My Comic Advice: Where to Begin Reading Spider-Man

So you’re new to comics…or you’re new to the Marvel Universe…or you’re new to Spider-Man and you’re thinking to yourself, “Self, I’d like to immerse myself in the amazing world of our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man BUT there’s over sixty years of comic books out there.  That’s intimidating!  How do I just jump in with decades of characters and continuity??  Where do I even begin?!?”  Well you’re in luck.  I’m here to help in my new series, “My Comic Advice,” where I’ll outline the best place for any newbie to begin reading a popular comic series.  What makes me the person for this job?  Well, I’ve loved comics for over thirty years but, more importantly, you are here reading this so it seems like we already have a bond :).  That being said…where do you begin reading Spider-Man?  Let’s find out! Continue reading

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Squirrel Girl’s Earliest Era

I began reading The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl because I love Ryan North’s Dinosaur Comics.  When I heard he was writing for Marvel, I had to check it out.  I instantly fell in love with the comic and I’ve been so impressed with what I continually find in its pages that I’ve chosen Doreen Green as the subject of the paper I’m writing for this year’s PCA/ACA National Conference on Popular Culture.  As I began my research, I figured I’d read the comics featuring Doreen before she began to kick butts and eat nuts in The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl.  I wanted to get a handle on how her character has evolved in the authorial hands of Ryan North and artistic hands of Erica Henderson and now Derek Charm.  I was expecting a one note joke character but I was happily surprised by what I found! Continue reading

Spider-Man and Mary Jane: Soul Mates? (Y/N/Maybe)

Mary Jane Watson and Peter Parker got married on 9 June 1987, in The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21.  For someone who began reading comic books in March 1986, their marriage was a central tenant of my experience of Spider-Man.  You don’t have Spider-Man without Peter Parker and you don’t have Peter Parker without Mary Jane!  Despite Marvel’s editorial staff having “instant regrets” about their wedding, fans have passionately embraced the marriage for over twenty years.  As their relationship evolved, especially as it approached it’s end in 2007’s “One More Day” storyline, Mary Jane and Peter were increasingly painted in the light of Soul Mates.  Their relationship then allows us to ponder one of romantic love’s most intoxicating questions – are Soul Mates real?  It’s end allows us to reflect on the potential of finding and losing the one.  Now let’s see if I can write about them without getting overly emotional and/or angsty… Continue reading

“The Death of the Mighty Thor” – My Eulogy for the Best Comic I’ve Ever Read

This is a milestone for me :).  This piece is my 300th post on My Comic Relief!!  I’ve been trying to figure out which comic was worthy of such a tribute since about my 256th post.  Then, like a blinding flash of lightening it hit me.  I adored Jason Aaron, Russell Dauterman, and Matthew Wilson’s work with Jane Foster in The Mighty Thor.  She’s become my definitive Thor.  I’ve written several pieces exploring the brilliance of this run but I’ve never written about the end of Jane’s time wielding Mjölnir.  To do so, I wanted it to be special.  Instead of another analysis, I aim to simply pay tribute, to eulogize in the wake of “The Death of the Mighty Thor,” to talk about why I fell in love with this character and this comic.  In short I want to explain why Jane’s time as Thor became MY FAVORITE COMIC BOOK STORYLINE OF ALL TIME.  In my heart, she’ll always be who I mean when I invoke the name “Thor.” Continue reading

Celebrating Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man Trilogy

It’s been a busy few years for Spider-Man cinematically.  Peter Parker swung into the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War with Tom Holland wearing the webs.  In 2017 he had his solo MCU debut, Spider-Man: Homecoming.  This April he suited up next to the Avengers and Guardians to battle the Mad Titan and his Black Order in Avengers: Infinity War.  And Friday Sony releases their animated Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse with Jake Johnson as Peter Parker – and far more excitingly – Shameik Moore as Miles Morales and Hailee Steinfeld as Gwen Stacy!!!  So it’s easy to forget where Spider-Man’s modern movie career began.  We, as a culture, tend to proclaim each new incarnation as “the best [fill-in-the-blank] ever!”  While I enjoy Tom Holland as Spider-Man and I can’t wait to see Into the Spider-Verse, as far as I’m concerned NO ONE’s come close to capturing who Spider-Man really is more than Sam Raimi with Spider-Man (2002) and Spider-Man 2 (2004).  Even after all this time, his Spider-Man Trilogy can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the best of the MCU. Continue reading

The Greatest Kraven Story Ever Told

Sergei Kravinoff, a.k.a. Kraven the Hunter, was created in 1964 by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko for The Amazing Spider-Man #15.  The son of a Russian noble family who fled to America in 1917 in the wake of the February Revolution, Kraven’s self-identity was defined by being a big game hunter.  In an attempt to prove he was the world’s greatest hunter, Kraven became obsessed with defeating Spider-Man.  He hunted the web-head from his creation in ’64 until his death in 1987’s critically acclaimed “Kraven’s Last Hunt” story arc.  As with many comic characters Kraven would ultimately be resurrected, in this case by his family in 2010’s “Grim Hunt” storyline.  In the fifty-four years since his creation, Kraven has featured in some of Spider-Man’s most iconic storylines and stood among the web-slinger’s fiercest foes.  But which is the greatest Kraven story ever told?  To my mind, dear reader, there is only one answer.  (Oh, there will be spoilers, obvs.) Continue reading

The Most Ridiculous Facet of Tony Stark’s Ego (In My Opinion)

It’s no secret, I love me some Iron Man.  Yes, Tony Stark can be a huge tool and our favorite “genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist” isn’t known for his humility or restraint.  He’s great.  He knows it.  And he’ll happily let you know it too.  However, I maintain Tony’s ego – and his struggle with both the trouble it brings and learning his own limitations – is part of what make him so important as a character.  While I doubt many of us have an ego quite the size of Mr. Stark’s, we all wrestle with ego.  Or at least I do.  So I see parts of myself in Tony Stark as well as lessons I need to learn.  I put a lot of value on that.  However, regardless of the relatability we (or at least I) can find in this particular fault, there is one MASSIVE expression of Tony Stark’s ego that even I find ridiculous.  Continue reading