I started reading the adventures of Spider-man in issue #176, back in 1978. I’d fallen way behind on my comic reading lately. Over the past few days I finally caught up with Amazing Spider-man through issue 800. What a jumbled mess. A lot of the run was completely incoherent because it crossed over with other books between issues. I had no idea what was going on. Characters appeared and then were gone. Endless retreads of goblins, clones, Venom varients, and characters coming back from the dead. I loved the Superior Spider-man run. After that, it seems like everything went sideways. I didn’t enjoy it at all. When Otto took over as Spider-man, I thought it was a very cool twist on an old charcter. Dan Slott told it well. I knew things would not remain that way. I was hoping to see Peter take some of the things Otto had done when he returned as Spider-man and make positives out of them. Otto’s inevitable return should have made him a much more complex and interesting character. What I saw of him just kind of put him back where he was. I have not read the Clone Conspiracy books yet. There may be something I’ve missed. Amazing Spider-man carries what I think is one of the larger problems Marvel has with storytelling. Forced crossovers. It would direct me to go to an issue Clone Conspiracy as I was reading. Then another book along the way. I read the next sequential issue instead. I had no idea what was going on. I can’t stand that the first page of every book has to be a “the story so far” with a damn flow chart of connected characters. I believe you have failed as a story teller if you need to give readers a flow chart. I want to be able to read a book in sequential order and be able to get an entire story from one issue to the next. Spider-man failed at that. It is a complete and utter dud when read by itself. I don’t blame Slott’s writing for this. The problem is more likely the editorial team, wanting to sell more Spider-man books. I was digging the art when Humberto Ramos was drawing Spider-man. For Marvel’s top book, I was not impressed with much that I saw after he left Spider-man. I don’t like to slag my fellow artists. There were some great pages and panels in there. The art is not something I would continue to buy this book for. The cover art by Alex Ross was very cool. I’d love to see Spider-man find a new long-term art team that really fits the character well. Superior Spider-man was my top book back in the day. The current run has fallen flat for me.
Here are a few of the comics that I read this week. Not a whole lot in my bag this time, but I have a lot I haven’t read yet – Thor #4 9/10 This is turning out to me a really fun book. There’s still a lot of mystery about who is under the helmet, and how she deals with the return of the original Thor is nicely done. The art is superb, and there’s a lot to like about this new book. It’s one of the reasons I have some doubts about the upcoming Secret Wars event. There’s a good story going on here, and I don’t want to see it hijacked by a gimmick. Hopefully, this character will find her way into the new version of the Marvel universe. Harley Quinn #14 9/10 Still one my my monthly favorites. The past year has really seen Harley gain a lot of dimension as a character, and she’s surprisingly down to earth while still retaining a bit of psychotic edge to her personality. The art was fantastic on this one, and there’s a lot of levels in the story, all of which are fun.
I’ve been hearing a lot about Marvel’s big event for this year – Secret Wars. It’s going to change the face of the Marvel universe forever! Again! I guess I’m fine with it. There are so many years of history to sort out, that I suppose it’s a good thing to make a fresh start every so often. It’s not supposed to erase the previous years of history – all of that still happened, but a new unified timeline will come out of it. Some old characters will change or go away, and some new ones will find a more permanent home. I really loved the Superior Spider-man run, and was in a way sorry to see Otto lose the job. He was a breath of fresh air as Spidey and did some great things with the character. To be able to have Peter Parker back in the driver’s seat and Otto as the Superior version co-existing? I’ll take that ride. I’m not so sure about Spider-Gwen and a few others, though. I hope there aren’t too many Spider-People running around. There are a few new books that I’m really enjoying that I don’t want to get derailed by the event. Thor has been excellent, and they’re teasing us with who’s really behind that mask. Antman is off to a good start as a really likable book. I don’t like it when writers are forced to shoehorn an event into n existing story line they’ve got going, so we’ll have to see how those play out. It should be fun, though, and I’m sure they’ll get a bump in sales from it. What happens after that only time will tell.
Here are my reviews for what was in my comic bag this week. The Sandman: Overture #1 (of 6) 10 out of 10 My favorite book this week. I’ve never been a big reader of Sandman before, but this may get me to go back and read all of the old issues. Everything about the book was beautiful – the layout, the use of text and images. There was a lot of lettering for a comic, but it was so well written, I really enjoyed it. As a starting point, this book make me want to learn more about what was going on, which is perfect. Danger Girl: The Chase! #2 (of 4) 7 out of 10 This was not too bad. I really miss seeing regular J. Scott Campbell art, but this book captures the fun and feel of the original series. It’s a bit gratuitous, but it was an enjoyable read that didn’t require knowing years of back-story and crossover issues to follow, which is nice. Superior Spider-Man #20 7 out of 10 Still my favorite on-going series. Otto has laid some brilliant plans for Peter Parker and Spider-man. but they’re starting to come unraveled, and Carlie finally knows who he really is. How much longer can he keep it up? The entire Superior story arc has been a great exercise in an old question – if you suddenly found yourself running someone else’s life, could you make it better? And if so, why can’t you do it with your own life? The art in this issue was great in a few spots, but near the end I thought some of the pages looked a bit rushed and not quite up to the standard. Still, a very good read. Guardians of the Galaxy #8 4 out of 10 I’ve really looked forward to this book every month, but this one was a bit of a let-down. The art is normally filled with detail and expression, and this book looked sketchy and flat to me. It’s just not a style I like. To make matters worse, it’s part of the big Infinity crossover, which makes the story part of a much grander mess. Hopefully they get back on track next issue. Infinity #5 (of 6) 6 out of 10 The art in this book was very good, but I’m really not a fan of the big multi-book crossover events after Age of Ultron. Nice visuals, but the story is a mess. There were some good scenes, so it was,’t terrible, but I’m just not motivated to follow the entire thing in the intended order. Superior Spider-Man Team-Up Special #1 3 out of 10 Meh. The art didn’t really do it for me at all. I think they were trying to go for a retro look, but nothing about this book really appealed to me. Witchblade #170 6 out of 10 I haven’t read an issue of Witchblade in years, so this issue was my re-introduction to the series. Like many other books this week, there were some really strong, good-looking pages, and then there were some that just didn’t seem up to par, looking like the same amount of time and care didn’t go into the entire book. The main character seemed to come off more like a man to me, which was a little jarring. Not too bad, though. Scarlet Spider #23 7 out of 10 This one was pretty good. The art and story were really in sync, and the character seems to be heading toward what could be a finale. Kaine is a very different kind…
These pages are from a book called The Solution – part of Malibu’s Ultraverse. My inks over John Statema’s pencils.
Today marks the official beginning of my campaign to find a comic book to ink. It doesn’t have to be a regular gig, or even a full issue, but I’ve been practicing and getting my hand back, and I’m ready to get a fresh credit to my name as an inker. To be more specific, I’m looking for a paid gig that will definitely be published, and not spec work or unpaid samples. My page rate is very negotiable, as I’m looking to rebuild my name and reputation after a long break. My line work is clean and I’m fast, having done two pages a day when required. I’ve never missed a deadline, and was often the person editors would send work to when others fell behind. I can also do lettering and coloring if need be. I can do traditional hand drawing with ink on paper as well as digital inks from scans. I’ve visited the Marvel, DC and Image submission guidelines, and the general consensus seems to be, “Don’t call us, we’ll call you. Put your work out there, network with people, and get yourself noticed.” Well, here I am. If you’re an editor, drop me a note. If you’re an artist who is looking for an inker, or knows someone who is, drop me a note. My first professional work was on a book called The Tick, over Ben Edlund’s pencils. From there, I worked on many of the Malibu Ultraverse titles in the 90s, working over a slew of diverse and talented pencilers. After Malibu was absorbed by Marvel, I didn’t have steady work, so I self-published a few books of my own called Shanghai, which I write, drew, colored, lettered, and acted as publisher, dealing with the printers and distributors. I returned to the mundane art fields, while still dabbling in comics here and there. The last book I worked on was the World of Warcraft comic for DC. About a year ago, I started buying comics again, and discovered that there are still plenty of great stories being told in the world of sequential art, and some amazing new artists. I dusted off my crow quills and virtual inking tools, and got my hand back. I don’t where this quest will take me, but I was happiest when I was inking comics, and I want to reconnect with that again, even if it’s just for a little while.
I’m up to issue 34 in my quest to read every issue of the Amazing Spider-man! Still in the original Stan Lee/Steve Ditko era. The characters have continued to evolve. Peter has broken up with Betty Brant, and good riddance. Every panel she’s in is an old dramatic romance illustration. She’s far too emo to be with Spidey. Ned Leeds is sniffing around, so he can have her. In issue 38, Peter graduated from high school, and he’s just started college, where he’s met Harry Osbourne and Gwen Stacy for the first time. Mary Jane of often mentioned, and finally seen once, but her face remains hidden from the viewers. Flash Thompson and J. Jonah Jameson continue to make his life miserable. Spidey has fought the first Spider-Slayer. The Green Goblin has returned a few times, but he’s still a minor league villain. Doc Ock is probably his biggest enemy at this point. I tried reading some of the “Untold Tales of Spider-man” series, which takes place in this era, but the art and the stories are jarringly different from the 1960’s version, and it was just too distracting. I’m mixing in the annuals, and I’ll probably add Marvel Team-up when the time comes, but I find it’s better to do them in the published order. “Untold” looks good, but I’ll come back to that later.
Continuing my reading of the complete Amazing Spider-man run, I did issues 8 – 14 on day 2. From 1963 and ’64 – Featuring appearances by Electro, Mysterio and the Green Goblin, also the Vulture and Doc Ock return. Peter finds a romantic interest with Betty Brant, and Liz Allan starts following his around. He gives up his glasses, and as he matures he becomes less of a bully-target for his classmates. He continues working as a freelance photographer for the Daily Bugle. The stories become much more complex, as the characters develop more depth. Aunt May has had fragile health for 50 years. The art is also becoming more detailed, as Ditko defines the look more and more. Pop culture references to J. Edgar Hoover and Tony Curtis. Comics cost twelve cents a pop.
Since I stopped gaming a few weeks ago, I have a lot more time for reading. As a nod to his 50th anniversary, I’m going for a complete read of all 700 issues of the Amazing Spider-man – 1963 to present. I started reading yesterday, and it’s taking me longer than I thought it would, actually reading each panel. It’s going to be a long project, but it’s something I’ve never done before, and I think I can do it over a few months. My progress so far- Amazing Fantasy 15, Amazing Spider-man 1-7 1963 – Written by Stan Lee and art by Steve Ditko. These first issues introduced Spidey and the regular cast – J. Jonah Jameson, Flash Thompson, Liz Allan, and Betty Brant. He fought the Chameleon, Vulture, Sandman, Doc Ock, The Lizard and Doctor Doom. There were pop culture references to Fats Domino and the Ed Sullivan show as signs of the times. Some of the stories are very basic. but by the seventh issue, there is some real character development starting, and relationships are beginning to form.
A few pages I inked for a Tick spin-off book called “Paul the Samurai” for New England Comics. Pencils by Dave Garcia.