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Sunday, 23 August 2020

Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #1 - Twice Stings the Tarantula.

  Thanks to Charlie Horse 47 and Killdumpster for their sponsorship of this post, via the magic of Patreon.

***

Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man #1, the Tarantula

We all know there's only one Spider-Man.

And it's me!

No it isn't. It's Peter Parker.

And we know that because, in late 1976, a brand new comic came along to tell us so.

That comic was the one whose cover is displayed to the left of this very post and it meant the wall-crawler now had three books hitting the racks each month. The other two being The Amazing Spider-Man and Marvel Team-Up.

It sat on those racks, bearing a cover that long-standing readers may have found oddly familiar, as it was basically a retread of the cover to Amazing Spider-Man #134.

Given the need to make a big splash with the readership, some of whom may never have read a Spider-Man tale before, it's hardly surprising Marvel elected to pit our hero against, not any old bum but one of the web-slinger's greatest foes of all time.

The, erm, Tarantula.

We begin with our hero in his Spider-Man guise, hanging around, taking red-hot action snaps of his college's vice-chancellor delivering a speech, to students, about budgets. Clearly, the wall-crawler knows the kinds of photos newspapers will pay big money for.

Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man #1, Flash and MJ
But, suddenly, it all gets even more exciting when a certain pointy-toed heel makes his arrival, abducting the vice-chancellor and scarpering with him, after teaching Spidey a lesson-or-two in how to fight.

With no clues as to his whereabouts, it seems the villain's gotten clean away but it's not long before the fickle finger of Fate leads to Peter Parker accidentally stumbling across the Tarantula's next crime.

This time, the mercenary's been ordered, by a mystery employer, to kill the mayor and make it look like a kidnapping gone wrong.

Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man #1,The Tarantula
Needless to say, Spidey can't allow that to happen and rescues the mayor from his attacker but still fails to bring the wrongdoer to justice.

Now, not only is the villain gone but we're left none the wiser as to who his mystery employer is.

Well, we're not really. It's obvious to anyone with a functioning brain that he's the vice-chancellor who's faked his own kidnapping, in order to divert suspicion away from himself. We know this because it's hard to see why else he's in the story if he's not the man behind it all.

Of course, 14 years before all this, Amazing Adult Fantasy shook-up the world of comics, with the launch of Spider-Man upon the world, and things would never be the same again. Does this book do the same?

Not really. In all honesty, it's just a fairly standard-issue Spider-Man story of its era. It does set up what appears to be a story arc, involving the Tarantula and his employer but, other than that, there's little to distinguish it from anything that was happening in his main book at the time.

It's also a frustrating read because Spider-Man has ridiculous amounts of difficulty dealing with his foe who's just some bloke with stabby shoes. Time and again, our hero tells us how it'll be a miracle if he manages to survive against such a deadly opponent. At one point, we even have him dreading the thought of facing him again.

I mean, seriously, it's the Tarantula. Even I'd fancy my chances against him. If you're going to hook new readers on a book, I'm not sure having its hero be totally unable to win a fight with a non-entity is the way to do it.

There's also a major crime against logic, which has Spider-Man hanging around, in full view, taking the photos he plans to later sell as Peter Parker. I'm not sure that's the best way to maintain a secret identity.

Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man #1, Glory Grant
But, speaking of Peter Parker, despite the comic being named after him, he's barely in the tale.

Still, at least while he's present, we do get a couple of scenes featuring Gloria Grant and MJ, the latter of whom is now dating Flash Thompson.

It's all written by Gerry Conway who always feels like he could knock out a competent Spidey story in his sleep, and it's drawn by Sal Buscema, about whom you could make exactly the same observation.

Personally, although I'm an admirer of Sal and his simple but clean story-telling, I've never been that big on him when it comes to Spider-Man, feeling his style lacks the idiosyncrasy the likes of Ditko, Kane and Andru brought to the strip.

So, it's OK but doesn't feel like as much effort's been put into it as could have been.

If one didn't know better, one might think the book was only launched as a way of making more money from a popular character, rather than because anyone involved believed the world desperately needed another book devoted to him.

59 comments:

dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...

I remember reading this in UK Marvel. It wasn't until someone said something in a letter one week that I realised we were reading reprints of two different Spider-Man comics. I didn't even notice that the artist kept changing, such was m6 lack of awareness beyond the storylines. My excuse is that they were pretty good at meshing the continuity between the two comics back in those early days.

Redartz said...

Steve, I'd agree with your assessment of this book completely. I was excited at the time by the prospect of another comic featuring my favorite character. But even youthful Redartz was rather disappointed by the result. At least subsequent issues brought back the Vulture and Morbius, but PPTSS remained, imho, a second class book for quite awhile. Eventually Bill Mantlo and Roger Stern made the book a grabber for me.

Regarding Sal's art- good call, Steve. I liked his work in general, and loved it in some cases. But on this title it just seemed, well, pedestrian.

Fantastic Four follower said...

A rather negative assessment of a comic book that would run for decades.... and you are absolutely right.Once again the magic of hindsight allows us to observe comics we loved at the time that do not stand the test of time. Having said that, the next half a dozen issues were great:Kraven, Morbius, Vulture etc. However the novelty of 2 Spiderman titles wore thin rather quickley and but for odd runs the title never reached the heights of ASM. Sales must have been all right for it to survive so long and initially the idea was for a more cohesive World of Spiderman but that never truly worked and as with British soap operas that used to be broadcast twice a week, once they went to 3, 4 or 5 times weekly, quality suffered and never really recovered.

dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...

I do like that comparison to the soaps, FFF.

I'm just imagining an alternative universe where Coronation Street goes out four times a week, where it starts off all working OK with one production team. But then ITV find this to be too much like hard work, so decides to go for two production teams. One does Mondays and Wednesdays with one set of story lines and one does Fridays and Sundays with a different set of storylines. And then people start wondering why Ken Barlow is grieving over the death of his wife on Mondays and Wednesdays but seems perfectly happy on Fridays and Sundays. At which point, some especially keen fans on the internet work out that the episodes aren't being shown in the right order and put together A chronology in which most things make sense and where we try to not motive each that Kevin Webster's tache gets shaved off on Wednesday, miraculouusly reappears on Friday and is gone again by the following Monday.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't Tarantula one of the many 'flip side' of Captain America characters - a super soldier gone wrong? (Like Ted Sallis, Deathlok, US Agent, & many others.) Being a 'spider' character, maybe he's a flip side of Spidey, too - before the Venom & Carnage rubbish.

Looked at another way, Tarantula is 1/3 of Slaymaster. After all, Slaymaster is, in effect, a composite character made by combining Tarantula (Slaymaster has "toe knives"), the Hit-man & Bullseye (look at his costume.) I suppose Slaymaster has some Batroc in him, too, with that twiddly moustache.

Spectacular Spider-man gave the world Carrion - chilling!

Phillip

P.S. If anyone doesn't know, Slaymaster was Captain Britain's arch enemy!

Fantastic Four follower said...

Very witty dangermash but my analogy was based on Crossroads which my mother and sisters watched religiously, never missing an episode. My claim to fame was spotting a copy of Incredible Hulk #166 in an episode from 1973.The villain was Zzacks'(spelt incorrectly) the creature from the Dynamo (I think) and Hawkeye turned up inbetween his stints in Avengers and Defenders! Nearing the end of my favourite Hulk run, #151-173,not a dud amongst them!

Anonymous said...

Fantastic Four follower - Often my favourite issues of particular titles are the first issue of that title I bought (sometimes the first 2 or 3). For years, I thought this a coincidence. Maybe, however, it's the novelty - experiencing a comic for the first time - which makes a particular comic issue a favourite. Admittedly, there are exceptions. You've nominated an entire run. But, what's your absolute favourite issue - is it the first Hulk story you ever read?

Phillip

Fantastic Four follower said...

My favourite Hulk story was #164 and #165... Captain Omen/Nemo which I read by torchlight in a darkened Belfast as all electricity had been cut off due to a strike by power station workers in the middle of the Troubles 1974.Loved those issues and perhaps the madness outside heightened the excitement of the story. So what were your favourite non first issues my friend?

Charlie Horse 47 said...

SDC - I'm inclined to agree that Marvel launched this title for reasons of profit, not to explore Peter more in depth, lol.

But old Charlie thought Marvel Team Up was meant to exploit us as well, so no surprises there.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic Four Follower - My favourite non first issues - Jim Shooter's first run on the Avengers. That's one of the exceptions! My first Avengers were the Steve Englehart era which, although it had some truly great issues, wasn't as good as Jim Shooter's run (in my opinion). Also, one of the Wagnerian Thor issues that Sean hates - that's an exception, too, as I started reading Thor long before then!

Phillip

dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...

I’m trying to be more satirical than witty, FFF. Subtly making the point that if my imaginary idea of two separate Coronation Street production teams would have caused outrage among viewers, why was it acceptable to do the same thing with Spider-Man?

And even with all the continuity, I agree standards would drop. They dropped for Coronation Street and Eastenders. Crossroads was a bit before my day but I vaguely remember it being out four times a week and being pretty bad, although any appearances by Benny would always grab my attention. As Jasper Carrot famously said "Does anybody here watch Crossroads? I really worry about Benny. If he's not an idiot, then he's a bloody good actor. And what's a good actor doing on Crossroads?"

Of course, on your home territory, the FF had been on this parallel strips journey a long time before, with those Human Torch and Torch/Thing strips back in the 60s. All over the place with continuity (did the Storms live in the sticks or the Baxter building? Did the Torch have a secret identity!) in strips that were so bad they were ever reprinted in the (not pre-Dezz anyway).

Anonymous said...

Aha! My seansense was tingling, drawing me to SteveDoesComics and sure enough, Phillip mentioned me. That'll teach him!

What gives Steve - you didn't feel like reviewing another story from Detective Comics #440?
Anyhow, if Gerry Conway and Sal Buscema could do a competent Spidey story in their sleep its obvious they must have stayed wide awake doing this one. I agree, it needed a better villain - Paste Pot Pete maybe, the Kangaroo or someone like that.

To be honest though, Spider-Man wasn't one of my favourite Marvel characters (sorry dangermash) so maybe I'm not qualified to judge. But as ever, I haven't let that stop me.

Thanks for the post Steve - your reviews are always a pleasure.

-sean

Anonymous said...

And the comments are enjoyable too everyone, even when they stray into Crossroads territory.

Kinda surprised with the subject being Spider-Man Charlie didn't bring up Gwen Stacy and ASM #121 though...

-sean

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Sean - Gwen's body was long buried by this time and little did we know that she had been Norman Osborne's lover and given birth to his twins. I cringe just typing that. Poor Gwen... Gerry 'lazy ass' Conway ruined many a young man's life! I don't know if I mentioned how I basically quit comics soon after he whacked her!

I actually bought this issue thinking it could be worth $ some day. (Not only would Marvel contemplate making profits from ole Spidey!)

But honestly the only thing Charlie was reading at this point in time was The Invaders and Frank Robbins!

Sean - I am with you! I'd love to see Steve review another DC 100-pager!!!

Anonymous said...

Charlie - I never got back to you about Yorkshire/Yorkshire pudding, last week! Yorkshire's the county that contains the cities Sheffield, Leeds & Wakefield. Sheffield's in South Yorkshire, whilst Leeds & Wakefield are in West Yorkshire.

Yorkshire pudding is...okay. In the past, in England, Yorkshire pudding was part of a traditional Sunday lunch, along with roast beef(& vegetables, of course). Nowadays, nobody bothers that much. Yorkshire puddings can be had any time - or not at all. It's still traditional for Sunday lunch in pubs, though.

However, when I was a kid, my mother often bought the cheapest cuts of meat. These cuts were so hard to chew, my brother & I used to call it 'chewing meat.' In the 1970s - no prime cuts of roast beef on Sunday, except perhaps on very special occasions!

I've deleted a sentence about what we did with this meat!

Phillip

Anonymous said...

Or even more of the same DC 100-pager Charlie!
Steve, think of all the extra hits you'll get in a world anticipating The Snyder Cut...

-sean

Anonymous said...

Quite right Phillip - lets not speak of North Yorkshire.

-sean

Anonymous said...

Sean - Bojo's House of Lords in York!!!

Phillip

Anonymous said...

Hasn't the Lords move to York just been rejected by the metropolitan elitist enemies of the people in the south?
Mind you, they actually have tory MPs in some parts of the (obviously former) peoples republic of South Yorkshire these days, so anything could happen!

-sean

Anonymous said...

Sean - Yes - I think so. But, with politicians, you never can tell! Like you say, anything could happen!

Phillip

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Gents - you lost me!

I googled Bojo's House of Lords in York and all I seem to get is the "House of Lords Gunshop" which oddly enough is in Crown Point Indiana where I grew up as a teen.

Also, Sheffield is in south Yorkshire, Leeds in west, but one would think you would speak of north yorkshire, as opposite to south yorkshire. There is no north (or east) yorkshire?

IIRC we were indeed hopeful Steve would continue to review the same 100 - pager!!! Steve's wit, as applied to PPTSSM # 1 and its inconsistencies, would clearly shine on golden age material where nonsense reigned supreme!

Anonymous said...

Are you googling "Bojo" Charlie? "Boris Johnson" - or even just "Boris" - with the rest should do it.

Theres always the Gwen Stacy of Earth-65, she's still around. Spider-Gwen...

-sean

Anonymous said...

Phil, I guess you're right (I hadda look it up) about Gerry Conway envisioning the Tarantula as a South American version of Captain America who in fact was an assassin of a repressive, autocratic government, (the kind the CIA used to support down there against revolutionaries Reagan's people deemed Marxist).
I don't have an opinion either way about Gwen Stacy, but what I do remember about Conway's writing on Thor is that you would read the comic and not be completely sure what the hell just happened. Take the stories about that Druid guy or Mercurio, for example.
But in a weird way this appeals to me. Unlike guys like Byrne or Shooter, I don't think the writer should necessarily connect all the dots but rather leave something to the imagination of the reader. I think Marvel lost a lot of it's mystery in the Eighties, when they became more "organized", and in my opinion less interesting.

M.P.

Anonymous said...

It's good to hear from my buddy Charlie.
This place wouldn't be the same without you, man.

...I can't be the only hilarious guy around here. I'm not ready for that kind of responsibility. I'm only one person!

M.P.

Anonymous said...

M.P. - That's exactly what I think, too - you've hit the nail on the head! (The importance of Writers holding something back from the reader/not over explaining.)

However, in Byrne's greatest X-Men issues, he (& Claremont) don't over explain & do retain mystery, etc. To me, the greatest single issue of the X-Men (also my first issue!) is X-Men # 112 ('Magneto Triumphant!') This starts with an evocative/mysterious scene - the X-Men trapped in a carnival wagon, hurtling through the upper atmosphere. For a first time reader, all the X-Men appear mysterious and intriguing - no character is overexplained. This was before the soap opera elements took over, later on in the X-Men's run.

Likewise, Jim Shooter's Avengers. Shooter kept the reader guessing about the full extent of Wonderman's strength/invulnerability - Simon Williams himself didn't know the full extent of his powers. Was Wonderman even stronger than Thor? Shooter kept the reader guessing. That's why the scene with Thor's barbels (later in the Korvac Saga) was a rare mistep. In the run up to Nefaria, the Lethal Legion retained suspense - what was the purpose of their attacks? etc. Was the Whizzer right - would Nefaria's power fade, and he become just another Hitler, scarring the pages of history? More suspense - sort of!

Spider-man can be problematic as a character, as he has no 'sense of mystery' (in contrast with Captain Marvel, for example, who has a mysterious backstory, to draw upon.) When I first saw Spider-man, and bought my first Spidey comic, I thought he looked very mysterious/enigmatic. However, the longer you read Spider-man, the more this mystery fades, as his life is an open book.

A particularly mysterious character was Adam Warlock (Star Wars weekly was only worth buying for the back-up stories!) A man of unspoken sorrows (although later he did talk a lot!), brooding in lonely grandeur. That was 1970s Marvel at its best!

Gerry Conway, like you said M.P., was sometimes accidentally good at creating mystery/suspense, as he didn't over explain - e.g. Conway on Thor, Daredevil, Captain Marvel (briefly.)

Charlie - North Yorkshire's main city is York - hence my exchange with Sean! East Yorkshire's city is Hull, but this is more complicated. East Yorkshire changed its name to Humberside. But it might have changed back again. Confused? So's everyone else!

Phillip

Killdumpster said...

It was quite a thrill to get the first issue of a new Spider-man book. I was able to get 3 other comics with that purchase, but those titles are a little vague in my memory.

The heck with those books, though!! I got a first issue of Spidey!! Boyoboy!!! I was so excited when I pulled the comic from the newsstand I didn't even leaf thru it.

It was the first one I read when I got home. Definetly a anticlimactic, disappointing moment. As had been stated, a very pedestrian story. Topped off by Sal Buscema's stagnantly simple art. One of the few comics I believe I only read once. Probably why it stayed in VF-NM shape.

Technically, Steve, there were 4 Spidey titles available each month. Though Marvel Tales was a bi-monthly book, the magazine distributor's rack-jobbers would leave those reprint titles on the stands longer. That was one of the reasons I had long, unbroken runs of Marvel Tales, Marvel's Greatest Comics, etc.

That, and the "city kids" where always picking clean all the new stuff. They didn't seem to pull reprints.

It was pure luck that I got PPSSM #1.

Anonymous said...

Other than MTU, I can't recall ever reading a US Spider-Man title in the 70s, and we had pretty good distribution round my way.

Huh. From a quick look online, it seems that Middlesborough is in north Yorkshire.
Who knew? Well, I expect people from Middlesborough did, but surely I can't be the only one who always assumed they were more or less geordies of some description.
Then again, I think "the north" starts in Tottenham, so...

-sean

Anonymous said...

Sean - I don't associate Middlesbrough with North Yorkshire either. No Yorkshire accent. Also, Yorkshire people are well - direct! (a stereotype, I know - but I am one.) Teeside, perhaps? - But that's a borough, not a county. Well, it's all just lines on a map! Geordie = Newcastle.

Phillip

Anonymous said...

Phillip, in my experience, people from Middlesborough tend to pretty direct too!

Its only just inside Yorkshire, which as local boundary decisions go strikes me as not unlike including Sheffield in Derbyshire. I expect the bureaucrats of Brussels are to blame, and after Brexit Middlesborough will be in Co Durham.

-sean

Killdumpster said...

Distribution was relatively ok in my area, I guess, Sean, but the availability of getting into a "metropolis" that had comics,and having pennies in my pockets at the same time, wasn't.

Seemed like the "mom & pop", drug, & grocery stores only got one copy of anything for their magazine/spinner racks. I'd usually miss one to two issues out of a storyline (Thanks, Charlie, for hooking me up with that Defenders/Avengers War trade).

Once my mom figured it was a good idea to take my sisters and I to the theatre for Saturday matinee, that changed quite a bit. It was closer than the company pool, and it only cost a $1 each to get us out of her hair for 5-6 hours. There was a bookstore that had STACKS of comics next door.

I'd save, and horde my milk/lunch money for comics. I'd hide the sack of books under my shirt/jacket so she wouldn't inquire as to how I could buy them.

That was when I usually got some Spidey books. When I was around 11 to 13.

When I got a job on a local chicken farm at 14, I bought subscriptions.

Anonymous said...

Our Pal Sal’s work blows hot and cold for me. He went through periods when he seemed to be fully engaged and energized and his stuff was fun to look at (if never particularly earth-shaking). Unfortunately this book came along at a time when Marvel had him cranking out way too many books every month, and boy does it show. He’s relying on his formulaic bag of tricks to an unwelcome degree. It gets the job done but no more than that. Also, I suspect most of his work in this period was in the form of layouts instead of fully fleshed out pencils, meaning he really needed an excellent inker to make the pages sing. Mike Esposito was sadly not that person. The Sal / Mike run of MTU around this same time was similarly under-whelming.

Writing-wise, it feels like Conway is just going through the motions. In a way, this was the biggest source of my disappointment with the comic. His controversial run on the main Spidey title in the previous few years was one of my favorite comics back in the day (and I still love it to this day). His work here feels like a weak re-tread, cranked out just for the paycheck.

After three or four months of this, I found myself thinking ‘Why am I even buying this anymore?’ and dropped it. Whenever I’ve dug these books out to see if they’ve gotten any better over the years, I’ve decided that fourteen-year-old Me had it right.

b.t.

Steve W. said...

Dangermash, Redartz, FFf, Phillip, Charlie, Sean, MP, KD (I think I've mentioned everybody), thanks for your comments.

I can confirm that I was aware that Middlesbrough's in Yorkshire.

I agree that not knowing anything about characters doesn't need to detract from enjoyment of their adventures. My 1st issue of The New X-Men was #100 and I didn't have a clue who any of these new characters were but I still loved it.

I must confess that I'd totally forgotten Slaymaster.

I shall see if Detective Comics #440 has any more treasures for me to plunder. I can make no promises.

The only American Spidey issues I ever managed to get my hands on were his 1968 annual and the issue of Marvel Team-Up where the Black Widow's lost her memory and thinks she's a schoolteacher or something and can't understand how she's able to beat people up whenever they threaten her.

Steve W. said...

Bt, I agree that Sal was doing as little as he could get away with, in order to produce as many pages a month as he possibly could. Determined embellishers, rather than faithful inkers, were always needed for his work.

Anonymous said...

Have to say, Chris Claremont’s early reputation for writing strong female characters sometimes seems a bit puzzling from a 21st century vantage point. He pulled that ‘female hero loses her memory of her true self, becomes a stereotypically weak shrinking violet before re-asserting herself as a take-charge ass-kicker’ quite a few times. Guess the bar was a lot lower in those days.

- b.t.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget that the female hero often forgot her true self as a result of invasive mind control (with added s&m subtext) b.t.
Yeah, I never quite understood the "Claremont women" thing either, but then I suppose "Dark Phoenix" does look like daring feminism next to Avengers #200.

Steve, thats right about Our Pal Sal and inkers. His Defenders with Klaus Janson was ok, and I recall liking an issue of SSOC he did with the mighty Rudy Nebres. Of course, those two could make any penciler look good.

-sean

Anonymous said...

In Defence of Sal!

To say that Tarantula story isn't Sal Buscema's finest hour is an understatement. Nevertheless, occasionally Sal could do quantity & quality. To me, February 1977

Here's the link:

http://www.mikesamazingworld.com/mikes/features/newsstand.php?publisher=marvel&type=calendar&month=2&year=1977&sort=alpha


is Sal's Buscema's greatest month ever, with 4 Sal titles, 2 of them my all time Sal Buscema favourites (albeit they look much much better in black & white), along with Wonderman vs the Vision, which was the month before?. Here are my Sal Buscema favourites this month:

Sal & Ernie Chan on the Hulk vs Mongu (my favourite Hulk story, when in black & white); Sal & Pablo Marcos on the Avengers vs Graviton (another favourite that looks better in black & white); Sal & Frank Giacoia on Nova vs the Firefly, then the Megaman ( another goody - but better in black & white, with Howard Bender's 'tones'); plus, that widely praised Sal & Leialoa - spelled wrong (no, checked - it's Dave Hunt) Black Widow & Spidey team-up. This may seem like a wind up, as the Black Widow & Spidey team-up is a famous Claremont story of exactly the kind that's been mentioned above. However, this looks like an earlier Black Widow & Spidey team up, as I seem to remember the famous one was a two-parter.


In fact, sometimes Sal drew so many titles, some weeks he almost was Marvel comics (at least that's how it seemed in Britain in 1977, when buying Rampage Weekly (Sal), Mighty World of Marvel (Hulk Sal), & Super Spider-man & Captain Britain (Sal Spidey, sometimes.)

But, as everyone has said, with Sal Buscema, the right inker was vital!

Phillip

Charlie Horse 47 said...

I'm of the opinion that those Sub Mariners Sal did early in his career were his best works? But the rumor boards keep saying that it is quite possible his brother John was heavily involved?

Regardless, I found his Cap America work, in the issues 140s - 150s suitable for a 13 year old thought not exactly awe inspiring as the other artists out there at the time.

Anonymous said...

I thought he did some really nice stuff on the Avengers, around the same period, late Sixties, right? I agree a lot of it comes down to the inker, but I forget who that was. It may have been more than one guy. Like the Sub-Mariner, it was a beautiful comic to look at.

M.P.

Anonymous said...

Okay, Tom Palmer and Sam Grainger, right? Did a little research.
Palmer was kind of a heavyweight when it came to inkers, IIRC.

M.P.

Anonymous said...

Charlie:
I’d never heard that rumor about John B. actually helping out Sal on those early AVENGERS and SUBBY comics, but I can see where that could seem at least plausible. But honestly, I kinda doubt it. I think Sal was just trying really REALLY hard to make his stuff look as much like his big brother’s stuff as possible. There are lots of panels where his mimic skills almost pull it off. But there’s always something just a wee bit ‘off’, especially the faces. You can see the exact Big John ideal that he’s reaching for but he misses it by Just...That...Much.

I do still like those early issues. The ones inked by Palmer and Grainger do look quite nice, and there’s an AVENGERS in that run that he inked himself that looks REALLY good. But I think he was more consistently successful when he stopped trying to ape big Big John so closely.

- b.t.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

I just don't know how one explains those early Subbies, perhaps mimicking or being aided, by his brother John, vs. his later works?

I'm not an artist so... perhaps drawing like he did in those early Subbies was simply too time consuming and if he was getting paid by the page, well... that's that.

And he was already on decent strips like Cap. So perhaps upping (maintaining?) his game for self satisfaction wasn't a motivator?

But who knows... I guess Sal knows but I don't.

Anonymous said...

Tom Palmer did amazing work on Gene Colan's stuff, M.P. You can't really get more heavyweight as an inker than that.

On the Buscema brothers working together, I'm reminded what a good job Our Pal Sal did inking Silver Surfer #4. I also recall seeing his inks on Gene the Dean's pencils in some old Marvel romance comic that were surprisingly effective.
Maybe he should have slowed down a bit, and inked his own work? (But as you say Charlie, time is money)

-sean

Anonymous said...

Sal did have a few runs where he both pencilled and inked — the first 20 or so issues of ROM and a whole bunch of INCREDIBLE HULKs , both around 1979, 1980. I have about 10 of each, and they look pretty cool, too!

-b.t.

Anonymous said...

b.t., that's a good point. I kinda forgot about Rom.
Also, Sal did some amazing inking on the short-lived Creeper series in the Nineties, but apparently I'm the only guy on Earth who liked that comic.
I suspect the sales numbers would confirm that suspicion.

M.P.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't Rick Jones in Rom? No wonder hardly anyone read it.

-sean

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Steve - may I go astray? Is this song "Rule Brittania" debate on the news really a big deal or just fodder for the media?

Anonymous said...

Its a big deal Charlie - with Boris Johnson's government presiding over the highest coronavirus fatality rate in Europe, the biggest economic crisis since the early eighteenth century, putting what looks like being over £300bn on the national debt this year, and buggering up the education system... off course it matters what he says about some old patriotic song!

-sean

Steve W. said...

Charlie, it's a totally fabricated story of no importance whatsoever.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Whew... I thought as much. It occurred to Charlie that Charlie doesn't even know the lyrics to Rule Brittania. It would be a pity were it to be banned before being able to sing a verse!

And then if Rule Brittania were chucked into the rubbish bin, surely the Union Jack would be next!

And if that happens, then Roy the Boy would probably feel obliged to write some retro history on the Invaders so Union Jack no longer wears the Union Jack!

Killdumpster said...

I might've at least picked up a copy of ROM, and leafed thru it, if I knew Rick was in it. Only saw the 1st issue on the stands, and my abhorrence for paying for a toy advertisement put me off completely.

To all the Sal-Defenders (pun intended), I agree that with a good inker, who might also be a standalone artist, his attempts could be passable to enjoyable.

When he was saddled with so many titles, though, his panels looked like they were drawn by a cookie-cutter.

Worst guy who drew a Spider-Man comic. Ever.

Anonymous said...

Worse than Todd McFarlane?

-sean

Anonymous said...

Killdumpster -

A couple of okay-good Sal Buscema art Spider-man stories immediately spring to mind: 1.) The first part of Spidey vs Lightmaster (the one in which Jim Shooter references Dynamints - the horizontal Tic-tacs) 2.)The first part of Spidey vs the White Tiger. However, in both cases, these stories had art for the culmination which didn't live up to the 'first round' of the fights.

As a comic, ROM had interesting opponents which made it worth buying - e.g. ROM vs the Jack of Hearts. ROM vs Powerman & Iron Fist. Also, you'd find out interesting things about superheroes, based on what ROM's energy analyzer said about them.

ROM gave Sal Buscema a new lease of life. I don't remember Rick Jones being in it. Rom's usual side-kick was Brandy Clark. Sean - there are worse side-kicks than Rick Jones - take Richard Rory in She-Hulk & other titles. As that Vegas show girl said about Rory, "A fool & his money are soon parted." (He's a fool.) Although didn't he retain the money, she was trying to swindle from him? I forget.

Sean's right, Todd McFarlane is far, far worse than Sal - even on his worst day.

Phillip

dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...

Well, neither Frank Robbins nor Al Hartley (Journey Into Mystery #90) drew Spider-Man, so I'm also voting for Todd McFarlane.

Unless Spider-Man's appearance in Avengers #11 counts, in which case Don Heck gets my vote.

Sal Buscema was safe and competent but didn't have the wow factor. The James Milner of Spider-Man artists.

Anonymous said...

I haven't read many 90s Marvels so can't really name names, but I'm pretty sure there were even worse Spider-Man artists then than the Toddster.

At least they didn't give Spidey a bomber jacket and lots of belts and pouches (well, so far as I know).

-sean

Anonymous said...

Phillip, I recall Richard Rory from Man-Thing and Omega The Unknown. Steve Gerber had his off days, but if he was especially annoying (Richard Rory I mean, not Gerber) that was probably a She-Hulk thing.
Rick Jones on the other hand was always irritating, whoever wrote him.

-sean

Killdumpster said...

Never really cared for McFarlane's Spider-Man, but it had more motion than Sal's.

Guess Fr*** R****ns may have made a good follow-up to Todd.

He'd draw Spidey twitching & convulsing while he was swinging, and that would explain all the tangled knots in his webs. Lol.

Killdumpster said...

The utilizing of Rick Jones as a supporting character was implemental in
creating the Marvel Age of Comics.

Anonymous said...

Worst Spider-Man artist? Worse than Our Pal Sal and Esposito on SPECTACULAR SPIDEY and MTU? Those are pretty darn weak, I have to say. Vince Colletta embellishing Sal’s layouts on a handful of MTUs were pretty bad too, but I’m thinking there must be worse stuff out there.

Larry Leiber on those two Spidey Annuals, 4 and 5, was not great, probably on a par with Sal’s weakest. The Spidey Annual where he and MJ got married wasn’t very good either (Paul Ryan and Colletta, I want to say?)

OH DEAR GOD — just remembered there’s an Annual drawn by Don Perlin (inks by Mooney, maybe?). I don’t remember it well, but it CAN’T have been any good, could it?

I’m gonna switch gears tho. Here are some Sal comics that I liked quite a bit back in the day, and still have a certain fondness for ‘em. Mostly from ‘72 to ‘74.

CAPTAIN AMERICA 146 to about 175 — inks by Giacoia, Verpooten, McLaughlin, even a fair bunch inked by Colletta that looked pretty good, especially the first two or three.

There’s a really weird POWER MAN inked by Neal Adams and his boys that looked kinda cool.

DEFENDERS 1 to around 19. Inks by Bolle, Abel, Giacoia, Mooney I think, Dan Green (loved that one) and Janson.

MARVEL TWO IN ONE 3, 4 and 5 — inked by Sinnott, Giacoia and Esposito

MARVEL TEAM-UP 20, 21 , 22 — inked by Giacoia — i LOVED these as a kid.

I used to like those four inter-connected ones with Black Widow, Shang-Chi and Nick Fury, inked by Leiloha, but they look kinda mushy to me now.

- b.t.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and IRON MAN ANNUAL 3 and HULK ANNUAL 5, both inked by Jack Abel, both from 1976. Good stuff.
- b.t.