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The Comics 8 Ball 5.05.14: Top 8 Amazing Spider-Man Covers
Posted by Anthony Kennedy on 05.05.2014


Welcome back to the Comics 8 Ball in the Movie Zone! Per usual, I'm Anthony Kennedy and I'll be your guide in our intellectual trip through comicdom. As always, we will be tackling a topic and providing you the top 8 selections related to comics. One thing to please understand, these are meant to be my personal takes and not the definitive list on the subject. Although I do consider myself somewhat an expert, feel free to disagree and I'll freely admit you're wrong. (No hard feelings tho?) With that in mind, let's get to this week's topic!

Amazing Spider-Man 2 Review

I don't have any clever intro for this review nor an insightful anecdote. Instead I'll cut through the hyperbole and just state that Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a bad movie. Not bad for a comic book film or superhero film or even just the generic bad action-adventure film. No, a bad movie period, really bad! The fact that some moviegoers are saying "A Joel Schumacher film" was missing from the title credit is not an exaggeration.

The Good: The effects and most of the fight scenes are done very well with the Time Square showdown between Spidey and Electro being the highlight of the film. The dynamic of Spidey trying to save someone who was a victim of circumstances and inadvertently gaining a new enemy through no fault of his own was the lone excellent piece of storytelling the film accomplished. Andrew Garfield and Jamie Foxx shined in this scene and makes viewers wish we were given more of them on-screen interacting with one another. The problem with that character comes late in the movie when, despite having ascended to god-like capabilities as a being of pure energy who no longer requires corporeal form, he's the second banana, doing glorified henchman work for the Green Goblin.

The Bad: Oh where to begin? For all the flaws of Spider-Man 3 that Sam Raimi is (rightfully) criticized for, the one thing you cannot take away from him and the writing team of the original trilogy is the pacing of those films. They created situations that naturally progressed the story in a cohesive manner while giving the villains clear logical motivations for their actions, at least in the first two films. Norman Osbourne tested the serum on himself because he felt pressure to keep a government contract to save his company. The serum made him crazy and emboldened him to the kill the military staff. He killed the Oscorp Board of Directors because they were going to oust him from the company he created. He wanted to kill Spider-Man as he could stand in the way of any actions he might have to do in the future. He kidnapped Mary Jane as he knew it would get to Spider-Man because he figured out he was Peter Parker. All logical, progressions of the stories.

The Amazing Spider-Man writers instead work on the premise of wanting to do X in the film so we'll have the characters do Y to get to X. There are simply too man subplots going on in the film that you get the sense that it's fighting against itself as a superhero movie vs. a coming of age, romantic teen comedy. No for real. There was more love story than action movie here. To put it delicately it's Twilight with superheroes. I was bored almost the whole time. I simply don't feel emotionally invested to how Peter is meant to feel over his missing parents. Nearly two full films and they're still clouding Spider-Man in this mystery of what was his pops into that resulted in his parents eventual demise that he's STILL obsessed over.

I did not view the Peter-Gwen on-again, off-again relationship as engrossing that some of the net feel because of the amazing "chemistry" between Garfield and Emma Stone. That, again, could be the plot as why does Peter break up with her in the first 10 minutes of the film only to waste the next 30-45 minutes of the film pining for her and then try to get with her the first time he's in her presence? There are better ways to handle that situation than was executed here. Also, I seriously believe that after Spider-Man 3 Sony did a series of focus groups that informed them that women did not like the portrayal of Mary Jane as the constantly victimized, damsel in distress. That can be the only reason why Peter Parker's girlfriend is more sidekick than his high school sweetheart. The new and improved Spider-Man's girlfriend doesn't need a man, even a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, to save her from danger. Nope, she can run headlong into any dangerous situation and save the day for him. Which is what she has done in both Amazing films thus far.

Dann DeHaan, who I wasn't very impressed with in Chronicle, does a horrible job in this film as the main antagonist, Harry Osborn. Yes, they killed off Norman Osborn this go around to give us the great mortal enemies tale of Peter vs. Harry. Harry NEVER worked as a great villain in the comics or cartoon to Spidey, and he definitely doesn't work here. DeHaan is atrocious, as he gives us a canned, cheesy performance lacking nowhere near the depth and conflict that James Franco pulled off in the original trilogy. (James Franco, think about what THAT says.) The "friendship" in this film between Peter and Harry never clicked on-screen for me. We are forced to believe these are old friends that easily re-connect after ten years (meaning they were eight when they fell out of contact) and given no weight behind Harry turning and the creation of the Green Goblin was rushed, when, hey, there's a third film to be made behind that for even more money!!!

If the plan is to build an expanded universe set of films, ala the Marvel Cinematic Universe, they did a poor job building anticipation for the next film with this lackluster offering. I'll be there for the next one, I'm a comic geek and get access, but if they follow up this Batman Forever with their Batman & Robin, they will effectively kill off Spidey as a viable box office attraction for a similar length time as Warner did with Batman. I leave you with my nitpicks of unanswered questions.

  • If Peter totally reverses course and spends the rest of the film trying to get back with Gwen Stacy, why was there a need to show him suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome of Sgt. Stacy's death and breaking up with her during the first 10 minutes of the film?
  • Why was Gwen Stacy's running from security for just doing a search for Max Dillon never paid off?
  • What were they going to do with her had they apprehended her and why did they never try to speak with her after that incident?
  • How does Harry lose control of his company when he gets booted from his own office like he's a random employee? And if the board could just vote him out as CEO after framing him for Electro's accident, why didn't they just vote him out from the beginning?
  • How does Electro, who just escaped a prison cell have a brand new evil villain's suit, with a lightning bolt on it no less, in the next scene where he confronts Smythe at Oscorp?
  • Yes, Harry Osborne just happened to crawl towards a health repairing Goblin suit and Goblin Glider and having never utilized it before or shown an aptitude to flying such a device can maneuver around on it like a pro?
  • If the Goblin suit had body repairing capabilities, why did he need to take the venom in the first? For that matter, why didn't he research whatever his father was doing to keep himself alive? Harry is 20, his dad said the disease started showing itself around the same age. Therefore he must have been doing something to live to his 50's right?
  • If Harry is captured as the murderous Green Goblin at the end of the film, why are authorities allowing a shadowy character to visit him unsupervised and unmonitored to plot destructive activities?

    After washing away the stench of ASM from this column I now return you your regularly scheduled segment of .READER FEEDBACK

    Joe CCF:Ummm I love Marvel and DC, but both have many terrible story lines and are guilty of the exact same things. I am not choosing DC over Marvel, but felt that a lot of focus was put on Batman and Superman when many of the marvel characters are guilty of the same thing. Number one could have easily been applied to Captain America as well and number 3 could have been said about Spider-man, Wolverine and many others as well

    The beef against Wolverine is overexposure than not having a solo book and Cap, many would say he's a bad character period and is, at best, number 5 on his own. But is the point being, Superman, the original comic book superhero didn't work anymore.

    Shadow: You have to be more careful to not get your poop I would never say list mixed up with the list you intend to write. For all of your arguments you provided evidence that while perhaps not making us change our minds at least provided a bade for your point of view. Yet you did not even attempt to provide a good piece of Liefield art. I happen to know that this is because even given a month you'd be hard pressed to find an example. Simple fact any piece that isn't terrible is often traced from another. He redraws characters in different uniforms. He pretty much just erased a line from the Xmens X symbol to make it into a Y for youngblood.. If you define good as finding a way to somehow draw a paycheck then fine. We'll simply have to agree that there is no such thing as a bad artist as long as they are old enough to have someone besides friends or family appreciate them.

    I was trying to be ironic and post the his most often sighted worse piece of artwork. I didn't succeed.

    Moody: Comics should absolutely not go completely digital. I enjoy actually having a had copy of a book, maybe that's just the collector side of me. I just think that even if you digitally have a book you don't really have that book. I know people are loving the digital format and not having to store books. I understand the love for it don't get me wrong but I think we should have a choice between the two.

    I disagree. While there could be collectible issues, to appeal to the mass market you have to be where they consume most products. The digital space with tablets, computers and phone is where I believe they need to have their comics.

    Thank you sir!

    Benjamin J: Hoo boy.
    #8. There were plenty of water treading stories after issue 94 of The Walking Dead, but let's not pretend there weren't plenty before, too. Plenty of great stuff before and after, as well. That's how it goes. TWD is just one of those ongoing series where some arcs are better than others. And no Walking Dead after issue 94 = No Negan. To which I say no freaking way.
    #7. The idea that comics should only be distributed in one format is what landed it squarely in the financial and cultural ghetto that it's just begun to crawl out of over the past decade and a half in the first place. I'm all for digital comics, and the subscription service idea presented is super intriguing, with lots of possibilities. But no format should ever be the sole choice, in ANY medium.
    #6. Chalk it up to personal preference. I thought the Watchmen and V for Vendetta movies were both flawed, but great - as were the comics they were based on (V for Vendetta is my personal favorite comic series of all time, BTW). League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was a towering pile of crap, but the fault lies in studio meddling, not the "unfilmability" of the source material. I haven't seen From Hell, but I've read the comic - it's the only one of the four that I would've said was better off not ever having been attempted to be adapted to a feature length movie, just because of how DENSE the book is. Now, a well made miniseries, on the other hand...
    #5. Comic Books DO Objectify Women - And I'm NOT fine with it, and it IS a problem in that it cheapens the medium as a whole, aside from being downright fucking embarrassing in how shameless it's become. And speaking as someone who wants MORE comic book fans, INCLUDING women, it high time things got better, cause this type of shit is only gonna keep people away.
    #4. "Rob Liefeld has drawn some beautiful comic book issues".
    NAME. ONE.
    Unarguably, Liefeld is one of the most successful artists of the 90s. That doesn't make him a good artist. That makes him a guy who was in the right place at the right time when the popularity of comics was on the rise and his particular brand of style over substance was a marketable fad. I won't argue style - because everyone has their preferences, and we're all free to disagree. But technically, someone like John Byrne has flaws, sure, but to compare the gulf between those two on what those flaws are (and throw up that god awful, nauseatingly bad Captain America pinup as an example) is facepalm worthy.
    Byrne knew basic anatomy. Byrne knew how a human body looked when it was in motion. Byrne could draw expressive faces. Byrne knew how to lay out action and drama on a page to tell a coherent and entertaining story. Hell, the aforementioned McFarlane and Lee could, too, at least to a better degree. Liefeld struggles with these things to this day, after more than 30 years in the comics business. Kirby was misunderstood in his time and his own style was also flawed, but he compensated like hell for anything and everything he may have lacked. And that wasn't much.
    And I have no earthly idea who Tim Quietly is, so I can't say there.

    #3. Bullshit.
    Batman has 75 years of continuity as well, and this argument wasn't made for him. The failings of Superman as a character are more often than not the result of bad writing, editorial mandates, and maybe to a lesser extent, unfair and inaccurate assumptions by casual fans of what the character is - not inherent flaws in the character itself.
    If the only stories being told in Superman are "How many different ways can you tell his exodus from Krypton or introduce something new from his home world's history?" then it's evident that new people should be brought in who're capable of telling stories THAT DON'T SUCK. But don't blame the character for writers who lack vision and imagination, and editors who lack balls.
    #2. At worst, Wolverine's origin was a story that came and went and did little to damage the character we know today, or really to affect him much at all. I would've been perfectly happy never knowing the backstory, but it was told, and it wasn't the end of the world. If it was unnecessary, it was hardly the first Wolverine story to be.
    #1. Bruce Wayne Should Have Stayed Dead...This would work on one condition: That Grant Morrison were to write every Batman story from that moment till the end of time. The greatness of the Dick/Damien dynamic was almost entirely exclusive to his writing. Short of that, eventually things would've devolved into crap.

    I'm glad I could elicit such well thought out rebuttals to my list from you.

    Thank you to everyone who contributed. Do enjoy the debate that occurs in the comments section and look forward to this week's feeback.

    Top 8 Amazing Spider-Man Covers

    In contrast to the abysmal film released of Amazing Spider-Man I wanted to show my appreciation for not just the character but, by extension, the artwork of Spider-Man. Spidey has had some amazing An epiphany came to me, what if some of the most iconic writer/artist teams worked on some of the other famous books. We've seen what Claremont-Byrne can do with the Uncanny X-Men but what if they were on another book. With that I present the Top 8 Amazing Spider-Man Covers.

    *Caveat: The selected covers are Amazing Spider-Man issues only. So no beautiful Web of Spider-Man nor are the truly great McFarlane Spider-Man covers either.

    Honorable Mentions:
    Just cause they cant make the Top 8 under the rule, does not mean I cannot place the non-Amazing Spider-Man comic covers here:

  • Amazing Fantasy #15 by Jack Kirby
  • Secret War #8 by Mike Zeck
  • Spectacular Spider-Man #101 by John Byrne
  • Spider-Man #1 by Todd McFarlane
  • Web of Spider-Man #1 by Charles Vess


    #8 Amazing Spider-Man # 37 Vol. 2
    Kaare Andrews

    Beautiful cover that showed left a mystery at who was Peter looking back at.

    #7 Amazing Spider-Man #316 Vol. 1
    Todd McFarlane

    One of the last great Todd McFarlane covers before he left ot form Image. This covers been copied many times and rightly so!

    #6 Amazing Spider-Man #229 Vol. 1
    John Romita Jr.

    One of the most iconic Spider covers for one the most memorable Spidey story arc of all-time.

    #5 Amazing Spider-Man #129 Vol. 1
    Gil Kane

    Great way to introduce the Punisher to the world and get across what kind of threat whe will be for not just Spider-Man but the Marvel Universe.

    #4 Amazing Spider-Man #300 Vol. 1
    Todd McFarlane

    One of the early must own matches for me. Great artwork showing off that awesome black, alien symbiote suit.

    #3 Amazing Spider-Man #39 Vol. 1
    John Romita Sr.

    Another cliffhanger cover by the master Romita that almost resembles a painting.

    #2 Amazing Spider-Man #1 Vol. 1
    Jack Kirby

    Spidey and the Fantastic Four?!?!?! Nuff said!

    #1 Amazing Spider-Man #50 Vol. 1
    John Romita Sr.

    The definitive Amazing Spider-Man cover and for great reason. Love love love this. Check out one of my favorite interpretation of this cover done for CM Punk losing his smile.

    This definitely should spark some spirited debate on how Hollywood messed up some easy, great comic stories. That's my list, let me know where I completely missed and what didn't deserve inclusion at all.

    If my earlier review of Amazing Spider-Man 2 wasn't enough, check out this week's episode of This is What We Do #14 where we go fully in on this film, pulling no punches.

    Join me next week for another edition of the 8-Ball! Have a great week and don't forget to read the many other great columns, news articles and more here at 411mania.com! I still real to me damnit!

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