Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Late 60s/Early 70s Amazing Spider-Man...

...catching up on some classic Spidey stories in Bring On The Bad Guys and Amazing Spider-Man Family #4.

Is there anything better than this?

All the Norman goes crazy/Harry is on drugs stuff...

I love how Stan Lee paces the writing so it's pretty much 1/2 Romance Comic and 1/2 Superhero Comic. I mean, did hardcore Spidey fans at the time realize they were reading essentially a romance comic with action in it? All the reaction shots -- angsty faces, tons of introspective dialogue:

"She gave it to me straight! I don't mean a thing to her. But, it was different--before Parker broke up with Gwen."

And the scenes where Norman goes crazy and Harry is tripping on the drugs -- that stuff must have blown people's minds back then. It's really raw stuff. It wasn't the JLA turning into trees. It was stuff that really happened...painful, uncomfortable stuff.

But best of all, Stan would work out these really awesome fight scenes...everything, both the fights and the angsty stuff, was done on this really open playing field...the art could breathe...not choking the art with word balloons.

Great comics, and a pleasure to read.


Poor Harry, he's such a creepy-looking guy. He's so messed up.


  1. To be fair, wasn't that Gerry Conway's writing? I mean, Stan was still in charge at that point, but Gerry Conway definitely wrote that second page where Peter just leaves's right after Gwen has been killed, so Pete is out for blood.

  2. Going through the various Essential collections over the past few years, the Spidey stuff really stands out. I might have to go with Lee/Kirby Fantastic Four just because of the gosh wow hugeness and mind blowing cosmic power of the thing but the Spidery books are the real page turners. It's the characters. I really need to know what happens next (even though I already know). Each character has their own voice and their own life. It's great stuff. I still have the Betty/Liz/Gwen/Mary Jane debates in my mind all the time. (I know, that's so, so very sad.) And yeah, poor Harry.

    As far as the fights go I'd give the artists the credit there as far as the pacing and creativity but I also give Stan credit for knowing when to just let the talent cut loose.

  3. Well, on one of the DVD features - I think for Spider-Man 2 - Jeph Loeb described Spider-Man as a soap opera interrupted by action scenes. And I've thought for some time that Spider-Man-style superhero stories are to the romance genre as "action figures" are to dolls - a way for manly boys to engage in "feminine" entertainment by slightly modifying it and giving it a different name. And at least to me it would seem that the biggest uproars among fans were and are over themes in a soap-operatic vein involving romance (Gwen's death, Sins Past, the undoing of the Parker-Watson marriage in The Worst Spider-Man Story Ever Told) or questions of identity (the negative reaction to the attempt to reveal Peter Parker as a clone during the (second) Clone Saga, Straczynski's totemic elements that impinged on many readers' ideas of who Peter was).

  4. Anonymous6:04 AM

    Yeah I loved them too. Ross Andru doesn't get enough appreciation as a classic Spidey artist.

  5. People tell me that Spider-man is good again, but I'm still carrying the One More Day grudge. Sorry Dan Slott! I don't blame you. Anyhow, this is also why I really like "Spider-man Hearts Mary Jane"

  6. "To be fair, wasn't that Gerry Conway's writing?"
    I did wonder about this. I know it's Lee's name in the book, but was Gerry ghost-writing for him? Or was it a joint effort?

  7. Whenever I talk about Spider-Man, this era is what I'm generally talking about.

  8. my favorite era.

    as a SIX YEAR OLD I recall being shocked when the Gwen Clone was at the door in ASM # 144, and was hooked for life.

    The artwork was soooo good.

    I was SIX, remember, and the Gwen Clone was soooooo beautiful in that shot, with a look of such innocence. Shocked that her Peter was having a mental breakdown.

    They really made me who I am today, them comics!

  9. I don't think anyone ever assessed Harry better than Joe Kelly in Deadpool #11: "I wonder...if I killed Harry, but attached that hair to life support, would anyone notice?"

  10. Credit-where-credit-is-due dept.:
    The first illo (Green Gobline) is from ASM #96, written by Stan Lee and drawn by Gil Kane.
    The second (MJ hugging Harry) is from #151, written by Len Wein and drawn by Ross Andru.
    The third (Peter and druggie Harry) is from #122, written by Gerry Conway and drawn by Gil Kane (inks by John Romita though).

  11. Whoa... Harry Osborn as part Mothman, part Rorschach!

  12. Gerry Conway started writing a few issues before he killed Gwen. The comics still said Stan Lee presents I think, but he should be credited. If he wasn't, it's not like anyone takes credit for those issues other than Gerry.

  13. Oh... and this was the Spidey artwork that was all over my Mead Trapperkeeper in 6th grade. Whenever I see any of it, I'm transported back to fall, 1979. And that's not a bad feeling.

    Er... not the drug stuff. But these artists and their Spidey.

  14. OK, I'm going to try this from memory. May not be exact, but . . .


    Stan: through ASM 100

    Roy Thomas: 101-104

    Stan returns: 105-110

    Gerry Conway: 111-149 (although Romita played a big part in plotting early on)

    Archie Goodwin: 150

    Len Wein: 151-180 (or thereabouts)


    Some combination of Romita/Kane/various inkers: 87-124 (I love the combo of Kane art and Romita inks; for instance, 121-122)

    Ross Andru: 125-185, with occasional fill-ins by Romita, Kane and Sal Buscema (and I agree that Andru deserves more credit as a great Spider-Man artist)

    I started reading Spider-Man with ASM 84, so these were really my formative comics. Love 'em!

  15. I agree with other contributors that the good thing about Spider-Man of this era was the balance between soap opera and action. Though really this balance goes back to very early Spider-Man - the love story side beginning at High School with the crush on Liz Allen, then the relationship with Betty Brant, before going on to university and meeting Gwen, M-J and so forth. What Stan Lee and later writers did so well was sustaining this balance, but also giving us persuasive and compelling continuity and development in the soap opera.

    Isn't this precisely why OMD/BND is so shocking, even for some of those who like to read BND? ie that it doesn't have any respect for the continuity and development in Peter Parker's love story that took place over about 25 years in real time, going from the high school crush to the eventual marriage to M-J.