Stan* was probably pleased with this one), etc. In fact, this is probably the most seventies-looking of all the story arcs so far — and to me, as a lover of that decade’s distinctive, if often tacky, visuals, that’s never a bad thing.