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This Week in Panels: Week 116

December 11th, 2011 Posted by Gavok

Why, hello there! We’re back to having thicker weeks of comic releases and now’s the part where I do the thing that I do every week around this time. Coming up with stuff to say for this opening paragraph after two years plus is hard.

This week it’s me, David Brothers, Space Jawa and a special appearance by 4thletter alumni Thomas Wilde. Now if only Hoatzin would start tossing some panels at me.

Action Comics #4
Grant Morrison, Rags Morales, Sholly Fisch and Brad Walker

Animal Man #4
Jeff Lemire and Travel Foreman

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This Year in Panels: Year 2

September 21st, 2011 Posted by Gavok

I can’t believe I’ve been doing this crap for two years. I just did the 100th installment of This Week in Panels a month ago, so this is less of a big deal, but whatever. This Week in Panels has been about me and people who read this for whatever reason picking out panels that best represent the comics we read. What is the comic? Sell it with one panel without the context. Let the readers figure it out.

Going with what I did a year ago, I decided to do a little look back at the past 52 weeks. The challenge is to showcase a panel from each week without double-dipping on the same series. Let’s see what the last year have given us.

Amazing Spider-Man #664
Dan Slott, Christos Gage, Giuseppe Camuncoli and Max Fiumara

Astonishing Spider-Man & Wolverine #5
Jason Aaron and Adam Kubert

Axe Cop: Bad Guy Earth #2
Malachai Nicolle and Ethan Nicolle

Batman and Robin #15
Grant Morrison and Frazer Irving

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So Here’s 4 Minutes of Green Goblin Weirdness

July 20th, 2011 Posted by Gavok

While all the bloggers are at San Diego, the rest of the freaks are apparently in New York City. Except for me. I’m in the suburbs, about a half hour drive from New York City. That’s close enough, right?

I’ve talked before about my experience of seeing Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. Again, I say that I can’t in any good conscience call it good, but I can call it incredibly worth watching due to being too strange to exist. Words are only words, though. Finally, I have something to show you.

Now, since I’ve seen the show, there was a major upheaval. The show was shut down and rewritten because Julie Taymor is fucking crazy and had some overly-strange/stupid ideas in there. A lot of the bad stuff was removed. For instance, everyone loved Patrick Page’s portrayal of the Green Goblin, yet he was killed halfway into the story and only appeared for the rest of it as an illusion meant to torture Peter. In actuality, the true villain of the play was the Greek mythological character Arachne. Now they’ve scaled back Arachne’s role considerably and gave Green Goblin the keys to the villain throne. This in turn caused them to drop a musical number where Arachne sings about… well, shoes. Yes, really.

To make up for this void, Bono and Edge created a new song for Green Goblin which Rolling Stone described as, “the Grinch singing Lady Gaga, with an Abba-esque chorus.” WOW. That rose up my list of shit I needed to see.

Luckily, the Late Show with David Letterman had a Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark-based show where he had Edge and Bono as guests. Check out the final segment of the show.

There’s so much insanity in there, I don’t know where to start. I’ll just let you enjoy it as you repeat viewing it a dozen or so times.

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We Care a Lot Part 24: The Antihero’s Journey Concludes

July 9th, 2011 Posted by Gavok

It’s so weird to see this article come full circle. As I said long ago in the prologue, We Care a Lot gained its genesis in a series of posts in a forum that no longer exists. David Brothers was new to blogging and asked me to join him many years ago, citing that I’d be able to repost my Venom essays, finish them and write junk like it. I may have done that latter part, but I never could get back into writing about Venom. At the time, the character I once loved and saw things in that few else ever did had become a dummy used in various stories that for the most part weren’t very good. Unlike the “weren’t very good” stories from the 90’s, these stories actually went and destroyed my interest in him.

Look how far everything’s come since then. As Venom, Mac Gargan became a major star in the Marvel Universe for quite a while, got his own miniseries and was a wheel in one of Marvel’s top selling books at the time. Now Venom is worn by Flash Thompson and stars in his own comic that has definite staying power (I was going to say that it has legs, but, well…). Eddie Brock has been reborn in a new form with appearances in Spider-Man’s main comic here and there, as well as an upcoming Venom crossover. Carnage has come back from the afterlife with a couple miniseries that make the character kind of sort of worth reading. Not only did his return give us yet another symbiote hero character who will fall off the face of the Earth, but a preview of Carnage USA suggested that there’d be some kind of task force made of obscure symbiote characters only remembered by me, the people who’ve read these articles and maybe six other people. I can only hope.

The whole Venom Family is thriving and comics have evolved in the way that modern writers have a better grasp on what to do with these guys. I’ve seen a lot of criticism on Dan Slott’s Amazing Spider-Man, but I can’t fault him on his use of Anti-Venom. The dude just plain gets it. Or he at least gets what I get.

I suppose with Venom, my enjoyment of the character has been almost defining for me. I know some people online might consider me “the Venom guy”, for better or worse. I never set out to make readers fully agree with my delight with the character/concept, but I at least wanted to make them understand where I was coming from. I hope that I’ve at least succeeded in that.

He’s a Silver Age concept painted with a 90’s extreme paintbrush. Look at the whole symbiote idea. Tell me that that isn’t a Silver Age idea that nobody got around to using until they were decades too late. It’s a plot device that writers continue to pull new tricks out of their asses for (might I remind you that symbiotes can kill people through the internet?). Yet in the end, it’s Eddie Brock who anchors it all. I’m not one of those fanboys who wants him to be Venom again because, “That’s the only way it can be.” No. I’d rather he be Anti-Venom forever.

When done right, Eddie is someone that writers have yet to scratch the surface of. He isn’t like the Punisher. He may kill and justify it, but he isn’t dead inside. In fact, he’s more optimistic about what he does than most superheroes in their saner exploits. He thinks he’s right and sometimes he is, but he’s occasionally capable of understanding that he’s wrong and can indeed agree with logic every once and a while.

Over the years, Venom has been treated like the redheaded stepchild of Marvel. Tossed around from writer to writer and making appearances that treat him as more of a money-making accessory than an actual character. He’s been in some good stories, he’s been in a lot of bad stories and he’s been in a few incredibly terrible stories. I recognize that. I’m not blind.

I also recognize something else.

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The Problem with Death of Spider-Man

July 5th, 2011 Posted by guest article

Gavok note: For the past year or so in my This Week in Panels series, panels for Ultimate Spider-Man have been supplied every month by regular reader Michael Stangeland, otherwise known as Space Jawa. With Ultimate Peter Parker’s corpse still a bit fresh, Jawa wanted to touch on his perspective of the mini-event. Since we’re always open to reader guest articles, I was more than happy to oblige.

I’ll admit right off the bat that when I first heard about Bendis’ The Death of Spider-Man story arc, I was concerned. Initially, it was worry about the titular character actually biting it, in spite of how he’s been around since the launch of Marvel’s Ultimate line-up. So it’s entirely possible that my reaction to how the story actually went there and did what’s previously only been done in a few dozen different issues of What-If?.

However, I’d also like to be able to think that I’m not that close-minded. After all, I was willing to see the entirety of the story arc through before passing final judgment, and I recognize that sometimes, character death is for the best, and a lot of great things can come out of it. After all, look at what Brubaker did with killing off Steve Rogers (before he brought him back, of course).

And for a world to truly move forwards, sometimes the characters we know and love have to move on so the next generation of great characters can take their turn in the spotlight and provide new story opportunities. When I first read Lord of the Rings back when I was in grade school, my gut reaction was to be disappointed that Bilbo wouldn’t be the main character again. Fortunately, I moved past that quickly enough and was able to get through the entirety of JRR Tolkien’s masterpiece.

So I’m hoping that I’m being honest with myself that the real reason for my distaste for the whole Death of Spider-Man arc is truly in reaction to how it was carried out rather than the end result. If it looks otherwise after I’ve said my piece, I encourage you to call me out on it.


I wish I could say that the use of “proudly” wasn’t meant to be serious.

The first major problem with Death of Spider-Man shows up in the very first three pages of the story. The major driving force behind Ultimate Pete’s death is that Norman Osborn is back from the dead. Of course, characters coming back from the dead isn’t anything that comics are unfamiliar with.

Problem is, this is Marvel’s Ultimate Comics universe. And if I’m not mistaken, one of the major points that has been made about the UC is that when characters die, they stay dead. Something that brings it even closer to being set in the “real world” than the classic 616 universe.

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We Care a Lot Part 23: Red Jelly

June 11th, 2011 Posted by Gavok

I admit that I’ve been putting this one off for quite some time. It’s only natural, since it means having to read Maximum Carnage for the first time in about fifteen years. For a while, I didn’t even intend to review this story since it’s been covered to death across the internet, but then I realized that my take may have its own flavor. After all, I’m a guy who likes Spider-Man, loves Venom and tolerates Carnage. That last one already puts me on a different path from most reviewers.

Carnage falls into the category of, “It’s not the character that’s bad but the writing.” Carnage can be in a great story, I’m sure. We just haven’t seen it yet, though the Carnage miniseries (originally going to be called Astonishing Spider-Man and Iron Man until Marvel realized they could lure more readers in by naming it after the long-dead villain) has certainly had its moments. In preparation, I read through Carnage’s original story arc in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man #361-363, which isn’t at all an offensive story. The Micheline/Bagley joint mostly acts as a way to both remove Venom from his status quo where he peacefully lived on an abandoned island while believing Spider-Man to be dead as well as giving Venom an excuse to fight alongside Spider-Man against a threat greater than both of them.

This idea, which I’m sure sold like gangbusters, was made fun of in the pages of the Ren and Stimpy Show #6 when Spider-Man made a guest appearance to fight a mind-controlled Powdered Toast Man.

This was written by Dan Slott, who would go on to create Anti-Venom and a bunch of gimmicky Spider-Man costumes. Pot and kettle.

So anyway, Carnage was a decent enough villain for his initial story. If they kept their cool about it, he’d probably be more accepted by your average comic fan. Instead, they went nuts over how this was the best idea Marvel’s come up with in years. The covers would literally say that Carnage was so awesome that they had to put his name on the cover twice! It was this thinking that made Marvel brass believe that a lengthy Spider-Man arc spanning all his books should be centered around this supervillain.

After reading Maximum Carnage, I felt that it had a lot of similarities to the Clone Saga. Part of it is the innocent idea of taking a character who’s been taken off the board in a previous story and bringing them back for the sake of telling a bigger, better story. Due to the hype behind the character, many issues are dedicated to telling this story. Too many issues.

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The Point One Collaboration Experiment

May 24th, 2011 Posted by Gavok

Last Wednesday saw the release of Alpha Flight #0.1, the first in what appears to be a second wave of comics in Marvel’s Point One Initiative. Revealed first in late October and making its debut on the shelves in February, Marvel decided to start focusing on certain issues of their various series as jumping on points. It’s similar, at least to me, to DC’s One Year Later comics that existed after the events of Infinite Crisis half a decade ago, only without the shakeup factor of it all. They simply give us a bunch of $2.99 comic issues that claim to be a great place for a new reader to start with and move forward.

I’ve seen people review the Point One books in batches, comparing what worked and what didn’t. I even thought of doing that myself, but then I took a second to notice that it would be pretty unnecessary. What reason could I possibly have to review those? For instance, I read Jeff Parker’s Hulk as is and enjoy the hell out of it. So of course I would love Hulk #30.1. I’m already on board for the series. To me, it’s just another great issue. I’m not the intended audience for such a review.

But you know who would be good for this kind of thing? People who would read Hulk #30.1 despite never reading the 29 prior issues. Same for Avengers #12.1 and Wolverine #5.1 and so on. If this is Marvel’s attempt to bring in new readers, I need to get me a hold of some new readers! Namely, I need a crew from the DC side of the tracks. It was a long and tortuous search (fifteen seconds, give or take), but I figured on a perfect trio for this experiment.

First up is Esther Inglis-Arkell, the Clobberella of the 4thletter! New Justice Team. Since she and I have had shockingly minimal interaction over the years on this site and she stands firm on DC ground, Esther was ideal for this. Joining Esther is Was Taters, a friend to this site for all the work she regularly does for This Week in Panels. Lastly, I introduce my real life good buddy Andrew, who I’ve had the pleasure of working with for the past five and a half years.

Before we get started, let’s hear from our guinea pigs.

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This Week in Panels: Week 79

March 27th, 2011 Posted by Gavok

Good evening or morning or whenever you’re reading this. This week I’m helped out by David Brothers and Space Jawa.

Astonishing Spider-Man & Wolverine #5
Jason Aaron and Adam Kubert

Batman Incorporated #4
Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham

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The Spider-Man Musical Review: Treat Or Menace?

March 23rd, 2011 Posted by Gavok

On Friday night, I journeyed into New York City to see the show that I was destined to see. Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark has been the butt of many jokes and it’s hard not to join in. David Uzumeri summed it up for me nicely with the term “spiderfreude”. The whole broadway show concept, the inflated budget, the head-scratching reviews and the laundry list of injuries and mishaps has made it a phenomenon for absurdity-loving comic fans such as myself. The whole thing is too strange to exist and I knew I had to get on the train before it crashes for good.

Lo and behold my amazing, spectacular Christmas gift of tickets to see the show.

And it’s a good thing, too! The show is being closed down in a few weeks for the sake of being retooled. Best case scenario, they’re going to change a lot of stuff and I got to see the rougher draft of the Broadway show. Worst case scenario, they’re going to deep six the entire production and I got to look into God’s eyes before it was too late.

It also makes me feel less bad about going into full spoiler mode. For those who don’t want to muck through the spoilers and want the gist of my experience, I didn’t think it was bad. There are parts that are pretty awful and kind of embarrassing, but it really starts to gain steam. The performances are really good, especially Patrick Page as the Green Goblin and the set designs are so extravagant that at no point do you wonder where all those millions of dollars went. The music… I’m not really qualified to comment on. I’m no theater expert and I’m sure if I listened to them in one more go I’d have more impressions, but my main reaction was mostly, “Yes, that is most certainly something inspired by Bono.”

I should also get the obvious out of the way. No, nobody died or got horribly injured from what I saw. The only mishaps were few:

1) One of the Spider-Man stuntman guys swung around over the crowd, bounced around and ended up on a high platform where the right side of the stage cuts off. Noticed by some, he could be seen momentarily strangled by his cables before getting free.

2) The obligatory “Spider-Man: NO MORE!” scene lost a little oomph when Peter’s tights bounced out of the garbage can and fell on the floor.

3) There was a part in the second act where the curtain wasn’t closed all the way and some could get a pretty good look at one of the actresses during a costume change. Actually, scratch everything I said. This show was awesome.

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This Week in Panels: Week 75

February 27th, 2011 Posted by Gavok

It’s the ThWiP 75th Week Double-Sized Spectacular! …Okay, it isn’t double-sized. It differs from week to week, so you can’t even define what single-sized is anyway. But I do have Was Taters and Space Jawa helping me out, so that’s neat.

Plus Deadpool Team-Up has the most Gavokian panel in the history of panels.

Avengers #10
Brian Michael Bendis and John Romita Jr.

Captain America #615
Ed Brubaker, Butch Guice, Sean McKeever and Filipe Andrade

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