Category Archives: Marvel Comics

Throwback Review: Incredible Hulk #162 (First Appearance of Wendigo)


I didn’t start reading Incredible Hulk until 1990. I honestly can’t tell you why, as the character always seemed to spark curiosity. There was always something magnetic about the character, I suppose I just got swallowed in Spidey, Supes, X-Men and Batman books, primarily.

Once I did give the big green beast a try, I only looked back to track down vintage issues. One that’s always stood out to me was Incredible Hulk #162, the debut appearance of the awesome Wendigo.

The story was titled Spawn on the Flesh-Eater, and opens with a dose of reality for readers: people hate what they fear, and they fear Hulk. Men ambush him, unleashing gunfire. “Can’t Hulk ever have peace? He only wants to find friend-“ The Hulk, as big and intimidating as he may be, is a sad soul, sympathetic on a near immeasurable level. It’s hard not to feel for the character… unless you’re a frightened military man or a rogue trigger happy local.

Interestingly enough, it’s an attack by rural folk that inadvertently leaves the Hulk looking for a missing man named Paul, believed to have been taken by the Wendigo. Needless to say, it isn’t long before the Hulk meets Wendigo for the first time.

To Hulk’s surprise, the Wendigo is nearly unshakable, a beast of equal if not superior strength and ability to the Hulk. Eventually, after a back and forth battle Wendigo makes a getaway, but not before hurling Paul from a cliff. Hulk catches the falling man, and proves successful in saving the day.

But there’s an insanely clever twist to the story, as writer Steve Englehart really flexes his mental muscle. It wasn’t Paul the Hulk saved, it was his friend. Paul, as it turns out, had devoured a man while stranded in the wilderness. A curse set in, and Paul transformed into the very Wendigo that Hulk just battled.

It’s a brilliant spin on things, and even today, a reminder that I missed out on some stellar books having avoided this specific title until 1990.

Wanna talk killer Hulk tales? Talk about he first appearance of Wendigo, talk about issue #162.

Rating: 4/5

hulk 162 cover

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Throwback Review: X-Men #1 (First Appearance of Magneto)


A true classic that introduces a number of characters that would, decades later, find themselves firmly entrenched among a blossoming group of iconic names and faces. In X-Men #1 Stan Lee gives us the chance to meet Professor Xavier, Cyclops, Beast, Angel, Iceman and – eventually (she arrives at the Professor’s school for gifted youngsters about halfway through the book) – Jean Grey, then known as Marvel Girl. We also learn of the professor’s intentions to hone his pupils into warriors capable of defending and preserving the safety of the world’s average men and women.

Continue reading Throwback Review: X-Men #1 (First Appearance of Magneto)

Marvel Spotlight on… Werewolf by Night #2 (Review)


The initial introduction of Jack, the young, confused lycanthrope – as seen in Marvel Spotlight On… #2 – would eventually go on to become an expanded and intriguing tale of a man afflicted by something terrible. Jack is a decent human being, but sudden extreme events in his life change things fast.

First, Jack is forced to confront himself and acknowledge his position as a literal monster of the world. Second, he doesn’t care much for his step father – there’s some hatred lingering beneath the surface, and when it comes to Jack, that hatred spreads in the direction of his step father’s driver, a mean brute. And finally, the man suddenly has his mother taken from him after she found herself in a terrible car accident that may not have been an accident at all.

Rage fuels the beast, terror and uncertainty rules the man. There’s a sizable gap between man and monster and that works great. It’s a little bit reminiscent of Lon Chaney Jr.’s depiction of the Wolfman back in 1941. I love that, as Chaney played the greatest Wolfman we’ve ever seen, still to this day.

I really enjoyed the parallel conflicts of the story, as they encourage a fast paced narrative that sucks the reader right in. Gerry Conway really did do an outstanding job of crafting this monumental introduction, and Michael Ploog, who handles the illustrations, turns in top notch work that for the most part, wouldn’t feel dated by today’s standards. The man was ahead of his time, and he got the chance to illustrate a terrific story here.

As much as I adore Marvel’s other big classic monster book, Tomb of Dracula, I just can’t get enough of Werewolf by Night. Werewolves were always “my thing” as a child, and they still are today, decades later as grown nerd who takes a verbal shellacking from his kids… even though they’ve all got a little nerd in them, as well.

Amazing stuff, is Werewolf by Night.

Rating: 5/5

Werewolf by Night 2 Cover

The 10 Most Terrifying and Dangerous X-Men Villains


The X-Men may be more popular today than they ever have. That’s a result of the staggering success the group has enjoyed on the big screen. We’ve seen a number of X-Men movies, a handful of slick spinoffs and we don’t believe that trend will end any time soon. In fact, we’re due for another big screen project soon, as X-Men: Apocalypse will be hitting theaters this month. It looks awesome, and Apocalypse is a stellar opponent to challenge our beloved heroes.

In honor of X-Men: Apocalypse we’ve put together a list of the top 10 X-Men villains, and you may be surprised by a few of the names and faces you see. Check it out below!

10 Blob

blob

You’re welcome to spew hate at me for this pick, but I’ve always gotten a serious kick out of the Blob. The last I read of Blob he’d lost his powers, but not his presence. The man is massive and if you don’t think a fat dude can put a beating on someone, you haven’t been paying much attention to Blob.

09 Mystique

mystique

Mystique, despite surfacing in a bunch of X-Men movies, is still somewhat underrated as a villain. Throughout the years she seems as though she’s struggled with her identity, uncertain whether she’d prefer to be the terrorist or the heroine. We prefer her in the villainous role, shape shifting into anybody just to dole out some punishment.

08 Sebastian Shaw

sebastian shaw

The thing about Sebastian is, the more damage you put on the guy, the more he flips it into unbelievable strength and abilities. You can forget the rest of his posse, the Hellfire Club, this dude is the alpha, all the way.

07 Omega Red

omega red

Hands down one of the coolest looking and most gifted adversaries the X-Men have ever known, Omega Red’s appearances are always memorable. There are very few enemies I prefer to watch wage war with Wolverine, and there’s a good reason for that. Just look at the dude, he’s a scarier version of Wolverine… and he just so happened to go through some of the same genetic modifications that Logan himself underwent years ago. Weapon X vs Weapon Red? Yeah, gotta love that!

06 Mr. Sinister

sinister

An uber bad dude who wouldn’t be an uber bad dude if not for Apocalypse, Mr. Sinister has the ability to basically create and control mutants. Doesn’t bode well for the X-Men. That said, Sinister isn’t untouchable, and despite his abilities, he’s nowhere near the menace that Apocalypse himself is… even if he does look damn cool.

05 Juggernaut

juggernaut

Cain Marko has always been a favorite of mine. He’s not the sharpest tool in the shed, and he may not be the most tactical foe, but when the Juggernaut rampages we see big damage. He’s kind of like a cross between the Incredible Hulk and Rhino… and Professor X – his step brother. That’s a nasty combination, but it’s made for some amazing wars with the X-Men over the years.

04 Sabretooth

sabretooth

Okay, full disclosure: Sabretooth is one of, if not my absolute favorite Marvel villain. He’s animalistic and ruthless, massive and imposing. The fangs, the claws, the chops. Good lord. Did we mention that he too is a product of the Weapon X Program? That makes him damn near unstoppable, and that makes him even more terrifying than nine of 10 of the X-Men’s foes.

03 Onslaught

onslaught

Onslaught kills fools, straight up. As one of the “younger” villains of the X-Men, he’s left an unbelievable mark on the Marvel universe. Inadvertently created by Professor X and Magneto, Onslaught was initially believed to simply be Professor X, but it turned out his origin was a bit more complex than that. It’s too bad we don’t see more of this beast because he’s nasty.

02 Apocalypse

apocalypse

Apocalypse’s time as a mutant far surpass the vast majority of all Marvel characters. He’s basically one of – if not the very first mutant, and that means he’s had tie to hone his skills of destruction. He’s a tyrant, no two ways about it, and in his mind, OTSS (only the strong survive), which means he’s eager to sweep through the X-Men’s ranks and obliterate all but the toughest of the tough. Amazing villain, and it’s going to be great watching him onscreen come May 27th.

01 Magneto

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The villain of all villains, Magneto has been the thorn in the side of the X-Men since X-Men #1. He’s a revolutionary with a skewed view of things and an ability to control all metal objects. That means he has no issues doing things like, oh I don’t know, ripping the adamantium right from Wolvie’s skeletal structure! There’s a reason Magneto has remained so popular all of these years, he’s a wonderfully complex character capable of showing compassion and capable on embarking on a mission of destruction. His relationship with Professor X also makes him quite the intriguing character.

Throwback Review: Spectacular Spiderman #2


The first issue of this amazing Spidey spinoff featured a showdown with the menacing yet unintentionally comical Tarantula. Tarantula’s a fun character, though few Spidey aficionados would likely place the man on any “Best of” lists. The villain introduced in issue two however, has quite a different following.

Kraven the Hunter pops up in this book, and of course, that means he’s not only going to tangle with Spidey, he’s going to tangle with Tarantula, who’s still hanging around, as well. But, these two aren’t occupying the same space by mere coincidence. Tarantula was hired to kidnap chancellor Lansky, but he was also hired to kill the mayor, an assignment he botched. That’s where Kraven comes into play, to try and get the mystery man’s plans back on track. So, like it or not, Tarantula and Kraven are in this devious plan together, and the plan has changed. Kraven and Tarantula’s new assignment is to capture Chancellor Richard Gorman – dead or alive.

Peter goes through the normal growth process. Problems with Mary Jane, concern for Aunt May. Education, employment. Peter’s always going through that crap, and when he’s not, he’s going toe to toe with Kraven or Tarantula.

It’s a back and forth affair between Spidey and Kraven, all the while Tarantula delivers Gorman to our mysterious villain only to be double crossed. Whoever pulls the strings is sharp, and cautious.

Eventually the book comes – sadly – to an end, but not before an explosive and definitive conclusion to Spiderman and Kraven’s battle. Wanna guess who picked up the W in that rematch? Speaking of Ws, what’s next for Tarantula? Is he a goner, and will this particular story arc reveal the mastermind early, or will we be forced to wait for issue four?

Another amazing, classic book that comes to us courtesy of stud writer Gerry Conway and personal favorite with the pencil, Sal Buscema. Again, this really is a beautiful book.

Rating: 5/5

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Throwback Review – Spectacular Spiderman #1


It’s time to rewind the clocks and jump into one of my favorite Spidey comics, Spectacular Spiderman.

The inaugural issue absolutely rocks and today holds a nostalgic charm you don’t get from every book out there. It also pits Spiderman in a rematch with the nimble and extremely able Tarantula. Who takes this round? And who does the Tarantula have targeted? He isn’t back for Spidey alone, no. He’s also got his peepers on the Vice Chancelor of Petey’s school. He’s destined to run into both, but what will be the final outcome?

I love this book. Probably – I’ll find out soon enough – every single issue. And while I think Marvel could have kicked this one off with focus on a villain that holds a bit more of a marquee appeal, Tarantula is a fine starting point, as it leaves the book – already very solid – with nowhere to go but up.

Gerry Conway’s story has a hint of a throwback charm and a reasonable dose of contemporary style to it, simultaneously. That mixture prevents the book from feeling too dated, but also summons a strange idea of innocence. It’s an unorthodox but engaging mix.

And, of course, I can’t possibly move on without issuing huge praise to one of history’s greatest Spidey artists, Sal Buscema. Buscema did it all. He drew for every major book from the 70s up well beyond the old Y2K mark. His style is very clean with plenty of animated faces and smooth lines. We’re talking about a legend of the pencil who’s got the respect of everyone in the industry.

We leave the first issue with questions on our minds. There are some things to be resolved, and by the end of this story arc we’ll likely see Spidey and Tarantula tangle on a few more occasions. It’ll be close folks, but we’re picking Spidey by TKO!

Rating: 4/5

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Deadpool Has Already Made More Money than These 16 Marvel Blockbusters


Deadpool is… well, he’s killin’ it!

Marvel’s R-rated action comedy featuring everyone’s favorite mouthy merc, Wade Wilson has now surpassed the $328 million mark on the domestic market, and it’s been slaying internationally, as well. Believe it or not, it’s still got steam at the box office; it’s been available to the public for about five weeks, and it’s still drawing north of the $10 million weekly mark. That’s absurdly impressive.

But just how impressive is it? Over the last decade or so we’ve seen Marvel roll out huge blockbuster after huge blockbuster. And the vast majority of them really do win crowds over, toppling the $100 million mark almost without fail.
Deadpool

Marvel owns cinematic comic adaptations, plain and simple. DC looks to be playing catch-up, but with pictures like Deadpool being produced it’s going to take a lot of work to catch up to Marvel, or even rival the quality of their films.

Let’s get back to business, which is this very real question: Just how is Deadpool comparing to fellow successful Marvel releases?

The answer: Wonderfully! The pic has already hit $708 million worldwide with a current domestic mark of $328 million.

Here are 16 Marvel movies that had the momentum to comfortably trek past the $100 million mark, and did enjoy success on the international market, but didn’t quite have the steam to draw more than Deadpool has managed.

1 Ghost Rider – Domestic = $115 million – Worldwide = $228 million

2 The Incredible Hulk (2008) – Domestic = $134 million – Worldwide = $263 million

3 Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer – Domestic = $131 million – Worldwide = $289 million

4 X-Men – Domestic = $157 million – Worldwide = $296 million

5 Fantastic 4 (2005) – Domestic = $153 million – Worldwide = $330 million

6 X-Men: First Class – Domestic = $146 million – Worldwide = $353 million

7 Captain America: The First Avenger – Domestic = $176 million – Worldwide = $370 million

8 X-Men Origins: Wolverine – Domestic = $179 million – Worldwide = $373 million

9 X2: X-Men United – Domestic = $214 Million – Worldwide = $407 million

10 The Wolverine – Domestic = $132 million – Worldwide = $414 million

11 Thor – Domestic = $181 million – Worldwide = $449 million

12 X-Men: The Last Stand – Domestic = $234 million – Worldwide = $459 million

 

13 Ant-Man – Domestic = $180 million – Worldwide = $519 million

14 Iron Man – Domestic = $318 million – Worldwide = $585 million

15 Iron Man 2 – Domestic = $312 million –Worldwide = $623 million

16 Thor: The Dark World – Domestic = $206 million – Worldwide = $644 million

 

Throwback Superhero Cartoon of the Day: 2 Hour Mega Block of Captain America (1966)!


Who doesn’t love Captain America?

This super-powered cultural icon has never been hotter. With a new flick headed our way, in addition to the slew of other Marvel movies featuring this not-quite-naturally-born leader, everyone is talking about the ‘Cap. He’s arguably the coolest Avenger in existence, his books have long been fan favorites, and once upon a time, way back in 1966, he was the star of his own original cartoon.

Check out an awesome collection of the first seven episodes below. This is a slick two hour vid that’ll you admiring the All American Hero, no doubt about it!

Returning to ‘The Amazing Spiderman (Volume 2) #35-#38’ and Reliving Aunt May’s Game Changing Discovery


I’ve spent the last few days going through my countless Spiderman comics (not print, as I’m a poor gent who’s been relegated to purchasing valueless – at least in fiscal terms – digital copies), working to assemble a list of the 10 greatest Spiderman storylines.

Initially my plan was to cover Spidey’s triumphs and heartbreaks from the beginning, back in 1962, right up to modern-era tales. But the truth is, I’d prefer to stay away from most of the contemporary story arcs, as there really aren’t too many I’m in love with. It’s the vintage yarns that still give me goosebumps.

The decision was made to turn my 10 Greatest Spiderman Storylines article into 10 Greatest Classic Spiderman Storylines. But there’s one particular story – a tremendously important one – that a decision like that excludes. This one fits into the modern era category, so I’m going to utilize this particular piece to focus on one single arc. The classic article will have to wait until this coverage, of a few amazing books, is wrapped.

The books in question are Amazing Spider-Man #35 through #38, from the second volume.

Released circa 2002, this tale could easily be considered as the most important arc of the last two decades. That’s obviously debatable, but what isn’t debatable is the fact that this is an insanely relevant and rewarding portrait that feels expansive and impactful. So, it seemed only right to put some shine on this small handful of books.

These four issues show us Aunt May’s response to discovering that her geeky, lovable nephew Pete actually spends his free time moonlighting as the famed hero of New York, Spiderman. But there’s a lot more to this story than that, and it really begins with Peter looking to help one of his students, a troubled young lady by the name of Jennifer.

But before we jump into Jennifer’s story, we’ve got to scribble a few pertinent details of the arc. Even if some of these revelations can be blended into the mix of all things Parker, there are a few moments that really jump from the page, delivering a passionate slap to our drowsy faces.

First, Morlun forces Spiderman to truly – on a very deep and intricate level – contemplate mortality. He’s proposed a silent opportunity: Will you cross that threshold and allow yourself to be marked a killer, or will you fight to maintain your wholesome image and let me walk away from this situation alive? It’s not an easy decision to make, and it has quite the effect on Spidey.

And then there’s the mourning for the innocents lost one mild September day. This portion of the story is almost snuck between the cracks of the book, while it may fly right over the heads of young readers, it’s very pronounced to anyone who knows a damn thing about 9/11. That’s an underdeveloped element (perhaps not underdeveloped so much as a truncated subplot) of the story, and while I’m glad such a horrific incident was included in the book respectfully, as something of a nod to the countless who suffered in the wake of one of history’s most gruesome attacks, I’m actually of the mind that this aspect of the plot probably should take a backseat in the grand scheme of things. I’m not big on politic-heavy books, and while few of us alive to see the terrorist attacks of 9/11 will ever actually forget them (we shouldn’t, for the record), it’s a scab that I’d personally prefer not to scratch.

Amazing Spiderman

Back to Jennifer, whose broken life, in some ways, mirrors Parker’s. Her parents have abandoned her. She’s left to fend for herself, all the while looking to keep her older brother from descending deeper into the seedy world of drug use and criminal behavior. Although Pete didn’t necessarily have to deal with a sibling, he did carry the burden of looking after his Aunt May, after the loss of his own parents. At an early age he was required to be the man of the house. That parallel between Pete and Jennifer helps to create a bond between the two. And Peter, though plenty troubled, shows a very real interest in seeing the young lady overcome the shortcomings that often accompany poverty and shattered households.

This is a beautiful story, and it’s got plenty of layers to it. But let’s be honest with ourselves for a second. If there’s one, major development in this specific arc that truly, truly hits us in the heart, it’s Aunt May’s discovery.

After too many years to count, Aunt May finally learns that her little angel, Peter Park is Spiderman. Aunt May, as one would expect, is completely flabbergasted by the discovery. Her mind races a million miles per hour, she’s uncertain of how to deal with it. And then she and Peter sit down for a heart-to-heart. A very revealing heart-to-heart.

Now the automatic assumption would probably center on Pete’s decades-long lies, but Aunt May has also been hiding something. It turns out both Pete and May have been carrying guilt as a direct result of Uncle Ben’s passing. We all know that Pete feels responsible, as he afforded the hoodlum that killed Ben the opportunity to do so. But what we didn’t know, is that Aunt May has spent all these years blaming herself for Ben’s death.

It all began with an argument between May and Ben. Ben left the house to clear his head and ditch the anger. And it was on that specific day, during that trek from the house, when Ben was killed. It’s been eating at May since the moment she learned of Ben’s passing, but being able to admit that to Peter works wonders for the woman, as well as her nephew. The encounter is a therapeutic one that feels as if it knocks down partitions that have already been erect far too long.

Traditionally, I like my comics stuffed full of action. It typically takes explosive imagery to really hold my attention. But this story is different… this specific storyline is extremely light on the action, but it’s rooted in so much passion and sprouting charm like you wouldn’t believe. When it comes to (fairly) recently released Spiderman tales, they just don’t get much better than this.

To J. Michael Straczynski, who wrote the story, John Romita Jr., who illustrated the books, Scott Hanna who inked and Dan Kemp, who handled the coloring – thank you all. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. You’ve put together something extremely special, and as a longtime Spidey fan, I’m honored to read this riveting tale!