Yes Venom

Hey readers, I saw Venom with my wife last night and we both loved it. That first trailer was kinda iffy. Tom Hardy seemed to be extra weird and they called symbiotes “Simbioats” in their pronunciation. Plus we didn’t really even see Venom in that trailer. Early fear was that we actually wouldn’t see Venom as an actual character. Boy we were wrong.

He looks fantastic. Even the moments when the symbiote is hurt by sound and fire. The effects are great.

Tom Hardy is such a weird genius. He has some great moments playing a down on his luck reporter who wants to do the right thing but can get lost in the weeds getting there. This is evident in his relationship with Michelle William’s character. Venom actually refers to Tom Hardy’s Eddie Brock as a loser. Which is hilarious.

The voice and character of Venom himself is the best part of the movie. Actually this portrayal is the best in the character’s 30 year history. Venom in the comics has always been uneven. He was a monster haunting Spider-Man. He was a lethal protector, he was different people like Scorpion and Flash Thompson. The symbiote was often insane or not in control, never really a full fledged character. This movie fixes that brilliantly. The character, the look, the effects, the voice! All perfect.

I’m still in the warm after glow of this movie but I can’t recommend it enough. I was burned out on Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Monstrosity. Easter eggs and Robert Downey Jr cameos. I was bored. Venom was fun to just sit down and watch and learn about the world of Venom as the film expanded.

Happy rest of your weekend and thanks for reading Mid-American-Culture!

Farewell Steve Ditko

Hello everyone, it was discovered by the world at large yesterday that comic icon Steve Ditko has passed away. Ditko left his mark on the world as the co-creator of Marvel Comics Spider-Man and Doctor Strange. He designed both characters and came up with the rogues gallery for much of Spidey’s main villians including Green Goblin, the Lizard, and Doctor Strange’s Dormammu.

He drew the Amazing Spider-Man for 6 years and left over a falling out with Stan Lee.

He went to Carlton Comics where his main contribution was the Blue Beetle and the Question who would be a major influence on Alan Moore when he created Rorschach of the Watchman.

Ditko would work a bit for DC Comics in the 1980s before comic back to Marvel in the 90’s and creating Squirrel-Girl.

Ditko was a famous recluse compared to author JD Salinger. He continued working and self publishing up until his death. He was also an avid blogger. He will be greatly missed, but his creations will live on forever. Thanks for the work and effort Mr. Ditko

The Miseducation of Ben Reilly Part 3

Marvel Comics would tease and tease Ben’s return for a decade. After lackluster sales of the 2nd Clone Saga, we appeared to be finished with the character, we had a chance but we didn’t support it. However we would have a Scarlet Spider return to comics with his own series. The big catch was that it was Kaine Parker in the role honoring the memory of good ole Ben Reilly.

I was prepared to hate this series but ended up loving it immensley. I don’t know if I just loved Spider-Man my whole life, so I enjoy variations of that character or what? This series would run for a solid 2 years and 25 issues. Ben Reilly hung over the series as Kaine tried to be a better person.

Ben Reilly seemingly was returning in this series. Kaine felt like he was being followed for a few days then suddenly in a rainstorm classic Scarlet Spider attacks him. He was confused and they fought, but it was actually Kraven the Hunter out for revenge for his role in bringing him back from the dead.

Eventually in the fall of 2016 we finally have Ben Reilly return from the great beyond. As a bad guy. Poor old Ben was scooped up by his original creator, the Jackal, Miles Warren. He regenerates him in a test tube and kills him and brings him back 26 times. Burns him alive, posions him. All kinds of horrible shit seeping out from Amazing Spider-Man writer Dan Slott. Well this eventually drives Ben Reilly insane and after the 26th rebirth, he kills Miles Warren and becomes a new Jackal. For whatever reason.

So Ben wants to use the Jackals cloning technique to end death… Or something. He’s even gonna bring back Uncle Ben until Peter convinces him otherwise. It’s a terrible story, one of Slott’s worst in his record setting run on Amazing Spider-Man. Eventually The whole Clone Conspiracy that Reilly Jackal cooked up implodes and he’s left alive, but with a jank ass clone body that was saved mid-deterioration.

Kinda looks like a generic Deadpool. Well he’s also still kinda crazy when Peter David takes over writing his new solo series, Ben Reilly: Scarlet Spider. He has an Aunt May stand in named June and he talks to himself. He answers himself in the old school Scarlet Spider persona for good things and his recent Jackal persona for bad things. Not great. However he was supposed to get a kick ass new costume and it was previewed way ahead of the new book.

But a hand full of fans screamed their white hot hate for the look even befor it hit and Marvel and Peter David immediatly back peddled and assured those people the old blue hoodie would make a permanent return.

17 issues into the book and it’s not great but it’s Ben Reilly. Peter David has worked hard to clean up the hit job Dan Slott did on poor ole Ben. A big help was having Thano’s old girlfriend Death show up and help Ben get his soul straightened out.

She sets Ben on a true path of redemption. Death tells him that his soul was splintered by all the death he endured at the hands of Miles Warren. She heals his face, but whenever he does anything bad, the deteriorated look returns.

The series really took off when the Slingers arc happened. It was the book Ben finally deserved. Unfortunately after that we had some rough Dr. Strange crossover issues. One of my favorite bad guys, Mysterio is due this summer and that seems promising. The main problem Ben has now is his sales numbers. Marvel usually kills a series below 20,000 copies a month. Scarlet Spider has been around 16,000 lately. I’m hoping digital sales and subscribers like me are helping out the bottom line. We’ll just have to wait and see. Ben Reilly has survived way worse than cancellation before.

Thanks for reading Mid-American-Culture and also today is National Comic Book Day and Free Comic Day so if you are out and about give Ben Reilly: Scarlet Spider a go and you may grow to love the Spidey-Clone as much as I do. See you next Saturday and until then, Make Mine Mid-American-Culture!

The Miseducation of Ben Reilly Part 2.

Happy Saturday to you all and thanks for checking out Mid-American-Culture. Today I’m gonna pick up from last week but first a correction, I falsely stated that Mark Bagley designed the Scarlet Spider outfit and a reader pointed out that it was actually Tom Lyle.

We left things last time with Ben dying at the hands of Norman Osborne, impaled on the Goblin Glider saving Peter Parker’s life. He aslo turned to dust showing that he was a clone after all.

So Peter and M.J. lose their baby and the comics try and move past the last 2 years of publication. It sucked to just see the whole thing disappear as if it never happened. I kept reading Spidey though because he was my character, and I’d always read him.

However Tom Defalco would soon launch an alternative future series called Spider-Girl and it would be the high school age daughter of Spider-Man, and guess what? She wore Ben Reilly’s Spidey costume and even referred to him as Uncle Ben.

This would be the first of many Ben teases Marvel would throw at us Clone Saga fans. Defalco would also introduce Ben’s own son Reilly Tyne, who with the help of the other clone Kaine, would become Dark Devil.l, a Ghost Rider/ Daredevil mashup. He was a pretty damn cool character that I would have enjoyed more of.

Now in this same series, that is essentially a part 2 to the world of the Clone Saga, eventually The Black Cat’s daughter shows up as a new Scarlet Spider and Peter shares a touching story with May about her Uncle Ben.

Its like Marvel wants to get away from the 90’s but also embrace them. Haha

Eventually, Tom Defalco would get Marvel to try a Clone Saga again, as it was originally intended, a short 6 month story and Ben survives through the end and sets out on his own. Sadly, it didn’t sell well and again forgotten after the initial 6 issues.

Im gonna leave you here at the end of the Spider-Girl era and post Clone Saga 2, but come back next week for the return of the Scarlet Spider and his own series! Have a great week.

The Miseducation of Ben Reilly Part 1.

It’s funny how you get to a certain age and for a brief moment you can hyper identify with music and literature, film and heroes real and fictional. At around 18 your life is changing and a person looks to make their own way in the world. For some it’s a journey of figuring out who you are and who you wanna be.

I have always been a massive comic book geek. I lived for the first 7-8 years of my life in a trailer park in Proctorville, Ohio. The trailer park was just off of State Route 7 and ran along the Ohio River. Well across the main drag of my trailer park was a little mom and pop convenience store called Holderby’s. I used to go to this store a lot with my folks and the deal was always that if I was good, which I always was, I’d get a quarter for the Ms. Pac-Man standup and a comic from the spinner rack. The time period here is the early 1980’s and Spider-Man was hands down my favorite character, still is for the most part.

After my folks had returned their soda bottles for change and I had fallen to the 4 bit ghost of the arcade game, we’d return home and just before bed one of my parents would read me my fresh new comic as a bed time story and show me the art as the story went along. Soon I’d fall asleep to dream about what is certainly Stan Lee’s most famous creation, Spidey and his friends.

Eventually when I was nearing the end of my High School years in the mid 90’s Marvel drops a bomb shell on it’s readers. The Peter Parker/ Spider-Man we’d been reading for years may not be the real thing. A clone of Parker’s created by his college professor, Miles Warren had returned.

The 1990’s was the most gimmicky time in the history of comics. All the heroes were either being killed off or changing into grimacing anti-heroes. Superman died, Batman had his back broken, Green Lantern was evil and called all the GL corps. Tony Stark was an evil teenage version of himself. Plus all the cover were holograms and bagged.

The gimmick was that a throw away clone character, who supposedly died at the end of a story in the 1970’s was actually alive and back in New York and he’d crossed paths with the original.

The Peter Parker clone would take the name Ben Reilly. Ben from Peter’s uncle, the Power and Responsibility, one and Reilly was Aunt May’s maiden name. After being back in NYC for a bit in a story called The Exile Returns Ben decides he’s gonna stay, he’d been living on the road for years always on the move. Partially because he didn’t feel like he was a real person and didn’t belong. There was also the fact that another failed Parker clone named Kaine was out to kill him. Comics right?

So Ben adopts the alias of the Scarlet Spider. It was a totally throw away costume designed by comics legend Mark Bagley. The outfit was made up of a plain red Spidey type outfit with a blue hoodie he bought at zoo gift shop. I gathered he felt like a cheap knock off so why not go with it?

So now the Scarlet Spider is making a place for himself in the world. This goes back to my original point. I was 16-17 at the time and I strongly identified with the character, I too was ready to go out into the world and find my own place. Plus Ben was super poor and worked in a coffee shop. I didn’t have a lot either and worked in a grocery store.

Well as it turned out the character was I initially super popular. He had beaten Venom, which Spider-Man never had. People really liked the character, and Marvel really liked money. So, it all gets amped up and the slide to Hell begins. Marvel gets the idea that maybe Been was the real Spider-Man the whole time! So in a story designed to last 6 months, we get drug out for over a year. The Peter we’ve followed for 20 years is married to M.J. Watson and he’s going insane or something. All to comfort the blow of the rug being pulled out from the feet of long time readers.

When Ben is revealed to by the real Spidey, comic fans lose their minds. It’s hate mail and boycotts. This was Marvel Pre- Disney ownership and money was a worry in the late 90’s. So marvel has to reverse course after a year of Ben as Spidey and Peter and M.J. off having a baby in Portland, Oregon.

The best way the editors decided was to bring back ole Norman Osborne, the original Green Goblin. He’d also been dead for quite some time. However the whole Clone Saga was simply a big gotcha to Peter.

The entire year plus story line known forever as The Clone Saga, would be wrapped up in 4 issues spread out over one month. The story was called Revaltions.

Marvel needed their corporate icon back to normal and it was deemed that Ben was out. All the way. đź’€

Ben would die saving Peter from Norman’s Goblin Glider. He’d die thinking he was the real deal. It was sad.

It was also here that Pete and M.J. would lose the baby or it was kidnapped or something. It was all retconned away later any how. From here Ben Reilly would be forgotten for about 5 years then he was teased repeatedly for another decade plus. However we will get to that next Saturday in The Miseducation of Ben Reilly part 2. Thanks for reading and have a great week.