The Amazing Spider-Man Commentary

Posted by Mister Mets 03 July 2012

I wrote a few pieces about Marc Webb's film adaptation of The Amazing Spider-Man.

I split the main review into two parts.

The first part is about the decisions Mark Webb and James Vanderbilt made when adapting the source material, looking at what they kept, what they changed and why. This is the stuff that is mainly of interest to fellow comic book geeks and Spider-Man fans.

The second part of the review was about the execution, and why I though the result was a good film.

I also wrote a few things for my blog, as I didn't want the front page of this site to be cluttered with five different posts about my thoughts regarding the film. If anyone's interested, here are the links, as well as excerpts.

I looked at the comic books that were adapted into the new film. I'd give the list for those too lazy to click on the link, but it's going to include a lot of spoilers.

I considered the benefits for both Sony and Marvel Studios of having Spider-Man appear in The Avengers 2.

Both movies are hits, so it’s probable that these series will continue for years to come. Therefore the status quo of the film production is unlikely to change. The films were also well-received, so it’s not as if cross-promotion would hurt one of the brands. 
It was revealed last month that Marvel Studios and Sony were in discussions to allow some overlap between the films. The plan was to have a building from The Amazing Spider-Man in the background of The Avengers. It was scrapped due to timing. The eternal optimist in me hopes that it was some sort of trial balloon, an acknowledgement of the possibility of a more elaborate crossover. 
Both sides would benefit. When Avengers 2 comes out, Marvel is going to be under a lot of pressure to live up to the hype of the original. One way to do that would be to include Marvel’s most popular superhero in the line-up. Sony would also get to hitch Spider-Man’s wagon to the biggest superhero franchise in film. 
It makes sense from a narrative perspective. Joss Whedon has confirmed that his favorite Avengers story was their battle with Thanos at the conclusion of Jim Starlin’s Warlock saga. His love of the story is the reason he chose to include Thanos at the end of The Avengers, so it seems as if it’s meant to serve as the basis for the sequel. 
The second part of that story featured Spider-Man, so he should be a natural fit for the film adaptation. Spidey’s story in the annual would be a good arc for him in an Avengers film, as the wall-crawler realized that he was hopelessly out of his element, forced to rescue the world’s premiere superhero team from a cosmic monster with the power of a god.
With the revelation that the film was the first part of the trilogy, I looked at what the audience can expect to happen in the next two movies.

I looked at how the film was an example of a "Word of Mouth" cliffhanger, something it shared with The Avengers.

I also came to the realization that the first Venom arc from Ultimate Spider-Man is a logical storyline to serve as the basis for the inevitable sequel.
The current assumption seems to be that the proposed Venom films would start out separate from the Spider-Man films, with potential crossovers later. It seemed like a cash grab, as Venom is a completely different character if it’s not a guy who hates Peter Parker wearing a costume that tried to control Spider-Man. I could see a wisdom in the approach from a purely financial perspective, as it means that Sony can get to the spinoff without waiting for the character to show up again in the Spider-Man movies. The Alien Costume saga was also done on film pretty recently, so introducing a new Venom in his own film would allow Sony to avoid retreading it in the new Spider-Man series. 
But it’s highly unlikely for any Venom film to come out before May 2 2014, which is when Amazing Spider-Man 2 is expected. And there was a storyline in the comics which introduced Venom, featured Gwen Stacy in a major role as she was dealing with the death of her father, a post-Lizard Curt Connors in a minor role and tied into the story of Peter Parker’s parents. It’s also appeared in a few recent “Best Of” lists. So it makes a lot of sense for Sony to use that comic as the foundation for the next Spider-Man movie.
This entry will be updated, in the event I write more commentary.

Ultimate Spider-Man "Venomous" Review

Posted by Spiderfan001

Featuring the long awaited return of Batroc the Leaper!  Oh, and Venom too...


The Story

After pulling off a robbery, Batroc the Leaper is ambushed and severely beaten by Venom in a dark alleyway.

The next morning, Peter Parker finds his Aunt May watching a television broadcast accusing Spider-Man of severely beating an "innocent man" (Batroc).  Worried that Venom might be back, Peter confronts Harry Osborn at school, but Harry denies that he's become Venom again and asks Peter to drop it.

Not convinced, Peter follows Harry home from school as Spider-Man (riding the "shudder" spidercycle).  Harry arrives at Oscorp intent on telling his father about Venom, but Norman cuts him off before he can confess.  Angered, Harry transforms into Venom right in front him.  Spider-Man crashes through the window and keeps Venom from the stunned Norman, who for the first time is impressed with his son.  Despite Spidey's interference, Venom is able to hit Norman out the window.  Spider-Man rescues Norman and swings back to his office, only to find that Venom has disappeared.

Spider-Man attends a meeting on the Helicarrier with his fellow teammates; White Tiger, Iron Fist, Luke Cage, and Nova.  Nick Fury tells them that Venom needs to be taken down once and for all.  Spidey points out that someone innocent could be inside the suit, prompting Fury to ask him if he knows more than he's letting on.  Spider-Man admits that he knows who Venom is, but refuses to say who, asking that he be allowed to handle the situation on his own.  Fury instead forbids Spider-Man from pursuing Venom.

Of course, Spider-Man has no intention of leaving Harry out to dry, and hangs outside the Oscorp building waiting for him to return.  Spider-Man eventually spots Venom and intercepts him.  Meanwhile, the team is informed of Venom's reappearance and uses the escape tunnels inside the school to change into costume.  However, the group gets caught in a trap laid by Spider-Man, getting tangled up in webbing before they can reach the end of the tunnel.

Spider-Man's fight with Venom takes them into an Oscorp lab where Norman just happens to be giving a tour.  Norman tries to get through to his son but is struck aside.  Spider-Man then attempts to get through to Harry, but is interupted when his team crashes through the ceiling and continues the fight.  Venom is eventually able to escape, but not before White Tiger obtains a sample of the symbiote.  Angered, Norman orders them all to leave Oscorp.


That night, the team convenes at Midtown High and ask Spider-Man to come clean about Venom.  Spider-Man tells them that Harry is the one behind the suit, and the team promises not to tell Fury.  Everyone agrees to let Spider-Man use the symbiote sample White Tiger collected to make an antivenom compound while the rest of the team attempts to find Venom.  Venom proves easy to find, arriving at the school to collect the sample Tiger took off him.  Spider-Man is able to complete the antivenom and manages to inject Venom with it, returning Harry to normal.

Later, Norman visits his son in the hospital and promises to use all his resources to help him.  He then takes a sample of his son's blood and brings it to Doctor Octopus.

The next day, Spider-Man thanks the team for coming through for him.

Thoughts

The Venom Saga has so far been the only plot in Ultimate Spider-Man to span multiple episodes.  Having Harry as Venom has been... different.  It's an interesting new take on the Osborn family dynamic, and gives the show some much needed drama.  It was nice to see the team stick up for Peter here; it makes them more likable then they've been in the past.  I also liked seeing Spidey use his brain to defeat Venom this time around.  The show often portrays Spidey as such a goofball that it's easy to forget that the character is a scientist. 

The humour in this episode was tolerable.  As usual, Spider-Man's regular quips and some of the lower key jokes are the best ones, while the over the top stuff tends to fall flat.  The reason the humour in "Freaky" worked so well was because the Bendis-penned plot provided ample opportunity for comedy.  Here, the writers are forced to inject humour into a more serious plot.  As a result, a lot of the jokes feel forced and unorganic.  I'm tempted to think that this show would be a lot better if the considerable creative talent behind it just did a more straight up Spidey 'toon.
 
Remember kids, just say "NO" to drugs!

"Venomous" was a decent episode that managed to show Spidey finally bond more with his team and advance the ongoing Venom plot.  It'll be fun to see what the writers do with it next...  Carnage perhaps?       

We've reached the top ten of our countdown, and I sincerely doubt that anyone is surprised to find this story on the list.

10. The Death of Jean Dewolff (Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man #107-110)

Creative Team: Peter David (Script), Rich Buckler (Pencils), Brett Breeding, Joe Rubinstein, Kyle Baker, Pat Redding (Inks), George Roussos (Colors), Phil Felix (Letters).

What Happened: A psycho with a shotgun has killed Jean Dewolff, one of the few police officers on good terms with Spider-Man. And he also killed a judge who was friends with Matt Murdoch. So the wall-crawler and the man without fear are pushed to their limits.

Why It's In The Top 50: Mister Mets is jealous of Peter David's first year as a comic book writer.

Peter David had only been writing comic books for a few months when he penned this classic, which is great for a lot of reasons. Jean De Wolff at the time a popular supporting cast member (although I suspect she's now mostly known for her death), and dies four pages into the story, a twist on the traditional comic book death. The killer isn't really a supervillain, but an ordinary psycho with a shotgun. Daredevil becomes involved when the killer targets one of his friends, and this story really demonstrates the differences between him and Spider-Man. Things go badly with Spider-Man, as a bystander is killed in the battle by a shotgun blast Spider-Man dodges. 
As a murder mystery in comics, it's second only to Watchmen. There are plenty of twists, including Peter Parker VS a crazed gunman in the Daily Bugle. There are great scenes with J. Jonah Jameson, including his win over a black preacher who is surprised to find a white man knowledgeable about the civil rights movement, and reaction to the chaos at the Bugle. There's a great new character in sympathetic cop Stan Carter, who decides to help Spider-Man against his better judgment. There's an excellent subplot involving Ernie Popchik, a World War 2 veteran who takes drastic action after being mugged. There are some awesome interrogation scenes featuring a pissed off Spider-Man.
And it all ends in one of the most violent battles of Spider-Man's career. Against Daredevil. I'm slightly regretting not ranking it higher right now.
What the pros say: In a roundtable discussion for Write Now! Magazine #14, Peter David explained what he wanted to bring to the Spider-Man comics.

I tried to push Spider-Man to points he had never reached brfore. To see if I could get him into a situation where he was so angry that he just completely lost control. Anyone who's ever been in a real fight will tell you that the adrenaline doesn't get turned on and off like a light switch. So it's fundamentally unrealistic to have heroes be in knock down, drag out fights and then just stop. Since Owsley wanted me taking a more grim and gritty street-level approach to the series, I felt the first thing I had to do was put Spider-Man into a battle situation where what would happen in real life would happen. I tried to then maintain that tone for the rest of my run.

What others say: This is one of the few Spider-Man stories everyone agrees is great. It was #6 in Wizard's Top Ten Spider-Man stories list a few years back. Complex.com placed the story at #11. JR Fettinger included it in his Top Ten. It was #4 on IGN's list and on CBR's list.

There's another commentary on it on Madgoblin's site But DON'T READ it unless you've read the story (there's a major spoiler).

Related Stories: Amazing Spider-Man #300, and Spectacular Spider-Man #134-136 (the follow-up to this story), spoil the big twist, so I highly recommend reading this story before either of those stories. The mystery involving the Burglar disguised as Santa Claus factors into Spectacular Spider-Man #112.

Unsung Hero: In his afterword to The Death of Jean Dewolfe Trade Paperback, Peter David credits editor James Owsley (now better known as Priest) for helping him break down the story.

Scene Analysis: As a special feature for the top ten, we're looking in-depth at why scenes from the best Spider-Man stories work so well. Mister Mets explains.

I thought it was rather effective how Spider-Man learned that Jean Dewolfe was killed. He has a friendly chat with some cops, and thinks they're talking about something funny, when the topic of conversation is much more tragic than that. It's something that Peter David does rather well as a writer, alternating from the humorous to the serious. It's life. Bad stuff is going to happen, and it's going to interrupt when you're having fun.

It's rather daring for a comic in the 1980s to wait until the second part of the story to pit Spider-Man against the villain. And while the Sin-Eater shouldn't be much of a challenge for Spider-Man, the situation very quickly devolves, with a civilian taking a shotgun shell to the chest. Peter David and Rick Leonardi understand that even battles in which the hero is much stronger than the villain can turn into a chaotic mess.

The first two issues all ended the same way. The Sin-Eater finds a target, fires and then it fades to black. And the payoff was this incredible cliffhanger for the third issue in which Spider-Man tries to warn Betty Brant that the Sin-Eater is heading to the same place she is. The storytelling and the suspense is perfect here. It had to be torture for the fans who waited 28 days to find out what happened next.


"The Death of Jean Dewolfe" explored the difference in moral codes between Spider-Man and Daredevil. If Peter David and Rick Leonardi wanted to show what Spider-Man's like in a real fight, they succeeded. This one's different from the obligatory fight scene in the typical superhero team-up. It isn't a result of a misunderstanding. And the lead of the story is the dangerous one. It's off-putting to have Daredevil make a joke about the possibility that Spider-Man's going to kill him.

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