The end of 2012 was a pretty tough year for one of the great icons of comics, young Peter Parker, the amazing-spectacular-ultimate-superior Spiderman (or Spider-Man as some prefer). The Marvel comics reboot called Now! (I believe it is) caused some turmoil for the classic character. While I’ve not read the last few issues of one of the longest running comics ever (Amazing ended with issue 700), I have read the story in summary. I think it’s one I will likely pick up in trade in the near future. He also saw another reboot, in the form of the movie baring the same name as the long running comic. I’ll be discussing it in some detail, as well. We also got the Ultimate version of Parker from Disney XD in cartoon form, with the second season premier last week. All in all, one would think, not a bad year for your friendly neighbor… oh you know how it goes, right?
What do we want? MARVEL! When do we want it? Now?
When Marvel announced it was rebooting the universe, many felt it was a cheap ploy to do what the other “big boy” was doing (DC rebooted their universe in 2011 with “The New 52″). Many have bantered about the point of the reboots. Money coming in with sales? Cutting cost by decreasing titles? Drawing in new readers? In truth, I think it was most likely a little more #2, a fair bit of #1, and a surprising amount of #3. I’ve read comics off and on since about 1993. The times that I was “off” were not generally due to bad stories or art, but mostly due to fluctuating income levels. Hard to support a habit of anywhere from 10 to 20 bucks a week when your other bills are both all over the place and much more important. I will say that I read some of the DC reboot stuff, and quite enjoyed it. There were some great writer/artist teams on stuff I was reading before (Green Lantern, Batman, Detective) and I picked up a few things I’d never read before (Wonder Woman was especially good). Will Marvel’s reboot be the same? I have no idea, and I’ve not heard much either way, but for them, I hope nothing but the best. I love comics, and comic characters, and don’t want to see them go away.
Don’t know half of them? Neither do most people.
2012 also gave us the new Ultimate Spider-Man carton, from Disney XD. While it does combine various parts of the Marvel U (the ultimate line of comics, characters from the movies, some new characters). Many of the stories are very familiar ones we’ve seen in almost every version of the character to date. To me, that’s not really a bad thing. Just because we’ve seen it before doesn’t mean it’s the worst thing ever. With some interesting twists on characters we’ve known forever, and some great voice casting, I find the show highly enjoyable. They pepper in some great guest stars as well, from Captain America to Doctor Strange. Seeing the “next group of Avengers” coming of age is fun. It’s also nice that I can watch it with my kids, who I’m trying my hardest to turn into little geeks right along with me. If you are a fan of animated fair (and please understand this is not anything close to anime, this is purely American style) I’d say give this a shot. For me, it’s as good an animated series as Marvel has put out since the old x-Men show on Fox in the early/mid 90’s.
On to the final “new” bit of Spidey we got in 2012- the Amazing Spider-Man movie. At first I wasn’t happy about this at all. I enjoyed Sam Raimi’s take on the wall crawler, as well as Tobey Maguire’s role as Spidey/Peter. Kirsten Dunst I could take or leave, but she was an OK Mary Jane. The villains made the movies for me, except for the dreaded 3rd of course. But that’s another blog. So, new film we get relative unknown Andrew Garfield. A Brit. Playing one of the most American characters in comics. Sigh, OK I’ll roll with it. Then I hear they got Emma Stone. I am really enjoying everything she does. Easy A- outstanding. Zombieland- quite good. Crazy, Stupid Love- great work from her, as well as Steve Carell and Julianne Moore as her mom (perfect casting to me). She’s fun, she’s feisty, she’s nice to look at, she’s ginger. She’s gonna be a great MJ! Wait, she’s gonna dye her hair and be Gwen Stacey? Hrm…if we must. Dennis Leary as hardened police Capt. Stacey? Love it (and maybe the highlight of the film if you want to be honest). And our villain that we pull from a list almost as long as the Caped Crusaders is…The Lizard? What, were Rhino and Shocker busy or something?
To me, this film was doomed from the start. It did well at the box office (262 million) but not as well as any of the previous Spidey films ( part 1 403, part 2 373, part 3 336 per box office mojo). It did well enough to get a second film green lit. I guess that’s good. Rumors abound that we’ll be getting Jamie Foxx playing Electro. While I like Foxx, I don’t really see him as Electro (and no, it’s not a black/white thing). Truly, I don’t see Electro as a villain that can carry a film. So we need another one, you say? The internet says SURE! and gives us this gem: Paul Giamatti as The Rhino. Wasn’t I just making fun of the Rhino? I think I was.
Can you see him bulky and smashing stuff? I just see him smashed from Sideways.
So then, we need a respectable villain. Someone that we can have some great action with. Someone we can see thinking. Forming a plot to bring our hero to his knees. Who do we use, you ask? Doc Ock? Green Goblin? No, they’ve been done before. Some better then others, but we’ve seen them once already (and I think we’re going to see Norman again in these new films sooner then later honestly). Who is my choice? One of the most underrated villains of Spidey’s rogues gallery. Kraven the Hunter. Don’t know much about Kraven? Hit wikipedia. Smart, tactical, agile, strong. All things that can give Spiderman fits all day and night. And throughout comics history has. He’s also given us the best story involving Spidey ever, Kraven’s Last Hunt. One of my top 10 greatest comic stories of all time, and something I give people to read because it shows that comics can be more then “funny pages.” So who do we get to play this menace to the hero? I’ll tell you- Oded Fehr.
You can see it. You know you can.
Why this guy who you’ve also never heard of? How about this. Kraven is Russian, and in the comics normally had an accent. Oded is from Israel, and while that’s not Russia it is exotic enough to work. Super hunter, leaping from place to place? Oded is likely best know for his role in the first two Mummy films, which were filled with action sequences both against green screen/cgi enemies and straight up fights. He’s also done work in the Resident Evil series of films, another action platform. He’s done a variety of other film and tv work. To me, the guy can act pretty well. And let’s face it, a lot of what we’ve seen from comic movies aren’t gonna be compared to Bogart in Casablanca or Freeman in Shawshank.
End of the day, 2012 wasn’t a bad year for our arachnid pal. My hope is that 2013 is better, with a new comic Spiderman, more film and tv works. Maybe some other stuff we aren’t even looking for. Let’s just hope, for all our sakes, we don’t get more stuff like Topher Grace’s Venom. *shudder*