For some reason I had an itch to spotlight my favorite childhood superhero, Spider-Man. Reruns of the 1968 cartoon, plus the live action show (starring Nicholas Hammond), fueled my love for superheroes (along with Wonder Woman and The Hulk TV shows). Once 1981 rolled around, another cartoon hit the airwaves, and I was fully immersed in wanting to be Spider-Man when I grew up! It’s true. Not an astronaut, doctor, or lawyer, I wanted to be a superhero and Spidey was my favorite among them all.
Peter Parker (and Spidey) has gone through some very tumultuous times, and some mundane ones as well. My favorite era is definitely the late Silver and Bronze Ages, and in particular the the period of Stan Lee writing, then handing off to Roy Thomas and Gerry Conway. The likes of “Big” John Buscema, John Romita, and Gil Kane penciling. These creators took Spidey to new heights, and new lows (personally), and he would never be the same again. These stories are nothing short of fantastic, and the new characters brought in were a big part of the book’s success.
In these two issues, we see the introduction of a new villain called The Prowler. At first, the story seems to just be about a kid with problems that just can’t find any answers in life. But honestly, the two issues are more about Peter and his relationships and insecurities when it comes to the women in his life. He sees Gwen in a restaurant talking to Flash Thompson, and immediately assumes she’s stepping out on him. She’s actually trying to find out what’s been bothering Peter lately, and knows that Flash has known Peter longer than her, so he might be able to give her some insight. Some really good moments in these two issues of not only action, but humor, and real pathos!
I know a lot of people decry Stan Lee‘s (writer) writing, but honestly, he knew how to write Peter Parker/Spider-Man. Throw in the brilliant pencils of “Big” John Buscema and the inks of Jim “Madman” Mooney, and you can’t deny the power of this title during this period (post Ditko). Letters by Sam Rosen, and two amazing covers by “Jazzy” John Romita!”
Look out, here comes the Spider-Man! By 1980, Spider-Man was already the company darling at Marvel for quite sometime, and rightly so. His title was the best long-term book that was still performing at a high level. Not much of a down time as far as content, other than the issue here or there, it was solid.
This issue shows a lot of the normal fair in Aunt May, Debra Whitman, ESU, etc., but the big draw of this issue is none other than Namor, The Submariner! He’s peeved at the surface world once again, and is riling up his minions, demanding that they take action! Seeing Subby getting enraged isn’t anything new, but it’s always fun! there’s also a good bit of panel time for Peter Parker, and that is always a welcome sight.
Written by Denny O’Neil, John Romita Jr. pencils, Jim Mooney inks, Jim Novak letters, and a cool cover by JrJr and Al Milgrom!
As the 1970s were in full swing, Marvel really started pumping out titles, reprints, magazines, etc. Their biggest seller by this point was undoubtedly Spider-Man! He was the company flagship, and midway through the decade, he had a spinoff title, called Spectacular Spider-Man. It was a solid title most of the time, and worth picking up. It would sometimes introduce young talent that would alter become huge in the industry. Case in point, the cover by Frank Miller (and inks by Bob Wiacek). By 1980, Spidey had multiple titles, reprints, a live action TV show under his belt, you name it.
This story revolves around the second appearance of Jack O’Lantern, and his rampage in NYC (stemming from his first appearance in Machine Man 19…believe it or not!). The interior art and story is literally a murderers row of talent. The story is by Roger Stern, who wrote some excellent Spidey stories in the 1980s (along with Captain America, Dr. Strange, The Avengers etc.). The layouts are by the former EIC himself, Jim Shooter! The finished art is by a comic book mainstay and a very underrated guy, Jim Mooney. Colors by Bob Sharen and George Roussos, letters by Janice Chiang, and edited by another giant of the industry, Denny O’Neil!
I love vampires! From the first time I saw Bela Lugosi, and most certainly once I saw Sir Christopher Lee as the fearful Count Dracula, I was hooked. The first vampire I saw in a comic book though, was Morbius! His origin story was foreign to me, but it didn’t matter. He was scary, and more than a match for Spidey. In this issue, Morbius and Spidey clash at a costume party, and we also see the vampire attack a group of kids! His blood lust knows no boundaries, and he will not stop until it is satiated!
The creative team on this book is comprised of some of my favorites! Bill Mantlo (writer), is one of the most underrated writers of all time. He gets a nod for ROM from hardcore fans, but not much else. That needs to change, because when you look at his work as a whole, you can get more of a grasp on his wonderful contributions over the years. Not to be outdone, is the art team of Sal Buscema (pencils) and Chic Stone (inks). Both men are very skilled and were absolute pillars in the comic book industry for a long time. Bob Sharen is another name that everyone who’s a fan of the Bronze Age should recognize. He has a huge list of color credits, and his work always solidified the art. Veteran letter Diana Albers, and editor Jim Shooter round out the team! And let us not pass over this awesome cover by Mister Al Milgrom!
After recently purchasing this issue, I checked it out and knew I had to spotlight it for everyone to see! This story features a battle between Spidey and Mysterio! We now know that his forté is illusions, but back then, it wasn’t common knowledge. The story shows a miniature version of Spidey (six inches tall), having to fight his way through a fun house, all the while Mysterio is trying to kill him! There is some back matter as well. We see Joe Robertson having some issues with his son, and Gwen and her father, Captain Stacy. Great stuff, as the real world touches are what made Marvel tops!
For those that love to denounce Stan “The Man” Lee (writer), ponder this for a moment. While it seems as though he’s given himself too much credit in the actual creation of Marvel’s Silver Age explosion, I don’t think you can take away the consistency of his scripting, and his exuberance in the real “selling” of comic books. John “Ring-a-Ding” Romita (pencils) is one of the all-time greats of the industry. His romance work, inking, covers, and of course, his work on The Amazing Spider-Man are second to none. The inks (and finishes?) are by another familiar name from the Silver/Bronze Age in Jim “Madman” Mooney. Throw in good old Artie Simek (letters), and that rounds out this awesome team of creators!
With all due respect to Steve Ditko, I enjoy the Romita era of Spider-Man better. Not only for the artistic difference (even though this issue is penciled by someone else), but also for the stories. Yes, the rogues gallery Ditko created can never be outdone, but what was done with them after his departure was exceptional. What writers like Gerry Conway, and Len Wein did with them really cemented them in the Spider-Man mythos. In this story (originally presented in Amazing Spider-Man #73, 1965), Spidey and Captain Stacy are trying to figure out where the Shocker has hidden the tablet he stole in the previous arc. There’s only one problem, the Maggia also want to know where it is, and they’ve hired some new muscle to find it – Man-Mountain Marko!
This issue in particular was penciled by none other than “Big” John Buscema (over John “Ring-a-Ding”Romita layouts). Buscema didn’t do many pages of the wall-crawler, but when he did, it was incredible as his work always was back in the day. Inking is marvel perennial favorite, Jim “Madman” Mooney! This guy can ink, pencil, do interiors, covers, you name it! And all with a consistency and professionalism like the others in the Marvel bullpen! Let us not forget the letters by “Sleepy” Sam Rosen and story by “Smilin'” Stan Lee! One look at this cover (by Romita), and you know you’re back in the heyday of Marvel Comics!