Superior Spider-Man: What Worked and What Didn’t

With all the news about the Punisher trailer dropping I decided to take a bit of a break from my anti-hero focus and talk about a series that I loved no matter what anyone says, and that would be the Superior Spider-Man run.

For those unfamiliar with the run it was the direct sequel to Amazing Spider-Man #700 in which Dr. Octopus transfers his consciousness with Peter’s (goes full Freaky Friday) and becomes Spider-Man. Before Peter dies in Ock’s body he attempts to right what has been done to him with the help of a few villains. Ock in Spider-Man’s body becomes enraged when the Scorpion attacks Aunt May and punches his lower jaw hard enough to separate it from his body. When the transfer fails, Ock reveals that he placed shielding on the back of his head to prevent a transfer again. Ock proceeds to pummel his old body to the point of death and Peter uses their connection via the Octobot (the device that started the whole thing) to flood Octavius’ mind with his memories and loss he has experienced becoming the Spider-Man he was. Ock has an epiphany realizing how wrong he was and vows that Peter isn’t leaving the mantle of Spider-Man to a villain. Ock then destroys his former identity as Doctor Octopus and redesigns the Spider suit vowing to be a better Spider-Man than Peter Parker ever was, vowing to become the Superior Spider-Man.

Alright now that the prologue to the series is done I’m going to jump into the things that I felt worked and the ones that didn’t. There will be spoilers for the run so if you want to read it yourself spoiler free then stop reading now.

WHAT I LIKED

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#1 – The Suit

The first thing that I will say really blew me away was the redesign of the suit. Initially at the beginning of the run he wears that classic suit just recoloured with the talons and the mechanical eyes. Later on, he redesigns the whole suit to the Superior look. When he added the mechanical arms, that was too much like Doc Ock pretending to be Spider-Man for me, but I understood why he did it and how it was a necessary step in his development as a character. But the redesign with the red and black over tones, along with the bigger mechanical looking eyes really made the whole costume come together. But probably my favourite piece of the whole suit were the retractable talons. They really added a more animalistic look to the whole suit and when used to deliver tracking nanobots they were easily the best piece of the suit. The redesign of the Web shooters to operate on the outside of the suit was also a great addition.

#2 – The Story

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The story of Superior Spider-Man involves quite a few very prominent villains for the most part but the overall plot involving the Green Goblin/Goblin King was really cool. The entire series Spider-Man is vexed by his regular rogues gallery while every issue we are treated to a few panels of the Goblin King recruiting. By the time the Goblin King makes his move he has a veritable army of followers and they quickly take control over large sections of the city. Most notable villains that he comes up against are the vulture, Scorpion, the Sinister Six, Hobgoblin, Spider Slayer, and Massacre. Not only does the story show how much Otto changes during his run as Spider-man but it also shows the lengths he’s willing to go, by executing Massacre the whole world, including the Avengers knew there was something different about Spider-Man. Not only do the Avengers attempt to subdue him and find out what’s wrong but he actually fights them off single handedly. He also establishes a Spider Island and hires henchmen to be his arach-naughts.

I will say that while the whole story was pretty awesome the one thing you saw coming was Peter eventually retaking his body. Throughout the run we are shown that Peter appears as an astral projection that only Otto can see and hear, but Peter influences a lot of what Otto does while trying to find a way to take his body back. When Otto ultimately sacrifices himself to allow Peter full control over his body it shows how full circle becoming the hero changed Otto for the better.

#3 – Spider-Man 2099

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A large part of the second half of the run involves the arrival of Spider-Man 2099 (Miguel O’Hara) from the future to stop the rise of the tech conglomerate that is the main antagonist in his timeline.  A colleague at Horizon Labs builds a time portal and Spider-Man 2099 arrives through it sent by Alchemex from his own timeline. Otto attacks  O’Hara believing him to be an imposter, they battle to a stalemate with O’Hara fleeing without Otto being able to track him. While the main story progresses O’Hara ends up working as an assistant to his eventual arch enemy due to him being stranded in this timeline. The climax of the run shows Peter restored and in control of his body working with O’Hara to stop the Alchemex mechs, save the city from the Goblin King, save Anna Maria, and return O’Hara to his own timeline. I think the reason I like this part so much is because of the suit O’Hara has. Blue with a red skull, talons, and a small web cape, just looks awesome no matter what timeline he’s in.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE

 

#1 – HOW NOBODY NOTICED HE WAS DIFFERENT

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The entire run of the series shows Otto burning old bridges with long time allies and friends and forging a new relationship with Anna Maria. The Avengers aren’t even able to discern that someone other than Peter is Spider-Man.  The only person the entire series who truly believes something is different is Carlie Cooper (Peter’s ex-girlfriend and knower of the Spider-Man identity) and when she figures it out; she is kidnapped by the Goblin King and dosed with Goblin serum which changes her into “Monster”.  The Avengers conduct every test they have to try and see if someone has impersonated or taken over Spider-Man, and they come up empty handed. The biggest tell though, is the language he uses. If you read other Avengers comics with Spider-Man he talks like a cocky kid and his one liners rival Deadpool. The Superior Spider-Man uses language that a pompous narcissist would use and nobody notices. This is one of the things that irked me about the whole run. That and like seriously… he made 4 mechanical spider arms and nobody thought “Oh maybe something isn’t right… that  looks like something Doc Ock would do” and then they all come to this conclusion”… but Ock is dead so it obviously couldn’t be him” like COME ON!

#2 – Hobgoblin/Goblin Knight

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So one of the side plots for the run is the constant appearance of the Hobgolin, and not even the real one. So turns out the original Hobgoblin has retired (kind of) from his criminal ways, now he only provides a means rather than committing the crime himself. What I mean to say is that the original Hobgoblin (Roderick Kingsley “actually Daniel Kingsley impersonating Roderick”) is selling villain personas and costumes to people for profit. Phil Urich (Nephew of famed Daily Bugle reporter Ben Urich) purchased the Hobgoblin persona and uses it to finance his life while recording himself committing crimes to write stories for the paper.. Ya… it’s really weird.  Anyways, Hobgoblin is in the employ of Kingpin and acts as an enforcer. When Spider-Man attacks Shadowland (of Daredevil Fame) with his arach-naughts and arach-tanks, Kingpin fakes his death and the Hobgoblin flees. Tiberius Stone sabotages the Hobgoblin ruining him and Spider-Man ousts Phil Urich as the Hobgoblin.  Phil takes Norah Winters as a hostage to escape the Bugle but Spider-Man arrives and defeats him. Urich is broken out of jail by Menace and taken to the Goblin King in the sewers of NY. Goblin King annoints him as Goblin Knight and provides him with a new costume and armour.

The whole thing is just extra plot for the sake of making more henchmen for the Goblin King. They could’ve had him be ruined and give it up and that’s it but no, they carried it on making it drag through the last volumes until Peter Parker kicks his butt.

#3 – The Spider Island/Spider HQ

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Okay this goes hand in hand with how do people not notice he is not Peter Parker. HE MAKES HIMSELF AN HQ AND HIRES AN ARMY OF HENCHMEN!! HE BUILD MASSIVE TANKS AND LEADS AN OFFENSIVE AGAINST SHADOWLAND!!! COME ON!!! YOU’RE TELLING ME NOBODY THOUGHT HE WAS A LITTLE DIFFERENT?!?!?

Side bar the Avengers thought something was different but they were more concerned with his brutal punishments rather THAN HIS FREAKING ARMY AND TANKS!!!

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Okay, I’m done ranting about his army and spidertanks.

Minus the few things that I brought up about not liking the whole story arc was very well put together. Dan Slott did a great job with this run I only wish they had somehow kept this Spider-Man alive in a different universe just so we could see how far things would go before someone actually noticed and ousted Doc Ock as Spider-Man.

This story is definitely a must read for any Spider-Man fan and would add to any collection. I know i bought it all and have read it several times over. I didn’t even mention the venom part of the run or the final act because I wanted to keep somethings spoiler free. Regardless of who is in the body though Spider-Man always shows us that with great power comes great responsibility.

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Justice League Vs. Avengers – Who Is the Better Team?

For this week’s post I decided to do something a little different than I normally do. This week I’m going to explain who I think would win in a fight between the Avengers and the Justice League. To make this an even fight I am going to use newer incarnations of the teams to balance out.  The teams I will be using are the New 52 Justice League as well as the MarvelNow! Avengers team.  So let’s kick it off by looking at the roster of the New 52 Justice League.

NEW 52 JUSTICE LEAGUE

The New 52 Justice League is the younger re-launch of the classic team from DC Comics. The team consists of many of the same players as the original team with some changes. Let’s take a look at the team:

The Power House – Superman

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It’s no secret that I don’t like Superman. I just find that any sort of conflict with him is redundant as he can just be Superman and win. That being said he is the obvious power house of the Justice League. With Super strength, invulnerability, heat vision, flight, super speed, frost breath, etc.. there are not many that can stand against him in a fight. As the big blue boy scout he stands as the figurehead of the League and is the one constant member.

The Fighter – Wonder Woman

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Wonder Woman is an Amazon, and in the DC universe that is a big deal. The Amazons hail from the mystical island of Themyscira where they have live din seclusion from the world of man for centuries. Having been trained as a warrior from a young age Wonder Woman is very skilled in many forms of classical combat. With her increased strength, speed, reflexes and flight she is very much a force to be reckoned with. In addition to her physical abilities and skills she also sports the Lasso of Truth, and invulnerable rope made by the Gods of Greece that compels the victim to tell the truth.

The Tactician – Batman

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Batman is my favourite hero hands down, I could spend an entire post writing about him and the reasons he’s amazing, but I will save that for another time. As a master of over 100 forms of martial arts, Batman reigns as one of the best fighters in all of DC Comics continuity. In addition to his fighting skill, he is trained to the peak of human perfection, the World’s greatest Detective, and a master strategist. In many Justice League comics and altercations Batman is the mind behind their combat efficiency deploying each member of the League according to their skills.

The Tech Genius – Cyborg

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Cyborg was created by fusing alien technology with the burned body of Victor Stone. The New 52 changed his origin but it made it work better with the overall narrative of the comic run. Boasting a combination of human technology, Apokalyptan technology, and the remains of his human body, Cyborg stands as the youngest member of the League in the New 52. With a motherbox incorporated into his exo-skeleton Cyborg is able to teleport the League anywhere they want to go with only 1 in 1,000 jumps malfunctioning and sending them back to Apocalypse. He also has an advanced AI named Grid embedded in his ex-Skeleton that enables him to instantly connect to any piece of technology either alien or human.

The King – Aquaman

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Aquaman is the reigning king of the fabled Atlantis of Legend. Being born of the queen of Atlantis and a human man, Aquaman is only half Atlantean. He boasts an impressive skill set with his strength being able to rival that of Superman, swimming at super speeds, near invulnerable skin, ability to telepathically control sea life, control over the oceans with his trident, and increased speed. His trident is one of the few things constructed on earth that is able to pierce Superman’s invulnerable Kryptonian skin. He is also able to command storms, the oceans themselves as well as an ancient race of man eating sea creatures called the Trench with his trident.

The Speedster – The Flash

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The Flash is the fastest man alive. Having been exposed to the speed force and struck by a bolt of lightning that turned out to be himself when he disintegrated after the Crisis on Infinite Earths story line (seriously I’m not kidding) he became the Flash. Boasting speeds that have never been fully measured except in incredible feats throughout comics, Flash is probably the most over powered member of the League. Able to instantly connect to the speed force and utilize it to boost his own speed he has been known to travel through time and even outrun existence. If the Flash even went rogue there is not a single person who would be able to stop him.

The Pilot – Green Lantern

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Green Lantern is a member of the Green Lantern Corps which polices the known universe. The universe is broken up into various sectors and each sector has a lantern responsible for guarding it. Green Lantern from Earth is tasked with protecting Sector 2814. Sporting a ring that can literally make anything the wearer can think of, he is a force to reckoned with. His ring is powered by the central battery on the planet Oa and is fueled by the Green light of Willpower. After and extensive career as a test pilot and military training Green Lantern is very skilled in aerial combat and space combat.

 

MARVELNOW! AVENGERS

The team roster for the MarvelNow! Avengers is quite extensive as such by sheer numbers, the Avengers would take the fight. I will limit the team of the Avengers to who I believe to be the most prominent members and match them based on the categories listed with the Justice League members.

The Powerhouse – The Incredible Hulk

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The Hulk is the strongest hero there is, plain and simple. He spends most of his time as his human counter part Bruce Banner, but when Banner loses control or changes willingly he becomes the unstoppable green Goliath. Hulk’s upper limit of strength has never fully been reached or even hinted at. This is due to the fact that the more mad he gets the stronger he gets. Not only does he get physically stronger as he increases in rage but he also gets physically bigger.  With someone like the Hulk on your team there is nobody that can stand against his rage, and his willingness to kill also gives him an advantage over his opponents.

The Fighter – Wolverine

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Wolverine is an immortal Canadian who don’t take crap from nobody. Okay he isn’t actually immortal but with a healing factor that can heal any wound almost instantly and an indestructible skeleton made of Adamantium there are not many that compare to him. Not only does he have incredible ferocity during battle and a willingness to kill but he also can fly into a berserker rage from which there is no stopping him until he has killed his opponent. In addition to his healing factor and his skeleton he has adamantium claws that extend from his knuckles and can cut through all known metals. He is also a mutant and gifted with beat like enhancements to his smell and stealth.

The Tactician – Captain America

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Standing as the sole success of the Weapon I project during WWII, Captain America has stood as a symbol for the people of the United States for generations. With his enhanced reflexes, strength, speed, and battlefield experience he is the tactical mind behind the Avengers and their combat operations. Armed with a metal shield made of an adimantium/vibranium alloy, Captain America has taken on many foes bigger and more fearsome than himself. Not only does he have extensive real life battlefield experience but he also spars constantly with other members of his team to hone his combat techniques for taking on people with powers.

The Tech Genius – Iron Man

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Iron Man is the resident tech genius of the Avengers, it can be argued that Hank Pym, Reed Richards and T’Challa can give him a run for his money but Iron Man is the best candidate for this position. Known for using his extensive collection of mechanical exo-suits for combat he can adapt to any situation and prevail. Each suit has specific different abilities but one of the constant factors that all of his suits come equipped with his flight, repulsor blasts, and  an AI companion. In addition to his repulsors more of his suits come equipped with extensive Stark Industries weaponry that  makes him a veritable one man army on the battlefield.

The King – Thor

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Hailing from the the mythical realm of Asgard, Thor is the Prince (eventual King) and God of Thunder. As an Asgardian his lifespan is much greater than any normal human spanning over hundreds of thousands of years. He is super strong, invulnerable to most damage, and equipped with MJOLNIR. His hammer MJOLNIR gives him the ability to control lightning, allows him to fly, and is made from an indestructible metal known as Uru which can only be found in dying stars. It is worth noting that while Thor Odinson is of Asgard, anyone who is deemed “worthy” by MJOLNIR is able to lift it and is imbued with Thor’s powers and abilities.

The Speedster – Spider-Man

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I know, I know, Spider-Man is not a speedster but he does have increased reflexes and his Spider-sense works so fast that he is able to dodge bullets, this makes him as a contender for the Flash. Originally ranked as one of the strongest characters in Marvel comics, Spider-Man has super-strength, increased speed, reflexes, spider-sense, wall crawling, and web shooters. He is also one of the smartest people in the Marvel universe and currently owns and operates his own massive tech conglomerate known as Parker Industries. Spider-Man is so strong that constantly has to hold back from hitting to hard for fear of killing his enemies by accident.

The Pilot – Captain Marvel/ Ms. Marvel

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With extensive training as a fighter pilot as well as other military training Ms. Marvel is the perfect synchronization between human and Kree physiology.  With enhanced strength, speed, endurance, flight, precognitive sense and immunity to most poisons and toxins, Ms. Marvel is one of the heavy hitters of the Avengers. She is also able to fly into space and can project photon blasts from her hands as well as absorb energy. She was also able to connect to a white hole (a hypothetical region of space time) which allowed her control over stellar energies (gravity, light, electromagnetic spectrum); this connection has since been severed but her other powers remain.

 

THE OUTCOME

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Alright now that I’ve outlined the teams and the various abilities of each member it’s time to tell you who I think would win. As I said before I am a huge Batman fan and i do love the JL (even if Superman is there) but I would have to give this to the Avengers. While I truly do believe that a battle between Cap and Batman would be awesome, I do believe that the Avengers would come out on top for most of the match ups. Thor would easily wipe the ground with Aquaman and then assist Hulk with Superman, Captain Marvel would beat Green Lantern, and I do believe that Wolverine would give Wonder Woman a good run for her money. But the factor that clinches it is the fact that the Hulk is willing to kill to win, whereas Superman is not. Iron Man I’m sure would find a way to beat Cyborg eventually but with his white noise cannon and Grid, Cyborg might prevail as the winner there; however, in the end Tony is also a tech genius and can just use a suit that Cyborg can’t track, like his stealth suit, or simply fly them into space.

I do believe that this match would come down to the final few punches but like I said before if we went with the starting rosters for each team the Avengers would win by sheer number, especially when those numbers include Captain Universe and Hyperion.

If you disagree let me know if not, see you next week!

Spider-Man: Homecoming – Best Spider-Man film to date

*This article will contain some Easter Egg spoilers. You have been warned!!! *

If you’re like me, an avid Spider-Man fan, then you’ve probably been to see the latest installment to the MCU which is Spider-Man: Homecoming. I will flat out say that while the original 2000’s Sam Raimi films hold a very special place in my heart, this film is the best Spider-Man movie ever made.  They took Spider-Man back to his roots without forcing another origin story down our throats. Gone are the days of Peter Parker being a struggling photographer for the Daily Bugle. Back are the days of awkward teenage flirtation and social awkwardness we all experienced in high school. Tom Holland was amazing in his role as Peter Parker, he brought all the charisma and hilarity of his Civil War role into his full length role.

In addition to Tom Holland killing it at Peter Parker we were also given Michael Keaton in the role of Adrian Toomes aka. The Vulture. The story does a great job of maintaining the seriousness of a superhero flick without getting too over dramatic. In addition to the vulture there are several great nods and cameos of some other members of Spidey’s rogues gallery: The Tinkerer, Shocker and Prowler. One of my personal favourites was the inclusion of Mac Gargan into the MCU. Mac Gargan is the real name of the villain Scorpion who is one of Spider-Man’s most prominent foes. He hasn’t gotten his exo-suit yet and right now he just has a small role, but it’s obvious that this movie is meant to set up a larger Spider-Man universe.

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One of the best Easter Eggs from the movie comes from Donald Glover’s character, Aaron Davis. Fans of the Ultimate universe of Marvel comics will note who this character is and his significance to the story. Aaron Davis is the Prowler, a thief who likes to steal tech from major companies. In the ultimate universe he has a nephew, Miles Morales. Miles is bitten by the same spider that bit Peter all those years ago (Oscorp kept the spider for unclear reasons). While Miles gets roughly the same Power set as Peter he is also given the ability to camouflage himself and his clothing into his environment, his spider sense is weaker and only warns him of immediate danger as well as a “Venom Sting” in which he can paralyze anyone with just a touch. In the film Aaron actually goes as far as to say that he has a nephew in this neighbourhood which is why he will help.  This one scene gave so many people what they wanted which was the inclusion of Miles in the MCU, though now we will not be able to see fan favourite Donald Glover portray the character as he is far too old and he was cast as his uncle.

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One of my favourite Easter Eggs in the film comes when Peter is trying to track down some bad guys and disables the “training wheels protocol” Tony installed in his suit. When preparing to apprehend some bad guys the suit asks Peter if he would like to ” Instant lethal”. When the suit asks this the eyes turn red and narrow, and the placement of the shadows make the blue of his suit look red. This Easter Egg will be familiar for fans of the 90’s Clone Saga comic run. Kaine Parker, one of the clones made by the Jackal took on the moniker of Scarlet Spider, after the original Ben Reilly Scarlet Spider died. Kaine suffered from murderous tendencies and due to him being an imperfect clone he was supposed to die, but he didn’t. He healed and left New York moving down to Texas where he became the vigilante of Scarlet Spider with a precondition to lethal force.  Of all the Parker Clones that came out of that convoluted mess of a story arc, Kaine undergoes the biggest character development and is in my opinion the best one.

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Without giving any of the plot away I will say this, Michael Keaton played Adrian Toomes so well! there is a scene where he and Peter are i n a car and Toomes is laying down how things are going to play out and it is one of the best scenes of the entire MCU to date. Keaton has such a demanding presence in the film without being over dramatic. This might just be my personal opinion, but his time as Batman (however brief) provided him with a stoic ability to express his point without using many words. The Vulture suit is also just awesome. The studio moved away from a pair of bird winds on a green leotard and made him a rig which is basically a personal jet engine that straps to his back. They also gave him gripping claws for picking up large amounts of weight which is important to the plot of the movie.

The supporting cast of the film was stellar as well. Peter’s best friend Ned played by Jacob Batalon is one of the funniest characters in the MCU. This is coming from a guy who thinks both Deadpool and Rocket Raccoon are comedic gold and memorized most of their lines the first time I saw their respective movies. Batalon and Holland have a great chemistry that most actors try to emulate but few ever can. He is situationally funny as well as delivering some killer one liners throughout the film. I am very excited to see some more of him in the future installments of the Spider-Man stories as well as possibly a cameo or two in some upcoming Avengers movies. A shown in the trailer for the film Ned learns pretty early on that Peter is Spider-Man which leads to some great shenanigans on his part and some of the most hilarious grilling Peter could ever receive about his night time endeavours.

All in all the film ranks (for me) as one of the top 5 films in the MCU so far. It’s a great family film with some very serious undertone. I would rate this movie as a 9 out of 10 and recommend everyone goes to see it. It’s not just your typical good guy wins and everyone is happy story. It’s about Peter becoming the hero he wants to be and the hero others believe he can be. He has to find the balance to his life as Peter and his responsibility as Spider-Man. After all, we all know… with great power, comes great responsibility.

 

Civil War II – Underwhelming and Unnecessary

** This article contains spoilers for Civil War II, Infinity and Marvel Now! Avengers

 

With the release of Captain America: Civil War the better part of the world knows the cause and fallout of the MCU version of the event that divided Marvel comic readers down the middle. The original Civil War from 2006-2007 was a one of the most talked about Marvel events of all time, and it’s fallout can still be felt in some of their printings today.  With something as significant as the Civil War, why did Marvel feel the need to sully the memory of it by creating a cheap second Civil War with literally no reasoning. For those unfamiliar with the story behind Civil War II it goes something like this:

With the release of the Terrigen Mist by Black Bolt at the end of Infinity came a new wave of Inhumans. The mists have become a sort of storm front that moves about the Earth causing people with the dormant Inhuman gene to basically cocoon until they emerge mutated into a fully fledged Inhuman. One such instance created the Inhuman known as Ulysses. His powers were that he was able to see the future, though it was unclear how reliable his visions were. Captain Marvel and her followers think that the potential for someone to commit evil is enough to warrant their arrest prior to the act; Iron Man and his followers think that you need to wait for the crime to take place before acting and that they need to test Ulysses powers before blindly relying on them.  This causes a split among the heroes of the Marvel Universe and the subsequent Civil War II.

The event comes literally stepping on the heels of Marvel’s previous event Secret Wars which was the culmination of the Hickman run of Avengers which saw the end of the Marvel Universe as we know it. While most fans were still reeling from the Secret Wars and trying to digest the meaning behind the event, they were force fed this half baked story about the fate of the new Marvel Universe.

There are some great points in this arc that really highlight the characters and their beliefs, but mostly it’s a lot of cat and mouse chasing, with whining on both sides. In addition to the fairly cookie cutter plot from the first Civil War, there’s the unnecessary shock value of the deaths included in the arc.

*SPOILERS AHEAD*

To start off the issue we are greeted with the brutal slaughter of War Machine. I say brutal slaughter because that’s all it was, there was no finesse in it; during a confrontation with Thanos (who had teleported to Earth to retrieve the cosmic cube) he punched War Machine through his middle effectively separating his spine from his body. There was no overall goal for it, there was no sacrifice, he was killed because they needed a reason to set Iron Man and Captain Marvel against each other. When Iron Man found out what had happened he did the only rational thing he could do, kidnap Ulysses from Attilan and start a global manhunt for him. Not long after this and the reclaiming of Ulysses by the Inhumans we are greeted with the second and frankly useless death from the run.

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The second death comes in the form of Bruce Banner (aka The Incredible Hulk). During the debate between Iron Man and Captain Marvel once they had recovered Ulysses; the debate got heated and Ulysses collapsed on the ground. He said he had a vision of the Hulk killing all the heroes and laying waste to the city of New York. Understandably afraid of the kind of devastation the Hulk could wreck, all of the heroes ( like literally everyone on both sides of the conflict) pay Bruce Banner a visit at his secret lab in the middle of rural USA.  After a brief confrontation with Banner he is struck in the head by an arrow that kills him instantly. The culprit is discovered to be Hawkeye who fired the arrow from a tree on the edge of the woods near the farm.

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During the following trial it was revealed that Hawkeye had been approached by Banner several months before and given the arrow with the instructions that if he (Banner) were ever going to change again that he was to use it.

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This is easily the death that was thrown in merely for shock value to add further stakes to the conflict (Hawkeye being on team Iron Man and She-Hulk being on Team Captain Marvel). During the trial for the murder when asked why he did it Hawkeye recounts this story as well as adding that he saw his eyes fleck green (which is a precursor to Banner changing into the Hulk) which nobody else saw.

The Third and final death is probably the one that is the most ridiculous of the lot.  IN the final confrontation at the capitol in D.C. Iron Man and Captain Marvel clash in the skies above.  Ulysses had another vision that showed Spider-Man (Miles Morales) killing Captain America (Steve Rogers) by beating him to death on the steps of the capitol. Captain Marvel arrived to arrest Spider-Man for a crime he hadn’t committed yet, while Iron Man arrived to stop her. Iron Man generated a force field around Captain America and Spider-Man to stop Captain Marvel from taking either of them and then takes the fight to Captain Marvel in a new suit.The battle ends with Captain Marvel dismantling the suit around Tony and delivering the final blow. Tony crashes to the ground apparently dead. It’s later revealed that he is merely in  a coma from which he might never wake up from. Beast and several others put Tony into a stasis chamber to keep him alive and well until he wakes up.

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The entirety of this run was made solely to draw in more readers and to jostle the roster of existing heroes around to allow for a more diverse Marvel line up. With the death of Iron Man, Riri Williams (a female African American teenager) was set up to take over the Iron Man mantle. Instead of giving her a back door introduction in an event she had very little to do with, she should’ve been introduced and been mentored by Tony before this happened. That would give her the drive to take over as Iron Man until he recovers.

All in all this was a fairly disappointing event and it could’ve been done a lot better and waited longer before releasing it. As I said before Secret Wars had just finished and then this arrived making the entirety of Secret Wars seem like a bad dream while this was the real crisis. While I enjoyed the characters and some of the banter it didn’t capture the grandness that the first Civil War did. I would rate it a solid C- just based on the fact that apart from the deaths I mentioned above there is absolutely no reason to read this story arc. This was supposed to be the shock that brought Marvel back to the forefront with DC who had been squashing Marvel in comic sales with their Rebirth re-launch and it failed. This is one of the very few races that DC is actually kicking Marvel’s butt.

Is the Punisher Right?

By now, everyone has had a chance to watch Season 2 of Daredevil on Netflix. If not, I strongly urge that you do, because it is awesome! Also, this article will contain spoilers for those who haven’t seen it yet, so, you have been warned!

The season kicks off with a bang (literally), when an Irish mob gathering is ambushed by an unknown assailant, who proceeds to massacre the entire squad with the exception of one lowly member named Grotto. Now it isn’t revealed until the second episode, but the unknown assailant is none other than Frank Castle aka the Punisher. The Punisher is a famous anti-hero from Marvel comics who uses his extensive military training to wage a one man war on organized crime. To date he has received several live action adaptations, being portrayed by the likes of: Dolph Lundgren, Thomas Jane, Ray Stevenson and now John Bernthal. He is a very complex character with a staunch moral code that some might consider fairly askew. Moral code and ethics aside, one has to wonder if he actually has a good point.

In episode 3, the Punisher has captured Daredevil and chained him to a chimney on a rooftop overlooking the Dogs of Hell club house. While he prepares to draw the club members into an ambush and slaughter them all, he has a moral debate with the staunchly catholic Daredevil. The debate begins with Daredevil asking Frank why he is doing what he’s doing (killing gangs) and Frank calmly replies  with ” Because someone has to” while preparing for his ambush. Back and forth they continue to debate on how frank is able to sleep at night knowing what he has done.  Frank asks Daredevil what he thinks the difference is between them, Daredevil staunchly replies with “I don’t kill people”. The debate continues back and forth for a few minutes as tempers become elevated. The hard hitting line comes from Frank when he tells Daredevil that he (Daredevil) will never win. ” You wanna know what I think? I think you’re a half measure… You hit them and they get back up, I hit them and they stay down! … You know you’re one bad day away from being me.”

This final line actually draws a very interesting parallel with the Joker mythos in Batman: The Killing Joke. In that story, Joker tries to prove that anyone can become as crazy as he is with just one bad day. He targets Commissioner Gordon in an attempt to bring (arguably) Batman’s strongest ally down into Insanity. He kidnaps him after shooting his daughter through the spine paralyzing her, strips her naked and photographs her while she bleeds on the ground, then uses these images to torture the commissioner over and over again in an effort to make him crack.  One could argue that every superhero story begins with one bad day, and that the worth of the person dictates how they go about the rest of their life after that day. Bruce Wayne became Batman, Peter Parker became Spider-Man and Tony Stark became Iron Man; these heroes took what happened to them and used it as a driving force to make a change.

The question you have to ask yourself is, Do you think the Punisher is right?

Does his stance represent the only true way to deal with crime?

The character of Frank Castle experienced a trauma so horrific it changed him from inside out. He was picnicking with his family in central park when they stumbled onto a mob hit (in Season 2 of Daredevil they change it to a STING operation gone bad), which resulted in his 2 kids and wife being brutally murdered in front of his eyes. He survived the ordeal, and used his extensive career in the military to wage a one man war on crime.  His brutal methods have often put him at odds with the Avengers and other classic heroes because they view his methods as extreme and criminal. There are certain heroes who understand that Punisher does what needs to be done. An example of this would be in the Marvel Now! story line of Punisher: Warzone.

Image result for MArvel Now! Punisher War Zone

In this run, Spider-Man convinces the Avengers that they need to deal with Punisher after Frank accosted and incapacitated Spider-Man to steal one of his web shooters, in order to use it in a hit he had planned . Knowing the relationship with Frank and tendencies fellow Avenger Wolverine has, Captain America visits him personally to tell him to sit this one out. When he confronts Logan about it Logan tells him “… the difference between you and me Captain… is that I understand sometimes… people have to die”. The run is amazing, and is frankly one of the better Punisher stories that I’ve ever read, I would highly recommend you read it.

Another Example of this would be from the DCAU movie Batman: Under the Red Hood. This is the story of how Joker murdered the second Robin, Jason Todd; and Jason’s subsequent resurrection and donning of his new persona the Red Hood. This movie concludes with a heart wrenching confrontation between Bruce and Jason (who had abducted the Joker) during which Jason says “Bruce, I forgive you for not saving me. But why on God’s good earth.. is he still alive?! Blatantly ignoring the graveyards he’s filled, the friends he’s crippled, if he had taken you I would’ve hunted him down and sent him off to hell! I would’ve thought… I would’ve thought I would be the last person you would let him hurt…”. Bruce admits to wanting to kill Joker, but he says ” If I do that, if I go down into that dark place… I’ll never come out”. This line is what firmly defines what the difference between superhero and anti-hero is.

Anti-heroes like: Red Hood, Punisher, Grifter, Moon Knight, Ghost Rider, Deadpool and even Green Arrow (on some occasions*), toe the line between hero and villain every chance they get. While their methods often revolve around maiming/killing, they only do it to criminals and those few people who deserve it.

Heroes come in all shapes and sizes, but regardless of what they look like they are heroes because they work for the greater good. Because you don’t agree with how someone carries about their heroing, doesn’t make them wrong. It could be argued that anti-heroes see a larger impact on criminality than clean cut superheroes do. With that in mind..which side do you fall on, is the Punisher right?

*See Arrow Season 1 and Justice League: Cry for Justice

Life Lessons to be Learned from Superheroes

I want to start this off by saying I love superheroes. I think that is a little obvious given my topic choice for the blog, but the main reason i care so much for superheroes and their stories, are the lessons they can teach. Whether it’s about standing by your friends, standing up for the weak, taking responsibility for your actions, or even just admitting when you’re wrong; superheroes can deliver these lessons time and time again.  Batman, Captain America, Spider-Man, Vision, Superman, Aquaman, Moon Knight, Ghost Rider, Wolverine, they all can demonstrate important values that should be emulated in everyday life. Take for example Steve Rogers aka Captain America, the scrawny kid from Brooklyn who became a household name around the world.

When Steve Rogers decided to enlist all he wanted to do was serve his country. He was rejected. Time and time again he would try and he got rejected every time based on his size and medical conditions. He persevered, until one last try when he met Dr. Erskine; and his whole world changed. In Captain America: The Fist Avenger, Dr. Erskine takes an interest in Rogers for the super soldier project due to his commitment. He asks him if he wants to enlist to kill Nazis, Steve responds with ” I don’t want to kill anybody, I don’t like bullies, I don’t care where they’re from”. Dr. Erskine gave Rogers a chance and beyond everyone else’s wildest dreams he was chosen for the project. The reasoning, ” A strong man who has always known power will lose respect for that power, but a weak man knows the value of strength and knows compassion”, this quote was delivered by Dr. Erskine when he was asked by Steve why he had chosen him. Captain America has carried this with him his entire life and it continues to be a large part of his character (up until he is revealed to be a secret hydra agent?) we’ll just forget about that part. Another great lesson that Captain America has taught us is to never give up. You could argue that every hero embodies this trait but hear me out first. During Infinity War, Thanos got the infinity gauntlet. Thanos is powerful enough as is, but give him the gauntlet with all the infinity stones and he become unstoppable. This is shown when all the heroes across the universe band together to stop him… and he mops the floor with them in 30 seconds flat. With the heroes strewn across the ground Thanos triumphantly declares himself the victor, and then something happened. Despite the loss of his shield, his team mates laid out on the ground before him, defeat staring him in the face, Captain America stood up. He stood in front of Thanos and declared that “as long as one man stands against you, you’ll never claim victory”.  Thanos mocks him by saying “Noble sentiments from one who is about to die”. Captain America stands, resolute, staring Thanos in the eyes and replies with ” I’ve lived my life by those words. They’re well worth dying for”. Bottom line is that Captain America stands for the impact one good man can have on history regardless of the odds stacked against him. Captain America is just one of many that stand as an inspiration for many, Peter Parker aka Spider-Man is another great example.

Peter Parker, brilliant, determined, courageous, nerd. Peter grew up in Queens and lived with his Aunt May and Uncle Ben due to the death of his parents at a very young age. He was very gifted in science but not so much in the athletic department. One day while on a trip to a science lab he was bitten by a radioactive spider. This spider bite re-wrote sections of his DNA giving him amazing spider like powers.  His origin is tragic and remains as one of the best backstories in comics today. Once bitten by the spider he was performing in a circus as an act to earn some extra cash (some relaunches change this to fighting in a wrestling ring to earn money). One night after performing a criminal was racing towards the elevator located behind Peter and a security officer shouted for Peter to stop the criminal. Peter side stepped allowing the criminal to pass and told the security that it wasn’t his problem. The criminal then went on to shoot Peter’s uncle Ben, the closest thing he had to a father after his natural father’s death. Peter arrived just in time to witness his uncle’s death. He vowed to hunt down the man responsible for Ben’s death and to make him pay. One of the last things his uncle had said to him was “With great power, comes great responsibility”, this mantra is known by every Spider-Man fan and is uttered by the character many times over his run in comics and mass media. When Peter hunts down the man responsible for killing his uncle Ben he hesitates and ends up letting the criminal go because he knew vengeance was not the answer. He decided at that moment to don the Spider-Man persona and fight crime so that what happened to his uncle would never happen to anyone else. One of the worst tragedies to befall Peter was during Amazing Spider-man #121, when Green Goblin had kidnapped Peter’s girlfriend Gwen Stacy. In an effort to force Spider-Man to make a difficult decision, to stop Goblin or save Gwen, Goblin throws Gwen off of a bridge. Peter quickly shoots a web line catching Gwen around her middle and pulls to stop her fall. When Peter pulls Gwen up he realizes that the force from him pulling her to stop her fall had snapped her neck. Peter is distraught over the whole ordeal and it stands as his single greatest failure. Peter blames himself for what happened to Gwen, which further cements what his uncle Ben told him, with great power comes great responsibility. Peter is a shining example that if you have the ability to do something you have the responsibility to do it and to own it if it doesn’t work out. Moving over to the DC comics side of things, a hero who stands as a symbol for many, Batman.

Bruce Wayne was born into one of the richest families in the world, the Waynes. Their fortune was made primarily on various technological innovations along with some weapon and medical advancement. When he was 8 years old he and his parents had gone to see the Mark of Zorro at the Monarch Theater in Park Row also known as Crime Alley. It started to rain so the family decided to cut through an alley and everything changed. A man (later revealed to be Joe Chill) was waiting in the alley and shot Thomas and Martha Wayne over a wallet and a pearl necklace. Young Bruce watched his parents die in front of him forever scarring him and changing him into the boy who would eventually become Batman. Bruce travels the world for many years learning every form of martial arts and detective skills. He returns to Gotham taking up the mantle of Batman and beginning his crusade against the criminals of the city. One of the coolest aspects of Batman is that he stands as an ideal rather than a physical person. Yes, he is a physical person in the sense of someone has to be out there in the skin tight armour fighting the good fight, but it doesn’t always have to be Bruce. In both, Battle for the Cowl and Knightfall, Bruce was incapacitated in one form or another. This opened the gates for other worthy successors to become Batman. Azrael took the mantle up in Knightfall while Bruce healed, and while he fought his way back through time after Final Crisis, Dick had taken up the cowl because there always has to be a Batman in Gotham.  One of the reasons Batman is so relatable is that while he is considered a superhero, he has no actual powers to speak of. For all intents and purposes Batman is just a man, a man with billions of dollars of gadgets and gear, and trained to peak human perfection, but just a man none the less. He stands as a testament to what you can become if you set your mind to something and are determined to see it through.

Batman
Never Give Up

These heroes remain as some of the greatest teaching utensils of core values and consequences. Whether it’s being a good person, taking responsibility for your abilities or becoming who you want to be through determination, I (and many others) have learned plenty from our heroes. I would wager that for most people aged 18 -30, we learned more about being a good person from fictional characters than we ever did in a classroom.

Iron Man a Villain?

With the release of the new Spider-Man: Homecoming trailer this week a new dynamic has been introduced to the MCU, Iron Man has become an antagonist.

Now, before you disagree with me, hear me out. It all started in Avengers 1, during the altercation in Banner’s lab. With the scepter influencing everyone’s minds, words were shared. Mostly the words shared were along the lines of how each one was better than the rest. The real altercation came between Steve and Tony, when Steve asked Tony “… Take away that suit of armour.. what are you?”. Tony responds with the ever famous “Genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist”, which thereby establishes his ego-centrism and narcissism as well as pointing him on the path that he is now on.

Later in the movie a nuke is launched by the World Security council in an attempt to stop the invasion and close the portal. Tony intercepts the missile and angles it through the portal to the Chitauri invasion force. Tony saves the world and saves billions causing the narcissism to grow.

Skip ahead to Avengers: Age of Ultron, where unlike the comic book source material, Tony creates Ultron. This deviation was a necessity because Hank Pym wasn’t established in the MCU until the Ant-Man movie which was released after Age of Ultron.  In Age of Ultron, despite the objections of Bruce Banner, Tony decides to take it upon himself to create the Ultron program; a program he says will “end the team”. Obviously it doesn’t go to plan and the shit hits the fan, causing the Avengers to unite again to combat the new threat. This movie began sewing the seeds for the eventual conflict that would be Captain America: Civil War, the distrust has begun to grow and the antagonistic behaviour had begun to show itself.

The culmination of this is during the moments when the team is hiding out at the Barton farm as they lick their wounds. Steve and Tony are both chopping wood and begin with a philosophical discussion.

T- You know Ultron is trying to tear us apart, right?

S – Well I guess you’d know… whether you would tell us is a bit of a question…

T –  Banner and I were doing research…

S – That would affect the team!

T – That would end the team! Isn’t that the mission? Isn’t that the why we fight? So we can end the fight, so we get to go home?

S – Every time someone tries to win a war before it starts, innocent people die. Every time.

This banter is coupled with the incident in the lab in Avengers 1, and the creation of Ultron to  set the stakes for Civil War. Already in the second Avengers movie, Tony is being painted as a rogue element to the team and given antagonistic characteristics.  The movie concludes with no other altercations amongst the members of the team, save Hawkeye giving a very inspiring speech to Scarlet Witch amidst the war zone of Sokovia.

In comes Captain America: Civil War; one of, if not THE best MCU movie to date. This movie introduces the Sokovia Accords, aptly named for incident in the previous Avengers movie. This legislation that is being passed comes in response to an attack by Crossbones in Lagos Africa, which kills dozens of people.  The Accords is a mirror to the Superhuman Registration Act from the comics, which does exactly as its name entails. The Sokovia Accords causes the Avengers team to come under the direction of a governing council from the United Nations.

The friction starts when Tony along with several other avengers, believe they should be held accountable for their actions; and that if they don’t willingly sign now, they will be forced to later. Steve and several other avengers believe that they need to be able to discern where they need to go based on need. The argument Steve uses is that “the safest hands are still their own” and “what if there is somewhere we need to go and they won’t let us”? This scene coupled with Steve’s unwavering loyalty to Bucky is what sets the two opposing sides on the warpath. The movie ends with Steve siding with longtime friend and ally Bucky over Tony and his quest for revenge against the Winter Soldier for murdering his mom. One of the most gut wrenching lines is delivered during this final fight when Steve stands between Tony and Bucky and says ” Sorry Tony. You know I wouldn’t do this if I had any other choice. But he’s my friend”.  The scene switches to show Tony’s heartbroken face as he mutters the words “So was I”.

The end of Civil War saw Tony losing the fight to Steve and in retaliation telling Steve he didn’t deserve the shield his father had made. In a very definitive statement, Steve drops the shield as he picks Bucky up and helps him to their Quinjet. The movie ends with Steve sending Tony a letter and a burner phone saying that he can’t support the Accords, but if Tony ever needs him he will be there.

Flash forward to the Spider-Man: Homecoming trailer, Tony is back at being Iron Man full time and has taken Peter under his wing to mentor him. Peter is doing his best to stop the vulture but in one of the most adrenaline filled scenes of the trailer he ends up having to hold a sinking ferry together to stop it from sinking. Tony comes to the rescue with his Iron Man armour and what appears to be a swarm of mini jet engines that attach themselves to both sides of the sinking ferry pushing it back together. The trailer next shows a scene where Tony and Peter are talking on a building top as tony steps out of his hovering armour (so cool!). He tells Peter that he doesn’t respect the suit and that he doesn’t deserve it, eerily echoing the same thing he said to Steve at the end of Civil War.

All of these actions are showing Tony to be an increasingly antagonistic character in the MCU. The argument could be made he is just making sure the people out there fighting are the best they can be; however, that doesn’t excuse his actions from Age of Ultron and the final act of Civil War. While the MCU has been teasing Thanos as the big bad for the next 2 Avengers movies; but mark my words, with his narcissism and ego-centrism coupled with the increasingly antagonistic behaviours, Tony could very well be the real villain they face.