Remembering Venom

It so happened that 1993 was a big year for me. Comic book wise, anyway. See that was the year Bane broke Batman’s back. It was the year that Superman died. And in the Marvel universe, Carnage escapes Ravencroft and wrecks carnage on a maximum level. It was also the year that my mother grew tired of the Toyota Corolla. Her eyes were set on a Chevy Cavalier. Mostly because it wasn’t a Toyota Corolla. Now, you may be asking yourselves what my mother’s choice in vehicles has to do with comic books. I’ll explain.

In 1993, I was ten years old. Just a few years before, I entered the world of comic book readers because there was simply nothing else for me to do. Unlike most boys my age, I showed no interest in sports. Going outside was something I did often, but not for the usual reasons. I didn’t climb trees, fences, or whatever. I lost myself into my own imagination. An imagination, mind you, deeply influenced by the books and stories I read. And like most boys entering the world of comic books, my first title was about a certain web-slinging superhero. And like any early reader of Spider-Man in the 1990s, his antithesis—also of the web-slinging type—stole my heart away.

So when my mother decided that she was getting a new car, she volunteered yours truly to accompany her. I had certain conditions in order for me to go willingly. Close to the car dealership stood a comic book store. We spoke it over and it was settled. She would purchase me two titles in order to keep me entertained while she struck a deal with a car salesman who wore way too much cologne. So 1993 will go down in history as the year I received my very first Venom title—Venom: The Madness.

Now I don’t know how it is these days. If Marvel even still publishes Venom titles, it’s not known to me. Back in the ’90s, though, Venom didn’t have an ongoing series. Instead, Venom was given a limited release series usually in the form of a three-issue story arcs.

Twenty-one years have passed since that fateful day. That issue of Venom: The Madness and every title before and after have become a flicker in memory. When I discovered girls liked me, my comic book days ended as abruptly as they started. After several failed relationships, I found myself returning to the pastime of my youth. It’s like reuniting with an old friend after a twenty-year estrangement. There’s so much to catch up on, so many things different and new. Then one day, the library I work for received a shipment of comic book trades. The kid inside lit up with glee. Among these titles, a certain cover caught my attention. Venom: The Enemy Within. And like that, I returned to 1993.

The paperback trade collects three Venom titles—Funeral Pyre, The Madness, and Enemy Within—and a one-shot issue in which the Incredible Hulk makes an appearance. So many memories spun from the pages, filling me with nostalgia.

While comic artists have improved the way illustrations bring stories to life, nothing compares to the grit found in the pages of a 1990s title. Maybe it’s just the familiarity of it. The way Punisher’s perpetual stubble brings out his ruthlessness in a pre-political correct era in the pages of Funeral Pyre. Or the way Juggernaut gets off on his brute, physical force when dealing with Venom. Or the way you don’t see Demogoblin on may covers these days. Let’s not forget the wonderful slapstick comedy from the Incredible Hulk vs. Venom. How many kids would get the Hans and Franz reference these days?  Even the writing differs to the way things are done now. How many writers/editors break the fourth wall by referring the reader to a previous issue? Maybe it’s just nostalgia for me. Maybe it’s something more. I don’t know. The point is, reading these pages again brought the child in me. Now if you don’t mind, I’ll go bury myself in some more titles from my youth.

Venom: The Enemy Within is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Until next time, keep on huntin’.


Another Post about Comic Books & Comic Book Accessories

Library finds

The Perks of Working at a Library

Penny pinching isn’t my trade. Tomorrow is pay day, but the bills are waiting for me to send in their payments. So there are perks when it comes to working a library. The most important being that I’m surrounded by books that I don’t have to pay to read. The added bonus is that I get to see what books are coming into circulation before they’re processed. Late April or early May, the library received several comic book trades and graphic novels. This includes the Before Watchmen books, a slew of Hellraiser books, Suicide Risk Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, and a lot of Batman titles. Coming home with me today were the Hellraiser titles and Suicide Risk. Both of them are published by Boom! Studios.

Heavy Ink Subscription Issues: Value vs. Values

Back in March or April, I decided to drop shopping at Myth Adventures on new comic Wednesdays (or later in the week). After the careless handling of my purchases, I couldn’t bare it. I’m under no illusion that any of these books are going to skyrocket in price (unless they’re a variant cover), but they’re still my possessions. I’m courteous enough not to manhandle the books in their collections, so I expect the same thing when they become mine.

After researching shipping prices, I concluded that Heavy Ink had the better deal. Then I read that the owner/president/whatever of Heavy Ink is an extreme right-wing, gun nut who praised the Tuscon shooting. I’m a bit wary knowing that my money is going to this hate monger. Conflicted, I’m still debating whether to cancel my subscriptions with Heavy Ink. It’s better if I just pay extra for shipping with Midtown Comics.

Now his statement was made three years ago. That still doesn’t change the gravity of his words. It doesn’t make him any less of an asshole. I’ve never boycotted an organization or business because of words before. When Chick-fil-a’s CEO came out against same-sex marriages, I didn’t bat an eyelash. When Duck Dynasty jerk-wad spoke his mind, I didn’t write a letter to  A&E. There’s a difference, to me anyway, about being ignorant and supporting a terrorist. Makes me wonder where the money I spend is going to.

Tough decisions ahead, I’m afraid.

The Great Divide(rs)
I'm gonna need a bigger box. And more dividers. And possibly a girlfriend...
I’m gonna need a bigger box. And more dividers. And possibly a girlfriend…

Last night, I decided to make my own comic book dividers. I brought home several pieces of cardboard from work. That’s another perk, if you’re not paying any attention. It’s not stealing, by the way. The boxes they were a part of were on their way to the recycle bin. Whatever scraps I had left are destined for the same ending.

After fouling it up with the first one, I almost called it quits and just order them. But I’m not one to quit on something that feels impossible. Sadly, I didn’t have enough for each title, so I improvised.

Things to Come (Maybe, Probably, Perhaps….Sure, why not?)

In attempt to reach out and communicate with other readers/bloggers/etc., I plan to spice things up again. Instead of focusing on journaling and reviewing, I’ll discuss my book hunting skills. I’ll talk about my superpowers (yes, we all have a superpower). I’ll discuss the comic titles I’m currently reading. And hopefully I’ll get Ashton to help me out with old ideas that never came to light. If not Ashton, then someone else. Until next time. Keep on…well, huntin’ I guess.


The Hero’s Guide to Being an Outlaw by Christopher Healy

“Woo-hoo! It’s revolution time!”

Hero's Guide to being an outlawThe League of Princes is back in their third (and final?) book. Like the first two, The Hero’s Guide to Being an Outlaw shows us the power of wit and wisdom of writer Christopher Healy. Fast paced and fun the whole way through, Healy shows us sides of our heroes that he hasn’t before. Gustav has a soft side? Duncan kingly? A compromising Liam? Frederic as…well, let’s not give away too much.

After last year’s release of The Hero’s Guide to Storming the Castle, I asked Healy whether the series would end as a trilogy. His response broke my heart and left me with hope all the same. Three was the magic number, but after that we’ll see where it goes. (I wish I screen capped this Twitter conversation so I could cite it correctly.) After reading the third book, I’m left with hope again. It’s as open-ended as the first and second book.

If anyone could inspire children to read, it’s Christopher Healy. Several children have shied away when I suggest The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom. The book is a children’s literature tome. A brick. Added weight in the backpack. However, they fall in love with the characters and Healy’s uproarishly hilarious writing style. Several writers have taken the helm of writing about old, well-known characters found in fairy tales. No one’s carried them the way Christopher Healy has, though. And as an adult reader, he’s inspired me to write again. Hopefully, that means that there are future writers in his audience as well.

There isn’t a doubt in my mind that Healy is racing towards mastering his craft. With this final book in the League of Princes, it’s clear that whatever he does in the future will excel among his peers. I look forward to what the future holds.

Product description from Amazon:

The League of Princes returns in the hilariously epic conclusion to the hit series that began with Christopher Healy’s The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom, which the Los Angeles Times called “one of the more clever, hilariously successful incarnations of the current literary rage to rip apart and rewrite fairy tales.”

Prince Liam. Prince Frederic. Prince Duncan. Prince Gustav. You think you know those guys pretty well by now, don’t you? Well, think again. Posters plastered across the thirteen kingdoms are saying that Briar Rose has been murdered—and the four Princes Charming are the prime suspects. Now they’re on the run in a desperate attempt to clear their names. Along the way, however, they discover that Briar’s murder is just one part of a nefarious plot to take control of all thirteen kingdoms—a plot that will lead to the doorstep of an eerily familiar fortress for a final showdown with an eerily familiar enemy.

Product Details:
A Hero’s Guide to Being an Outlaw by Christopher Healy
Walden Pond Press (29 April 2014)
ISBN: 978-0062118486

The Hero’s Guide to Being an Outlaw is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, for Kindle and Nook. Until next time, keep on huntin’.

Film 365

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

I have a theory.

PrintOut in the hills of Hollywood—or wherever they do casting for movies—there stands a shed. Inside this shed, there are several head shots of actors (established and rising) plastered on the walls like the wallpaper of some adolescent school girl. In the center of this shed, there is a turntable-like rise in the floor. Upon this rise, sits a chair. A random person, most likely an intern, is blindfolded and ushered to the chair where she is sat. She’s given a single dart. The others leave the room; the last one flips the switch, activating the turntable-like rise in the floor. The chair begins to spin, announcing its highest speed with a bing. Once the bing goes off, the intern must throw the dart and the head shot it lands on is the person chosen for the role being cast.

Maybe this idea doesn’t work for all movies—surely comedy and drama already have established, go-to actors—but with superhero flicks? This theory works so well when the big heads at Warner Bros. and Zack Synder thought Ben Afflect would make a spectacular Batman. Or that pencil-thin Gal Gadot is a stellar choice of an Amazonian princess. It explains Andrew Garfield, Jaime Foxx, the entire cast of the future Fantastic Four reboot, and Jessica Alba of the first two Fantastic Four films. And Snyder can defend all he wants, but history has proven that Ben behind a mask is a rape of comic book lore. And we already sacrificed Daredevil to that, why the dark knight after all Christopher Nolan worked to accomplish?

This all occurred to me as I sat beside Monica as we watched The Amazing Spider-Man 2 yesterday. I must warn you, this post will contain spoilers.

Continue reading “The Amazing Spider-Man 2”