Tuesday, 21 January 2014

A Better Webhead: A Fond Farewell to the Superior Spider-Man

Collected Editions #1 & 2
Late to the Party: Playing Catch-Up with TPBs.
So the spoilers were true – the Amazing Spider-Man is back in just a few short months, bringing to an end the glorious reign of the Superior Spider-Man (henceforth called ‘SpOck’, for the sake of easy identification). I have to say that I’m going to be sad to see him go.

Maybe it’s a sign of the changing times that being an outright try-hard do-gooder isn’t as appealing as it used to be, or maybe it’s because there’s still the taint of Peter Parker’s deal with Marvel’s not-Devil Mephisto lingering around (and here's a well-thought out counter argument to that opinion), but SpOck is by far one of the more interesting takes on the Spidey myth. He’s proactive, actually uses his intelligence, and wears a superb take on the classic threads. That he actually dresses in mad scientist garb when working at Horizon (goggles and all) is just a layer of icing on the cake. There’s humour in SpOck’s pompous arrogance, unintended quips and robot servant, and the way he relates his own experiences against Spider-Man as he’s taking down the villains himself is fantastic dramatic irony. It’s an exceptionally well-written and frequently well-drawn series that applies the Freaky Friday formula to superhero comics, and pulls it off with exceptional success.

SpOck about to take down Massacre...
SpOck about to take down Massacre... Permanantly.
This is Doc Ock however, mass-murderer and criminal mastermind, and there remains a dark undertone of violence (see Annual #1 for his savage takedown of Blackout, or of course the execution of Massacre from SSM #5). If it weren’t for this aspect, if Ock had genuinely turned over a new leaf and become a better man himself, then perhaps it wouldn’t all have to be coming to an end. But, it’s a fragile balance and Spidey is Marvel’s biggest cash cow (with a movie out this year as well), so a return to the status quo is inevitable. What’s unfortunate is that with SpOck’s over-exuberant take on vigilantism, Peter Parker has every reason to throw out the very inventions that made SpOck so superior. I don’t know this for a fact (and will be reading to find out), but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Spider-Man switch back to being Peter Parker in unsophisticated threads and out on patrol himself, screwing up his social life and being back on the wrong side of the superhero community. 

SpOck's Superior Spider-Suit
No more plans?
That doesn't upset me though. Whilst I may have seen this before, there's a generation or two of comic readers out there who won't know that Spidey, and he's one worth knowing. Perhaps that’s the secret to keeping the character so successful; the ever-developing car-crash of the X-Men books provides the other side of that coin...

Whatever the outcome for SpOck, it’s been a heck of a ride. Thank you Dan Slott and co for making Spider-Man engaging, interesting and immensely readable. And for this reader, making him not Peter Parker, even if for only 16 months worth of great comics.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Bring the Rain

Open Canopy with Pilot
The Most Striking Seeker.
Just a quick post to illustrate that yes, I am finally the owner of a Masterpiece Transformer: MP11 Decepticon Acid Storm. It's a fine, fine toy. He's a bit too big for my lightbox so I'm going to have to wait until some finer weather and a free schedule to get some better pictures, however University has been absolutely nuts this month and I'm about to start an internship, so I'm not exactly sure when/if this mythical 'free schedule' will ever arrive.

On that note, this will be my last Transformers blog post for a while. They've pretty much dominated the schedule thus far in 2014, which is absolutely fine, but I have a good reason to give them a break. All will be revealed in the fullness of time...

Sorry to tease. Next up: Spider-Man!

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Nightwatch Optimus Prime

Optimus Prime takes down Ravage
As a nice surprise my girlfriend bought home this Cyberverse Commander Optimus Prime today. The articulation's much better than I would've thought for such a small figure, and the transformation is quite clever for the scale as well. That said, in truck mode he only really looks good front on; but that doesn't massively matter, because in robot mode he looks ace.

This is the first time I've actually owned an Optimus Prime figure since I had the Powermaster as a kid (Orion Pax doesn't count). It felt good adding him as a Flickr tag!

Friday, 10 January 2014

Review: Transformers Generations FOC Decepticon Rumble and Ravage

Spies and Saboteurs!

Ravage and Decepticon Rumble on display next to containers.
Ravage and Rumble

As 2014 marks the 30th anniversary of the Transformers, it seems appropriate that my interest in the Robots in Disguise is peaking once again. On a standard trip to B&M (the UK’s premiere discount chain store) I found the Generations Mini-Cassette Decepticons for the bargain price of £3.99, and so took the opportunity to scratch a decades old collecting itch – I now finally own Ravage! This two pack set contains Rumble as well (definitely blue), and two energon-like clear purple containers for their alt-modes.

Fall of Cybertron Generations blister card.
Shelf Fresh!
Ravage was packed mid-transformation, which isn’t the most flattering look; but thankfully he’s much better when free. The card art continues the attractive Generations branding, with the red and white grid background reminiscent of the old boxes and cartoon intro, and some tasty character artwork. The back of the pack features both robots prominently, and includes a small teaser picture for Generations FOC Soundwave. Other than the standard multilingual warnings, there’s not much else to report.

Ravage in Data Disk mode.
Data Disk and Case
For both robots the transformation is straightforward. I’ll start with the alt-modes, as they can both be covered in one go. Both robots transform into round data disks, with a spring loaded release button. The disks themselves don’t have fantastic play value, but I suppose the real purpose of this mode is to interact with Soundwave. However when the disks are put into the purple containers, it actually makes quite an attractive little set piece, and I like the idea of being able to walk around with a Decepticon in my pocket that no-one would suspect. Well, other than the fat Decepticon logo giving the game away, of course…
Rumble in Robot Mode.
"Destroy what's below and what's above will follow."

I’ll start with Rumble for the robot mode. He reminds me of a Micromaster, in terms of size and shape, but with slightly worse posability. The articulation sacrifices are in service of the transformation, and do lead to some strange positions he can make - his knees bend the wrong way, and he can pull his shoulders back to look like he’s fronting up (not unknown for Rumble). He’ll also do the splits before he can sit down, and so for the most part is best standing there and moving his arms. The thing is though; he doesn’t actually look too bad doing that. The sculpt detail for a figure this size is pretty decent, and the paint apps, on his face and Decepticon symbol in particular, are very fine.

Ravage in Robot Mode
"Today's Autobots are tomorrow's scrap metal."
Ravage is the better of the set though – it’s truly impressive how much more they could make of his ‘robot’ mode than they could with Rumble, as he stretches out just over four inches from head to tail, and then has shoulder and knee joints for each leg. The tail is also posable, although that’s part of the transformation. Ravage has got a good shape to him and wins on play value out of the two for me, but he’s not perfect. Because the bulk of the data disk shape has been stretched so thin, it’s readily apparent quite how hollow Ravage is from the clear daylight you can see when you look at him from most angles. He also suffers from having no neck articulation, leaving him constantly staring at the ground a small distance ahead. The paint apps and sculpted detail are both pretty tidy again however, and for the purpose of this set Ravage does a good job.

Ravage and Rumble attack Jazz
Operation: Interference!
Ultimately these toys are accessories to the larger FOC Soundwave figure, and without owning him I can’t really judge them in that context. They do succeed as pocket money Transformer toys however, and when both Rumble and Ravage are stood with their container cases, the pieces look more than the sum of their parts. If I’d paid the £9.99 TRU wanted for these, I would’ve felt mugged – but for less than a fiver, I’d definitely say they’re worth it.


Thanks for reading!

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