A Look Back at Amazing Spider-Man #384 (1993)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Welcome back superhero enthusiasts, 1990s culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! Today we go back to the year 1993 and explore a part of the Marvel Comics universe through one of the many tales of the Amazing Spider-Man comic book series.

In my previous retro review, Spider-Man became the new target of The Jury, a team of armored mercenaries founded and led by the father (note: a prominent and powerful man) of one of Venom’s murder victims. Spider-Man was perceived to be responsible for bringing the living alien costume into the world which eventually resulted in the creation of Venom (note: Eddie Brock bonded with the same symbiote) who went on to cause havoc and killed a lot of people.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Amazing Spider-Man #384, published in 1993 by Marvel Comics with a story by David Michelinie and drawn by Mark Bagley.  

The cover.

Early story

The story begins inside a certain government building in New York City scheduled for renovation. A heavily restrained and drugged Spider-Man was about to have mask taken off by one of The Jury members when their founder General Taylor intervened and insisted that they keep their honor. Spider-Man is up for questioning and scrutinization in a makeshift trial by The Jury. As the webslinger is not in the proper condition to stand trial, Taylor (in his capacity as the judge) declares a 30-minute recess.

Elsewhere, Peter Parker’s wife Mary Jane received bad news from her boss that her role in the TV show Secret Hospital will be reduced to a recurring role. This troubles her deeply as it means reduced income for her at a time when her marriage with Peter continues to go down. Spider-Man’s lack of quality time with her keeps taking its toll on her…


Spidey on trial!

Firstly, I should say that the Michelinie-Bagley team’s concept of having The Jury as the force of opposition against Spider-Man continues to do wonders creatively in this particular comic book series. In the previous issue, the webslinger was hunted and General Taylor really invested a lot of technologies to get to him in the middle of a very bustling city. In this particular issue, Spider-Man is completely vulnerable being weakened and disoriented as he is about to be tried in a makeshift court.

Along the way, Taylor and his team were portrayed to work within their own system of justice. As no court of law in New York would recognize Spider-Man’s trial, The Jury set up their own court in a very private and unusual manner.

While the planned trial is the major event of this comic book’s concept, Michelinie pulled off a rather unusual move with the narrative. Just as the first witness points to Spider-Man for being responsible for Venom, the iconic webslinger then starts to wonder what the trial is truly all about and then the creative team unleashed a slew of flashbacks that looked back a key events published in certain comic books of Secret Wars, The Amazing Spider-Man and Web of Spider-Man through the years. I’m talking about Spider-Man’s first-ever encounter with the symbiote, how he got rid of it, how the symbiote bonded with Eddie Brock to form Venom, how Venom’s costume left a living seed that Cletus Kassady touched and became Carnage, etc. These flashbacks, all nicely drawn by Mark Bagley, conveniently served as an instant reference for readers to catch up with the current events but this was done at the expense of this comic book’s narrative.

More on the trial, this comic book raises layered questions about the concept of responsibility on Spider-Man. Could the iconic webslinger really be held accountable for whatever murders Venom committed along with the trauma he caused on bystanders given the fact that he really brought the alien costume into their world? Should Spider-Man also be held responsible for any murders committed by Carnage? This is one really loaded script Michelinie came up with and he really had Spider-Man vulnerable not only to The Jury but also to the questions thrown at him during the makeshift trial. To put it short, this is one very unusual Spider-Man tale ever told that carries strong relevance from the past.

As with the previous issues, this comic book sheds a limited amount of the spotlight on Mary Jane and Spider-Man’s Aunt May who at this stage has gotten paranoid with her suspicions about Peter’s parents. The dramatization turned out pretty good.


Spider-Man in a vulnerable state with The Jury.

While the flashbacks were excessive and made the narrative feel bloated, Amazing Spider-Man #384 (1993) still has lots of good stuff fans can enjoy. It has a pretty bold concept of having Spider-Man really trapped and left vulnerable for the makeshift trial. More notably, the narrative pounded heavily on the concept of responsibility in relation to Spider-Man’s past actions that led to the creation of Venom and even Carnage.

Overall, Amazing Spider-Man #384 (1993) is recommended!


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A Look Back at Uncanny X-Men #130 (1980)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Welcome back, X-Men fans, superhero enthusiasts, 1980s culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! Today, we look back at the year 1980 specifically the time when the Uncanny X-Men monthly series was spearheaded by legendary creators Chris Claremont and John Byrne. In fact, we will examine here the comic book debut of Dazzler, a mutant with the ability to convert the vibrations of sound into light and energy beams. Dazzler is quite unique among all superheroes as she has been portrayed as a singer, an actress, a model and got associated with other Marvel superheroes. Marvel Comics went on to actually publish a regular comic book series about Dazzler which lasted over forty issues.

To say the least, the creation of Dazzler is quite intriguing as it involved a commission by an American record label for a special project with a disco queen character as the core concept and that Marvel Comics itself would develop the superhero (in the form of a singer) and that an actual singer will be produced by the said record label. Then Marvel editor-in-chief Jim Shooter wrote a treatment for the project which turned from an animated special into a live-action film. As creative process for Dazzler went on at Marvel, Tom DeFalco (who later succeeded Shooter as editor-in-chief) wrote her creation while John Romita, Jr. did the character design. The name Dazzler was the result of a suggestion by Roger Stern. There also was some Bo Derek influence on the creation of Dazzler.

While the special project did not happen due to the financial problems of the record label, Marvel went on to formally introduce Dazzler in the pages of an Uncanny X-Men comic book handled by Claremont-Byrne team.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Uncanny X-Men #130, published by Marvel Comics in 1980 with a story co-written by Chris Claremont and John Byrne. Byrne drew the art.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins on Delano Street in Lower Manhattan. Scott Summers/Cyclops, Jean Grey and Nightcrawler had just arrived on a mission to locate a mutant (detected by Cerebro) not knowing that they themselves are bring monitored by a hidden sinister force. With Nightcrawler left in-charge of guarding their Rolls Royce, Scott and Jean enter a deteriorating building only to find a club on an upper level full of lights, loud music, dancing and a lot of people. They begin to start searching for the detected mutant.

Outside, a truck parks on the other side of the same street where the X-Men’s Rolls Royce was parked at. Inside the truck one of the operators communicates to a certain Mr. Shaw who states that the Hellfire Club is proud. Over at the Hellfire Club’s headquarters, Sebastian Shaw and Jason Wyngarde talk about the X-Men members searching the disco. Wyngarde moves on with his plan to subvert Jean Grey and gather her into their fold…


Dazzler’s very debut on this page.

The storytelling is great which is not surprising as this was done by Claremont and Byrne. It is clear that there was a good amount of preparation done which explains this comic book’s excellent ways on emphasizing the following story points: the build-up of the Hellfire Club as a potent force of evil that await the X-Men, Kitty Pryde/Shadowcat’s growing involvement, the vulnerability of Jean Grey, the build-up of the Phoenix, and the debut of Dazzler. Along the way, the creative team also ensure that the dialogue was rich (the same thing also with the thought balloons Claremont came up with), the emphasis of super powers made sense, the action scenes were satisfying and there was a good amount of suspense here.

I love the way Dazzler’s first-ever appearance was handled as it happened just after an intriguing scene about Jean Grey’s vulnerability took place. Her debut also occurred at a point when Jean and Scott seemed to be failing to find her. Of course, the 1970s disco vibe was very strong with Dazzler.


The plot thickens…

Without a doubt, Uncanny X-Men #130 (1980) is a classic X-Men tale by the Claremont-Byrne team who succeeded in not only introducing Dazzler into Marvel’s comic book universe but also with strongly emphasizing the Hellfire Club as a powerful opposition which went on to have a key part in the legendary Dark Phoenix storyline that followed. Dazzler meanwhile became a very popular superhero of Marvel’s going into the 1980s. For the modern-day comic book reader, this comic book can be quite challenging to read as it is very wordy (typical of Claremont).

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Uncanny X-Men #130 (1980), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the very fine copy of the regular edition costs $1,407 while the fine copy of the newsstand edition costs $1,013.

Overall, Uncanny X-Men #130 (1980) is highly recommended!


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back At Friday The 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan

When a filmmaker has high concepts but ends up receiving insufficient resources to realize them, disaster normally strikes not only the film crew but also the fans.

This was precisely what happened in the horror movie Friday The 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, written and directed by Rob Hedden. Released on July 28, 1989 in the United States, the movie was the result of Paramount Pictures’ rejection of proposals on making a direct sequel to Friday The 13th Part VII: The New Blood involving that film’s lead character Tina Shepard (played by Lar Park Lincoln).

Hedden, who previously worked for another movie studio and participated in the unrelated Friday The 13th TV series, was hired to make the sequel and he had the idea of bringing the horror icon Jason Voorhees out of Camp Crystal Lake (and its related locations) and came up with concepts of having one story set on a cruise ship (for a claustrophobic horror experience) and another story set in New York City (which includes ideas of having notable locations there as key places for misadventures and action).

“Everything about New York was going to be completely exploited and milked,” Hedden said in an interview. “There was going to be a tremendous scene on the Brooklyn Bridge. A boxing match in Madison Square Garden. Jason would go through department stores. He’d go through Times Square. He’d go into a Broadway play. He’d even crawl onto the top of the Statue of Liberty and dive off.”

The movie studio liked Hedden’s concepts and gave him a budget. The big problem was that there simply was not enough money granted (a little over $5 million) and it was too expensive to film on location in New York (I wonder if Hedden actually made some research about the city as he came up with his New York ideas). Although the given budget was the BIGGEST for a Friday The 13th film at the time, Hedden had no choice but to combine the two concepts into one single narrative. As if insufficient funds were not bad enough, Hedden implemented another concept to look at Jason as a child through the hallucinations of the film’s lead – Rennie Wickham (played by Jensen Daggett). Of course, the hallucinations led to spending some money on “special” effects, make-up, and set-up.

Now, we can start taking a close look at Friday The 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan.

Kane Hodder as Jason on location at Times Square in New York.

The movie begins with shots of New York City (with several spots of Vancouver, Canada pretentiously presented as spots of the more famous city). Over at Camp Crystal Lake far away, a guy and his girl prepare to make love riding a boat floating on the lake unaware that Jason is deep underwater (following the events of Part VII). Through expository dialogue, the guy tells his girl about the legend of Jason who had murdered several people who came near the camp.

Due to an anchor cutting an underwater power cable, loose electricity reanimates Jason (played by Kane Hodder) who went up to the boat to kill the guy and the lady, one by one.

Very soon, a group of graduates from Lakeview High School prepares to embark on a cruise ship for their much-awaited visit to New York. Beyond logic, the scene shows that Crystal Lake is magically connected to the Atlantic Ocean and the background scenery shows that they are in Canada (note: back then it was more affordable to shoot scenes in Canada and pretend to be in the US).

At this point, the film introduces the final girl Rennie who is a gifted student but remains terrified about water since childhood. The leading man meanwhile is Sean (played by Scott Reeves) who is handsome but lacks the heart to follow the footsteps of his successful father who is the captain of the ship. Rennie and Sean both show signs of pain and lack from their respective past and these elements, predictably, make them a matching pair for moviegoers to follow.

Aside from the two, the film introduces mostly disposable characters like Rennie’s overbearing uncle (who happens to be a teacher in the same high school she attends and was clearly written to be the one character to irritate moviegoers into being sympathetic with Rennie and others), the good-natured lady teacher, the hard rock musician, the aspiring filmmaker, the jock, the pretty bad girl, the dude who talks without taking a look, the doomsayer, etc.

Just before the ship leaves, Jason climbs his way up to join the trip. Then he’s stalking starts.


Friday The 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan was very bad when it was first released more than thirty years ago. By today’s standards, this film has aged terribly. Its quality is even worse now.

Let’s start with the most obvious flaw – the movie failed to live up to its promise of Jason’s taking Manhattan. The film’s subtitle is a big lie as much of the movie is set in the ship and New York (including the fake NYC spots that were filmed in Vancouver) does not appear as the definitive location until late in the story!

While the story was set on the ship, the film crew seem to focus on producing on-screen fillers creatively. Sure we get to see Jason stalk and kill characters (with some off-screen death blows) but the dialogue scenes, the transition scenes and character “development” stuff in between were very cheaply and poorly handled.

With Rennie, however, the team managed to make her somewhat engaging as the lead of the film by slowly defining her personality (nicely done by Daggett) and creating on-screen hallucination sequences emphasizing the emotional and psychological damage she suffered from encountering Jason when she was a young girl. The flashback of little Rennie encountering little Jason (which does not make sense at all as far as in-story history is concerned) under Crystal Lake was not only badly done but done without any sense of logic. One can argue that little Rennie only hallucinated of seeing kid Jason (supposedly out of fear and paranoia) but that sequence was just a waste of time even though the filmmakers tried to make moviegoers connect and feel with her. Sean, the other lead, was literally protected by plot armor (note: he was not one of the disposable characters) but his character was not written to do much except serving as a supporter for Rennie.

Lousy stuff? Lots of them here and there! Even though he saw his captain father dead, Sean does not show very much emotion and even worse, he easily forgets about him even as he sees Jason quite a number of times later. He should at least show some deep anger (if not lust for revenge) against Jason. Even though he did not witness Jason killing his father, it was made clear to him and the rest that Jason (and not the doomsayer) was responsible.

How about Wayne, the film-obsessed guy? Even though he and his pals took weapons to go around and hunt Jason, he still bothered to use his camera (while clumsily holding the gun) and film his way around! That is so stupid and it was no surprise that he ends up getting disposed of! Being obsessed with filming, Wayne could have decided to accompany one of his armed pals and used his camera for both video documenting and even help an armed guy see something (example: zooming at a spot or object far away).

As for lousy stuff reflecting the very low budget of the movie, I can point out that the scene in which Sean, Rennie, the uncle and lady school teacher board a lifeboat clearly looked fake and was shot on a studio set. The same thing can also be said about Rennie’s fall into the water (pushed over the deck by Tamara) and she was NOT left behind by the ship that was supposedly moving. The location where JJ played rock music before getting killed looked cheap.

More on production cheapness, either the filmmakers ran out of money or they became too lazy with the wardrobe and hoped moviegoers would be too stupid to notice anything. Look back at the scene when Rennie got pushed off by Tamara into the water and was saved by Sean (who jumped to do his heroic act). Even though they got wet, both Rennie and Sean STILL WORE THE EXACT SAME CLOTHES until the end of the film! Those characters did not change clothes even though Rennie returned to her room!

Speaking of which, the filmmakers disregarded the fact that, in the story, the ship was filled with a lot of students going to New York. There were guys and gals partying, playing games, enjoying the scenery (of Canada!), etc. And yet as the film played on, the filmmakers literally abandoned those many other students. The only exception here was the short scene in which the good-natured lady teacher brought some students with her and told them to stay and wait in the restaurant. A short time later, as she mentioned to her companions that there were students left in the restaurant, Sean replied to her depressingly, “There is no more restaurant.” Without showing any scenes, the filmmakers creatively and nonsensically got rid of the others. I suppose Hedden and team had no more time and money left to show what happened to them all.

The cheapness also affected the look of Jason. Adult Jason in Friday The 13th Part VII had a very menacing, gritty and rotten face design. In this movie, adult Jason’s face looks melted and cartoony! And then there was the inaccuracy with regards to how the film presented little Jason. In the early flashback scene, a kid Jason with a normal looking face was shown drowning (which contradicts the fact that Jason always had a deformed face). There was a ladies’ rest room scene wherein kid Jason (with a slightly deformed face this time) appeared to Rennie via a hallucination. Then there was another kid Jason, more deformed, during the flashback of little Rennie. Whatever the filmmakers did, none of those physical presentations of Jason proved to be scary. Clearly whatever little amount of money they spent here ended up wasted.

On the presentation, the film’s pacing was inconsistent and it sure had several dragging moments. Granted, this was Rob Hedden’s debut as a movie director but I’ve seen other slasher horror films that were paced better and had kills that were executed satisfactorily. The fear factor of this movie was weak overall. Meanwhile, Jason illogically has the ability to teleport in this film which is complete nonsense. I believe that the teleportation was implemented as a convenient way of cutting down on time and expense to complete the production. I suppose showing Jason physically moving from one place to the next to get to his running victim was too expensive and too inconvenient for Hedden’s team.

If there are any good points in this film, I should say that Rob Hedden and his team at least tried to be creative with Jason’s kills (but the teleporting still makes no sense). Tamara (whose mirror got dropped and broke into pieces) got stabbed with a sharp mirror piece. A guy in the sauna gets killed with a hot rock forced into his body. And then there was the city thug who got killed with a syringe piercing through his body (which is impossible and cartoony to look at).

The most memorable kill sequence by Jason was the “boxing fight” with Julius. In that sequence, Hedden told the actor to punch Jason many, many times with real physical contact. That sequence lasted rather long but Jason’s kill of Julius was undeniably good and with impact. Too bad that kill sequence could not carry this movie up.

Another good point to take note is Kane Hodder’s improved take on Jason in terms of action and looking threatening. This was his 2nd time to play Jason and he showed more confidence playing him.

Kelly Hu was only 20-years-old at the time of production. Jason Voorhees, not Wolverine, was the first pop culture icon she encountered on the big screen.

The stunt done inside a diner (with a particular stuntman who would later have his moment playing Jason in a certain 2003 movie) was at least satisfying to see. Last but not least, this movie featured a very young Kelly Hu who is now a successful and popular Hollywood actress. Fourteen years before she got to fight superhero icon Wolverine on the big screen, she encountered the horror icon Jason right here. What happened to Hu’s character and Jason? You should take time out to watch her scene here.


Symbolically speaking, Jensen Daggett realized that the film was doomed and it took Jason to catch her attention from behind!

Overall this movie is very, very bad. I can only recommend this to die-hard Friday The 13th fans who are more than willing to set aside logic all for the sake of seeing Jason stalk and kill people. There is little entertainment value here and drastic cheapness will disturb viewers along the way. Not even the short Time Square on-location sequence could save the film. The kills of Jason are a mixed-bag at best and clearly this movie is not even scary to watch. I remember the very first time I saw this way back in the summer of 1990 on laser disc format and there was not even a single moment I got scared. I got to replay this movie on DVD to take a closer look and still I did not get much entertainment value in return.

Friday The 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan should be skipped as it is a clear waste of time. If you plan to watch it at all, play the movie only when you want to bore yourself to sleep.

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com