Expecting Captain America?
It occurred to me that Captain America may have been a better choice for the blog post for July 4th.
I could have switched gears, as I may feature Cap soon (ahem, tomorrow!). But I already had much of this entry written, AND I wanted to share my first EVER YOU TUBE video. So there, you have it. My convoluted reasoning.
Today, I am featuring my first Spider-Man T-shirt on the blog. Along with Batman and Superman, Spider-Man was one of my first and favourite childhood heroes, especially since ABC ran a Spider-Man animated series from 1967 to 1970 at the beginning of my years as a comic book reader; ASIDE: my comic reading began when I was given my first comic (an issue of Detective Comics) in 1966. A live action Spider-Man series also followed in 1977 on CBS.
The first Spider-Man comic I owned was Amazing Spider-Man #54, published in November of 1967.
I have read ASM#54 many times. I cannot say it is my favorite Spider-Man comic, but it is the one I have probably read most often and as such Doctor Octopus is the Spider-Man villain with the most resonance for me. And so, as such, the current story line in the Spider-Man comics in which Doctor Octopus has taken over Peter Parker and Spider-Man's life--Peter is essentially dead--is fascinating to me.
I posed for the picture with today's shirt and the CD set of archived Spider-Man comics to emphasize that like Batman, Superman, Aquaman, The Fantastic Four, the Hulk, Thor, and several others from my first days in comics, Spider-Man has been a part of my life for over 40 years.
ROMANCING THE SPIDER: This issue, ASM#54, was my first experience with John Romita, Senior's art. As I wrote in T-shirt #83, John Romita is one of my top-five favorite 1960s artists. Romita had a great deal of experience drawing romance comics in the 1950s and early 1960s. The issues he drew of Amazing Spider-Man were styled in many ways like romance comics, especially in the depiction of Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy's relationship. I attribute Romita's romance-themed work as part of what sparked in me an affection for melodrama and soap opera.
|From ASM #59|
Romita's realistic style stood out among the many more fantastic or surreal comic artists of his time. His pencils were tight and sharp, unlike many others. His training in romance comics blended swipes from movie stills, which fueled the realism of his art, and from newspaper strips, such as Milton Canniff's Terry and the Pirates.
NO GWEN STACY: Though I liked the first three Spider-Man movies (2002-2007) with Tobey Magurie (I liked some more than others), I found it a bit odd that Peter's relationship with Mary Jane Watson took center stage and was characterized as the great love of his life rather than emphasizing his relationship with Gwen Stacy, which in the comics played out as the greatest love of his life and his greatest tragedy, at least until Mary Jane learned he was Spider-Man and they got married.
In the films. the central focus of Mary Jane Watson in Peter's life followed more closely the rebooted origin and early years established by the Ultimate Comics line and with Brian Michael Bendis' definitive Ultimate Spider-Man, which ran for 109 issues from the year 2000 through 2009. Though I like Kirsten Dunst as an actress, and though she did a fine job in the films, I did not feel that she was right for Mary Jane Watson, either as seen in the original Romita pencilled classic issues in the 1960s and 1970s or in the new Ultimate Spider-Man by Bendis and Mark Bagley.
The T-shirt for today depicts the version of Spider-Man from Ultimate Spider-Man.
I felt it was a mistake to feature Mary Jane in the first ever Spider-Man movies as Peter's greatest love, and so, I was much relieved and pleased to see the new film (released in 2012) establish Gwen Stacy as Peter's romantic interest. Emma Stone seems aptly cast as Gwen Stacy, and I did not mind the re-conceiving of her character as Curt Connors' assistant in the labs at Oscorp. Though this is a huge departure from the classic version of the character, it is a welcome update to bring the young woman into the 21st century and give her a brain. Though beautiful and loving, the classic version was really much like the main characters of romance comics with few characteristics other than her romantic interest in the leading man and lots of crying.
|From ASM #66|
I borrowed these images from a neat blog called The Spider-Man Journal, in which Sean Wilson charts the important events of Spider-Man's life as depicted in the classic issues by Stan Lee and John Romita, which he argues are the best and that the current incarnation (as of 2012) cannot live up to the Lee-Romita years.
|From ASM #42|
|from ASM #43|
The original "party girl" with the classic line of "face it, Tiger. You just hit the jackpot" is dear to my heart, not just for the great Romita art of MJ's introduction, but for the Sixties flair and style of the character, who later became Peter Parker's best friend and wife before the JMS run ended and Peter Parker's history was altered and re-booted.
As much as I love the original Mary Jane from the main Marvel universe, I probably have a greater fondness for the Mary Jane character from the Ultimate Spider-Man series, who is much more intelligent, thoughtful, and bookish than the actress/model/party girl of the originally introduced Mary Jane character who debuted in Amazing Spider-Man #42.
|Ultimate Spider-Man #13|
Check out one of the sites I list below as one author catalogued all of Peter's love interests, including the Black Cat, Debra Whitman, Glory Grant, Gwen Stacy's cousin Jill, Michelle Gonzales, Carlie Cooper, and even Cissy Ironwood, featured in issues of Marvel Team Up.
Though I love Mary Jane, and I really liked seeing Peter marry her, I still feel the movies should have followed the original comic book chronology rather than some inaccurate pastiche of original material and the Ultimate stories. So far, the new set of movies seem more promising as MJ will not appear at all in the next film: The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
INTERNET SPIDER RESOURCES
There are many wonderful Internet sites dedicated to Spider-Man and his cast of characters with commentary and/or fan appreciation, such as this one dedicated to Peter Parker's many loves (via Comic Book Resources):
WHEN WE FIRST MET - THE MANY LOVES OF PETER PARKER
Or this one that seems to have links to the daily newspaper strip:
Spider-Man Crawl Space
Or the related to the whole Mary Jane vs. Gwen Stacy thing, see
THE MANY LIVES OF GWEN STACY - part one - The Girl Next Door has a bit of a mean streak
MANY LIVES OF GWEN STACY part two: The Mary Jane Factor
Also, a great tribute to John Romita, Sr.
I cannot sign off of today's Spider-Man festival without giving a shout out to the current Ultimate Spider-Man comic, in which Spidey has been re-envisioned as a young, African-American boy named Miles Morales. I am not such a purist that I cannot enjoy a good re-imagining, and this book is not just good, it's FABULOUS (see cover pics above)!
"MAYBE DATS YOUR PWOBWEM TOO"
--The Spider-Man poem BY JIM HALL
--As performed and made famous by your writer pal Chris Tower
All my pwobwems
Maybe evewybody’s pwobwems
is due to duh fact
due to duh awful twuth
dat I am Spider-Man.
I know, I know.
All da dumb jokes.
No flies on you.
Or duh one about what I do wit awl dose extwa legs in bed.
Well, dat’s funny, yeah.
But you twy bein Spider-Man
for a month or two.
You git dose cwazy calls from duh gubbener
asking you to twap sum buwgewar
whose only twyin to wip off color TV sets.
Now, what do I care ‘bout color TV sets?
But I pull on duh suit
dah stinkin’ suit
wit duh suckkah cups on dah fingas
an den get my wopes
an wittle bundle of equipment.
And den I go fwying like cwazy
acwoss duh town
from wooftop to wooftop
‘til der he is
sum poor dumb color TV slob
and I fall on him
and we westle a widdle
until I get him all woped.
So big deal?
You tink when you Spider-Man
sumtin big gonna happen to you.
Well, it don’t happen dat way.
Bring him to Polwice.
Gubbener calls again.
Over and Over.
Sometimes I tink I twy sumetin diffunt
sumetin excitin’ like wacing caws.
Sumetin’ to make my heart beat at a diffunt wate.
But den, you can’t quit bein’ sumetin’ like Spider-Man.
You Spider-Man fo’ life.
I can’t even buin by suit.
It woin’t buin.
It’s fwame wesistant!
So maybe dat’s your pwobwem, too.
So maybe dat’s duh whole pwobwen wit everyting.
Nobody can buin dey suits.
Dey all fwame wesistant.
- chris tower - 1307.04 - 13:13