Mike McKone

It took five years, but Dan Slott has finally won me over.

Here’s why I dropped Spider-Man when Brand New Day began: stories that bring a character back to basics are so much less exciting than those that build on what came before and go to new places.

J. Michael Straczinski did that.

Following the abrupt departure of my all-time favorite Spider-Man writer, in a dissatisfying storyline that JMS requested his name be removed from, I was heavily biased against Spider-Man’s 2007 status quo and new writer(s).  There were four of them at the time if you don’t recall, but Dan Slott has always been at the helm.

Over the course of the last year, I’ve come to accept that I’ll always have the JMS storylines that are so close to my heart.  The ones where Peter learned about the tribal origins of his powers under the tutelage of Ezekiel, battled the children of Gwen Stacy and Norman Osborn, and put the black suit back on now live on my bookshelf, but that chapter of Spider-Man is over.

I moved on to other characters.  There’s no shortage of other comics to read, and for a time I didn’t miss Spider-Man.

Except, Marvel used a host of great artistic talents on Brand New Day, which drew my attention back to Spidey.

These artists include: Chris Bachalo,

Mike McKone,

Lee Weeks,

Barry Kitson,

JRJR,

Phil Jimenez,

Giuseppe Camuncoli,

and Humberto Ramos.

If so many of my favorite artists were illustrating Spider-Man post-marriage, I decided I was surely missing something.

When early BND volumes showed up on the discount table at my local comic shop this past year, I knew the time was right to give those stories a chance.

The contrast was immediately apparent between the Spider-man I knew and the one I was reading in those early Brand New Day issues.  Spider-Man was no longer a winner.  He no longer lived with his hot wife in the Avengers mansion and was instead replaced with the perpetual loser from years past who was always broke, couldn’t pay his rent, couldn’t get a girl, couldn’t hold down a job, etc.

Now, the new status quo wasn’t all bad.  We lost the marriage of Peter and Mary Jane, a story element I adored, but traded Spidey’s retractable stingers and organic web shooters for the return of classic story elements, like Harry Osborn and mechanical web shooters.  We gained a few new villains, like Menace, Screwball, and Mr. Negative; along with a host of villain redesigns.

What I didn’t realize before picking up the new storyline was that it did progress in these comics.   It’s just that, while Slott’s main plot point was to bring Peter Parker back to basics, he allowed the supporting cast to evolve in a big way.

Flash Thompson lost his legs…

…and became Venom.

Doc Ock lost his health.

Eddie Brock became Anti-Venom.

J. Jonah Jameson had a heart attack, lost his newspaper, and became mayor.

Curt Connors transformed back into The Lizard and ate his family.

All the while Norman Osborn was head of Hammer, the SHIELD replacement agency at the time.

Those story elements and others like them were what I gleaned enjoyment from at first.  As I read more, I came to enjoy the consistency in the writing style and the long term storyline goals built up over a number of issues leading to a big reveal.  This was supplied by Slott and his editor Steven Wacker.

Slott’s biggest strength is that, rather than tailoring the title to his own voice like many other modern writers would, he customized his style to stay true to the character of Spider-Man.  Keep in mind that this is the same chameleonic Dan Slott that wrote GLA, She-Hulk, and Arkham Asylum: Living Hell.

Here’s the kicker: I avoided Slott’s run for all of this time because I thought the back-to-basics approach was boring.  Now that I’ve read the books I realize that this was a five-year red herring!

As Slott took over as the sole writer of the title for the Big Time storyline, we had already seen Spidey start a relationship with Carlie Cooper and don the black suit.  Peter would soon wear a number of alternate uniforms and work a steady job at Horizon Labs.  Working as a scientist developing inventions inspired by his adventures behind the mask is a believable idea.  It suits Parker and reminds the audience of his character’s academic background.

Plot elements that were seemingly meant to take Spider-Man back to square one, were setting the reader up to be surprised by what is potentially the most exciting point in Spidey’s long and rich history.

Doc Ock has switched his consciousness with Peter Parker!  All sources point to the next storyline being one where he operates as Spider-Man in Peter’s body.

I can’t wait to see what happens next!  The status quo will inevitably shift back towards a more classic approach in the future, but its a welcome feeling to eagerly anticipate each new piece of the story.

Mid-Ohio Con Becomes Wizard World Ohio in 2012

The 2012 convention season is in full swing!  The Ohio Comic Con, formerly the Mid-Ohio Con, is hosted by Wizard in the great city of Columbus!

Wizard Conventions are more of a pop culture celebration than a traditional comic con.  Their diverse guest lists tend to attract wrestling fans, sci-fi fans, and TV fans right along with those of us whose main reason for attending the show is to hobnob with the best creators in comics.

Tommy Castillo hosted the Drink ‘N Draw on Friday night.  This was a truly personal experience where amateurs and pros alike gathered to share some fun times over beer and Bristol board.  We exercised our creative muscles under the care and guidance of Tommy with his fellow judges, Primo Cardinelli and Stuart Sayger.  My table was challenged to draw “Batman vs. Stewie on a Farm in Late Fall/Almost Winter” while others had their own unique set of characters and circumstances to bring to life.  While this reporter didn’t place in the amateur category, I appreciated the friendly and personal environment that Tommy and Wizard created, clearly out of a love for artwork and the desire to present opportunities for unsung talent.  Mark my words; someone is going to hit it big after they win this event!  Jay Fife took first place in the pro category, winning a free table at an upcoming Wizard show.

Wizard has been criticized for changing the “Mom and Pop” atmosphere of the Mid-Ohio Con to its more commercially-driven present incarnation.  I present the Drink ‘N Draw as proof that a family vibe still exists at the show.  Bravo Tommy!  Bravo Wizard!

Neal Adams, mayor of New York (practically), is hard at work on First X-Men for Marvel, but took time out of his schedule to meet his fans, and hold a Q&A panel where he discussed his favorite character to draw, working with Stan Lee, breaking into the business, and fighting for creator’s rights to have original artwork returned to them.

Alan Davis flew in from the UK!  Mr. Davis is presently gearing up for a top secret Marvel project that he couldn’t release details on.  However, his modern work typically appears on special projects outside of main titles where Mr. Davis can place the utmost care into his pencils to deliver the highest quality possible, far ahead of looming deadlines (i.e. Justice League: The Nail and Avengers: Prime).  Note that Mr. Davis inspires such loyalty from his fans that a few good natured art lovers eagerly stepped up to the plate to assist in managing Mr. Davis’ endless sketch and autograph line.  Another thankful collector presented Alan’s wife, Mrs. Davis, with flowers to thank her for visiting our country with her husband.

Mike McKone attended!  McKone recently moved to San Diego.  After years of being a Wizard mainstay at east coast shows, this is a rare appearance for him on the right-hand side of the country.  Fans welcomed McKone with open arms, who said he was pleasantly surprised at how cosmopolitan the city of Columbus is.  Mike’s favorite characters are The Hulk and The Thing in that order.

Mexican superstar Humberto Ramos made it to the show!  Ramos remains one of the premiere Spidey artists and his work can be found there most months.

Jorge Molina came up from Mexico! Jorge was excited about the Cable cover he just finished, which will serve as the character’s first post X-Sanction appearance.  Cable will be sporting a new look without his machine parts for a short time while his character transitions between X-Sanction and the upcoming Cable and X-Force.

Tyler Kirkham is moving from Green Lantern: New Guardians to Teen Titans!  Issue 0, featuring Tyler’s artwork was just released.

Image Comics writer Dirk Manning arrived promoting the upcoming collection of his online column Write or Wrong and his current webcomic Tales of Mr. Rhee.

Local talent Sean Forney sketched for fans at the Hero Initiative booth!

Jordan Gunderson attended the show promoting his brand new “Ink and Blood” art collection.

Chad Cicconi of Action Lab is gearing up for a huge announcement on a new project.  Watch the news sites, fans!

Watercolor artist Carla Wyzgala stays hard at work on webcomic Surreality, but she’s never too busy to meet her fans!

Sketch card artist Erik Hodson has been in the comics industry for over 7 years as an independent publisher and creator.  Check out his light hearted webcomic Chad the Fat Kid.

I asked CM Punk of the WWE a question during his Q&A panel regarding his love for Ed Brubaker comics.  Are you curious for more details?  Check out the fitness guru’s answer at the 17:45 minute mark here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYeYIYidC7w&fb_source=message

My final thoughts on the Ohio Comic Con?  Let’s review what makes a convention great.  Fans interacting with creators?  Check.  Creators interacting with each other?  Double check.  Celebration atmosphere?  Wizard crafted a pop culture festival complete with tattoo artists!  This show was awesome.

   

Up next are panel wrap-ups from Q&As with Patrick Stewart and John de Lancie as well as Val Kilmer.

Special Thanks to Brian “Jimmy Olsen” Jones.