Ultimate Episode 1

Hello multiverse-web-slingers and welcome to the Ultimate Photo-Man podcast. Every week I’ll read one issue of four different comics, including the ultimate series, and share my thoughts with you, as a non-comic-reader.

This week’s comic books are:

The Amazing Spider Man issue 1 (published in 1963)

Marvel Spotlight on Spider-Woman issue 32 (1971)

Spider-Woman issue 1 (1978)

Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man issue 1 (2011) – next episode

Edge of the Spider-Verse issue 2 (2014)
– Gwen Stacy: Spider-Woman

Spider-Gwen issue 1 (2015)

Before we get into the stories, I wanted to share with you how I made this decision. I was trying to decide if I wanted to include more modern comics in the inspiration for photos I take as part of my main blog about The Amazing Spider-Man. I was reluctant at first, as the whole thing was inspired by Peter Parker and his camera. However, the more I read about the differences the more confused I got.

I got positively dizzy and sick, lost two nights sleep due to my inability to switch off my brain -which was busy trying to process all this new information. I was stuck falling deeper into the Marvel Universe and all it’s alternative forms.

My newly found Photo-Man senses, did I tell you that I got bitten by a radioactive camera spider?! The camera’s lens is radioactive, not necessarily the spider. Not to mention what effects the mercury battery that expired in the 1970s and all the negative development chemicals have had on me. Well, these new super-abilities did also keep me awake.

Just the other night I had finally dozed off, around 3 am, when I had a dream about a hand, it reached forward to grab at something unseen. In my dream that hand was the focus. Suddenly it mutated into something monstrously blue and positively non-human.

I heard running footsteps and then lurching ones, and at the moment sat up wide awake, realising those sound were not in my dream, but were outside.

I awoke in time to witness the victim of a crime limping in chase after his assailants, shouting at them to ‘go away’. I paraphrase. I believe he was injured, but nothing serious.

Well, I do not want to go into details of his personal life here. Let’s just say my own transformation into super-hero has begun. *hehehe*

Back to my confusion at what to do and which comics to read, which was nowhere near as resolved as my belief in Photo-Man. So, I sat down and decided to watch Into The Spider-Verse.

WOW! OK, I loved it. It cleared up a lot of things for me and helped me to refocus my mind. I knew that I wanted to experience the classics of Peter Parker and Spider-Woman along side the modern Miles Morales and Spider-Gwen (aka Gwen Stacy) stories.

I did finally look at the Spider-Verse comics too, but for now I won’t read them and will focus on the four characters and their main/original books.

The idea here is to compare each with the other and hopefully discover something.

Well, here goes!

The original spider-woman origin is very different to that of Peter Parker’s, it was a little unusual, very Dr Munroe, but enjoyable. The beginning with her attacking Nick Fury was also surprising. Spider-Woman was working for the bad guys, for Hydra. It’s cool that she is European, far too many American supers, and all the action seemed to take place in France? In the Alps and on the Mediterranean shores. I have heard of a British spiderman, but not looked into it much.

I enjoyed the story a lot more than the first appearance of Spider-Man in Amazing Fantasy issue 15. A lot more action and more of what you’d (or at least I’d) expect from a comic. My fried, a furry, would love it too. I am going to read Spider-Woman issue one next, let’s see if they stick with the original origins or shake things up.

I am guessing having uncovered her past she will now become a bit of a rogue solider before working for “shield S.H.I.E.L.D.”. I know that definitely happens later in her story. The problem with reading comics that are almost 50 years old, most of the bigger details have been spoiled by newer comics, films, video games and fans the world over.

I recently watched the animated cartoon, only the first episode as sadly it isn’t available here, I now remember I used to watch it as a kid. In that series she was made very much the female Peter Parker, albeit slightly different in how she got her powers and who she works for. Those differences being magazine journalist and, anti-venom solution injection. I think she was American too, but vaguely recall something about England mentioned. The first episode was brilliant, and I would have liked to watch it and the spiderman cartoons from my childhood too, even the earlier ones. Hopefully that will be possible in future.

In the first episode she meets and saves-ish Spider-Man himself and fights off alien mummies who attack a very romanticised London with an oddly Germanic filter.

I did love the giant flying pink pyramids. LGBTQ+ pride!! *haha* If only they weren’t the ships of the devious mummies who wanted to convert all humans into their mummified-slaves.

Before we get back to the comic, I also recently watched Captain Marvel. I am re-watching and watching as much of the Marvel universe films and series as I can. Maybe a new obsession, but it’s to try help me sound like I know what I am talking about. I don’t. Not yet.

Well, the whole misguided super unknowingly working for the bad guys thing, it’s the same story.

I enjoyed the film. And I watched Iron Man, The Amazing Spider-Man, Fantastic Four (2015). I haven’t seen all that many Marvel films in all honesty. I saw the final two Avengers and The three Spider-Man movies from the 1990s. I also saw the first Thor and didn’t like it, Ragnarok I loved. Guardians of the Galaxy 1 & 2. Maybe the first Captain America? Thing is, aside from Guardians and Spidey [20 years ago] I didn’t really pay attention to those movies, chatting with family, eating, playing games with my friends etc.

I saw an info-graphic two years ago which explained how to watch everything in order, the TV series and films. I jokingly sad we should do it. Maybe we will.

Oh, I also saw the earlier X-Men as that was another cartoon I loved a s a kid. I guess I probably watched all the older animations. Not sure about 60s and 70s, but definitely 80s and 90s. Transformers, Spider-Man, Thundercats, He-Man and She-Ra (we are watching the new one and I love it), Batman, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Care Bears, Ghostbusters, Beetlejuice, Dungeons and Dragons, Captain Planet, and so much more. We were raised on pop culture movies too, again Ghostbusters, Jurassic Park, Robo Cop, Terminator, Star Wars, Back to the Future. There must be a ton I forgot. It isn’t surprising my brothers are geeky, the middle one loves his movies (especially Star Wars) and the younger loves most pop culture, but especially animation and superheroes.

Until now my geekdom paled even compared to my father and his love for scifi. I do love time-travel, paradoxes, alternative universes/histories, ghosts and supernatural stuff typical sci-fi. Super heroes though were always a bit regular and vanilla to me. At least in our house.

Now my memory is working, of course the original Superman films, Batmans of the 90s, recently watched the Dark Knight with Heath Ledger as Joker. Brilliant, sad.

Well, lets just say that if I am not currently taking photos, reading Spider-comics then I am watching something super-hero related. I am going to watch My Super ex-Girlfriend, re-watch for the 4th time Megamind, and would die to see Brightburn again. That was my favourite of all time. Evil Superman. Hell-yeah!!

I should watch DC stuff and maybe read their comics?! Uhhh… dunno. Is there a whole Marvel vs DC fandom out there?

Ok, so comics. Marvel, spider comics.

Onto issue 1. Poor Jessica Drew, she ain’t that happy or lucky. Stealing food to survive, but won’t willingly commit crime. Fighting bad guys, rejected, unable to find work. Pursued by a man she may or may not know. Similar, I guess, to Peter Parker where he needs to find work to support himself and Aunt May.

There are several references to other Marvel comic issues which I guess fill-in more details and S.H.I.E.L.D. and Fury are mentioned too, unsurprisingly I guess.

The cockney accent is awful. I wish they hadn’t bothered. Maybe it felt quaintly British to American readers in the 70s. *shudders*

I didn’t enjoy this one as much, I guess it was an origins update and at first I thought it was going to move in-line with the cartoon, but rather it updated and filled in the gaps both past and present. The inclusion of radiation as cause of sickness and need for her to be saved as a child, the loss of her parents. Her mother died of grief and her father abandoned her to essentially a mad scientist. I thought she had been created from a mix of spider and human DNA. Well, she did start out fully human, and now she is shunned for being seemingly different.

So our poor Jessica struggles with being accepted and then is uncomfortably pursued by the man who “needs to love her”. Eww. O-oh and worse, he de-masks her.

OK, I think he is her father, but right now that sounds very outdated – a man forcing his desires on a woman and the change in appearance felt a bit silly too, but then no sillier than Clark Kent. And she only did it because the guy ripped her mask off.

At the end she does help fight bad guys and cure the now injured man, proving she is a hero and not a zero. Here’s hoping issue 2 matches the “prequel”

Side note, what the heck is the big robot lab thingy. I think Batman Ninja put me off those for life. Giant robot buildings? Utter madness. How in the heck did all those Gotham criminals build robots, let alone find resources and materials – in ancient Japan, mind you!

I guess 70s Europe would be an easier place to do that, but still. Is this the Marvel universe? Is this what I’ve let myself in for??

So, I keep saying Spider-Ghost, it’s quite easy, Spider-Man, Spider-Gwen. So I keep saying it wrong. It is Ghost-Spider. I’ve also recently learnt about Iron Spider, uhm, wait, Iron Spider. Yeah, so I keep saying Spider-Ghost, but its Ghost-Spider and I’ll try to correct that now.

Well, let’s start with Spider-Gwen issue 1.

Wa-wai-waaaiiidda minute. I shouldn’t be so surprised. I gotta read a different comic for Gwen Stacy’s origins story. This one is literally starting mid-story. OK, Google to the rescue.

So, here goes Edge of the Spider-Verse 2014.

Very cool. Good story, nice cross-over with the original Peter Parker ones. Peter Parker dies in this timeline/universe too?! Sad. And to top it all Spider-Gwen is blamed for his murder, when it seems he was simply trying to be like her. I feel that there’s still some details missing here.

OK, I was so confused about why George Stacy was so important to the bad guys. Again, maybe I still missed an issue of something. However, this is supposed to be Spider-Gwen’s first appearance.

Later on in the comic it becomes clear that he is a detective, possible a senior figure at the police. Well, it makes sense now.

I loved the fact the Gwen Stacy is just trying to figure out what she wants in life and it seems very relevant now the she is suffering from being hounded by over-reacting police officers. Tracking her down as she is wanted for Peter’s murder. Did she kill him, or was it just an accident?

Wait, I should clarify that. Spider-Woman (aka Spider-Gwen) is wanted for his murder.

So, interesting to see the subtle reference to Iron Man through Stark Industries advert and really made me chuckle that Jameson is angry at “Spider-Woman” speaking kindly about Peter Parker. No idea if he knew him in this reality.

The similarities between Gwen and Jessica is also cool. Her father is trying to arrest her, but much better that she chooses to de-mask herself and reveal her identity to her father.

OK, so she’s knocked out this one big grey dude who is after her and her father. Let’s jump back to issue 1 and find out what happens with the other guy. And the Vulture.

OK, so Spider-Gwen is trying to convince everyone she’s no bad-guy, or bad-gal. Just like the original Spider-Man and Spider-Woman. There are a few panels where she returns a cash register and asks for a reward, as she doesn’t currently have enough cash for food. Clever!

The other guy was the Bodega Bandit and her father is the police captain. Nice, nice. He claims that she saved him, which she did. To help clear her name. Again, that is her as Spider-Gwen and not her secret identity. Which apparently she is exposed at some future time.

She tries to lure the Vulture in for a fight on her father’s advice to show the she is a hero. She graffitis the city to piss him off, and calls his comic of choice terrible. In an early panel they show his messy apartment in which she looks at the said terrible comic. Mr Z.. From what I can find that was a DC Comic, a Superman villain. A little dig at your rivals there Marvel? *hahaha*

The comic ends as the fight begins with Stacy’s life in danger.

Brilliant comic, loved it!

The similarities and cross-references (not the right word) between the three heroes beginnings and first stories is too good. Maybe I am gushing a little, but it really makes reading them together all the more fun. And I bet confusing in the weeks ahead.

I am loving the more modern versions of the stories, with a more inclusive list of characters. Here’s hoping for a wider array of Spider-People in future. Actually…

Another thing I found out this past weekend, pride weekend, was that the first appearance of a gay character, or openly gay character, the first mention of homosexuality of not being heterosexual in a Marvel comic was back in 1992, I forget the guys name, I’ll show you a thing I found – see the blog and video for images of Northstar and of my Iron Spider figurine.

I think I am going to leave it here for this episode. I wanted to get this posted this morning and now I am seeing a huge list of comics I may “need” to read before jumping into the Miles Morales and Ultimate Spider-Man series. I also waited all morning for my mic filter and don’t have time to read anything more today. I will post a part two later this week.

To be continued…

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