If we don't have one already, it seems we should have a general thread for all things Spidey.


Here's a post from the Masterworks board, initially in response to a question about John Romita inking Ross Andru. Gerry Conway's run on the book, in many ways, was "MY" era of Spidey. It was the first time I was buying the book new as it came out. I was in high school at the time.

 
 
Yeah. Romita inked (actually, RE-PENCILLED and inked) #121-124 over Gil Kane layouts (discarding his pencils-- I've seen samples).

It was when I got ahold of ESSENTIAL MARVEL TEAM-UP that I began to suspect that Gil Kane did not like having his hard work (full pencils) discarded and unused that way. (Romita's finished pages veered closer to Kane's layouts than they did his pencils.) Ross Andru was the original penciller on MTU, something I'd forgotten. (Perhaps my 2nd-ever exposure to Ross, after that one WW issue in the 60s, was MTU #2, inked by Jim Mooney.)

Anyway, it appears what happened was, Gil Kane & Ross Andru SWAPPED books. The same month, Gil Kane took over MTU (and so readers got to see Kane's full pencils being inked again), while Ross Andru, some years after he did his 1st Spidey story, finally took over as the regular artist on ASM.

The first issue, #125, was the 2nd half of the Man-Wolf story. And here's the funny thing... I DIDN'T NOTICE. Romita's inks tend to be over-powering, and frankly, it just looked terrific to me. The NEXT issue, #126, was the return of the Kangaroo-- and was inked by Jim Mooney. SUDDENLY, I noticed-- "Hey-- they replaced Gil Kane!" I got a laugh when I realized it had happened a month earlier and had gone right by me.

The NEXT one, #127, was when Frank Giacoia & Dave Hunt took over & became the regular inking team for most of the rest of Gerry Conway's run. I REALLY noticed, because all of a sudden, all the characters had a very "intense", almost haggard appearance. Put another way, they all looked "miserable". That was the issue with the FAKE Vulture (which is the tip-off for me, I strongly suspect that issue is when Gerry Conway REALLY took over plotting the book from John Romita-- who had been the plotter ever since ASM #39!!!).

I was never happy with Andru/Giacoia/Hunt... UNTIL the FAKE Mysterio story. All of a sudden, JJJ and the rest of the cast just started to look "right"! (Unless of course Romita decided to start doing touch-ups again...)

Things started to get pretty rough by Conway's last issue. (Which, incidentally, included a FAKE Gwen Stacy-- and a FAKE Spider-Man!)  When Len Wein debuted as both writer & editor on #151, and started a "new era", the first issue was crammed with all kinds of character sub-plots. I loved it! But the icing on the cake was, John Romita inked the issue. WOW!! I had such high hopes that maybe this new era would blow Conway's right out of the water.

And then Giacoia & Esposito inked #152. And MJ turned into a "typical B**** girlfriend". This was something she had never been before... that I knew of. It's been pointed out, this was how she treated Harry during the "drug" issues, co-plotted by Gil Kane, whose issues ALWAYS seem to be accompanied by nervous breakdowns and extreme violence and the like. But I see it differently... MJ was ALWAYS in love with Pete, from the day they met. It hurt her terribly to see him with Gwen. Harry was just marking time for her. She kept waiting for Pete to come to his senses. He never did. And then Gwen got KILLED. Finally, Pete was "available" again... except, he was in so much pain, he wasn't really anyone she could chase after right then. And I'm sure that's not how she imagined or hoped she'd finally get him. So, to me, MJ had never been that way toward Pete. And suddenly she was. I wanted to strangle Len for that.

Then Len did 2 issues in which the supporting cast didn't appear, or Spidey never took off the mask. It was as if Len forgot he wasn't still writing MARVEL TEAM-UP. Both issues were drawn by Sal Buscema, who had become the regular MTU guy at the time. I wondered... what the hell's going on with this book? The new guy hasn't even been in charge for 3 months and already it's falling apart. Sadly, although Len was quite capable of doing fun stories here and there, too much of his career, I noticed, consisted of him getting on a book, starting out like a rocket, then fizzling out in less than 6 months. In the long run, it seemed to me that all of Len's sub-plots were in support of only ONE single "big" story-- which he dragged out over 3 whole years. (The 3rd Green Goblin.)

As they used to say on the oldies stations, "Ahh, what memories, what memories!"

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I just saw the fourth Spider-Man movie with my family tonight.

We all enjoyed it, though my daughter can't understand why they would want to reboot the series already.

 

Also, we all wondered what happened to the half-rat/half-lizard rat that chewed it's way out of the cage...

Myself, I couldn't understand why they decided to "reboot" the BATMAN cartoons after the tremendous success of the WB BATMAN, SUPERMAN and JUSTICE LEAGUE shows, when they did THE BATMAN, and then THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD.  I mean, wouldn't it just make more sense if they'd all been part of the same continuity?  (Especially when the first 3 were, frankly, doing the characters better than the comic-books?)  Hollywood... sheesh.

And how many versions of SUPERMAN have there been on film now? (Or, how many versions of SPIDER-MAN have there been on film, between cartoons, TV shows and movies?)

But back to Spidey, I think we can blame the guy who decided to CRAM too many villains and sub-plots into both SPIDER-MAN 3 and X-MEN 3. I understand the same guy tried to decide the direction for SPIDER-MAN 4, and as a result, Sam Raimi-- and his entire cast of regulars-- all WALKED!  That exec is no longer involved with the movies... but the damage was done.  (I didn't really mind SM 3 that much, though I knew it had "too much", the same way the 2nd, 3rd & 4th BATMAN features had.  But XM 3 really was ruined by "too much".)

I totally agree.

Unless the seven and eight year olds were afraid to start watching the Batman cartoons because they were so many episodes in, and wanted to get the complete story and thus felt confused because they hadn't watched the first episode.


Oh, no, wait. That's grown adults that feel that way. Seven year olds just watch it and enjoy it. :)



Henry R. Kujawa said:

Myself, I couldn't understand why they decided to "reboot" the BATMAN cartoons after the tremendous success of the WB BATMAN, SUPERMAN and JUSTICE LEAGUE shows, when they did THE BATMAN, and then THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD.  I mean, wouldn't it just make more sense if they'd all been part of the same continuity?  (Especially when the first 3 were, frankly, doing the characters better than the comic-books?)  Hollywood... sheesh.

It's funny you put it that way. When I was a kid, most TV shows I watched, I started somewhere in the middle. Some of them had been going for years before I got there.  (I never saw "Adam" on BONANZA, for example.) With LOST IN SPACE, I came in on the 6th episode ("Welcome, Stranger").  With STAR TREK, I came in on the 4th week ("The Naked Time").  Somehow, with BATMAN, I actually knew it was coming thanks to some promos, and actually started watching from the very 1st episode ("Hi Diddle Riddle").

You know what's funny... we used to watch THE ADVENTURES OF OZZIE & HARRIET.  It was on ABC, Wednesday nights at 7:30.  When it finally ended, the show that replaced it was... BATMAN.  I'm not sure that has anything to do with anything, I just thought I'd mention it.  (The thing is, I'm pretty sure we'd stopped watching OZZIE & HARRIET months before... because I'd gotten hooked on LOST IN SPACE!  For the next year-and-a-half, every Wednesday, I'd wind up missing half of one show's story, or the other.)

Meanwhile... I did start watching both FANTASTIC FOUR and SPIDER-MAN from the 1st week ("Menace of the Mole Man" and "The Power Of Dr. Octopus"/"Sub-Zero For Spidey").  Seems like in the 60's, I had better luck with Saturday morning cartoons.

I believe when the original Star Trek series aired, they started with "The Man Trap"...the salt monster episode, out of order.

Next was the Corbomite Manuver (with the midget Blok and the drink "Tranya") and the lesson in tolerance... and I'm not sure just when "The Naked Time" showed up, but it gave critical insight into most of the crew and characters....that's why the device was repeated in "The Naked Now" in ST:TNG to good effect.

NBC ran STAR TREK out of sequence, that's for sure.  The first 4 episodes they ran were actually "The Man Trap", "Charlie X", "Where No Man Has Gone Before", and "The Naked Time".  I'd have to look up the ones after that.  "The Corbomite Manouever" was run around 10TH, even though it was the 1st regular production episode, and the debut of Dr. McCoy.

The stupid thing about running "Where No Man..." 3rd was, it was the 2nd PILOT-- the debut of Kirk.  And, all the costumes, props and sets were somewhat different.  So viewers wuld have watched the show for 2 weeks, and suddenly, everything's different.  And the next week, everything's back the way it was again.

But even stupider in retrospect, the plots of "Charlie X" and "Where No Man..." are SIMILAR. Both involve someone with supernatural-seeming powers who can do anything they think of.  So by running them back-to-back, it made it seem repetitive, and by running "Charlie X" first, it UNDER-CUT the impact of the pilot!  Idiots.

Similarly... when they turned the original unaired pilot, "The Cage", into a 2-parter, "The Menagerie", by adding an entire 2nd episode's worth of NEW material, the new material involved a court-martial.  A couple weeks AFTER this was run, they got around to running the episode "Court Martial", which had been made earlier.

It really helps to watch this show in production order.  I always start with "The Cage" (which was released by itself decades after-the-fact), "Where No Man...", "The Corbomite Manouver", etc., in that order.  And for fun, I usually run FORBIDDEN PLANET first.

Another show I found REALLY works better if seen in production order is THE NEW AVENGERS.  There were 2 seasons of that (26 episodes), but when CBS ran the thing on their LATE MOVIE, they mixed both seasons together and ran them completely at random.  Ep. 25, for example, was run about 5th.  And 2 different stories, made a year apart, both of which involved a sneaky and repetitive plot to kill off agents, were run back-to-back. Just to pointup how "repetitive" the show was. Like they were trying to make people think, "Oh, look, a couple episodes in, and they've ALREADY run out of ideas!"   (Just to make it worse, the 1st time they ran the show, they removed the opening theme song from every episode. It was always a few minutes in, after a pre-credit teaser... just like STAR TREK.)

You know, I think you're right, Henry... Your list makes more sense to my memories of watching the first several shows.... I DO recall seeing some of these with my dad, and he guessed more than once, where the plot was going from the cliffhanger teases just before the commercial breaks.  For some reason (possibly a conflict on a school night) I didn't watch the Star Trek show continually.  However, I do recall being permitted to stay up to watch it if we were already in our PJs and were washed and had brushed our teeth, so we could go right to bed immediately afterwards.

HAH!  When ST started, my bedtime was 9 PM.  I had to be sneaky about watching the show, and hope I could get their sympathy to be able to stay up for the the halfd, since I'd already seen the first half of the story.

But then Dad started watching the show with us, and it was no longer an issue.  (The 2nd year, they moved it to Fridays, and we could stay up to 11 PM on weekends.)

Poor Spidey!  Not even being discussed in his own thread!

The first Spider-Man comic I remembering buying was ASM 193.  It was the second half of a story featuring the Fly, a very angry Spidey, and a crazy JJJ.  it was by Marv Wolfman and Keith Pollard.

I was a new comics reader in 1979, but I was hardly new to Spidey.  The local paper carried the strip from its debut in January 1978, and I clipped and saved the Sunday strips for a good long while.  Also, one of the local TV stations showed re-runs of the 60s cartoon until the mid 1980s.  So I was a Spidey fan even before I was a comics fan!

But I didn't collect any Spider-titles until Roger Stern started writing ASM.  I missed the first year of Wolfman's run, and while I liked ASM 193 and 200, I missed most of the issues in between.  I've never read the Punisher story in 201-202, and his last few issues, #203-205, in my opinion, reflect the feelings he had toward Marvel at the time; unhappy and more than ready to go to DC.  Issue 203 reads like he was forced to use the (Disco) Dazzler and in reply he gives a big middle finger back.  Dazzler is being mind-controlled by the Lightmaster for most of the issue, Spidey - without hesitation - beats her up (despite many other examples of him being unwilling to strike a female), and the last page is suggestive enough that I'm surprised it didn't get cut.  Marv's creation, the Black Cat, rurns in #204, but Wolfman's heart is clearly not in it and David Michelinie ends up finishing the story, as I believe Marv is only credited with "plotting" the next issue.  I didn't enjoy Denny O'Neil's work on Spidey either.

For the first 250 (or so) issues of ASM, I liked the first 100 issues the best.  Regardless of Stan's level of involvement, he's the common denominator for me, and his dialogue work goes a long way to seperate ASM from other lesser titles.  There's also the great artwork; I'm a big fan of both Ditko and Romita Sr., despite their very different styles.  Of course, they should have received more credit for their plotting and writing, but that's almost a different topic.

Stern's run is a strong second for me.  Stern doesn't get anywhere near the appreciation he deserves.  To me, his plotting, characterization - not just Spidey/Peter, but the great supporting cast, and the villains - , his use of sub-plots, and his defining of Spidey's power levels are far superior to Conway, Wein, Wolfman, and O'Neil.

I group those four writers together, and excluding O'Neil's work (which i didn't like at all), they have their share of high points and low points, imo.  Their work felt very inconsistent to me.

I lost a lot of interest in ASM after Stern left.  To me, Tom Defalco has always been, at best, a mediocre writer.

One thing I felt could have helped Conway, Wein, and Wolfman was better editing.  A lot of stuff seemed to slip by that shouldn't have; I lost count how many times Spidey crashed through a window that should have ripped his costume - and him - to shreds.  In the story where Ned Leeds and Betty Brant got married, Spidey dropped a chandlier (I think) on Mirage or one of his henchmen, which would have surely killed them (and it was brought up in the letters page, and sheepishly and poorly explained away).  Sometimes Spidey had super-strength, sometimes none at all.  Like his strength, his spider-sense and how it worked seemed to flucuate wildly.  Let's not even get started on the many gaping holes in Conway's run, especially regarding the Jackal.

I'd like to see some scans of that ASM #203 with the Disco Dazzler.... if only the final suggest page or so.  Do you think you could upload it for the rest of us to enjoy consider?

John Dunbar:

"Poor Spidey!  Not even being discussed in his own thread!"

HAH! Yeah, even I thought that was funny... how did that happen anyway?  : )

And I started this thread just because it seemed odd there wasn't ONE thread just for Spidey discussions in general.

I find myself pretty much in agreement on the various writers over the years, from Conway to DeFalco. Mantlo gets overlooked, because he did "the other book", as does the fact that Stern did an entire run in SSM before getting on ASM. I gotta re-read those things one of these days! I mean, for awhile, SSM actually got better than ASM.

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