#REVIEW: SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE

So.

Standard disclaimer, as always.  Y’all have seen movie reviews from me before.  You know what I’m like when I like something.  And Miles Morales has, since almost immediately after he was introduced, been one of my all-time favorite comic book characters.  He’s up there with the Hulk, Iron Man, and Superman.  I have been waiting for a Miles Morales Spider-Man movie for a long time. 

(Now I’m just waiting for a movie with goddamn Ganke in it, but that’s another story.)

So you already knew I liked this movie.  There would have been a shift in the fabric of the universe if I hadn’t liked it and absolutely everyone would have noticed it.  Did you notice a shift in the fabric of the universe last night, around 10:30, as I was walking out of the theater?  No, you did not.  Of course I liked the fucking movie.  It’s Goddamned brilliant.  It’s so good it made me forgive them for what I initially thought was the kind of dodgy decision to make Miles’ movie animated instead of live-action.

(It’s not dodgy.  This movie would have been impossible as live-action.  They made a better movie by making it animated.  It needed to be animated.)

So put that all aside.  I want to talk to the two or three of you who don’t care about superheroes or superhero movies and for some reason come to this blog anyway.  

You need to see this movie because it’s one of the most amazing animated films ever made.  

You need to see it as a cultural artifact, guys, of what cutting-edge technology can do in 2018.  The movie could have been about anything and I’d be recommending it because of how absolutely incredible it looks.  I was talking to one of my oldest friends about it last night– he was lucky enough to see it last week, and told me at the time that words couldn’t do it justice.  Last night, he made the point that the movie is expectations-proof, because there’s nothing that can prepare you for what it’s actually like to see this on the big screen.

And you need to see it on the best, biggest movie screen you can reasonably get to.  This movie needs to win about four thousand awards even before we get to the part where the story is incredible too.  This movie gets Miles, y’all.  It understands this character thoroughly.  It understands Spider-Man thoroughly, in a way that most of the live-action movies maybe haven’t always.  The voice acting and the casting are outstanding.  The character design– this movie’s versions of the Kingpin, the Scorpion, the Green Goblin, and especially Dr. Octopus are fantastic.  The music is superb.  This movie succeeds on every level but one, which is that it’s gonna scare the crap out of my son so I can’t take him to see it.  

Oh, and the stinger at the end and the tribute to Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, both of whom passed away this year?  

I am lucky enough to be married to a woman who is not only willing to go to this neverending series of geek movies with me, but who genuinely enjoys them.  She called Into the Spider-Verse her favorite superhero movie last night.  And this was one of those movies, I think, where she was mildly interested but might have skipped the movie were it not for me pushing to see it.  I can’t be trusted; I know that.  She can.  This one’s something really special, y’all.  And it ain’t like you’ve got anything else to do until next week when Aquaman comes out.  Go see it.  

In which I watch commercials for movies and talk about them

So this came out yesterday, luckily just in time for me to catch it during my last-minute Twitter readthrough on my phone before going into work Friday morning.  

This is a thing I do, by the way.  My son has to be at school quite a bit before I do.  Every morning I take him to school, go to McDonald’s, get a Sausage McMuffin with cheese and a large coffee with five cream and five sugar, then drive to work and sit in the parking lot and surf my phone and eat my McMuffin.  I am weirdly invested in the idea that I don’t just get out of my car and go to work just because I’ve arrived at work.  I decide that it’s time to go into work.  It’s an active choice.  It’s a weirdly empowering thing.

Anyway, I watched this twice on my phone and then went inside, somewhat surprised that I wasn’t as buzzed as I thought I’d be.  I mean, part of it is the tone; it’s hard to get super excited about a trailer that is so clearly deliberately designed to be a downer.  But in some ways this is the only trailer they can actually make right now– this has got to be the hardest movie to do early promotion for ever, because so damn much about it counts as a spoiler, and even just showing most of the characters on screen is going to reveal substantial things about the movie that the filmmakers clearly don’t want us to know.  

I note a couple of things that intrigue me:

  • Clearly there’s a timeskip.  If Civil War was “years” ago, there was a timeskip.   I know we all suspect time travel is going to be a part of this movie, but I love the idea that we’re going to even temporarily see what the world is like after the Snappening.
  • Thanos is limping and missing most of his pinky finger.  
  • I want to see Shuri as the Black Panther.
  • There’s some griping online about the subtitle?  I dunno why.  It’s fine.
  • So, do you think that Pepper Potts is going to be suiting up as Rescue and collecting Tony, or is this where they introduce Captain Marvel?

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m still hugely excited about this movie.  There’s little that’s going to change that.  I’m just not bouncing off the walls about the trailer like I thought I would.

Meanwhile …

Now now now now now NOW NOW NOW GODDAMMIT NOW

*cough*

So, yeah.  I’ve clearly got some enthusiasm left in me somewhere.  

In which I ask the hivemind

I need some more conventions, y’all.  Right now I think the next con I’m actually signed up to attend is the next Indy Pop Con in June.  I’m registered for Kokomo-Con again.  And … I think that’s it?  I’ve had a little bit of a run of being turned down by juried cons (I tried to get into both ConFusion in Detroit this January and a February comic convention) and I’ve decided to not apply to the Fort Wayne PopCon in between Christmas and New Year’s, mostly because … well, it’s between Christmas and New Year’s, and it’s a first-year con, and that strikes me as vaguely insane.  I hope they’re successful, don’t get me wrong, and if they are I’ll be there next year, but they’re charging PopCon prices for what I’m pretty certain isn’t gonna be close to PopCon attendance and right now it’s not worth the risk.  

Plus, well, check the posts at the end of December around here for any of the last six years.  The weather tends to not lend itself to long road trips.

So.  Anyway.  If you happen to know of any science fiction conventions, comic book shows, or genre/author events in the next six months within, say, a three- or four- hour drive of northern Indiana, let me know.  I’m looking at one in Louisville over Easter weekend, too, but it’s over Easter, which has its own set of complications to it.  


I’ve finished a story over at Patreon, called The Caretaker, and I’m really fond of it.  The story is posted in five parts and in first-draft form (I literally wrote it straight into the Patreon website; it’s not copy-pasted) and it will be posted again in .mobi and .epub form once it’s cleaned up a touch, but I like it and I think you will too.  Just $1 a month gets you access to a bunch of microfictions and three or four short stories, and $2 a month gets you an entire exclusive novel.  Next Patron is #15!  That’s a great number!  Join us!


Two weeks to winter break, y’all.  There will be Christmas shopping this weekend.  I can do this.  

Stan Lee, 1922-2018

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I never met Stan Lee.  I almost certainly could have at some point, if I’d wanted to; half the nerds I know have a picture of themselves with him at some con or another.  He passed away two full days ago and I’m still struggling with tears trying to write this.  That seems an odd thing to say about a man I never met.  Odd, but true.

Also true: I can think of two people, only one still with us, since JRR Tolkien passed away three years before I was born, whose work has had even close to as much of an influence on my life as Stan Lee’s did.  I have been buying comic books for 3/4 of my life, and I probably have 80% of all the Iron Man comics ever printed.  Today is Wednesday.  It’s new comic book day.  I went to the comic shop.

I go to the comic shop every Wednesday.  And I have gone to the comic shop every Wednesday for goddamn near my entire adult life, excepting only a short period of time where I lived in Chicago and didn’t have a comic shop in Chicago yet so I was still getting my comics from my local store in South Bend.  My two favorite superheroes are Iron Man and the Hulk.  Spider-Man is right behind Superman.  Number five probably slides around a bit more than the others, but Captain America is as good a choice as any.

Stan Lee created three of those five characters, and had an enormous influence on the history of the fifth.  Did he come up with everything about them completely on his own?  No, of course not.  Steve Ditko, Don Heck, Jack Kirby; the contributions of these men can’t be denied, and they were towering figures in their own right.  And we just lost Steve Ditko earlier this year, so it’s been a really bad year to be a Spider-Man fan.

(Steve Ditko designed the classic red-and-gold Iron Man armor.  I just found that out.  I don’t think I knew that before.)

This is one hundred percent true:  I have no idea what my life would look like if Stan Lee had not been a part of it.  I have no idea who I would be if I had never encountered Stan’s creations.  You don’t get to spend most of your life marinating your brain in stories about superheroes every single week and not be changed by them.  To say that Stan Lee was one of my heroes feels like it’s minimizing him.

It’s not enough.  He was too big for this.  I don’t have the words.  I’m reading this over and the whole thing just feels stupid, like I’m not trying hard enough.

Stan was Jewish.  Jews typically, or at least traditionally, don’t say “rest in peace.”  A more appropriately Jewish phrase to honor the recently dead is May his memory be a blessing.  And it’s also more appropriate to describe my relationship with Stan, a man who I never met and whose life’s nevertheless influenced me so deeply and thoroughly that I am unable to untangle what my life would be like had he never lived.  His memory– and his creations– will live on, if not forever, but certainly well beyond whatever years may be left to me.  Every day.  But especially, and undeniably, every Wednesday.

Stan Lee’s life was a blessing.  May his memory continue to be.

SPIDER-MAN PS4: Final verdict

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I am, in general, very skeptical of “give it a chance, it gets good later on” types of arguments for anything I had to spend $60 to get.  For $60 you need to be fun in five minutes and you need to stay fun for however long your game ends up being, and I’d rather have a lean, entertaining 30-hour game than a 100-hour game filled with … well, filler.

I’m nonetheless very, very glad I stuck this one out– I just beat it half an hour or so ago, although I’ve left a number of the mop-up tasks for later.  I may or may not get back to them.

But: forget the game for a moment.  Spider-Man PS4 is one of the best Spider-Man stories I have ever encountered, in any medium.  Comics, movies, whatever.  And even that, as I said in the piece from earlier today, takes a good long time to get rolling.  But once it does … wow.  I was in tears during the final act.  I’m not gonna bullshit around.  I’m a grown-ass man and a video game just made me cry because the story was that good and they get this character that thoroughly.  Fucking tears.

And then, the three movie-style stingers after the credits?

*kisses fingers*

Can’t wait for the sequel.  And if they put the same people in charge of writing it, I’m not gonna have shit to say about the gameplay.   Because with a story this good, I’ll chase fucking pigeons all day if I have to.