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My Favorite Steve Ditko Comic, According to Me at Age 7

Killjoy!

If you only know Steve Ditko from Spider-Man movie credits, there’s a lot you don’t know.

Comic book fans are in mourning tonight over the news that legendary artist Steve Ditko was discovered dead in his apartment on June 29th. To the majority he’s known for a variety of creations and co-creations to his name — not just Spider-Man, but Dr. Strange, Squirrel Girl, DC’s the Question, the Creeper, and a long list of lesser-known quirky, oddly dressed champions of justice.

If anyone asks what the quintessential Ditko comic is, the correct answer is Amazing Spider-Man #33, an unconventional story then and now. Our Hero spends nearly the entire issue trapped under several tons of wreckage, unable to free himself easily, despondent that this may be his last hurrah, but slowly, surely, convincing himself he can find some way to save the day.

When I heard of Ditko’s passing, Spidey #33 wasn’t the first comic that popped into my head. As my brain is wont to do, it went obscure and reached farther back in time to a comic I hadn’t thought about in years.

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Yes, There’re Scenes During the “Deadpool 2” End Credits

Deadpool 2!

I see a handful of critics listed on Rotten Tomatoes who might use this as their letter grade…

The Merc with a Mouth is back! And so is Deadpool!

For any regular readers who roll their eyes whenever I have one of my “Old Man Yells at Cloud” moments when it comes to excessive profanity…well, you might wonder what in the world possessed me to go see Deadpool 2 in the first place. Perplexing question, isn’t it? I am large, I contain multitudes, there are comics involved, sometimes I like to go scavenger hunting for priceless curios in landscapes that are basically alien to me, sometimes I do things that aren’t good for me, and there are other logistics involved that are too weird to go into here, even for me.

But every film I see in theaters gets its own MCC entry. I can either write about the #1 movie in America that also happens to have scenes during the end credits, or I can finish an entry for the mostly inert Pacific Rim: Uprising that I’ve been procrastinating for six weeks and counting because I get sleepy every time I return to it, and will surely be of use to lots of moviegoers when I eventually finish it because as of tonight the film is playing in [checks notes] zero theaters, having been officially yanked after May 17th.

…so. Some thoughts on Ryan Reynolds’ latest multi-million-dollar paycheck it is, then.

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My Free Comic Book Day 2018 Results: The Best and the Least Best

Maxwell's Demons!

A boy and his toys go to war. From Maxwell’s Demons #1, art by Vittori Astone.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: on May 5th I once again had the pleasure of once again observing Free Comic Book Day, the least fake holiday of them all, that annual celebration when comic shops nationwide offer no-strings-attached goodies as a form of community outreach in honor of that time-honored medium where words and pictures dance in unison on the printed page, whether in the form of super-heroes, monsters, cartoon all-stars, licensed merchandise, or entertaining ordinary folk. Each year, America’s remaining comic book shops (and a handful in the UK that can afford the extra shipping charges) lure fans and curious onlookers inside their brick-and-mortar hideaways with a great big batch of free new comics from all the major publishers and a bevy of smaller competitors deserving shelf space and consideration.

This year my Free Comic Book Day involvement took on a different form. My local shop offered a special deal that sounds crazy on the face of it: for a fair sum of money, we could pre-purchase a bundle of all 52 Free Comic Book Day comics that their stores planned to order. Normally these would all be free, but you’d look like a schmuck for casually walking in, picking up all 52, and walking right back out. Instead they set aside copies of all those comics, bagged ’em up, and let buyers pick them up late Saturday afternoon, once all the furor and hubbub had subsided. I went for it. I liked the idea of playing the role of patron, donating extra cash to help facilitate Free Comic Book Day for other folks in town, in a way that would help my shop offset the costs.

I spent the rest of Saturday night and nearly all of Sunday reading all 52 and then posting my impressions on Twitter after each comic, along with photo excerpts from every single comic. I took photos rather than scans because (a) our scanner sometimes ruins the hard work of comics colorists, (b) I wanted to capture the feel of comics on actual physical paper, (c) I wanted to test my new phone, and (d) snapping pics was faster than scanning. This reading/photography project took until 11:30 p.m Sunday night to complete, and would’ve taken until sometime Tuesday if I hadn’t cut corners somewhere. I had to put this entry off for a few days because I needed a break after spending so, so much time with them all.

This entry, then, is a condensed version of that epic-length tweetstorm: my ranking of the twenty best books of the bunch, followed by my six least favorites of the entire stack. I never trust a comics reviewer or website that shares nothing but relentlessly glowing opinions — nor, conversely do I trust a critic who hates all comics and can’t be pleased — so this is my way of not becoming that which I disparage.

Up first: that happy Top 20. On with the countdown!

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Yes, There’s a Scene After the “Avengers: Infinity War” End Credits

Thanos!

If you can see only one Josh Brolin film this year, skip Sicario 2: Soldado.

The short version of this entry: for anyone who’s sat through all three Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America films; the first two Avengers films; both Guardians of the Galaxy flicks; Edward Norton’s Incredible Hulk; Spider-Man Homecoming; Ant-Man; Dr. Strange; and the great and powerful Black Panther…as those fans hoped unanimously, Avengers: Infinity War is the ultimate, fitting culmination of all that. It ties lots of threads together, features unexpected team-ups, makes time for heroes punching heroes in the grand tradition of Marvel misunderstandings, hits hard with heavy emotional moments, allows a few quiet spaces to breathe in between the chaos, and has a few moments rigged to invite audience cheers and gasps, sometimes mere seconds apart.

However, it is not the season finale. It’s episode 19 of a 22-episode season eleven years in the making, with three more episodes to go: this summer’s Ant-Man and the Wasp, which takes place beforehand; the technical prequel Captain Marvel; and the true season finale, Avengers: Secret Subtitle. Anyone trying to approach Infinity War as a standalone work, clinging to the notion that any and every film should be a self-sufficient viewing experience in itself, will walk away disappointed. Infinity War has other objectives in mind. Comics fans are used to major crossover events and know how the game works, but some film critics are bristling at this new idea that threatens to make movies more like comics in the long term, and not necessarily like good comics.

Okay, that opening was supposed to be shorter. Even shorter version, then: upon a single viewing in IMAX, where the volume-17 sound system purged all intellectual notions out of my body, Avengers: Infinity War was extremely cool, somewhat depressing, and, as I suspected going into it, thoroughly futile on at least one ostensibly dramatic level.

That’s still too long. One more try: if you love Marvel movies to pieces, Avengers: Infinity War is more of that but quadrupled.

Caution ahead: spoilers are probably ahead if you’re the kind of deductive reader who can put two and two together too quickly. My movie entries are normally written as if I’m talking to a general audience who hasn’t seen the film, but we’re now on the nineteenth film, the biggest one yet (literally for me, since I saw none of the others in IMAX) and I don’t know if I’m about to make this entry quite so reader-friendly. I’m not indulging in stroke-for-stroke golf commentary, but a few aspects of my reactions — including my least favorite thing about it — can’t be covered coyly without rendering them into so much useless ambiguity. If you need to brake and reverse now, I’ll understand.

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C2E2 2018 Photos, Part 2: Marvel Cosplay!

Kate Bishop and Samurai Iron Man!

Kate Bishop a.k.a. Hawkeye, and Samurai Iron Man!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

It’s that time again! The ninth annual Chicago Comic and Entertainment Exposition (“C2E2″) just wrapped another three-day extravaganza of comic books, actors, creators, toys, props, publishers, freebies, Funko Pops, anime we don’t recognize, and walking and walking and walking and walking. Each year C2E2 keeps inching ever closer to its goal of becoming the Midwest’s answer to the legendary San Diego Comic Con and other famous cons in larger, more popular states. My wife Anne and I missed the first year, but have attended every year since 2011 as a team.

In this special miniseries I’ll be sharing memories and photos from our own C2E2 experience and its plethora of pizzazz…

If it’s a convention, that means it’s time for more cosplay photos! Anne and I are fans of costumes and try to keep an eye out for heroes, villains, antiheroes, supporting casts, and various oddities that look impressive and/or we haven’t seen at other cons. First up: a great big batch of characters from assorted iterations of the Marvel Universe, movies as well as comics. These aren’t even all the Marvel characters we saw, but I had to draw my arbitrary dividing lines through our nearly five dozen costume photos where I could. Caveats for first-time visitors to Midlife Crisis Crossover:

1. My wife and I are not professional photographers, nor do we believe ourselves worthy of press passes. These were taken as best as possible with the intent to share with fellow fans out of a sincere appreciation for the works inspired by the heroes, hobbies, artistic expressions, and/or intellectual properties that brought us geeks together under one vaulted roof for the weekend. We did what we could with the tools and circumstances at hand. We don’t use selfie sticks, tripods, or cameras that cost more than a month’s worth of groceries.

2. It’s impossible for any human or organization to capture every costume on hand. What’s presented in this series will be a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of the sum total costume experience. Other corners of the internet will represent those other fractions that we missed, which is the cool part of having so many people doing this sort of thing.

3. We didn’t attend Sunday. As previously explained at excessive length, we also nearly never do costume contests anymore. Sincere apologies to anyone we missed as a result.

4. Corrections and comments are always welcome, especially when we get to Part 4, which will include at least two characters we young geezers didn’t recognize. I do like learning new names and universes even if you’re more immersed in them than I am.

5. Enjoy!

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Indiana Comic Con 2018 Photos, Part 3 of 3: Who We Met and What We Did

David Harbour!

David Harbour, a.k.a. Chief Hopper from Netflix’s Stranger Things, getting more than he bargained for in his big weekend.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

It’s that time again! This weekend my wife Anne and I attended the fifth annual Indiana Comic Con at the Indiana Convention Center in scenic downtown Indianapolis. It was another opportunity to dive into comic boxes, meet people who make comics, boggle at toy displays, make way for the youngsters who can’t get enough of anime merchandise, and find space to breathe in those cheerfully ever-growing crowds. To be honest, we were surprised how many of the actors on hand were folks we’d met at previous cons, but Anne and I found a few new intriguing names on the guest list and decided to drop by once more.

The biggest name we hadn’t met was, of course, our man Chief Hopper, the hero of Hawkins, the guardian of Eleven, and one of the great cast members from Stranger Things. He was a later addition to the con’s guest list, but his recruitment sealed the deal for our participation. We were far from alone on this, accompanied as we were by thousands of other fans excited for the opportunity.

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