Category Archives: spider-woman

RIP Carmine Infantino

This is rough, losing two of my influences and inspirations in the same day. Artist, innovator, publisher, and legend Carmine Infantino passed away today at the age of 87.

Other than the “Batman” 1966 TV series, Carmine Infantino was my gateway drug into comics through the old issues of Flash my big brother Warren had. I remember one comic specifically, an 80-Page Giant, issue #169, no cover and missing a few pages but I read my brother’s copy ragged. In it was a feature called ‘How I Draw the Flash’ by Carmine Infantino.

I am no artist by any means, but I was entranced by these two pages and they spurred in me an interest at least to try to draw. I learned perspective, anatomy, and of course comic book dynamics from these two pages of Infantino imparting his artistic secrets. To this day, I can’t draw, but I can draw the Silver Age Flash, thanks to Mr. Infantino.

From those days of reading my brother’s comics, the Flash became my favorite character. I grew up with a Flash written by Cary Bates and illustrated by Irv Novick. That was my Flash, but it was always a known fact, Infantino’s Flash was the real Flash. He was among those that created the first of the Silver Age revamps of the heroes of the Golden Age, the Flash in Showcase #4, a more realistic, scientifically based superhero for a new age.

Not only had he drawn the original scarlet speedster back in the Golden Age, he was a collaborator in bringing back those heroes in the legendary groundbreaking “Flash of Two Worlds” story that created both Earth-2 and began DC Comics’ multiverse. Infantino’s ‘Colors of Evil’ from a rejected comic strip of his were the basis for the Flash’s Rogues Gallery, the most unique assortment of baddies this side of Batman.

Speaking of Batman, he also revamped the character for the Silver Age, giving the stories a more realistic detective feel, and also adding the golden circle to the Bat-symbol. His Batman was just as definitive as his Flash. Infantino also left his mark on such characters as Adam Strange (still one of my favorites thanks to a team-up between the hero and the Justice League in a story by Infantino), Black Canary, the Elongated Man, Dial H for Hero, and others in his time at DC. Later he became the publisher, invigorated design, streamlined production, and put together such event comics as the first meeting of Superman and Spider-Man.

Eventually he left DC as publisher and moved on to other projects like the Marvel version of Star Wars and also Spider-Woman and Nova, and returning to DC to draw the Flash once again, and even Batman in a newspaper strip. He has become one of the industry’s living legends. I got to meet him once at a con, and told him silly stories of my brother, the Flash, and my hideous artistic endeavors. He smiled and laughed. He was that kind of guy.

We have lost one of the big ones. Carmine Infantino was a giant in the industry, a legend of the comics field. He will be missed.

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The Forgotten Spider-Man

Everyone knows the 1967 “Spider-Man” cartoon, you know, the one with the catchy theme song. Most folks know the 1990s series on Fox as well. The fanboys and girls among us know the MTV CGI animated series, the spacey cosmic “Unlimited”, and “Amazing Friends” with Iceman and Firestar. But does anyone remember the 1981 Saturday morning cartoon?

The 1981 “Spider-Man” did not air in the Philadelphia area so I didn’t see it until years later in syndication. It was the wall-crawler first animated appearance on TV since the classic 1967 series. It was Spidey once more on Saturday mornings, and a prelude to “Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends.” Many of the queues were taken from the sixties cartoon, maybe not actual model sheets and drawings, but they sure tried to copy it, from shots of buildings to angles that Spidey would swing by on his weblines.

The villains were there. Spidey fought the Green Goblin, the Vulture, the Sandman, the Lizard, Mysterio, and the Kingpin. Others who had not yet seen animation as Spider-foes like the Chameleon, Black Cat, Silvermane, Hammerhead, and Kraven the Hunter. New villains were added like the Gadeteer, the Stuntman, and in a hollaback to the ’67 ‘toon, the Desperado-like Sidewinder.

Attempts to expand the animated Marvel Universe were made as Spider-Man also went up against Magneto, the Red Skull, and the Ringmaster. The oddest addition of this type was the seeming ascension of Doctor Doom to archenemy status for Spider-Man. The two clash in six out of the twenty-six episodes. Many Marvel super-heroes show up as guest-stars as well, including Captain America, the Sub-Mariner, Ka-Zar, Medusa and even Namorita.

There were problems however. This DePatie-Freleng production had the same quality as the last two Marvel animations, “Spider-Woman” and “New Fantastic Four,” the latter was the infamous version with H.E.R.B.I.E. the Robot. The animation is very slow-paced, Spidey’s webs eject with almost molasses flow sometimes. And of course this was a time in network television when violence was considered to be rotting the minds of young children – so Spider-Man could neither make a fist nor throw a punch, even at someone as evil as a Nazi madman like the Red Skull.

The 1981 “Spider-Man” cartoon has its moments, and it’s closer to comics continuity than a lot of superhero animation out there. It’s worth a viewing or two for the hardcore fans, and is now available from Netflix via DVD or streaming online.

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Avengers #1 Reviewed at Avengers Forever

“Just Like Starting Over” – my comic book review of Avengers #1, by Brian Michael Bendis and John Romita Jr., is now online at Avengers Forever.

Thor, Iron Man, the new Captain America, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Hawkeye and Spider-Woman – they are the newest incarnation of the Avengers. They have only just started to get used to being together when their greatest enemy, Kang the Conqueror, crashes the party… but nothing is as it seems – all this and more – check out my review here:

http://www.avengersforever.org/reviews/default.asp?RID=643

Enjoy!

If you want to discuss this review, this issue or anything Avengers, please check out the Avengers Forever Forum.

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Astonishing

Marvel Comics’ follow-up to the highly acclaimed Spider-Woman Motion Comic by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev is actually a bit of a surprise. Rather than another work created specifically for the format, they have gone old school (or as old school as one can go in the new realm of this technology) and chosen a story already presented in comic book form – “Gifted” the controversial first storyline from Josh Whedon and John Cassady’s Astonishing X-Men.

One might think this is a backward step in motion comic production until one actually sees it. This is moving forward into new territory. With the help of Neal Adams’ Continuity Studios, who also directed “Gifted” along with original artist John Cassaday, Marvel is bringing a whole new dimension to the artform.

Originally motion comics of the twenty-first century were nothing more than moving some elements across a static background to imitate movement, similar (sadly) to the infamous “Marvel Super Heroes” cartoons from 1966. Spider-Woman: Agent of S.W.O.R.D., a few months back was the first to be designed specifically for the motion comic format and utilized a style that brought the story and action to life.

Now, Neal Adams, who pioneered the realistic artstyle in comics of the late 1960s and early 1970s, takes things even farther into the future with Astonishing X-Men. These characters breathe. They speak as if animated, blink, move, etc. This is the next wave. It has to be seen to be believed. Marvel is riding the wave of the motion comic to the next frontier. I can’t wait to see what they do next.

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Best of 2009

My top ten films that I’ve seen this year that came out this year would be, in no particular order – Timecrimes, District 9, (500) Days of Summer, The Princess and the Frog, Moon, Wonder Woman, Inglourious Basterds, and my top three – Ponyo, Watchmen and Star Trek.

On television, “Glee” tops my card, quickly followed by Showtime’s “Nurse Jackie” and a startling season of “Dexter.” Other highlights would include the “Seinfeld” reunion on “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” the spoiled children of “Big Brother 10” and of course the “Doctor Who” specials.

Musically there’s no question that 2009 was the year of Lady GaGa. And I think that’s only the beginning. Even if she’s a four-hit wonder, her performances and music, as well as her interviews are stunning. She is a force to be reckoned with for many years to come.

On the interwebs, props must go to Marvel Comics for their amazing motion comics of Astonishing X-Men and especially Spider-Woman: Agent of S.W.O.R.D.

Now bring on 2010!

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Watch Your Step

When the Spider-Woman: Agent of S.W.O.R.D. motion comic from Marvel on iTunes first debuted I mentioned that this may be the beginning of the end for the print comic. Here is just one of the many reasons this may be so – the theme song. You don’t get a theme song with a paper comic book.

“Watch Your Step” is by Dan Phillips with Anna Abbey and the Marvel Music Group, and is pretty darned catchy. Watch out.

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Spider-Woman on Top

Yesterday Marvel Comics debuted its first original motion comic on iTunes: Spider-Woman: Agent of S.W.O.R.D. Today, it was the number one seller on the television and animation charts. And it could very well be the death knell for print comics.

The series involves Jessica Drew alias Spider-Woman bouncing back from the traumatic events of Secret Invasion and New Avengers and finding her way in a treacherous new world. Adding to the excitement is the creative team – writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Alex Maleev – famous for their Eisner Awards and their NYT bestselling Daredevil run. It’s also worth noting that it was Bendis who brought Spider-Woman from a minor forgotten character to the forefront of the Marvel Universe.

While the stories featured in this iTunes exclusive will at some point next month be available in a traditional print format, the presentation is key here. While previous motion comics have been merely already existing comics retooled for the motion comic format – essentially comic images moving across the screen via flash animation – Spider-Woman is something new.

Spider-Woman: Agent of S.W.O.R.D. is created specifically for the motion comic format, and just by that virtue, it is different, and amazing. With a complete voice cast, a soundtrack and a notable lack of confining comic panels, this episode has a widescreen cinematic style that is something rarely seen in the comic book medium.

This new visual style at $1.99 per ten-minute episode vs. $3.99 per twenty-two page issue of a comic book may just give credence to the phrase “Print is dead.” While I sincerely hope not, I am still very excited by this event, and you should be too. Definitely check it out.

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New Avengers #36 Reviewed

“Is Marvel Asking for It?” – my comic book review of New Avengers #36, by Brian Michael Bendis and Leinil Yu, is now online at Avengers Forever.

It’s raining Venom, New and Mighty teams together, Luke and Jessica share pillow talk, and Wolverine and Spider-Woman have an, ahem, encounter – check out my review here: http://www.avengersforever.org/reviews/default.asp?RID=546.

Enjoy!

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