I’m back, baybay!
Yesterday I read issues #7 through 38 of Amazing Spider-Man, as well as the series’ first (awesome) and second (less so) annuals in a mammoth done-in-one-and-a-day devourment of that bloody huge Omnibus that’s been on my shelf for nearly a year. Matter a fact, I’m going to check just when I bought that book, actually.
Order placed 7th June ’13, book delivered approx. 13th September ’13. Wow, so just over a year before I actually cracked it open (it was encased in concrete, you see) and re-read that material.
But here’s the thing!
Or rather, not. See, reading that Fantastic Four Omnibus (THE THING IS IN THE FANTASTIC FOUR, THAT WAS MY JOKE SEE?) earlier this week really soured me on Silver Age (read: 1960s) Marvel books, and I wasn’t looking forward to reading this Spider-Man collection at all, even though I’ve read the material before and enjoyed it. Frankly, it was unfair of me to judge the Lee/Ditko collaboration by the same token as the Lee/Kirby efforts, because those first 40 issues of Spider-Man are AWESOME. Completely awesome.
For a start, there’s a major difference in the development of, well, everything. Peter physically changes throughout the issues – he loses his glasses in #8 and never replaces them, and his change in attire can be visually traced to his change in attitude as he gets more and more confident. There are soap-opera sub-plots right from the get-go, with the ongoing drama of Pete’s courtship with Betty Brant getting in the way of Liz Allan’s affections for him while Jonah Jameson barks away in the background. He graduates high school, heads off to college on a scholarship and meets a whole host of new characters each as important to the overall canon as the earliest ones. Mystery plots are introduced, left for a while, and brought back when you’ve forgotten about them. Continuity is air-tight.
More importantly, there’s so much about the way Peter’s written that’s different from everything that came before. He’s crippled with guilt, and his superheroics often wind up spoiling his relationships with people as Peter Parker. He’s flat broke, can’t catch a break, has to repair his own costume…there’s just so much flavour to it, and it’s all there right from the start.
Maybe it’s not fair to use Fantastic Four, which is my second-favourite Marvel property by the way, as a benchmark seeing as it was literally the first of its kind in many ways and that those first 30 issues I read really don’t represent the peak of its creative history, but there’s just something better about Spider-Man. There was no development in the FF issues, and their Rogues Gallery is comprised of a few heavy hitters (Doom, Namor, Mole Man) and a host of forgettable, goofy 50s sci-fi aliens (plus The Impossible Man, who I fucking love despite Stan Lee’s insistence that contemporary audiences hated him). Spidey’s rogues, though, as introduced in that book? All classics. Doctor Octopus, Chameleon, Kraven, Green Goblin… They were knocking it out of the park just about every issue. The closest thing to filler in that book is a pair of issues starring a sort of fucked-up circus troupe as villains, but the rest of it’s all solid. Plus, there’s mobsters! The Big Man, Crime Master, fucking The Enforcers! All that good, down-to-earth stuff. Spidey fights aliens in issue #2, and after that the lesson is learned – keep things normal and New York-based with this one. Hell, once Roger Stern took over writing in the 80s, he even retroactively explained that they weren’t EVEN aliens, so technically this book is all just guys in suits clobbering each other. Fuck, the Vulture is an OLD FUCKING MAN flying around stealing diamonds. He even leaves one of his victims a note reading “I WILL STEAL THE DIAMONDS RIGHT FROM UNDER YOUR NOSES! – The Vulture” like two minutes before doing so.
It’s so, so good. I’ve never read that much Silver Age at once before, because it can be exhausting, but Spider-Man’s fully formed right from the get-go, and is so much more relatable than the FF in their stable and established adult lives (minus The HUMAN JOHNNY of course).
I didn’t take any notes or grabs for this book, except one:
I forgot to mention the book is occasionally out-loud hilarious. I chuckled for about ten minutes at the credits on one issue, which were phrased something like “Gloriously written by Stan Lee, Lavishly illustrated by Steve Ditko, Recently lettered by Artie Simek”. Ha!
So here’s the update – I can now say with total honestly that everything in my bookcases, that is specifically every book that’s in those bookcases, has been physically read since it was bought. That portion of the challenge is done.
Also, I found some other things that deserve to be added to the challenge, because I overlooked them, but I’m not sure how seriously I take them. I bought Evil Dead 2 (possibly my favourite film) on Blu-Ray last June for a new transfer and extras, and forgot about it til I found it a few days ago. I also have Simon Munnery’s latest DVD Fylm-Makker somewhere, and haven’t looked at it. I bought Hot Fuzz for its Quentin Tarantino commentary track and never listened to it. I also have a pretty long list of backlogged games on my PS3 that I never played, including Ratchet And Clank 2, 3 and Gladiator, Devil May Cry (which came bundled with 2 and 3, though I’ve no intention of playing those), the Harley Quinn’s Revenge expansion for Arkham City (which to my shame I’ve only ever played once) and a few others. Because games take a lot more time to get through than comics, films and albums, I’m hereby discounting them from inclusion in the list, with a view to eventually getting round to them. Shouldn’t be so bad though, as the PS4 version of GTA V is the only game I’m planning on buying between now and ChristmAS SHIT I FORGOT ABOUT LEGO BATMAN 3 so yeah whatever I’ll play them some day.
OTHER THINGS I DID
I got around to watching the classic Power Rangers 5-parter Green With Evil again, which is still one of my favourite ways to spend a hundred minutes, and downloaded a bunch of other old episodes for potential future viewing. I also watched the sixth episode of The Monday Night War, which is increasingly becoming a series about how good WWF was in the 90s without nearly enough discussion about how bad WCW was. That shouldn’t be implied, it should be shown.
Anyway, next time I’ll have more reports on stuff and things. BE THERE! (here)