The Amazing Spider-man #69 – Review By Leo Brocklehurst
Writer: Nick Spencer
Artists: Z.E Carlos Carlos Gómez Marcelo Ferreira
Published By Marvel Comics
Spider-mans latest adventure is what you would expect of Nick Spencer, just more and more escalation leading up to the finale. In essence, it’s a cash grab so you can see the ad in the back for the giant sized one shot final parter, not a bad cash grab by any means, but a cash grab. The Spidey team decided to do this with the previous “kings ransom” storyline; an enjoyable story that doesn’t finish in its own book. Its a little annoying but that’s nothing to do with book itself.
The writing (scripted by spencer) is on point, witty and even funny in parts. (The smashing pumpkins joke in particular). The art shares the same rotating cast as last issue and like last issue, to varying degrees of success. Zé Carlos’ work shines especially, it reminds me of the spectacular Spider-man show in the way that it flows so nicely and feels quick and swift.
Carlos Gómez, is a great artist who is unfortunately given the most artistically boring arc of the book. Not to say that the Betty and Ned story is boring, it’s actually pretty interesting but I can’t really fathom it going anywhere except for them both leaving for some quiet place in Europe so that the two characters are taken cate of for a few years and don’t have to be brought back (granted, it would be cool if their baby turned out to be and evil , universe consuming God). The final artist, Marcelo Ferreira is very hit and miss and results in so-so art that looks a little odd.
With almost all the negatives out of the way, the book is all in all pretty great. The most interesting plot line involving the clairvoyant features a great fight scene where Spidey actually gets his butt handed to him and the villains win. An interesting twist ensues in the form of the Jack o lanterns (along with most of the criminals in the foreigners crime filled casino) turning out to be working for the finisher. This finally ties the Theresa Parker side plot to the clairvoyants and will therefore provide us with a satisfying conclusion in “giant sized the Amazing Spider-man: the chameleon conspiracy” which is unfortunately a separate book and won’t be concluded in issue 70.
This issue was not a stand alone book. It fits perfectly into it’s story and will probably flow better once it’s collected on trade form. All in all, a solid continuation of recent issues that will be enjoyed by Spidey fans everywhere. Check it out!
Now that this fun little story is over, we will be returning to big picture, life shattering, sinister six filled action in next month’s SINISTER WAR……
My First Pokemon Game: Pokemon Crystal – A Retrospective
Article by Emily Carney
The year is 2001. The month is November. Pokemon Gold and Silver had been released earlier that year here in the UK back in April and had been instant hits, providing Pokemon fans across the country with a brand new region to explore and a plethora of new Pokemon to catch. But I personally was yet to embark on a Pokemon journey of my own, as despite being a huge Pokemon fan since 1999 (the year I started primary school) and being obsessed with the anime, films, toys and trading cards, I had yet to actually experience from a first-hand perspective the medium which had kick-started the whole franchise back in 1996, the Pokemon video games. However all that was to change that winter, when I ecstatically received a yellow Pikachu & Pichu Gameboy colour and a copy of Pokemon Crystal.
Despite having played briefly on Gameboys owned by family members and friends, my only proper experience of video games at this point was the first Sony Playstation, which I have great memories of and still enjoy playing games such as Crash Bandicoot, Tomb Raider and Tekken to this day. Upon receiving the Gameboy and Pokemon Crystal however, I was extremely happy that I could now take my game anywhere with me, and could finally join in on trading and battling Pokemon with my friends.
One of the most vivid memories I have before actually playing the game was looking through the Pokemon Crystal booklet that came with the game and seeing how beautiful Ken Sugimori’s watercolor illustrations were (though unfortunately it appears to be very hard to find any pictures of the inner instruction manual pages). Even today Sugimori’s Pokemon artwork are some of my favorite pieces of art ever and I would love to see the franchise return to this style at some point, even just as a homage as I think the charm of these illustrations far surpasses the digital artwork that is commonplace in most forms of official Pokemon-related media today.
Pokemon Crystal is notable for being the first Pokemon game to give the player a choice between playing as a boy or a girl and as being both a first-time Pokemon player and a 7 year-old girl at the time, I was happy about this, although while I was growing up Pokemon as a franchise always seemed to be enjoyed equally by both boys and girls regardless of the gender of the protagonist we were watching or playing as, so while I was pleased to have the choice to play as a girl I do think even if I hadn’t had this choice I would have still had a great time playing the game.
The design of the female protagonist (known as Kris, although as with all main series Pokemon games the player is able to input their own name) is excellent in my opinion and is one of my favourite trainer designs in the series, as it strikes just the right balance between the classic 90’s aesthetic of the early games and anime alongside the sporty, adventurous look that would be applied to other protagonists in future Pokemon games.
Beginning to play the game itself was a fantastic experience. As this was late 2001/early 2002, here in the UK we had just become acquainted with the second generation of Pokemon and although Pokemon Gold/Silver/Crystal have had some criticism from fans who find the inclusion of new Pokemon to be rather lacking until the later stages of the games, as a first-time player I was just excited to be able to catch any of the Pokemon I’d hurried home from school to see in the anime. My first starter Pokemon was a Totodile I nicknamed “Snappy” and he stayed with me throughout the majority of my journey, evolving from Totodile to Croconaw and finally to Feraligatr, though I did eventually trade him (which I must admit I still feel quite guilty about) for a friend’s Venusaur, a Venasaur which for some reason was rather confusingly nicknamed “Zapdos”. Snappy, if you’re out there on a game cartridge at the bottom of someone’s drawer or cupboard somewhere, please know I still think about you and thank you for being my first Pokemon.
Maybe it’s a combination of a great game and a child’s imagination but I still vividly remember travelling through the different areas of the Johto region for the first time as if they were real-life locations that I’d travelled to. I think part of this is down to the wonderful soundtrack of the second generation games, which vary from the whimsical to the atmospheric and everything in between.
I still listen to the tunes from the soundtrack often today (particularly the themes from Ecruteak City and Cianwood City, which I would definitely consider to be my favorites) and it really is a testament to the talent of composer Junichi Masuda that he could capture the personalities of these individual locations and take listeners back to these places years later with these melodies.
Many players have praised the Pokemon main series games in recent years for its emphasis on literacy and reading being key to fully enjoying the games, and this is something I would very much agree with. Though the story wasn’t as complex as that of future Pokemon games, I still found it to be engaging and was very enthused to defeat Team Rocket and beat the Elite Four. One of my favorite aspects of the game however (and indeed one of my favorite aspects of the Pokemon franchise in general) was how much it encouraged playing with others, whether that involved battles and trades via the Gameboy Link Cable or working together to try and get past a particularly difficult part of the game.
At my primary school we had a period during the last half an hour of school on a Friday afternoon called “Golden Time”, where we were allowed to bring in toys and games or do fun activities and this was when my friends and myself would bring in our Gameboys and play the Pokemon games together or trade our Pokemon cards. I remember those Friday afternoons very fondly, I particularly recall being both baffled and enthralled when a friend showed me how to do the Generation II cloning glitch (which involved placing a Pokemon in a box in the PC and then changing box/turning off the console at the right moment while the data was saving in order to duplicate the Pokemon placed in the box, but as there is the possibility of this glitch corrupting save data I probably wouldn’t recommend it nowadays), though instead of using the glitch for something useful like duplicating Masterballs I instead just made copy upon copy of my favourite Pokemon, and ended up with about 6 charizards and 12 Umbreons, amongst others.
Another of my favourite aspects of the second generation games is the ability to travel to Kanto after defeating the Elite Four and take on the gym leaders from the original Red/Blue/Green/Yellow games.
Although some players have criticized the post game content for not being as engaging as the initial journey, I genuinely felt like I’d stumbled across some amazing secret when I first realized I could go to Pallet Town and all the other Kanto locations, as this was my first time experiencing this part of the Pokemon world in-game and I personally thought that being given the opportunity to explore Lavender Town, Viridian Forest, Mt Moon and all the areas I’d seen in the Indigo League anime was quite a treat. After exploring Kanto, the culmination of the journey in battling Red at Mt Silver was an excellent way to draw the game to a close and I must admit it took a lot of perseverance (and several of my cloned Charizards) to beat him, but I felt immensely accomplished after doing so.
Overall, I really don’t think I could have asked for a better introduction to the in-game Pokemon world, and I have since enjoyed several other titles in the main series of Pokemon games, although none of them have quite topped Pokemon Crystal for me. Unfortunately I did lose my original copy (though did manage to recover my old Pikachu/Pichu edition Gameboy last year, which I was ecstatic about) but I would very much like to acquire another copy at some point in the future (although this may end up being quite an investment as boxed complete copies of the game are currently going for around £200 to £400, with some being priced even higher) and experience the fun and adventure of Pokemon Crystal all over again.
Writers: Mariko Tamaki (“The Neigborhood Part 5”) and Meghan Fitzmartin (“March of the Penguin”).
Art:Viktor Bogdanovic and Daniel Henriques (“The Neighborhood Part 5”), with Karl Mostert (“March of the Penguin”).
Colours: Jordie Bellaire
Letters:Aditya Bidikar (“The Neighborhood Part 5”) and Rob Leigh (“March of the Penguin”)
Published by DC Comics
The Neigborhood Part 5 sees Batman battling Mr Worth in the sewers beneath the city streets of Gotham. It is the perfect setting for their showdown given the themes that were explored in the previous issue. Everything that is wrong with Gotham is represented by these two men, whose struggle now rocks the city at its foundations, threatening to bring it crashing down on top of them.
The artwork by Viktor Bogdanovic depicts the two men as titans, though I feel, excessively so in the case of Mr Worth. This guy looks like he’d make Bane appear modest in size.
I’m still enjoying the mystery that writer, Mariko Tamaki, manages to convey, particularly in regard to the character of Hue Vile, who has yet to reveal just precisely who/what he is and what his endgame might be. However, I do feel that Tamaki’s writing gets a bit choppy at one point, with Mr Worth seemingly having given up the fight with Batman, only to announce to the world that he still wants him dead. It leaves me wondering if there was a page torn out with a missing scene on it.
Reporter Debbie Donovan finds herself in hot water by the end of this issue. As I expressed in my review for Detective Comics #1037, she is a character that has grown on me, so I’m really routing for Batman to save her come issue #1039.
Huntress is a bit lost in this one, like Tamaki didn’t quite know what to do with her, while Batman is off fighting Mr Worth. She gets to save a cyclist, leading to a humorous exchange between the two, but it’s a scene that could have been cut without having any impact on the overall narrative.
Fans of The Penguin will be pleased to know that the nefarious birdman is starting to rear up as a key player in this story. Again, it’s not exactly clear how he’s going to figure in to the plans of Hue Vile, but he will undoubtedly have his own agenda.
Cobblepot is a survivor. He changes and adapts to the times, which means that, while he’s never quite top dog he always manages to hold a seat at the table of the criminal underworld. This is highlighted in the short story, “March of the Penguin”, by Meghan Fitzmartin, which reminds us that, while Oswald Cobblepot is quite easy to laugh at, he is also quite easy to underestimate. Because of this, it is impossible to predict just how the character will play into the events of Tamaki’s story moving forward, which is, ultimately, what makes him an interesting character.
Verdict: Writer Mariko Tamaki leaves us with more questions than answers in the fifth chapter of this highly engaging mystery thriller.
Thanks to our new team of writers we now have a ‘News & Reviews’ section integrated here on www.wowcomix.com called Wow Comix World! This is to include new monthly comic reviews from some of the hottest titles around, as well as some throwback articles, series overviews, indie comic exposé’s and news surrounding our offers and products both in store and online.
We hope this will become handy for some of you when searching out something new to get into, or simply perhaps just to read out of pure curiosity!
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So as you can tell, we love ourselves some comics, and all of the debates and analysis that comes with being amongst this great community of readers, creators and collectors. We are really delighted to have this addition to the website so that it can try and bring a little of that ‘Wow Comix community feeling’ here with all of the features and reviews on the way. Feel free to comment away!
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Writer: Nick Spencer Artists: Marcel Ferreira, Carlos Gomez and ZÈ Carlos
Released: 9/6/21 Published by: Marvel Comics
The latest instalment of Nick Spencer’s Spiderman run is a real treat for die-hard Spidey fans. The story is exciting and the artists (for the most part) provide excellent work to bring said story to life.
This is the second part of the “chameleon conspiracy” so I wouldn’t advise readers to begin catching up on Spider-man with this issue, but if you’re a regular then this issue is better than its predecessor by a long shot. Spencer continues a few of the plot threads from the previous issues like Betty Brant’s pregnancy and Teresa Parker’s run in with the chameleon and the finisher(?). The finisher being the man that was sent to assassinate Richard and Mary Parker, succeeded but died in the process, or so we thought. It makes for an intriguing mystery that I for one am seriously interested In solving.
The artwork in this section done by Marcelo Ferreira is probably the weakest in the book, he also does a page or two of the peter/Betty plot line in which some very…. interesting facial expressions are depicted. The rest of the art for the Peter/Betty segment however, pencilled by Carlos Gómez looks great, particularly the hobgoblin splash page. And the reveal of (the real???) Ned Leeds was a surprise for sure!
The main chunk of the issue is a continuation of the clairvoyant plot that has been running for about 30 issues now which has taken centre stage in the past couple of issues, it follows Peter’s ESU partner, Jamie as he attempts to capture a device called the catalyst which will power another clairvoyant that villains Chance and the foreigner are blackmailing him to create. As the heist inside ESU begins in this issue, a welcome appearance from one of the most obscure spider-man villains is made. Slyde! Who made his first (and one of his only appearances) way back in AMS #272. The artwork in this portion, pencilled by ZÉ Carlos, is the best in the book, it looks youthful, fresh and electric. With plenty of poster worthy pin-ups. Of Spidey.
The issue wraps up with Spidey’s intervention in the heist being intercepted by Chance, foreigner and their pumpkin minions. After the main story, we get another tease for this summers upcoming Spidey event, sinister war. This issues back up portrays doc ock recruiting sandman with stellar as usual art by Mark Bagely. Building further anticipation for kindred final assault on our beloved hero.
All in all, this issue is great, one of Spencer’s best issues since Ryan Ottley’s departure. Definitely a solid pick up with stellar art.
Written by: Ram V Art: Mike Perkins Colours: Mike Spicer Letters: Aditya Bidikar
This issue, we’re first greeted by an eye-catching cover which feels almost as if it could be a distant relative of the old absinthe green fairy posters. Although it reveals the appearance of both Ivy and Poison Ivy before the story does, it does a great job of making you want to pick up and read on.
As we do so, there is some really inventive sequential art depicting Levi’s CT scan and initial transformation as he and Jennifer try to understand what he is going through when he becomes The Swamp Thing. As Jennifer is pulled along for the ride into ‘The Green’, some of the secrets and mysteries of this elemental place are revealed to us, along with some of its well known denizens. It’s a thrilling experience as we travel along with them, encountering incredible things and facing new questions.
Again, the creative team have given us a wonderful title page and this time out, there is a very clever title to boot. ‘My Green Amaranthine’ refers very neatly to the nature of The Swamp Thing while also describing his appearance (amaranth being an immortal flower or a herb/weed with colourful leaves and spikes of flowers – I had to look it up).
This careful and clever use of words is one of the things that sets Ram V apart as a writer; others being chiefly his command of dialogue and pacing. Here, he encapsulates a very alien experience, full of strangeness and awe, and somehow makes it relatable for us as readers.
As Levi and Jennifer journey through The Green (an important realm in Swamp Thing lore), the creators of this comic do a wonderful job of ensuring each and every step is compelling, mystifying, unsettling, exciting; sometimes all at once. The art is phenomenal throughout, never failing to give us a true sense of what lies in this strange place. There’s a lot to take in during this issue and the skilled lettering of Aditya Bidikar ensures that we enjoy the process, marking each character with their own unique style.
By the time we reach the end, we’re left breathless and yet wanting more, as larger events are hinted at…
My Green Amaranthine is yet another excellent issue in this new run for Swamp Thing. It has something for old and new readers alike and the quality imbued by its creators fills every page and makes for a hugely enjoyable read. Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson (co-creators of Swamp Thing) would be proud.
Written by: Ram V Art: Mike Perkins Colours: Mike Spicer Letters: Aditya Bidikar
‘Becoming, Part 2’ arrives with a cover showing us Levi Kamei, mid-transformation, full of cosmic horror and faced with his dark desert counterpart. It’s a dramatic image which sets the tone for what awaits us within.
We rejoin Levi in the aftermath of his first jarring encounter with the Pale Wanderer. Counter to the oft-used secret identity, he shares his seemingly insane experiences with his friend, Jennifer. He is then drawn into a horrifying sequence of ‘lessons’ back out in the Sonoran Desert; the Pale Wanderer his unlikely and unwelcome mentor. This happens over the course of yet another spectacular title spread, the first issue having treated us to a similarly impressive title page.
Through the course of this issue, we learn more of Levi’s past, see that he is being surveilled, and revisit the Arizona sheriff as he tries to process his unbelievable encounter. All of this precedes an epic showdown between Swamp Thing and the Wanderer, who might well prove to be two sides of an ancient coin. We’re given further mysteries to unravel and even a brief cameo from a very well known DC hero.
If it’s not already clear, the creative team have done a wonderful job on this issue. Ram V’s writing is again, superb. Supported ably by the quality lettering of Aditya Bidikar, Ram V’s grasp of plotting and character development shine through, giving us countless memorable moments drenched in atmosphere and enigma.
The visual identity of this title is already so strong, with the team of Mike Perkins and Mike Spicer ensuring that every page is a treat. While each scene has its own distinct feel, there is no doubt that they exist as part of a cohesive whole.
The Swamp Thing #2 shows us a creative team in synch and using their talents to great effect. It’s the sort of comic that rewards return visits; revealing fine details or hints that the reader might have missed the first time. It’s clear that the pebble cast into the pond by events in these early issues will generate some pretty big ripples. Bring on issue 3! (Recommended for ages 13+)
Since the start of the War of the Bounty Hunters event (a massive 34-part epic that stretches across multiple Star Wars titles) the one main character that we haven’t seen much of is the one that would seem to be the most natural lead for this arc. That’s not to say that what has come out so far hasn’t been superb, but a certain roguish, double-crossing smuggler has been conspicuous by his absence for the last couple of issues. Star Wars #14 changes all that as Lando Calrissian finally enters the fray and cuts just as dashing and devilish a figure as always.
As this run takes place after The Empire Strikes Back, Lando has been the perfect replacement for Han Solo in the regular team, filling his shoes as the wildcard element of the Rebellion – not entirely dedicated to the cause, sceptical of the Force and Luke’s Jedi path and potentially ready to turn tail and run at any moment if there’s something in it for him. In fact, Soule has taken this one step further, with Calrissian a few issues deep into (seemingly) a plot to betray Luke, Leia and co. once again. Even with the knowledge of Lando’s part in later films, this has proven an intriguing for the creatives to pull at, not least because Charles Soule’s writing and Ramon Rosanas’ art still make it impossible to dislike Calrissian, bringing all the natural charm of Billy Dee Williams himself to the page.
Lando is at the heart of this issue for more reasons than just his dodgy machinations, though. He is still desperately searching for a way to help a newly mute and seemingly semi-brain dead Lobot recover his humanity. This scenario led to one of the most nail-bitingly tense moments of the run so far a handful of issues back and it looks set to continue to create some complex character moments, allowing Soule to show that Lando does in fact care about someone other than himself…possibly.
Leia’s continued quest to find Han against all odds, Lando’s intrigues in the bowels of the Millennium Falcon, a beautifully drawn and laid out chase sequence and a bumpy landing all work together wonderfully to put our heroes on a collision course with the other players in what is turning out to be an incredibly entertaining event so far.
Written by: Ram V Art: Mike Perkins Colours: Mike Spicer Letters: Aditya Bidikar
From out of the beyond, a new run of ‘The Swamp Thing’ looms! Our first cover is a striking one, depicting some of the terrible torment that Levi Kamei experiences during his transformation into the titular being. This is a great first cover and hints at some of the fever dream yet to come.
‘Becoming, Part 1’: the story opens on a gruesome crime scene in the Sonoran Desert, shrouded in dark folklore. We then hop aboard a flight from India to join our protagonist, who is clearly not having a good time. Levi Kamei is significant not only for being the new ‘Guardian of the Green’/Swamp Thing but also as DC Comics’ first Indian lead. He is instantly relatable and promises to be an interesting character to follow.
As we cut from Levi’s return to New York back to the grisly scene in the desert, we meet a twisted, horrific figure of legend: The Pale Wanderer. As the sheriff faces this nightmare unfolding, Levi wrestles both with his past and the uncertainty of what he is becoming. The closing scenes show a pivotal encounter and give exciting hints of what is yet to come.
Ram V has written something very special here, with dialogue that informs character and propels the story forwards. Each story beat is expertly handled, from the deputy recounting the myth of the Pale Wanderer through to the dramatic exchanges of the closing pages. He conveys the emotion and atmosphere of each moment perfectly, drawing us into the dusty world of the desert just as easily as the fragmented recollections of Levi. The effect of Ram V’s words is amplified by some excellent lettering by Aditya Bidikar, who gives us subtle reading cues along with easily identifiable ‘voices’ through the use of clear type and varied bubbles. The speech of the Pale Wanderer, for example, is as black as the crude he drinks.
We are immersed even further by the wonderful art from Mike Perkins who, along with exemplary colour work from Mike Spicer, uses a broad range of comic techniques to engage our imaginations. Soon we are transported beyond the page and into a dark and mystifying world. Although the images are at times gruesome, they are never gratuitous and always serve the scene. Shifts in tone, palette and style help guide us through a jam-packed first issue through to its thrilling conclusion.
This premier issue of ‘The Swamp Thing’ is outstanding. It instantly hooks the reader and doesn’t let go. The combination of masterful writing and art feel a lot like the early days of Vertigo comics (a line DC used to tell darker, ‘mature’ themed stories) while also being entirely fresh and modern. The cast of characters is great and the plot threads entangling them are intriguing. Read Swamp Thing today. It’s going to be a seriously good ride.
STAR WARS: WAR OF THE BOUNTY HUNTERS #1 Written by: Charles Soule Art: Luke Ross
Released: 02/06/21 Publisher: Marvel Comics
‘You know who I am. Boba Fett. You know what that name means.’
-Boba Fett, War of the Bounty Hunters #1
Let’s face it – everyone’s favourite thing about Star Wars is the bounty hunters. Or rather one bounty hunter in particular. And anyone who tells you otherwise is, quite frankly, lying through their teeth.
It is unsurprising then that, now the focus of Marvel’s Star Wars line has shifted to the often-unexplored gap between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, the House of Ideas and Lucasfilm have decided to squeeze in all the crime syndicates, smugglers and bounty hunters they possibly can. More specifically, this event, which spreads itself across a limited series, several one shots and multiple issues of the four Star Wars ongoing series, reveals what happened to Han Solo between his being loaded onto Slave 1 in Cloud City and his arrival at Jabba’s palace. That’s a big gap to fill in our knowledge and if this first issue is anything to go by, the slow reveal of events over the next few months is going to be exhilarating.
The underworld of the Star Wars universe is on display in all its glory here, ably brought to life through Luke Ross’ bold artwork and distinctively gritty yet pastelly colours by Neeraj Menon. It says a lot about Charles Soule’s writing that his Boba Fett still absolutely shines and stands out, as iconic as ever amongst all the quality and skill on show. As Fett hunts down those who have wronged him, Soule takes us to dingy dive cantinas, glowing star ship interiors, Tatooine and a Hutt war barge. Soule’s ability to hop from location to location whilst also telling a cohesive and exciting story with plenty of surprises (and, oh boy, is there a surprise at the end of this one!) and solid, incisive character moments is nothing short of sheer brilliance.
This is true Star Wars adventure from start to finish and the next issue looks set to explore more new ground whilst ramping up the excitement. Whether this sort of quality can be maintained across the 34-part duration of this event remains to be seen, but the start has been very promising indeed. The infamous bounty hunter’s reputation precedes him as he goes about his business, leading to some top level badassery from this fan favourite character, which will raise a smile in any who have managed to forget the utter joy that Star Wars brings at its best moments.
Review By Nathan Harrison
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