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Marvel Comics news: "ASM 2"'s bland debut, Dick Ayers R.I.P. and Sam Humphries

Marching behind "Captain America: the Winter Soldier" didn't do the web-slinger much good.

Sony's "Amazing Spider-Man 2" has solid, but less than amazing debut weekend!

Although it has been playing in theaters overseas for nearly two weeks now, Sony and director Marc Webb's "Amazing Spider-Man 2" debuted to $91.6 - $92 million dollars this past weekend in North America. This puts it behind last month's "Captain America: the First Avenger" (which debuted at $95 million in the U.S.), but ahead of the initial kick off of "Thor: the Dark World" last year ($85.7 million). The last "Amazing Spider-Man" debuted on July 3rd, 2012 a day before a national holiday. However, this is far lower than the opening take of 2007's "Spider-Man 3" (which was $151.1 million) and may very well be the lowest debut weekend for any of Sony's "Spider-Man" films, at least once one adjusts for inflation and notes that movie ticket prices were far lower when the first of the Sam Raimi trilogy began in May 2002. However, "Amazing Spider-Man 2" brought in another $116 million overseas for a worldwide total of $369 million. As ICv2 notes, with a production budget between $200 - $255 million, the film will have to gross a half billion just for Sony to break even. The film has mostly been critically panned, and word of mouth from both fans and laypeople is not positive, even if the average audience seems to skew younger than average.

Much like "Man of Steel", this has been a middling debut for a major studio's superhero which leads to various sources pointing fingers. The film had a disjointed story with two major villains, whose stories seemed to have little relation to each other. In addition, the studio's obvious intention for this to birth an entire franchise of subsequent films was quite obvious during the film itself, despite the valiant efforts of Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, and Sally Field. In addition, Sony has now produced five Spider-Man films within twelve years, covering a lot of familiar territory since 2012. Although both of Marc Webb's "Amazing Spider-Man" films have seen smaller budgets than "Spider-Man 3" (if only by some $10 - $25 million), they are reaping smaller returns. The emergence and domination of the Marvel Studios line of films since 2008 as well as fatigue of the wall-crawler could all be mixing into a perfect storm. Regardless, don't expect Sony to abandon their webbed meal ticket any time soon.

"Sgt. Fury" and "Ghost Rider" artist Dick Ayers passes away!

Silver Age artist and inker Richard "Dick" Ayers sadly becomes the latest comic book legend to pass from the mortal coil. He died of complications from Parkinson's disease just a week after turning 90 years old. He published his first newspaper strip, "Radio Ray", in the military newspaper "Radio Post" in 1942 before moving onto Dell Comics and Atlas Comics, which would ultimately become Marvel Comics. He is best known for drawing "Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos" for an incredible ten year run from 1964-1974 as well as co-creating the 1967 hero Carter Slade in "Ghost Rider #1". He routinely served as inker to legendary artist and creator Jack Kirby during his runs on "Fantastic Four" and "Journey into Mystery". He slowed down by the mid 1980's but continued to work late into his career; his last work for Marvel was a one page illustration in 2009's "Marvel Mystery Handbook 70th Anniversary Special". Inducted into the Will Eisner "hall of fame" in 2007, he is certainly another mighty talent who will be missed.

Sam Humphries becomes a Marvel exclusive!

Ever since the recession, announcements of various writers/artists signing an "exclusive" contract with a particular comic publisher have become more infrequent since the start of the 2000's. At any rate, writer Sam Humphries becomes the latest talent Marvel have proudly locked up for the next few years. The "Our Love is Real" (2011) creator has previously worked on "John Carter: the Gods of Mars", "Ultimate Comics: Ultimates" and the recently canceled "Avengers A.I." for Marvel Comics. It was announced that in July, Humphries would team up with artist Paco Medina to launch "The Legendary Star-Lord" starring the titular space hero (with Kitty Pryde as a supporting character). Naturally, editor-in-chief Axel Alonso gives him a full vote of confidence, so expect him to write or co-write a crossover event in the next few years.

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