Item! The latest episode of Hyphen Nation has arrived and it's glorious. And I mean Bobby Roode GLORIOUS. I've been talking about this episode for quite some time… but it morphed into this other thing. Marcus “ShowinmadLov” Robinson joined me again as we discussed the 13th solo album of Jay-Z's catalog among other things. It's a huge episode but its well worth it… other than us saying over and over how great Hov is, but I digress.
On top of that, my first column for 16 Wins A Ring came out. It's my open letter to the NBA's Eastern Conference and how I'll always love the East despite its permanent underdog status. The idea that not just the Cavs but the East as a whole loses LeBron James next season still baffles me.
Song of the Moment truly is a song of the moment as Keith Sweat's “Make It Last Forever” popped into my head this morning. The ultimate debate about Keith is whether he could actually sing or not (he can't) but I'll be damned if he didn't spend years making some dope songs for us to all not be able to sing along with.
I'm also going to get on my soapbox here and complain about how R&B isn't as good as it was when I was younger. Considering the news that 2 of R&B's biggest stars are up to no good this week (one not so surprising), it makes me a little sad. *Checks Billboard R&B chart* Bruno, Frank, SZA, Drake, Pharrell, Chris Brown, and The Weeknd. And 2 of those artists are on Calvin Harris songs. Bah.
I’ve always gravitated to a certain thing and then hung on for dear life when it comes to particular things I find fascinating (ask my wife). I think my very first obsession goes back to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and to this day, I still love those 4 crazy amphibian (or reptile?) ninjas. If you’ve followed any of my work, you know how much I loved CM Punk’s work in WWE from 2011 until he walked out in 2014. While I’m finally not wearing one of his t-shirts all the time (I have 7. Yes, I have a problem), I still peek in on him to see if he’ll ever get that second MMA match or possibly wrestle again (I still have money down that he will eventually wrestle in the WWE again). I still go through phases with different things (I listened to all 20 episodes of the Better Call Saul Insider Podcast a few months prior to season 3. Protip: listen to them like a normal person) but at the forefront of all the stuff I love, is Spider-Man.
I read a quote somewhere that said kids love Spider-Man because he could be anyone under the mask, including them (beware though, Bendis said it and it comes off super white privilege-y). I doubt that’s why I started liking him though. When I started reading Spider-Man, he was married to a supermodel, worked for the Daily Bugle (he was definitely on staff at time), and his biggest worry was Atlantis attacking (I’m pretty sure Web Of Spider-Man Annual #5 or Spectacular Spider Man #161 was my first official issue of Spider-Man). Aside from that, Peter Parker had it pretty good besides the run-of-the-mill stuff he would encounter (like having a cold against Man Mountain Marko). From there, things got a bit hectic: Harry returned as the Green Goblin, Peter’s parents came back, he forged a truce with Venom, Harry died, Carnage escaped, his parents ended up being frauds, and then his clone returned after five years (he also got an animated series in 1994). Despite all of that craziness, I was hooked. Something about Peter Parker clicked and I haven’t looked back since.
In recent years though, I’ve been a bit meh on Spidey. After faithfully following his adventures from 2001 to 2010 in his flagship title Amazing Spider-Man, I had to stop reading (which I didn’t completely but I’ve not read every single issue like I had the nine years previous). I stayed after One More Day and had survived a huge chunk of Brand New Day but once the big reveal dropped about how Peter was able to regain his secret identity (I won’t get into it; my brain hurts right now thinking about it)… I let the main format of Spidey’s adventures go for the most part.
On top of that, after being a huge fan of the original Spider-Man trilogy, I just never really liked the Amazing Spider-Man series. I imagine many Batman fans felt the same way after seeing Batman Forever and definitely Batman And Robin: it was nice to see my favorite character on the big screen, but that wasn’t how my favorite character would act. I’ve always found Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker to be too cool but I positively loved his portrayal of Spider-Man. But with a bad retelling of Spider-Man’s origin that we just got barely 10 years earlier and horrible plots all around, Amazing Spider-Man wasn’t sticking. After some back and forth, Sony agreed and worked out a deal with Marvel Studios to share Spider-Man going forward. With Spidey officially in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, many rejoiced… but I did not share in the enthusiasm.
Despite the MCU’s amazing track record (I’ve only not seen all of Thor: The Dark World and none of Doctor Strange or Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2), I was ready for Marvel to mess up somehow. When they casted Tom Holland, I worried that we were going to get the Ultimate version of the character (and I liked Ultimate Spider-Man, I just wanted my Spider-Man in the MCU). I went to Captain America: Civil War and loved it from beginning to end. Tom Holland and Spider-Man were utterly delightful but my heart went to Chadwick Boseman’s portrayal of Black Panther over everything else. And even with a successful entry into the MCU and all signs pointing to Marvel Studios doing right by the Wall-Crawler, ol’ pessimistic me still had doubts. I watched every Spider-Man: Homecoming trailer cautiously, as if I was waiting for Spider-Nipples or Arnold Schwarzenegger to appear. When the positive reviews started coming in, I felt a little better, but I refused to let my guard down. I had to see Spider-Man: Homecoming myself.
I planned on not touching my popcorn until Spider-Man appeared on screen but it only took me 30 seconds to know that I worried for nothing. Spider-Man: Homecoming restored my faith in Spider-Man.
My favorite era of Spider-Man would be from 1962 to pre-symbiote. I was brought up on the symbiote and all the events of the 1990s, and all those stories hold a special place in my heart, but I love Spidey’s entire run during that time. From the dumbest fill-in issues to timeless moments like The Kid Who Collected Spider-Man, Marvel could do no wrong by Peter Parker. And Spider-Man: Homecoming did no wrong by Spider-Man.
Tom Holland is the best Peter Parker/Spider-Man. He hits all the right notes, shows his inexperience while winging it through different situations, and joins the ranks of actors who disappear once they step on screen as their Marvel counterparts. Homecoming has the best plot of any Spider-Man film and the best villain in Adrian Toomes since Norman Osborn in Spider-Man. Instead of Mary Jane or Gwen, we get Liz Allen, the same girl who made googily eyes at Peter (unbeknownst to him) after he got his Spider Powers almost 55 years ago. And all the classic Spider tropes made it into the film too, including Peter ducking out on social events to save the day as Spidey, the constant chatter that he uses to distract his foes, and my personal favorite, Peter complaining about wasting web-fluid as he makes his way through his fights.
I’ve only seen it once…but it might be my favorite MCU film. That position is currently filled with Guardians vol. 1, followed by Civil War, Avengers, and Winter Soldier/Iron Man close behind. But once I give it a few more viewings (and account for my severe bias), I might have a new entry in the number one spot.
While I watched the movie, I had the same feeling I had when I started reading Spider-Man comics. The same feeling I get when I read some of my favorite Spidey stories today. And it gave me the same feeling I had at 19 years old when I saw my favorite superhero finally come to life at the movies 15 years ago (shout out to Marc and Chad). I’m not about to start collecting comics heavy again but it puts me at ease knowing that Marvel Studios and Sony are doing right by one of Marvel’s flagship characters again. It lets me know that there are still good Spider-Man stories that need to be told, stories that Aaliyah will hopefully have interest in as she gets older. One can only hope.
Now let’s send Dan Slott off into the sunset. I really have nothing against the guy but he and Spidey deserve a long break from each other. I have to say Superior Spider-Man was truly dope though.