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A MOVIE A DAY #3 – Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)

I love Marvel. I always have. I’m a huge fan of the comics, of the films, of the TV series and the merchandise, going all the way back to a childhood obsession with X-Men, Daredevil and the underrated 1986 cinematic masterpiece that is Howard the Duck. Usually, I am in the cinema on opening day, or at least in opening week, of each new MCU or Sony release (or, as here, a combination of the two), but in the case of this one, I just couldn’t.

It was the end of Spider-Man: Far from Home that did this to me. I just hate a falsely accused storyline, and there is nothing more false than the accusation, made by the petty and mean-spirited Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhall), that it was Peter Parker (Tom Holland) who unleashed drone weapons on London and not, y’know, Mysterio himself. Then, the villain made things even worse by revealing Peter’s secret identity to the world, and I just—suffice it to say, this was not a story I was eager to see play out.

When I tell you that I paused this movie a good seventeen times in its first twenty minutes, in order to manage my emotions and prepare myself for yet more unfairness, believe that I am possibly underestimating the figure here. But once I allowed the movie to get going, I was entirely hooked, even though MAN Peter Parker is stupid here. Sure, he’s a teenager, but he’s supposed to be a genius – why do they have him making so many idiotic decisions?

The cameos are fun, and I liked the use of the multiverse here much better than I did in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (though not as much as I liked it in 2018’s animated classic, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse). Unfortunately, I was spoiled about the presence of previous Spider-Men in the film, but I had managed to avoid mention of all of the other former Spiderverse appearances (not to mention Matt Murdock!), and I loved all of them. There are some particularly engaging conversations between all three Spider-Men that really make the film feel really special (both Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield are compelling, but Maguire’s oddly natural delivery is just excellent) and I loved the many, many Easter eggs throughout, both subtle and overt. (Even one to the aforementioned animated classic!) MCU Spidey’s closest confidantes, Ned (Jacob Batalon) and MJ (Zendaya), bring some enjoyable humour as well, and Dr. Strange – well, he’s there, and he’s kind of cool, but he does not take enough responsibility for his part in the film’s tragic events, to my mind.

For some reason, I decided to watch the 11-minute longer “Extended Edition” of this Spider-Man outing, despite my reservations about the plotline, and I am not sure which deleted scenes made it into this one, but none of them seem out of place or redundant. There is, of course, the expected climactic battle scene but, for me, it actually didn’t go on too long – rare, in any comic book or similar action film; they really love a lengthy and violent set piece to wrap things up, don’t they? – and even though I didn’t love the ending, I get why it had to happen, and I find I am not as reluctant to see the next MCU-sanctioned Sony Spider-Man movie (which will apparently not be out until at least 2024) as I was with this one.

In fact, I will probably be there opening day.

And now I kind of wish I had been with this one, too.


Based on the Marvel superhero Spider-Man, created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko
Written by: Chris McKenna
Directed by: Jon Watts
Starring: Tom Holland, Zendaya, Benedict Cumberbatch, Jacob Batalon, Andrew Garfield, Tobey Maguire, Jon Favreau, Jamie Foxx, Willem Dafoe, Alfred Molina, Benedict Wong, Thomas Haden-Church, Marisa Tomei


READING THE TBR, DAY 257: Night Nurse (1972) by Jean Thomas

When I learned that the character of Claire Temple, played by Rosario Dawson in the Netflix Marvel series — Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, The Punisher and The Defenders — is based partially on the 1970s character Night Nurse, of course I had to find out more about her. After all, Claire was the best thing about most of those series, at least until they tried to make her a martial arts badass, and I loved the idea that so many decades ago Marvel had produced a mini-series based on a nursing professional with zero superpowers.

And Night Nurse — Linda Carter; the character was created before actress Lynda Carter personified Wonder Woman, it should be noted — indeed has no powers, but as the first port of call for superheroes who are injured and who, unsurprisingly, can’t seek help in your average emergency room, she is an important figure in comic land. And, her existence fills a pretty major franchise-wide plot hole, when you think about it.

This 4-issue series mostly revolves around Linda’s dedication to her job, and her jerk of a fiance who tries to make her give up her vocation just to care for him. (Bye, Jerk Fiance!) It’s quaint, and very much a product of its time, especially given our heroine’s Halloween-esque figure-hugging white uniform, but the secondary characters — fellow nurses — up the diversity quota, and the cameos by various injured heroes keeps the adrenaline pumping as Night Nurse is faced with medical emergencies surely outside the scope of her training. 

A Daredevil issue, also featuring Night Nurse, is also bundled into this collection, and that is pretty great, too, especially as it gives a bit more reason as to why Dr. Claire Temple, of comic fame, would have devolved into Nurse Claire Temple on the small screen.

At least Nurse Claire wears scrubs. 


TBR DAY 274: Night Nurse by Jean Thomas; illustrated by Winslow Mortimer and Alex Maleev
GENRE: Comics, Marvel, Medical
PUBLISHED: 1972 (reprint 2015)
TIME ON THE TBR: ~2 years.  
KEEP: Sure.

READING THE TBR, DAY 205: Mystery Men (2011) by David Liss

“Introducing Marvel’s all-new, never-before-seen heroes of the 1930s!” So begins the blurb of this comic, and is the reason that I bought it. I didn’t quite understand how there were these long-lost characters from the 30s that had gone unseen for so many decades, especially since Marvel Comics was not even founded until 1939, which proved to me, yet again, that I am not nearly as smart as I sometimes think I am.

Because of course these are not characters from the 1930s. They are characters set in the 1930s.

In my defense, that is a very deceptive sentence.

The adventure depicted in this pulp-esque noir-ish mini-series follows a fairly typical dark thriller plot that could easily have been written in the time in which it is set — there’s an innocent man framed for murder, corrupt politicians, organized crime run riot and people wearing hats. The Lindbergh baby makes an appearance, and a few other hallmarks of the era, and it’s all pretty oppressive and bleak, because damn, the 30s were, apparently. It wasn’t called the Depression for nothing.

Our superheroes — five in all — are conflicted and suffering from every societal issue of the time, from racism to sexism to daddy issues (okay, so those are pretty timeless issues, unfortunately), and also must battle against monsters, because yeah. When you think noir, obviously the supernatural is the next thought that comes to mind.

I really enjoyed the Aviatrix (whose sister was murdered, and who is the possessor of a pair of Falcon-style mechanical wings for no apparent reason) as a nascent superheroine, and the Surgeon’s dark and creepy one-liners genuinely made me wonder if he was being set up as our villain instead. (“When I’m finished cutting away, they won’t recognize you.”) I always hate an innocent-patsy-on-the-run tale, so that wasn’t my favourite, but that aspect of the story did add events a certain tension throughout.

And the art — which is fantastic — made up for a lot.

In short, this is a pretty fun pulpy ride, enough so that I kind of wish the aforementioned superheroes, along with the equally troubled Operator, Revenant and Achilles, really had been created in the 1930s, after all. I would have loved to see the reboot. 


TBR DAY 205: Mystery Men by David Liss; illustrated by Patrick Zircher
GENRE: Marvel, Comics, Superheroes
TIME ON THE TBR: ~6 years. 
PURCHASED FROM: Minotaur Melbourne.
KEEP: Why not?

READING THE TBR, DAY 178: Hawkeye vs. Deadpool (2015) by Gerry Duggan


I really thought I was going to love this.

I loved Deadpool. I love Hawkeye — which I am aware puts me in the minority. What can I say? I love a marksman. Have them team up/against one another on a S.H.I.E.L.D.-related quest and it should have been a surefire kick at goal.

But the kick missed. By a lot.

It’s Halloween in Brooklyn, and a deafened Clint Barton is kind of a sad loser-type without his Hawkeye persona to hide behind. To his door, trick-or-treating with his daughter and robot wife (I have clearly missed a bunch of stuff in comic book Deadpool chronology and need to catch up immediately), comes our Merc with a Mouth, and into their laps falls a mystery, as stolen S.H.I.E.L.D. records threaten to expose every agent who is currently on their roster. They can’t agree on how to handle it (hence the “vs.” in the title) but both are essentially on the side of angels here, just with different agendas and priorities.

The thing is, the story is fine — if one that has been seen in every spy TV show ever made, plus in more than a few movies and books, as well — but the execution… no. Who is this Deadpool? Why is he not funny? Is that also a development in comic book Deadpool chronology that I have missed? Maybe I don’t need to catch up, after all.

And as for Hawkeye… well, he’s better off in the MCU, as far as I can see, and there he was a stone cold assassin for five years because his family got turned to dust.

It’s really a shame, because this could have been a hoot. But, you know who is a hoot here? Kate Bishop, aka Lady Hawkeye, aka Hawkette, aka Hawkeye, Jr. I liked her a lot in this mini-series, and want to see more of her elsewhere.

But as for the rest of it? Just… no. 


TBR DAY 178: Hawkeye vs. Deadpool by Gerry Duggan, illustrated by Matteo Lolli and James Harren
GENRE: Comics, Superheroes, Marvel
TIME ON THE TBR: 3 years. 
KEEP: Yes.

READING THE TBR, DAY 161: Karnak: The Flaw in All Things (2017) by Warren Ellis

Marvel’s Inhumans are a band of superpowered and/or otherworldly heroes and/or villains who were transformed into their post-human state by exposure to the Terrigen Mist, a gene-altering compound that brings out their latent abilities if they are descendants of visiting aliens. Or something. I know — or think I know — all of this only because of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the endlessly annoying network television show with an endlessly annoying title to type, because somehow this band of secretive yet interfering metahumans had not really registered with me in all my years of comic book reading.

So when I saw this trade paperback, and learned it was about an Inhuman who was not one, and moreover that it was written by Warren Ellis, who is a genius, of course I had to buy it, to delve into this lore of which I had so long been ignorant. Except for the TV version, that is.

It is stunning. But also, wow, Karnak is a dick.

He is one of those I-have-no-emotion-I-kill-with-impunity-life-has-no-meaning-everything-sucks guys who takes nihilism to such heights he makes Marvin the Paranoid Android look like Hello Kitty by comparison. He is deadly and implacable, and as he is tasked by S.H.I.E.L.D. — also, an annoying agency to type — in the person of Agent Coulson (hi there!) to bring back a kidnapped Inhuman, we learn that Karnak, though born with latent Inhuman gifts, was denied exposure to Terrigen by his nonconforming parents, and so all his skills and badassery come from training and discipline. He’s kind of impressive.

But still a dick.

The writing, of course, is spare and lyrical and thought-provoking and intense (because: Warren Ellis) and the anti-heroness of this character really comes through in all its devastating glory (because: Warren Ellis!). This six-issue limited run is the kind of comic that makes you want to know much, much more about the character and his world, and that is probably the highest praise I can give any comic, or any form of creative endeavour.

It’s certainly more than can be said for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., anyway.*

* Incidentally, Karnak showed up in the ill-fated Inhumans TV series, but, yeah, I never watched that.


TBR DAY 161: Karnak: The Flaw in All Things by Warren Ellis; Illustrated by Gerardo Zaffino, Roland Boschi, Antonio Fuso
GENRE: Comics, Superheroes, Marvel
TIME ON THE TBR: ~2 years.  
PURCHASED FROM: Minotaur Melbourne.
KEEP: Yes!

READING THE TBR, DAY 140: Star Wars: Princess Leia (2015) by Mark Waid

I’m a fairly recent convert to Star Wars, in that I’ve always liked it well enough, but The Force Awakens… er… awakened in me a new passion for the saga, as did the unexpected delights of Rogue One

This 5-issue Princess Leia mini-series does what Rogue One did for the original Star Wars movie — 1977’s A New Hope — but on the other end. Rogue One acted as a prequel, while this story acts as an immediate sequel.

Written by Mark Waid (which is why I bought this book to begin with; I love him), the story dwells on the fact that when the Death Star destroyed Leia’s home planet of Alderaan, it killed her parents and most every Alderaanian in that galaxy far, far away. The first issue is just people exhorting Leia to grieve properly, but after a harsh chat with a feisty fighter pilot and compatriot, one Evaan, the princess decides what she must do is roam the galaxy and try to gather together her remaining people.

Is she a princess or a queen, by the way? Was her Dad “King Bail”? No one ever seems to answer that question, with some “Your Majesty”-ing here, while she refers to herself as Princess Leia. This isn’t a plot hole in the story, though, since royalty in Star Wars is confusing anyway — like how Amidala was elected Queen on Naboo in the prequels.

Speaking of the prequels, Leia actually goes to Naboo here. It’s fun.

I really liked this mini-series a whole hell of a lot, and I’ll be on the lookout for more Star Wars comics in the future. Hell, I might even get into the Star Wars media tie-in novels, except that there are hundreds of those things, and oh dear.

Maybe best not.   


TBR DAY 140: Star Wars: Princess Leia by Mark Waid, illustrated by Terry Dodson
GENRE: Marvel, Comics, Star Wars
TIME ON THE TBR: 2 years.  
PURCHASED FROM: Minotaur, Melbourne.
KEEP: Yep!

READING THE TBR, DAY 107: Quicksilver: No Surrender (2018) by Saladin Ahmed

I was browsing the Marvel trade collections just before Christmas last year, planning to perhaps pick up a couple as gifts (and oh, who am I kidding, more probably some for myself), when a guy handed this one to me without a word. I looked up, startled — he just nodded significantly, assuringly, then walked away, his own copy in hand.

They say word of mouth is the best marketing there is. This was silence of mouth. And was possibly even more effective.

Especially so, since I have previously had little interest in Quicksilver in comics. Oh, on screen he’s great, the whimsical X-Men reboot version probably my favourite over the Age of Ultron version, who died precipitously, in true Whedonian fashion. But comic book Quicksilver has always been kind of an arrogant dick, reminding me way too much of his father Magneto and being not nearly nice enough to his sister Scarlet Witch, which may press some of my buttons and influence my perceptions somewhat, if I’m honest. Whatever the reason, I’ve mostly avoided him, where possible.

But this series! Wow. Not only does it totally retcon Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch’s origin story — which, further research shows me, happened in the comicverse leading up to their appearance in The Avengers film franchise, de-mutantizing the twins and making Magneto their tormentor rather than their dear old dad — it is a meditation on isolation and trauma and sacrifice, as well as a redemption story of a sullen hero discovering that he has a lot more to live for than he ever thought. (Also: Quicksilver has a daughter, named Luna, who was born on the moon. This was news to me, and… okay, sure.)

It all begins with a bang, and Quicksilver — Pietro Maximoff — finds himself unstuck from time, fighting to save civilians and his colleagues and yes, his sister, from destruction at the hands of eerily him-like speedster creatures who have ill-defined powers to affect the living world. He zooms around the globe, narrating events, his thoughts dark and pretty depressing at times, his a heavy load to bear since his early experimented-on childhood through to his emergence as a force for good. It is one of the best, fastest character turnarounds I have ever seen in any medium — it is Wesley Wyndham-Pryce level, it is Don Keefer level, it is Tahani Al-Jamil level. 

I think I love comic Quicksilver now. And for that to happen in the space of only five issues, you know they have to be good ones. 

Thanks, silent Minotaur comic recommendation man! 


TBR DAY 107: Quicksilver: No Surrender by Saladin Ahmed
GENRE: Comics, Marvel, Superheroes 
TIME ON THE TBR: 5 months.  
KEEP: Yes!

READING THE TBR, DAY 99: Space: Punisher (2012) by Frank Tieri

I really love an alternate reality version of established Marvel canon, and this one is no exception. Giving us an inter-stellar hunt for the shadowy figures who murdered Frank Castle’s family, this reimagining of the tale brings in artificial intelligence and aliens as well as a space-suited Punisher determined to give no quarter to those he deems worthy of, well, punishment.

Featuring cameos by villains such as Ultron, Magneto and Red Skull, as well as my darling Deadpool, and Hulk, and those troublesome Watchers, this really is its own pocket universe, and one that could so easily be its own long-running space opera series, if the actionable names and recognizable powers were altered significantly enough.

The art here is particularly noteworthy, too, the extra-worldly aspect of the tale perfectly rendered, while the clever sight-gag Easter Eggs just keep on coming, and Punisher’s AI helpmeets are just THE BEST.

In all, a home run of a 4-shot comic limited series, and one that I wish had gone on for far, far longer.  


TBR DAY 98: Space: Punisher by Frank Tieri
GENRE: Comics, Marvel, Superheroes, The Punisher
TIME ON THE TBR: ~2 years. 
PURCHASED FROM: Big City Comics, Melbourne.
KEEP: Yes!

READING THE TBR, DAY 92: Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, Vol. 1: BFF (2018) by Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder

I mean… Devil Dinosaur. As if you’re not going to want to read a comic with a freaking dinosaur in it. Especially when he is sidekick to such an unusual… superhero, for want of a better word: a nine-year-old mechanical genius with a secret lab underneath her school who is determined not to be transformed by the Terrigen mists that have been released to activate the dormant Inhuman genes in the world’s citizens.

And which our genius, Lunella Lafayette, has discovered that she plays host.

Lunella is misunderstood and shunned by her lesser classmates and is dismissed by both parents, teachers and the Hulk — a jerkface Hulk, not incidentally — as just a kid who should stay out of matters that don’t concern her. But Lunella is convinced that a lot of things concern her, not least the Devil Dinosaur (how does everyone know this name? It makes no sense!) and the hominids whom she also accidentally caused to travel from pre-history to her own time.

The first volume of this girls-read-comics-too comic ably sets up the premise, the characters, the villains and the Terrigen-fuelled hysteria that had overtaken much of the Marvel Universe during this book’s original release date. (Ah, 2016. What a time it was.) It’s all quite illogical, even spectacularly silly at times, but it’s pretty fun and carries a strong message of self-determinism — it seems like it would be the perfect gateway comic for any youngster, no matter what their gender, ready to begin their four-colour adventure.

Although, not if they really love Hulk.


TBR DAY 92: Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, Vol. 1: BFF by Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder  
GENRE: Comics, Marvel
TIME ON THE TBR: ~1 year. 
PURCHASED FROM: Minotaur, Melbourne.
KEEP: Absolutely!

READING THE TBR, DAY 85: Patsy Walker: Hellcat (2009) by Kathryn Immonen

I’ve never really known too much about Hellcat, which is why I bought this book. Turns out she is a model who is also a superhero, and is sent to Alaska by Tony Stark to cover that huge territory on behalf of the Initiative, which organization she has only just joined.

Arrived in the tundra, Patsy becomes embroiled in some kind of shamanic, magic-infused ritual criminality, but I didn’t really get it and I certainly did not care for her vapid nonsense. The dialogue here is painfully unfunny, but it’s supposed to be funny, which just makes it worse. And the Young Person Speak is just total gibberish, and not in an I’m Too Old kind of way, just in a Poorly Written This is Not How Human People Talk kind of way.

Such a disappointment, especially as finding female comic creators writing female-led superhero comics is a relatively rare phenomenon, and I very much wanted this to be good. But it just isn’t. It’s mostly just dull, and felt like it took way too long to read, and given that this is a 5-issue comic book collection, that should just never be the case.



TBR DAY 84: Patsy Walker: Hellcat by Kathryn Immonen, art by David Lafuente   
GENRE: Marvel, Comics, Superheroes
TIME ON THE TBR: 4 years. 
PURCHASED FROM: Kings Comics, Sydney.
KEEP: Nope. I’ll trade this one in.