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

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Ten Surprises I Found When I FINALLY Read Marvel’s Civil War

That’s right world, I finally did it!  I FINALLY read Marvel’s “Civil War.”  It only took me twelve years to do it :).  This was, arguably, the biggest thing to happen to comic books during my seventeen year break in reading them.  It was a company-wide crossover unlike anything Marvel had attempted before.  It was a story working perfectly in-universe while also serving as one of the defining allegories of the times.  Parts of it worked as comic books do when they are operating at their highest level.  It was a shining example of a modern myth.  Naturally, I’ve always been intrigued by it and it was certainly impossible (well impossible if you’re interested in comic books) to not have heard all about it.  So it’s been a treat, as I’ve spent the last few months reading this modern epic, to find a few things which legitimately surprised me. Continue reading

Spider-Man’s Modern-Day Frankenstein Tale – “Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy”

Alright, originally I intended this as a Halloween post.  I was going to finally read “Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy” and write about it, analyzing how Dan Slott expands the premise of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein in a modern setting.  However, life and work got in the way and I just got around to finishing reading it the other day.  I contemplated saving it for next year but I’m impatient and it’s more fun to keep the spookiness alive anyway.  When I finally jumped into Dan Slott’s world of Spider-Man tales, I avoided this storyline.  I’d heard conflicting reports about it and wasn’t ready for something with that sort of “baggage” as I was meeting his Spidey for the first time.  What I found upon finally reading it was a haunting tale that left me more emotionally shaken than I could have expected. Continue reading

What is #Comicsgate? Small Minds with Big Mouths

I’ve intentionally avoided writing about “#Comicsgate” until now.  Honestly, I felt it didn’t deserve any more attention than it already had.  It’s a movement of intolerance fueled by a small (compared to comic fandom as a whole) group of angry, close-minded individuals.  They are very loud about their displeasure with the modern comic industry in an attempt to a) appear larger and more influential than they really are and b) garner more attention for their rantings.  As such, I haven’t written about it.  Why give this little, prattling monster what it wants?  However, as someone who writes about his love of comic books while often showcasing my appreciation for the social justice lessons the better ones teach us, I figured it was time to finally talk about it.  As it’s sadly not going anywhere (yet) I’d also like to offer my two cents on how we can counter things like this in the comic fan community.  Continue reading

A Question of Redemption: Doctor Doom the Infamous Iron Man

I’ve been thinking a lot about evil and redemption lately.  The first principle of Catholic Social Teaching affirms every human being is deserving of life and dignity because they are made in the image and likeness of God.  Nothing can take that right away, not even their own destructive actions.  So there is always a line, theologically, between sinner and sin.  While the idea of redemption is theologically vital, we often struggle with it in the face of real world evil.  At least I know I do.  This cognitive dissonance begs the question is there a line, an evil act or actions we can’t return from?  Doctor Doom is a character uniquely suited to explore this question.  For decades he was the most evil villain in the Marvel Universe.  But over the last few years, in both Invincible Iron Man and Infamous Iron Man, Brian Michael Bendis put a newly reformed Victor Von Doom inside Tony Stark’s armor in an attempt to atone for all he’s done.  Now Fantastic Four has returned to the comic shelves and Doom’s future is a question mark once again.  Can someone like Doctor Doom ever truly be redeemed? Continue reading

Black Panther: The Struggle of Faith When God Is Silent

Modern comics tend to focus on shorter, four-to-six issue story arcs.  The ever-present wariness about the mercurial taste of readers, accessibility to potential newbies, as well as the fact each title will be collected and sold as trades two or three times a year shapes how stories are told.  Yet Ta-Nehisi Coates has embraced a longer form of storytelling, with great success, since taking over Black Panther.  His first “season” (as he describes it) was “A Nation Under Our Feet,” a yearlong story exploring the nature of people and politics, what it means to rule and who has the right to do so.  His second season, “Avengers Of The New World,” is another thoughtful, multifaceted yearlong story.  In it Coates eloquently and gracefully depicts the struggle of faith when God is silent. Continue reading

Neekology 101: Episode #31 – Remember the Age of Ultron?

Are you ready for something exciting?!?  If not…you should totally stop reading this right now because this post has some CRAZY EXCITING STUFF about to come your way.  Here comes the aforementioned excitement.  The wonderful folks from Gods Among Geeks invited me on their Neekology 101 podcast to talk about Avengers: Age Of Ultron.  We chat about the theological implications of artificial intelligence, explore the twin forces of hubris and guilt that motivate Tony in this film, geek out on all things MCU, and even talk a little about the point and purpose of art.  In addition to getting to hear me instead of reading my words you also get the chance to follow their blog and podcast if you don’t already.  So you should totally click here or here or here or – if you missed those chances – here and then you can listen to me on Neekology 101: Episode #31 Remember the Age of Ultron? (and yes, that was another link I hid there because I want you to listen to this). Continue reading