Monday, July 15, 2013

The Original Web-Spinner!





Something I'd love to do before too long is sit down and read through the original Amazing Spider-Man adventures by "Sturdy" Steve Ditko and Stan "The Man" Lee. These earliest issues offer up stories all of which I've read before, but I don't think I've ever read them straight through.

I do know enough to realize that Peter Parker's tale in these issues goes through some significant changes as he was aging at about real time, moving from a mere high school student into college. His role as Spider-Man too develops, showing the growing pains of being a vigilante and trying to balance that with the rigors of the everyday world.


There's no doubt that when the talented John Romita took over the reins of the strip that the luster and polish he brought to the character increased his marketability, but there's equally no doubt that after Ditko departed repetition set in and began to erode the integrity of the storytelling.

I don't own these Ditko issues in the original save for one long issue I picked up somewhere long long ago. But recently I traded away all my Spider-Man issues pretty much, leaving me with the stories exclusively in collections and trades and whatnot. That's fine by me as I only read them in that format pretty much anyway.


But all that aside, I still need to visit those heady days when Spider-Man was fresh and new and totally amazing.

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9 comments:

  1. I've got these early editions of the Spidey Masterworks too. Then they reissued them with more faithful colouring to the original issues and sourced from better proofs. The new softcover Masterworks are about as close as anyone will ever get to owning the originals who don't already have them. And the Omnibus volume is a cracker as well. Poor Steve Ditko never really did anything as commercially successful again.

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    1. What has struck me about these is how much of his philosophy comes through in the later issues, the same thinking which to greater and lesser degrees overwhelmed his later material. Because he had a co-creator in Lee, someone who was editing him, his excesses were under control enough to create a satisfying entertainment which still says something valuable. Too much of his later stuff which he has full control over falls dangerously close mere propaganda.

      Thanks for the tip on the coloring. Before I picked these up, I had the old Marvel Tales reprints which presented the series in order but made changes to reflect the then modern 1980's. Those are sure some curiosities now.

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    2. Two softcover editions you should have are the first Spidey one, because it prints the original art to AF #15 in the back of the book, and the first FF, which has several issues (including #1) printed from the best and most accurate proofs yet (even better than the Omnibus volume in regard to early issues). Make that three - the Thor one also uses superior, faithful proofs for JIM #83.

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  2. Great issues all. The thing that most struck me about those early issues when I read them recently is that, unlike other early Marvel characters, Spider-Man seems to appear fully formed. The concept is all in place from the get-go, no adjustments needed.

    Compare that to early Ant-Man, Hulk and even the FF - Spidey just seemed to be perfectly realized from the very start.

    In my opinion, there's very little repetition in the first 10 years of Amazing Spider-Man, despite the reappearance of various bad guys. The reappearances are handled well and feel organic in Peter's soap opera super-hero life.

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    1. That's a nice point. There was an organic, natural feel to the storytelling in Spidey for a long time, though less focused on theme as the Ditko issues had been. I'd say Spidey hummed along fairly nicely until he graduated from college, then the series seem to lose its focus.

      The FF have the same natural feel of progression in the first one hundred issues too.

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    2. I think Amazing Spider-Man is by and large excellent through to about #170. There are a few ill-conceived stories during the latter years - *SPOILER WARNING:* Doc Ock marrying Aunt May for instance, and the rather lacklustre Gwen clone tale - but overall it's a very strong run and highly engaging throughout.

      As for the FF, I think there's a dip in story quality after the first year or so - issues #21-45 begin to feel repetitive and can be quite simplistic. But around the time Galactus appears (#48), there's a noticeable change in scripting style and the dialogue and plotting becomes much more "believable" (for want of a better term). After that, the FF forges ahead and never looks back, weaving subplots, characterization and grand ideas seamlessly.

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  3. probably one of the best 39 issues of a comic one will ever read including Amazing Fantasy Stan and Steve created a timeless character wished I owned them only got number 38 now will have to buy the reprints.

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    1. Don't forget Ditko did 2 Annuals too. :)

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  4. Yes forgot about those shame Ditko couldn't stay a while longer the identity of the Green Goblin was a real game changer for Stan and Steve

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