Tangled Webs: Where Was Spider-Man During Comics’ Best Year?


Amazing Heroes WatchmenIt’s the 30th anniversary of what is widely considered to be the best year in comics. The Spider-Man comics would deal with the impact of two of the year’s most significant Marvel storylines, and feature an important debut.

DC was doing well in 1986. The year started with BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, and the conclusion of CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS. The Silver Age Superman’s story came to an end with “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?” while John Byrne headlined a well-received revamp of the man of steel. The only better regarded origin story was Frank Miller and David Mazzuchelli’s BATMAN: YEAR ONE. Jack Kirby finally got to finish the Fourth World/ NEW GODS saga with the Hunger Dogs graphic novel. The British 1986 Batman annual featured Grant Morrison’s first take on the character. Alan Moore continued his run on SWAMP THING, with the conclusion of the American Gothic epic, although that didn’t get the same level attention as his maxi-series WATCHMEN. 

Marvel didn’t do too shabby, either. While Apocalypse made in his debut in X-FACTOR, the Mutant Massacre crossover was arguably the highlight of the X-Men comics, although there was also the debut of CLASSIC X-MEN, with back-up stories highlighting the individual experiences of Marvel’s mighty mutants during the early days. John Byrne shook up the Hulk. The sci-fi series Strikeforce Morituri was a critical success. The Punisher mini-series showed Frank Castle’s potential as a lead, while ELEKTRA: ASSASSIN did the same with Daredevil’s ex-girlfriend. Roger Stern and John Buscema’s AVENGERS run kicked off its most acclaimed storyline: Under Siege. But the general consenus is that the highlight of Marvel’s output was Frank Miller and David Mazzuchelli’s  DAREDEVIL: BORN AGAIN. 

In independent comics, acclaimed ongoing series included Mike Baron and Steve Rude’s NEXUS, and Howard Chaykin’s AMERICAN FLAGG. The first issue of DARK HORSE COMICS PRESENTS represented that publisher’s debut. Chester Brown’s YUMMY FUR became an ongoing series. Matt Wagner wrapped up Mage: The Hero Discovered. LOVE & ROCKETS published the story Heartbreak Soup. Cerebus was in the acclaimed Church and State storyline (granted, it was nearly sixty issues so several years could take credit for that one). Eclipse had started collecting Alan Moore’s Miracleman, paving the way for the conclusion. A story serialized in the anthology series Raw, was collected in a trade paperback, allowing MAUS to become the first comic book to make the New York Times bestseller list.

Material from the decade were very well-represented in a Comic Book Resources poll of readers’ favorite comic book stories, including a majority of the top ten.

91. The Man of Steel #1-6
83. Elektra: Assassin #1-8
56. Cerebus: Church and State
27. Avengers: Under Siege
19. Superman: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?
10. Crisis of Infinite Earths
9. Maus
6. Batman Year One
5. The Dark Knight Returns
3. Daredevil: Born Again
1. Watchmen

So, what was going on in the Spider-Man comics? Peter David was writing most issues of PETER PARKER THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN, although his most acclaimed storyline—the Death of Jean Dewolff—had come in the previous year.

WEB OF SPIDER-MAN ended up being the most consequential title. The best of the 40 or so Spider-Man comics that year was likely WEB OF SPIDER-MAN #13, a fill-in issue by Peter David and Mike Harris, where Spider-Man got upset at J. Jonah Jameson following a particularly egregious Bugle writeup. It ended with a riff on the ending of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #10, this time with a reminder that Jonah could be a lot worse.

Web of Spider-Man 13 Jonah

There was an unconventional crossover between the titles in the middle of the year. Spider-Man went missing in the aftermath of a fight with the supervillain Magma in WEB OF SPIDER-MAN #17. The other books would deal with his sudden absence, leading to issues of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN and PETER PARKER THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN where the lead did not appear. As a result, the protagonists ended up being Silver Sable and Black Cat.

Spec 117

The next issue of WEB OF SPIDER-MAN would reveal what Peter was up to. The cliffhanger of that would end up having a significant impact on the Spider-Man comics.

Web Of Spiderman 18 Venom cameo

The scene is now understood to be the first cameo appearance of Venom, although it would be more than an year before we saw what he actually looked like.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN did show what Spidey was up to during some of the biggest Marvel comics. In #277, Peter learns about what the Kingpin did to Daredevil in “Born Again.” It essentially serves to explain why he won’t go after Fisk to protest Murdock’s honor.

ASM 277 Daredevil

In #283, he has a fight with the Wrecker and Lady Titana, while they’re taking a break from the horrible beating they gave the Avengers in “Under Siege.”

ASM 283 Masters

The battle with the Avengers is referenced several times throughout the issue.

ASM 283 In Avengers

As a side note, the graphic novel Hooky did have some gorgeous art by Berni Wrightson.

Wrightson Spidey dragon

And significantly more breast than the typical Spider-Man comic.

 

Spider-Man harem

The critic Peter Sanderson wrote a series on the comics of 1986. He compared it to 1939 in film.

Why was 1939 so rich in great films? Is this abundance merely a coincidence? Or were there reasons why the film industry reached this creative peak in that particular year?That is a subject for a book on film, but one might observe that 1939 came a decade after the film industry shifted over from silent films to “talkies.” It took a few years for Hollywood to cope with the new demands that sound films presented, but the film industry rapidly adjusted, and within ten years had achieved such a high level that 1939 seems to present an endless list of classics and masterpieces.

So too the outpouring of innovative and important work in comics in 1986 did not happen by mere chance. There must be reasons why 1986 proved to be such a watershed year.

It wasn’t a perfect year for comics. The Howard the Duck film was a bomb. Jim Shooter’s New Universe was a flop, and some of his former Marvel colleagues claim that he wanted to cancel every existing Marvel title to make way for it, which would have been bad for the Spider-Man books. So it’s possible that the most notable thing to happen to Spider-Man that year was outlasting that close call.

Were you guys aware of the reputation 1986 had in the comics field? What’s your favorite book from the year? And are there any Spider-Man comics you remember fondly from the end of Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz’s AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, the second year of Peter David’s SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN or David Michelinie’s brief WEB OF SPIDER-MAN? Alternatively, is there anyone for whom this namedropping is complete and utter gibberish? 

(13) Comments

  1. Ian

    1986 ended up ruining Batman in the long-term. You end up with a character who is now 'the goddamn Batman! ' and is often overshadowed by his more colourful opponents. Sure, Alan Moore's work kind of holds up, but Frank Miller's output is definitely overblown and sort of cringeworthy.

  2. Al

    @#7: Dude, we have an English teacher working for this very site. And in fact I did an essay based on Kraven’s Last Hunt waaaaaaaaaaay back in High school. It wasn’t very good because I was a kid but the material held up just fine for analytical purposes. I wasn’t bashing your taste. Nor did I think you were bashing anyone else’s outside of the crack at the podcast. We were having a discussion and I looked at what you wrote, it came off to me a certain way as if you were using a certain metric for evaluating the quality of something and that metric wasn’t quite right so I sought to redress that by throwing in my arguments regarding context, genre rules, conventions etc. It was mostly simply counterpoints. Well, it’s cool if you personally were indulging in a power fantasy, but there is more than one POV for these things. I was not indulging in a power fantasy despite growing up on similar material. My power fantasy growing up was Power Rangers and Dragon Ball Z and I know that what I was getting out of that was very different to Spider-Man. It doesn’t render all Spider-Man stories of that era or other eras outside of Stan’s run power fantasies, let alone shallow ones with nothing more to offer. Stan’s run may well be the best run simply by virtue of what it accomplished but it is illogical to handwave all other runs as negligible in comparison. As for specialness...what is the substance of what renders a book special? After all was Knightfall and the Armoured era for Daredevil in the 1990s, the decade you cited, really as good or that ‘special’ compared to Born Again or TDKR? And for that matter whether Spider-Man was or was not special in the 1980s (which I’d disagree on, Spider-Man in the 1980s was superlative) or the 1990s...why should that make it valid for criticism? Being special isn’t the be all and end all to qualify something as good or bad. 1977 had other good but less groundbreaking movies apart from Star Wars. They might not be ‘special’ compared to it, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t very good. They can simply be solidly entertaining and great examples of their own genre, they need not do anything out of the ordinary to impress. In fact seeking such a thing is illogical as specialness is by it’s very nature something rare and infrequently recurring, and thus taking that as the ‘pass/fail’ criteria for something’s quality doesn’t make sense since it’s the ceiling, not the baseline. It’s like criticizing every gangster movie for not being the Godfather. They don’t have to be that good to be good. You didn’t mention Sandman. And Sandman is exceptional among many, many, many other comic book series not just Spider-Man. More than this Sandman to my understanding was a series started and written continuously by one writer over a stretch of time. It along with TDKR is simply a different animal to the ongoing mainstream adventures of Spider-Man. Spider-Man in the 1980s onwards came with baggage from past runs which had defined him and had to take into consideration the future of it’s own series in addition to that, whilst also being entertaining on an ongoing monthly basis where there were 2-5 Spider-Man titles per month. TDKR was a out of continuity self contained 4 issue series which could play with the past, had no obligation to be entertaining for years to come, or dream up new plots and continue subplots off the cuff for years and years. Sandman was more similar, but again it was the work of ONE writer on ONE book who effectively got to tell a singular continuous narrative he was defining at the time, effectively being one long monthly story. He could afford to do things that weren’t feasible for Spider-Man anymore than they were for 1990s Batman or 1990s Green lantern or 1990s X-Men. The metric is simply not a fair basis for comparison. In an abstract way, it’s like saying the Sarah Connor Chronicles has more developed characters than Judgement Day. It does, but they had 30 episodes to work with, not 90+ minutes. I don’t understand the mention about Daredevil’s word count. First of all what era of DD or ASm comics are you referring too and are you talking about merely the amount of words or the literary merit they carry. Either was it is an illogical comment because you are generalizing ‘ASM’ issues. ASM issues throughout the decades, indeed within any given decade, are so varied due to how many writers and issues were published that it doesn’t make sense to throw out a statement like that. In fact it doens’t make sense for Daredevil. I mean is the first page of that Miller issue where Elektra is in the nude posing for the male gaze honestly going to account for say Kraven’s Last Hunt parts 2 and 5? Of course not. And what about issues which open with splash pages? Or with silence? Or whole issues that are silent? It doesn’t add up. Furthermore, frankly to be a little terse here, you repeated your statement about Spider-Man being ‘not even CLOSE’ to other series, which utterly ignores my prior comment where I went to great lengths to breakdown that argument and showed you why it was problematic. At least consider my statements first or acknowledge them, perhaps presenting a counter argument to my specific points. Granted you have done so on other things I said. If you don’t understand why the people in KLH do the things they do, then with respect that is more of a problem with how deeply you yourself were able to read into the book, not the book itself’s fault. I would be more than willing though to explain to you the ins and outs of it if you’d like. For now though I shall simply say your statement about having no idea why the characters do what they do in that book is erroneous. Kraven and Vermin are the ONLY characters who are mentally deranged in that story and thus logically the only characters who’re potentially hard to read. That is hardly every character. But as for why they do what they do, Kraven is driven by jungle pride, baggage from tsarist Russia and a gross misunderstanding of the nature of Spider-Man. Vermin has been reduced to something more animal than man and is driven half by his hunger and half by his fear. This seemed very plain and obvious to me the first time I read KLH at age 12. The internal monologue at best is juvenile to you personally, but by what metric precisely are you claiming it is ‘juvenile’. Can you give us perhaps a specific example of a juvenile internal monologue put forward in KLH? Yousurely do not mean the mere fact that there is a lot of internal monologue is juvenile, given your praise of TDKR and Miler’s Daredevil, both of which famously popularized such things. Regardless the internal monologue in truth is more realistic than juvenile. Realistic within the confines of the dramatic purposes of a superhero comic of course. Kraven leaps into a room full of Spiders and eats them because he is performing a jungle ritual and enacting voodoo. You or I would never do this, but it is very obvious why Kraven, a man of the archane jungle might perform such a ceremony. It’s really not that hard to figure out. Nobody in KLH acts like a human being? Surely Mary Jane’s fear and concern for her husband, her attempts to find him, her jubilation at his being alive and her desire for him to not leave again are human reactions no? What about Joe Robertson’s concern for MJ? What about Peter’s own fears of his mortality in the wake of his friend Ned Leeds dying? Or his appreciation of his wife having believed he lost her? Or his fury at Kraven’ burying him alive? Or his post traumatic stress over the incident? Are these honestly not human reactions? Kraven and Vermin in fact have human reactions, just not sane or rational ones...because it is made clear in the narrative they are not sane or rational. In vermin’s case he isn’t even strictly speaking human anymore so really expecting him to act like a ‘real human being’ is illogical in the first place. As for why the book gets so much praise, countless reviews will inform you of that. It’s okay if you don’t like it but thus far your criticisms of it have held...well no water whatsoever actually. Okay, it’s nice you’d give them Miles morales and lie to your friend but what has that actually got to do with anything? I mean apart from anything else frankly Miles stories aren’t actually as good as Peter’s, merely by virtue of the decompression, the distracting team ups, Miles being overpowered and to say nothing of how he’s literally inherently less original. Plus...Bendis is himself innaely overrated as a writer anyway. He drags things out to ridiculous degrees. As for introducing your friend to Spider-Man, surely their own personal tastes would decide whether or not they like the character. I mean, every superhero is a flavour of ice cream. You’ve just got to try them and see which ones gets your buds buzzing. Saying you wouldn’t introduce them to Spider-Man because you personally don’t like Peter Parker is as illogical as a Batman fan who dislikes Superman feeling it’s not worth their friends time to even try to give them Superman to read. It also ignores my genre argument I put forward above. With regards to the Kid Who Collected Spider-Man it’d be a very bad idea to not start a new reader on that as it encapsulates his fundamental human decency, which is important to his character. You are not the only one who likes the Coming Home arc. I like it too. Old podcast members liked it. I know many other people who like it. Yes raising the mystical angle as a potential explanation was interesting as a twist, but smartly left ambiguous. But saying his powers are ‘random’ and ‘inexplicable’ is again illogical. 1) He was bitten by a radioactive spdier. Having spider powers isn’t a big leap from there sure? 2) Is that really much more random or inexplicable compared to a random radioactive oil drum giving a child super sensory powers...and a ‘radar’ sense which no human being posseses? 3) Is it any more random than the Fantastic Four’s differing powers despite have the same cosmic exposure? It’s nice that you would be cool with seeing Peter deal with more magic...but that simply isn’t his wheelhouse. Spider-Man must adhere to the convesntions which have defined him. So that is to say crime noir. Not magic. He is street level.

  3. Thomas Mets - Post author

    @#2- I'm not saying the old great comic books came out in 1986, although there is a Gaiman link to the year in that his first commissioned work was written in 1986. It was meant to be a back-up about a 17th Century Swamp Thing, although it wasn't collected until the Midnight Days TPB in 1999. http://sequart.org/magazine/20743/1986-british-invasion-part-3-neil-gaiman-swamp-thing/ @#5- This all gets subjective. I think the best of Lee/ Ditko or Stern tops KLH, so those are the Spider-Man comics closest to Dark Knight Returns. However, DeMatteis's Spider-Man does have tremendous psychological depth. @#10- As a student teacher, I agree.

  4. Mark Alford

    @#7 - As an English teacher, I'll take some Spider-Man comics over many of the "classics". I'm not saying all of them are wonders of literature, but there are plenty that show great characterization, plot development, or just fun story telling. I love the whole allusion to "The Tyger" in the KLH series. The whole eating of the spiders was for him to consume the essence of the spider (which, after the totem story line actually makes more sense) in order to better become Spider-Man. Plus it shows how warped his perspective is which is a nice lead up to the suicide at the end. Kraven is operating in his own reality at this point.

  5. hornacek

    @7 "I honestly don’t think Spidey stories are anything to show your English Professor." - Lee tells the story that he had university professors writing him about ASM #50 ("Spider-Man No More") saying that they discussed the psychological aspects of that story in their classes. And while Lee's recollections can be suspect, I believe this was mentioned at that time (in the letters' pages of somewhere in ASM #51-60). There are a lot of strong, deep Spidey stories I would put up against lots of literature. And hey, Kraven's Last Hunt taught me who William Blake was. "Hell the word count on the first page of a Daredevil issue could account for the entirety of two ASM issues." If word count was proportional to quality then Lee/Ditko Spidey issues would be the best comics ever and Bendis USM issues would be the worst ever. "Kraven leaps into a room full of spider and eats em for no reason!" Kraven has always been a jungle hunter, hunting animals, wrestling tigers, drinking potions. Him eating spiders, "consuming" his foe, is hardly the strangest thing he has ever done (he once tried to marry Gwen!). "It reads like it was written by an alien who had been observing human behavior and decided to write a story. Nobody does anything that makes sense!" Can you give me some examples? Peter, MJ, Kraven, Vermin - as I remember it, everyone is written to their character and doesn't do anything that they shouldn't do. "Death Of Jean DeWolfe is on the top of my Spidey story list." Finally we agree on something (haha). "I seem to be the only guy who loves JMS’s Coming Home arc because it explains how Peter has magic spider powers that make absolutely no sense, while still leaving ambiguous." I love that arc too! It may be because the previous Mackie run had been spinning its wheels for a long time (he was burnt out) but JMS definitely got Peter's character and I loved him making him a teacher. The spider-totem stuff I could take or leave but he left it vague enough that if you liked it you could accept it, and if you didn't like it you could ignore it.

  6. BD

    @Mike-We've done more than 400 episodes with varying grades for every issue on the specific review shows. The most recent positive reviews all the way around were Renew your vows. Go back and listen to those shows and say we're too negative. The recent Vol 4 volume is almost universally disliked by most of our staff. The front page reviews have been pretty much lining up with our C's-F grades. Very rarely does that happen.

  7. Mike Murdock

    I guess. Didn't mean to sound offensive, but I honestly don't think Spidey stories are anything to show your English Professor. Plus, it's the spider-man crawlspace, since when is bashing others taste a no-no here? I said it before. Stan Lees run is the best spidey run. As much as liked a grown up peter parker in the 80s and 90s, I was just indulging in a power fantasy. The books just weren't special. Like I said nothing close to DKR or Sandman levels. Not even CLOSE. Hell the word count on the first page of a Daredevil issue could account for the entirety of two ASM issues. Kravens Last Hunt is freakin bananas, off the wall, google-eyed crazy. I have no idea why people do the things they do in that book. The internal monolougue comes off as juvinille. Kraven leaps into a room full of spider and eats em for no reason! Nobody in that book acts like a human being. I don't get why that story gets so much praise. It reads like it was written by an alien who had been observing human behavior and decided to write a story. Nobody does anything that makes sense! Death Of Jean DeWolfe is on the top of my Spidey story list. And it's up there by a lot. I can't think of any spidey stories I would give a friend who doesn't read illustrated literature. Even if they did like comics, but had never read spidey, I'd prolly want not to disenchant them with a story like Kid Who Collects Spider-Man. I'd just give them Miles Morales's origin to his mothers death and lie and tell them every Peter Parker story is that good. I seem to be the only guy who loves JMS's Coming Home arc because it explains how Peter has magic spider powers that make absolutely no sense, while still leaving ambiguous. Spider powers?? It's so random. His powes are so wacky and inexplicable that sometimes I need a little something extra to pull me back into the story. Calling it magic totally fits for me and I have no problem with that. It'd be cool seeing Peter as a scientist try to combat more magical threats rooted in the nature of his powers....oh wait...no I swear it COULD be cool!

  8. Al

    @#4: They did that. It was called Renew Your Vows. They were also positive for most of Superior Spider-Man although from where I was sitting Superior sucked shit.

  9. Al

    You want a Spidey story close to Born Again or the DKR? Kraven’s Last Hunt The Lost Years Redemption The Dematteis/Buscema run on Spec All of those have very complex characters, rich themes and a lot of layers for you to dig your teeth into. At the same time I think there is a very big problem with your metric. You see every superhero exists within the super hero genre but at the same time have subgenres which go along with that. And each genre plays by its own rules and thus has it’s own metric. You also have to take into account changing standards over time. When attempting to truly assess the quality of a comic book story it is categorically inappropriate to remove it from the context in which it was written. ‘Standing the test of time’ as it were is nothing more than bonus points on top of a story’s quality. E.g. Action Comics #1 is perhaps not good by modern standards but those are not the standards that should be applied to evaluating it, the standards of 1938 are because that is when it was made and the audience members of the era are who it was made for. With this all being said comparing it to DKR or Born Again is problematic because the components of a great Batman/Daredevil story are not the same things which make for a great Spider-Man story. Whilst there is common ground among all three characters Daredevil and Batman are MUCH more similar to one another and very different to Spider-Man. They are both characters who lean more towards darker and grittier street level stories, whereas Spider-Man is a character who isn’t inherently about that. He is a character for whom he can dabble in that, but he is lighter, funnier and well... friendlier. Which isn’t to say he can’t go to dark places, it’s just that he doesn’t inherently ‘live there’ if you get me. Going back to the context of time, again you need to put things into their historical context. For instance on face value Action Comics #1 isn’t as good as Man of Steel from 1986, but in their corresponding historical contexts the gap is much smaller because of what Action Comics achieved weighed against the standards of it’s time compared to the standards of 1986 and what Man of Steel achieved against those. So with this said there are many, many Spider-Man runs which in their appropriate historical contexts are the measure of TDKR or Born Again. In fact the Ditko run as a whole probably surpasses both stories because whilst Born Again is the perfect embodiment of a subgenre and character and TDKR helped the sea change of the industry, Ditko Spider-Man did that and then some because effectively it created an entire new archetype of superhero who’s seeped into even superhero media. The teen solo superhero balancing real life problems with superhero duties as a metaphor for growing up. Kamala Khan, the Runaways, the New Mutants, even Buffy the Vampire Slayer all inherently have Ditko Spider-Man encoded into their DNA precisely because of this. But there is more. Again by applying the historical context idea stories like the Death of Gwen Stacy, the subplots from Conway’s 1970s run, Roger Stern’s run and the Death of Jean DeWolff are incredibly strong stories and giants of the genre to stand next to TDKR and Born Again. But then again so would stuff like the Galactus Trilogy or Dr. Doom’s origin in FF Annual #1. As for the compression again you are divorcing historical context. Those stories were NOT dumbed down by decompression. EVERY story was mostly done in one issues in those days. Indeed the same held true for the 1980s even though the dialogue and layers to the stories grew deeper. So the idea that with less space came the need to dumb things down is illogical, especially given how much intellegience and depth Stan et al injected into 1960s marvel comics compared to what came before. Furthermore the statement conflated decompression with somehow being more high brow and that is simply not the case. Far too many terrible and juvenile multi-part stories exist to the contrary. Using Bendis as the example his second USM arc with Kingpin actually has LESS emotional depth over all to it than USM #13 which was a done in one issue where Peter confesses his secret to Mary Jane. You also have powerful stories such as the Conversation between Aunt May and Peter, ASM #259 dealing with MJ’s origin, or the Kid Who Collected Spider-Man which proves the claim false. Indeed, the latter wasn’t even a full 22 pages. Decompression/compression is merely a tool and is thus as good or as bad as the craftsman wielding it. It’s less about how much space you have but about HOW you use it. Case in point. Spider-Gwen in 10 issues has not developed the lead character, the supporting cast, the villains, or generally as organically world built as Spider-Girl starring Mayday Parker or Spider-Man 2099 from the 1990s had with the same number of issues and pages. In short, I suggest you take a step back and try to re-evaluate your metrics. One can appreciate the quality of something even if one does not share in it. E.g. I do not like the Death of Jean DeWolff but I can appreciate it. I don’t like Demon in a Bottle but I can appreciate it. Furthermore, your assessment of the podcast is problematic because their metric for evaluating the recent issues comes from prior knowledge of other Spider-Man stories. They are negative about the current run precisely because it is indeed less intellectually/literary rigorous than things of the past. And at the same time tbh you are coming off as rather insulting if I do say so.

  10. hornacek

    @2 "I’ve NEVER been impressed with the writing on any spider book except maybe Stan Lee’s early run." I highly recommend the Roger Stern ASM run. DeFalco and David's run are also great. "But that was way over-written while at the same time and dumbed down to compress the story into one issue" Lee wrote a LOT of one-and-done issues where a LOT happened, but there were always sub-plots that continued from issue to issue. I definitely wouldn't say that most of the Lee/Ditko issues were "dumbed down" (ok, Just A Guy Named Joe is pretty dumb). And Lee could also write some epic multi-issue arcs too. "No story in Spidey’s history even comes CLOSE to being worthy of being mentioned in the same sentance as Watchmen or Moores Swamp Thing." Probably the closest is Kraven's Last Hunt, another story that quickly lets you know that "this sh!t just got real". "Oh, you think this is a typical Spidey/Kraven issue? BLAM! Spidey's dead." (DeMatteis drops mic, walks off stage) "In a literary sense, spidey books are remedial. Not saying I don’t enjoy em. I just don’t expect them to be aimed at anyone other than 13 year olds with low to average IQs." I would say that one of the reasons Lee aged Peter Parker in the first 30 issues of ASM was because the book was such a big hit with college students, they identified with Peter and loved the stories. I don't think all those students were 13 year old dummies. The current book seems to be aimed at 13 year olds, but the Conway, Wolfman, Stern, DeFalco, David runs (to pick a few) are definitely aimed at kids *and* adults. There's deep stuff in there, something that a 13 year old with a low IQ wouldn't understand. "And that’s the reason I think the podcast is too negative. Is there a podcast out there with a buncha 'My Little Pony' fans complaining about how every episode was stupid?" If the MLP episodes were stupid then I wouldn't trust a podcast that didn't say so. When Marvel produces ASM issues that are good I'll expect the podcast to be positive about them.

  11. hornacek

    "The sci-fi series Strikeforce Morituri was a critical success." All I remember about that series was the quote "We who are about to die, salute you!" It doesn't surprise me that WoSM #13 was written Peter David. It's almost a book-end to the Spidey/Jonah confrontation issue of FNHSM. Poor WoSM; sooooo many one-shot issues, it never got a good rhythm going. And the arcs only got as good as Art Attacks! or F.A.C.A.D.E. I thought that month where Spidey was missing was neat. I wouldn't want a month of Spidey books without Spidey every other month, but it was a nice change of pace. Spidey has a rich enough supporting cast that I didn't find these issues to be boring or not important to the overall plot. But yes, that new Black Cat costume was awful. Not every bad costume revamp happened in the 90s. I must admit that at the time I had no idea what was going on with Daredevil. Even now that scene with Matt talking to Peter comes across as Matt being delusional and Peter recognizing it, saying "Yeah sure, whatever you say Matt, they're ALL out to get you." That page of Peter and MJ talking makes me happy and sad at the same time. That panel where they hold hands and don't say anything - how can Marvel say with a straight face that Peter and MJ's marriage came out of nowhere? I still have that Hooky graphic novel. Gorgeous art, but very weird story. I don't usually like introducing some new character from the hero's past that always knew their secret identity (Peter's babysitter knows he's Spidey???). But if you're gonna do a story where Spidey goes to other dimensions and fights dragons, do it in a graphic novel and not in the main title. And this was written by a woman - I seem to recall a big deal being made of this when it came out. Was this the first female writer that wrote Spider-Man? "Were you guys aware of the reputation 1986 had in the comics field?" Not that specific year, but even as I was reading comics in the 80s I knew that most of the books I was were firing on all cylinders, that it was like a golden age. Stern/DeFalco on ASM, David on PP - what a time to be a Spidey reader! Oh New Universe, you had such high hopes! At the time my LCS had promotional plastic comic bags with the New Universe ad on one side and the Marvel anniversary ad on the other side. I used that bag to carry my comics home for a loooong time, until it eventually fell apart a few years ago (despite LOTS of scotch tape). Luckily, my LCS found another of those bags and gave it to me - they felt that since I used the original to carry comics home for over 2 decades I was their only customer that had earned it.

  12. Mike Murdock

    Nice article. Didn't mention Neil Gaimans Sandman series, which I think is one of the best things ever written in any medium of literature. It did come out it 1988, but when I think of Watchmen, DKR, and Maus, my mind jumps straight to how much more impressive Sandman was than all three. As far as Spider-man goes...I honestly just like the idea of the character and his powers and look. A little bit of the power fantasy has followed me into adult hood. As far as his books though, I've NEVER been impressed with the writing on any spider book except maybe Stan Lee's early run. But that was way over-written while at the same time and dumbed down to compress the story into one issue. I know this podcast HATES decompression i.e. Hickman, Bendis. Spidey has nothing CLOSE to a DKR or Born Again, NOT EVEN CLOSE. No story in Spidey's history even comes CLOSE to being worthy of being mentioned in the same sentance as Watchmen or Moores Swamp Thing. In a literary sense, spidey books are remedial. Not saying I don't enjoy em. I just don't expect them to be aimed at anyone other than 13 year olds with low to average IQs. And that's the reason I think the podcast is too negative. Is there a podcast out there with a buncha "My Little Pony" fans complaining about how every episode was stupid?

  13. BD

    I remember the lack of Spidey crossover. I felt cheated that I bought three comics with the name Spider-Man on them and he wasn't in any of them. Plus Black Cat was in her awful costume. Great article as usual!

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