Humberto Ramos is a Mexican artist, with an exciting career in American comics. His first notable mainstream work was for DC Comics in 1995, working on a solo series for Impulse, a sidekick of the Flash. Following on from a number of independent projects, Ramos started as a cover artist at Marvel working on the Paul Jenkins/Mark Buckingham series, Peter Parker: Spider-Man in the early 2000’s. He’s had a home at Marvel ever since.
Ramos’s unique interpretation of Spider-Man first appeared on the cover of issue #30 of Peter Parker: Spider-Man, by issue #44 he had taken over the internal art duties for the series. He worked with Jenkin’s to deliver the Green Goblin story ‘Death in the Family’, which explored the relationship between Peter Parker and Norman Osborn.The arc includes a stunning redesign of the Green Goblin, and some atmospheric storms that haunt Peter throughout the four issues. In the story Peter refers to himself as a ‘lightening rod’ for the costumed villains of New York, and Ramos captures that feeling perfectly in the art. The story also featured the controversial scene of Peter and Norman sharing a joke together. This would not be the last controversial moment of Spider-Man he would illustrate during this career. “Death in the Family” features a lot of dark sequences, and Ramos’ exaggerated prospective certainly enhances the Goblin’s grotesque look, and demonstrates how deranged Osborn has become.
Shortly after ‘Death in the Family’, Jenkins took a hiatus from writing Spider-Man. Future brain-trust member, Zeb Wells took over Peter Parker: Spider-Man until the series was relaunched as Spectacular Spider-Man under the reunited pairing of Jenkins and Ramos. Following on from their Goblin epic, the team went on to tackle Spider-Man’s other arch enemies. In ‘Hunger’ Ramos demonstrated his very alien approach to Venom and in “Countdown” he introduced a short-lived Matrix-lite Doctor Octopus to readers. Ramos pencilled a few more issues and covers for the series, before leaving the title in 2004. After leaving Spider-Man, he spent some time exploring other areas of the Marvel Universe and worked for many years on X-Men, New X-Men and Wolverine.
In 2009 Ramos helped launch volume three of fan favourite series Runaways, before starting on Avengers: The Initiative with frequent Spider-Man collaborator Christos Gage. Dan Slott, who had launched the series had left the title to begin working on Spider-Man and while he worked on Brand New Day, his future partner, Ramos, worked on the Marvel event ‘Hulked-out Heroes’, where many of Marvels A-list characters…’Hulked-out’…for lack of a better term.
It wasn’t until Dan Slott became the solo writer of Spider-Man in 2011 that Ramos returned to the character that launched his career at Marvel comics. This time he was one of three artists on rotation, not on a satellite title, but on the flagship series, the Amazing Spider-Man. His work throughout the Big Time and Superior era has earned him the nickname ‘the engine’, as he regularly turns in work at great speed. During Slott’s run as writer Ramos has been trusted on some of this era’s biggest arcs, including Spider-Island and the even more controversial Dying Wish. Despite this, Ramos’ work is polarising for many fans, many of who find his approach to anatomy too stylized. In recent poll at Comicbookresources.com their community voted on their opinion of Ramos’ art. 37% of voters felt Ramos was not a good artist.
Personally, I enjoy Humberto Ramos’ work. He has an animated style which makes his work instantly recognisable. The distortion others experience from his work, for me, helps to illustrate movement. His work does not have the verisimilitude of someone like Alex Ross, but his action sequences have a kinetic energy to them that simulate the fast paced nature of the Marvel Universe. He draws some beautiful woman, particularly Mary-Jane and his Venom looks like something from another world. ‘Death in the Family’ was one of the first things I read since returning to Spider-Man, and comics, and his Peter Parker is for many the most iconic modern version of the character outside of perhaps Mark Bagley’s Ultimate version. This April will see the relaunch of the Amazing Spider-Man, with Ramos once again combining his stylised anatomy with Dan Slott’s writing to bring to life the adventures of Peter Parker.
Peter Parker: Spider-Man: #44-47
Amazing Spider-Man (volume 2): #678-679, #692-694
Superior Spider-man #6