Saw The Amazing Spider-Man the other day and enjoyed it. Did it blow me out of my seat and make me forget Sam Raimi (and, especially, his classic Spider-Man 2)? No—but it had enough wonderful moments in it to have me looking forward to the sequel; and it also had Emma Stone—an extraordinary young actress who lights up the screen in everything she does. Sign me up for the Gwen Stacy spin-off movie! (I thought Andrew Garfield did an excellent job, as well: he looked like he was drawn by Steve Ditko.)
While we're on the subject of Spider-Man: Comic Book Resources recently concluded a poll of the 50 Greatest Spider-Man Stories. I was delighted, and grateful, to discover that my story “The Gift”—which featured the death of Aunt Man (don’t worry, she got better)—came in at #12, while my Harry Osborn Saga (which evolved over my two year run on Spectacular Spider-Man and climaxed in Harry’s death (he got better, too))—was #10. To say I was completely surprised when Kraven’s Last Hunt was chosen for the #1 spot would be a massive understatement. Don’t know if it’s deserved—considering that Lee-Ditko-Romita wrote the book on Peter Parker, I’d choose one of their stories for the top spot—but, as I’ve said before, it’s certainly nice to be appreciated.
Beginning work on the third issue of The Adventures of Augusta Wind (coming from IDW in November) and Vassilis Gogtzilas has been astonishing me again and again with his brilliantly imaginative illustrations. Here’s a page from our second issue to whet your appetites.
©copyright 2012 J.M. DeMatteis & Vassilis Gogtzilas
Speaking of astonishing artwork, I’ve got a new project in the works with my old buddy Mike Ploog (who, for my money, is one of the greatest fantasy artists to ever walk the Earth). Can’t say much about it just yet, but here’s a Ploogian teaser for you. Beware: here there by monsters.
©copyright 2012 J.M. DeMatteis & Mike Ploog
Come to think of it, one of the reasons I don't read much super-hero comics these days has to do with the fact that when you die, it's not for ever.ReplyDelete
Remember the death of Captain Marvel? Of Phoenix? The last episode of Spider Woman? And because we're talking Spidey here, the death of Gwen Stacy? These were milestones in our super-hero pantheons.
Phoenix especially had us deeply moved.
And then a few years down the road we ended up being told it was just for laughs, Jean was okay.
Then you end up feeling that yeah, okay, we the publisher are playing with you reader like cats with a mouse, no real harm done.
It's a bit sad and deeply undermines the efforts of you writers to write poignant and believable stories.
(caveat: I also know that people don't fly or that there is no northern god with a hammer, etc. ;) but you see what I mean.)
I absolutely see what you mean; but that's just the reality when you're dealing with corporate owned characters. The best I, as a writer, can hope for is that a "death of..." storyline will be honored for a few years, at least, before someone comes along and resurrects the character. Kraven stayed dead for nearly twenty-five years, Harry stayed dead for more than fifteen years. Aunt May stayed dead for...well, that didn't last very long, did it?Delete
But the stories still remain and can be returned to. And if they're GOOD stories, they should still pack an emotional wallop. At least I hope they do.
I re-read the TPB "The Phoenix Chronicles" the other day, and while I love the work of Claremont and Byrne, a part of me was saying "don't worry, it's not her who's dying, it's an alien thing that took her place back in issue whatsitsnumber when they fell into a river and she'll be fine".
It really spoils it, and the publishers who think short-term really lose readers on the long term, in my experience.
Anyway. I'll watch the movie, looks fun indeed :)
I could see how that would hamper your enjoyment of the story. Such is life in Comic Book Land...!Delete
Hope you enjoy the movie!
To be fair, the Lee-Ditko-Romita era was of just that... an era. Kraven's last hunt is easier to peg as a story, since te sixties tales had a way of rolling into each other.ReplyDelete
Wishing you nothing, but goodwill and hipness from here to the stars,
But still, Kraven's last hunt was a great story with crossover appeal to thriller, psycho-drama, horror and of course super hero fans. I'm more surprised the Harry saga (which I love) beat out "the gift," I CALL A RECOUNT! or just differentviews, whatever.ReplyDelete
wishing you nothing, but goodwill and hipness from here to the stars,
Well, there were some very specific STORIES in that era, Jack, that were singled out and might have made the #1 spot. My personal favorite is the first Romita story, where Norman Osborn is revealed as the Green Goblin. First Spidey story I ever read and it made me a fan for life.Delete
I thought "The Gift" would place a little higher, too. That said, the Harry Saga -- especially SPEC. #200 -- is at the top of my list as far as my own Spider-Man stories go, so I was happy to see it make the top ten.
Hey, I agree with you. I'm just trying to get inside these list makers heads. One story I always though was a true classic, and that I am sure all will look cockeyed for saying, was the first Prowler story. I don't know why, maybe it's the similarities Hobie has with Peter and that he seemingly gets a happy ending unlike Pete, or maybe the fact he isn't really evil. I don't know, but I love that story. And of course the previously mentioned Goblin revealing, was amazing. And of course Peter being unmasked in front of Jameson and Betty Brant and having neither believe it was really him with the powers. However I read most of these stories in soft cover mare masterworks and marvel essentials, and just because I can pick out theses issues and remember them as such, doesn't mean these people can (if indeeed this was also there exposure to the tales). My guess if it were instead "best Spidey moments" there would be a lot more Lee-Ditko-Romita's towards the top. Of course there is a more negative possibility. In the past decade or so, the word "for the" have been found sandwiched between pretty good and either 60's or 70's, in comparing to today's tales. Of course comics from the 6o0's and 70's still blow me away, and yes during the Ditko years everyone in a while Pete's dialogue was a bit clunky, but over all those eras just had great stories, and tackled things that the so called more adult comics of today are too afraid of. Take all of this with a grain of salt though, since I have not seen this list, and am in essence just guessing.Delete
And I think the gift may be unfairly treated because of it's location in the clone saga. But I love it, and iI think I enjoy it more than the "harry saga" which I did enjoy, is because I felt a more emotional tug with Aunt May's death than Harry's either way though, two great stories.
wishing you nothing, but goodwill and hipness from here to the stars,
Funny you mention the Prowler story, Jack. For some reason, when that story came out (I was, I think, fifteen at the time), I was crazy about it. Even wrote a letter to Stan about it and that became my first letter ever published in a comic book!Delete
I think some folks (and I don't mean you!) look at the 60's Stan Lee classics and think they're somehow "old-fashioned" or that Stan's writing is under par. I don't understand it. Is it different from the current style? Of course. But it was utterly revolutionary for its day: filled with emotion and humor and sly, knowing winks. Stan's scripts made us BELIEVE in Peter Parker and his universe in a way comics had rarely, if ever, made us care before. Dismissing those stories as "old-fashioned" is like saying Charles Dickens is a bad writer because his style is so different from contemporary novelists.
I actually don't think of the Aunt May story as being unfairly treated. I've received SO MUCH amazing feedback on "The Gift" over the years, most notably a phone call from John Romita, Sr., just after the issue came out, telling me that the story had moved him to tears. Doesn't get much better than that!
It really is a great story, I think it's both the similarities and differences between Pete and Hobie that make it so great. I first read it quite some time ago, yet still it buzzes in my head... maybe I should dig out that essential Spider-man.Delete
Oh, and thanks for not including me in the nay-Sayers to Stan Lee. That is a company I surely don't want to be in. But if I may move on from the great one from this point, I thing "The Gerb" very well may fall into this category as well, and I remember a Defenders Story dealing with The Sons of the Serpent and Nighthawks that was shocking and that no writer would dare even think about writing. Also, I saw the discussion about how the Twilight Zone may fit into the same category as this in peoples minds, funny, I always thought of that (like many 60's and especially 70's, but the zone far more) as being MORE mature writing than modern TV writing.
It's good to here that "the Gift" isn't forgotten. It truly was a touching story. Since the first reading I have since gone back and read it a few times, each time on little more than a whim, and always it leaves me quite. What's more even though you absolutely feel for Peter, and this could have taken place with or without Ben, I really think he enhances the weight of the story. WHen this was undone, that is what really burned me, and sure I excepted it as just being comics and that is just the way the game is played, but it still irked me. Also, didn't that issue also feature a tale with a byline shared by A Mr. J.M. Dematteis, and anunknown named Stan Lee? yes it did. How many writers really get that honor? I just hope you can add this fraction of my praise to you list of praise, hell I might add more later.
And don't forget nexrt week Roger Stern returns to tell a Spider-man tale.
wishing you nothing, but goodwill and hipness from here to the stars,
sorry, one last thing, I said especially the 70's not to diminish the magic of 60's Stan, but rather because there seemed to be more of a deliberate push in the 70's.
Sharing a writing credit with Stan Lee was one of the highlights of my career, Jack. If I could go back in time and tell twelve year old me about that, he'd probably faint!Delete
A new Roger Stern Spidey story? Great. I have such admiration for Roger: his work on Spider-Man, Cap, Doctor Strange, Avengers, Hulk was superb. (Not many writers have left a significant mark on so many iconic characters.) Roger really is one of the unsung heroes of Marvel. A terrific writer and a very nice guy too.
Good will and hipness right back at you...in a infinite loop!
I enjoyed the new Spider-Man movie too, but I still don't think it was better overall than Raimi's first two. I seem to be in the minority among the people I know, however, as my girlfriend and all of my friends insist that it blows them out of the water. There were some aspects they totally nailed that were always missing in Raimi's movies, though, such as Peter's personality when he is in costume. The nonstop motormouthing and the banter with others was pretty well-done. Garfield does indeed look as if he were designed by Ditko; he and Stone were the major things that I felt improved on the Raimi movies. Maguire and Dunst were good in their roles, but I prefer Garfield and Stone.ReplyDelete
In the CBR feature, I know I had "The Gift" placed at #2 on my list(behind the Master Planner Saga), though I forget where I ranked Kraven's Last Hunt. The Harry Osborn Goblin saga is in the several years' worth of Spider-Man comics I haven't read yet, so I couldn't rank it. I was a little surprised to see "The Gift" ranked so low-- well, #12 out of 50 isn't bad at all, but I was pretty certain it would be in the top ten-- but I suppose May's return has had the effect of lessening its impact in the minds of many readers. Reviving Aunt May is one of the more eyeroll-inducing moves Marvel has made in the past decade or so, but whatever. I've never gotten too hung up on continuity, so as far as I'm concerned, May is dead and the story still stands. When I read new Spidey comics, they can simply be taking place in another universe or something as far as I'm concerned; no biggie. It's too beautiful a story to be trampled on like that, and I'm not too ashamed to admit that it made me cry like a little girl when I first read it, heheh. (I was 14 at the time, but it still makes me feel like dust is suddenly flying all around the room and into my eyes when I dig it out and give it another read.)
The Vassilis Gogtzilas art reminds me of Sam Keith's style; that's a good thing. I'll have to check that out when it's released.
And another project in the works with Mike Ploog? Count me in for that, too!
I've noticed a trend among SOME of the folks who loved the new Spider-Man movie, Waylon: they feel compelled to justify that love by tearing down Raimi's work, which I find ridiculous. The first Spider-Man movie was groundbreaking: it brought Spider-Man to the screen in a way that was firmly grounded in the Lee-Ditko-Romita era and did it beautifully. Whatever flaws that movie had -- the Goblin never worked for me (much as the Lizard didn't really work for me in the new movie) -- were overwhelmed by the other wonderful things in the film. SPIDER-MAN 2 was just a fantastic film that remained rooted in the best elements of the first but overcame its weaknesses, via the wonderful Doc Ock storyline. I think it's one of the two or three best superhero movies ever.Delete
Good point about the Aunt May story being (perhaps) weakened by the fact she came back so soon afterwards. But I agree with you wholeheartedly: the story still exists on its own terms and should be enjoyed that way.
Glad you like Vassilis' work. I can see the Sam Keith influence, but Vassilis is also his own unique creative force. Hope you enjoy the new series when it debuts in the fall.
Congratulations on those slots. One of my first Spider-Man issues was a translation of "The Osborn Legacy" from Spectacular #189 and it was a real pleasure to have such a good story for practising my French translation. The whole Harry saga is wonderful - many thanks to you and Sal.ReplyDelete
By the way I've just been reviewing "Kraven's Last Hunt" for my blog and noticed that that title doesn't appear anywhere in the Essential reprint. Was the story called that at the time or was it only later named that for the collected edition?
The Kraven epic was originally called FEARFUL SYMMETRY, Tim. Editor Jim Salicrup (the same guy who decided to run all six parts of the story through all three Spider-Man titles, something that had never been done before) came up with KRAVEN'S LAST HUNT. I think the very first reprint had both titles as one: FEARFUL SYMMETRY: KRAVEN'S LAST HUNT; but over time most folks just called it KLH.Delete
And thanks for the kind words about the Harry stories!
I grew up reading your Spectacular comics with Sal Buscema. Even though it was the '90s and McFarlane's comic was the popular one, I always liked Buscema's art. Plus, I think your Spectacular run has aged so much better than all of its contemporary Spider-Books.ReplyDelete
I was rereading that issue with the hologram cover the other day, and that is still one of my favorite single issues of anything. The way that Buscema drew those facial expressions was just so visceral. I could feel the hate on little Normie's face after Spidey beat up his dad. That always resonated with me when I was a kid. It still resonates with me as an adult.
Also, on the subject of cheapening classic stories (or deaths) with resurrections... I don't really feel that stuff that comes out later and reverses a storyline has any pertinent affect on my ability to enjoy the original story. ASM #400 is still a good comic even though Aunt May came back.
I think it's a matter of what you see as your canon. If you treat all Spider-Man comics as one giant biography of the character Peter Parker, you'll go insane. I think the modern, sophisticated reader understands how different creative teams and different editorial edicts can affect a series. Spider-Man's story will probably never end, but a creative team's reign will come to an end at some point. Just gotta hope that the creative people behind the comic can give the story some closure, because Spider-Man will never get closure.
As a reader, you have to create your own canon.
I mean, I don't think any less of Watchmen because of Before Watchmen, you know? Maybe Before Watchmen has cheapened the brand, but it can never touch the story. And I like to believe the story is the most important thing.
"As a reader, you have to create your own canon." Well said—and I totally agree with you, Dru.Delete
No matter how much I praise Sal Buscema's work, it's never enough. He can draw action, emotion, humor...his storytelling is impeccable...and it's all done with a seeming effortlessness. Working with him was, and remains, a highlight of my career.
"I think the modern, sophisticated reader understands how different creative teams and different editorial edicts can affect a series." Cheers for that, Dru. ;)Delete
But yeah, I can see your point when you mention the Watchmen. I'll have to think of it this way, if I can.
Talk amongst yourselves! : )Delete
By the way, do you happen to know if there is any chance Marvel will put out a collected edition of your entire Spectacular run with Buscema?Delete
I don't know of any plans, Dru, but I suspect they'll get around to it at some point.Delete
It would certainly make me very happy!
I enjoyed the new Spidey film well enough, but I can't see myself returning to it again and again like Raimi's.ReplyDelete
For one thing, they BUTCHERED everything lifted from AMAZING FANTASY 15, especially the burglar. You cannot improve on perfection. In all honesty, if they weren't going to do it right, I'd have preferred they just thrust us into the action first thing with a brief recap later.
I suspect Webb will work out some of the pacing kinks by the sequel, since this was his first outing directing a superhero/action film. This one had trouble staying on task. (We should probably be grateful that it only took Spidey an hour to suit up, given his indie sensibilities!)
I'm still amazed by how powerful AMAZING FANTASY 15 is. Less than twenty pages, and it still ranks as one of the greatest stories ever. It doesn't feel dated, in spite of the elements clearly rooted in the 60s. It transcends those limitations. And I still cry from time to time when Peter realizes his tragic mistake.
I actually liked the Lizard and thought the parts with him were the strongest. But I also liked Defoe's Goblin, in spite of the goofy costume. Especially the Thanksgiving dinner scene, which was PACKED with tension.
I wasn't blown away by the Peter/Gwen chemistry, but I have a soft spot for MJ. I liked how they handled Flash Thompson, who never moved past his bully role in Raimi's film. Captain Stacy was great, though I would have liked to have seen him do more detective work. Lee/Romita's Stacy was, like Robbie Robertson, the kind of guy whose brain was always working.
Not a fan of the parents angle. It detracts from Uncle Ben and Aunt May as the center of Peter's universe. And Peter Parker is not a Harry Potter style 'destiny' narrative. Some are born great and some have greatness thrust upon them, and it's always been the latter for Pete.
BTW, Vermin makes an appearance in the AMAZING SPIDER-MAN videogame. You can find several comics throughout the game that are readable, including one issue of KRAVEN'S LAST HUNT.
--David, who is halfway through UBIK per your suggestion!
I agree that the origin sequence was the weakest part of the film, David. I also think that focusing on Peter's parents was a misstep. I bow to no one in my admiration of Stan Lee, but giving Peter Parker "special" parents was one of his biggest blunders while writing Spider-Man. Peter Parker is Everykid and Everykid shouldn't have parents who were superspies fighting the Red Skull (or, in this case, super genius scientists whose work ultimately resulted in their son becoming Spider-Man).Delete
As noted, I loved Emma Stone's Gwen. Not necessarily because the character, as written, was so engaging, but because Stone made the character come alive through her acting.
All that said, I think there was some very good stuff in there (and I loved that Spidey actually looked like a guy swinging on webs and not a video game character) and I suspect the sequel will be even better. The first Raimi film was brilliant when it came to Peter, Aunt May, Uncle Ben, MJ -- but less so when it came to the Goblin and the superheroics. By the 2nd movie, one of the best superhero movies ever, Raimi got the balance down perfectly.
So here's to AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2, in which Kraven the Hunter buries Spider-Man alive and...
Well, I can dream, can't I?
An adaptation of KLH isn't out of the question. Like I said, Vermin appears in the videogame, so the connection is floating out there. And Lizard would be a perfect fit. Have Liam Neeson pop in, the perfect Russian gentleman, secretly manipulating events to turn Connors back into the Lizard and use him as bait for the ultimate game: Spider-Man...Delete
I'm in! And, as I've told you before, your idea of Liam Neeson playing Kraven is just brilliant.Delete
Speaking of which, JMD, an artist friend of mine asked me yesterday for suggestions. Naturally, I said, "Lizard vs. Kraven!"Delete
Pretty cool, no?
VERY cool, David! There's the poster for the next movie!Delete
Here's another you're sure to get a kick out of:Delete
I love it!Delete
It's been awhile since I stopped by -- that gorgeous Ploog art grabbed me immediately! I eagerly await both that project & Augusta Wind.
Mike's art also made me think of his superb work on Man-Thing, especially with Steve Gerber's final Man-Thing story currently being published. What do you think of it? So far it reads like vintage Steve Gerber ... which is to say, deeply personal, torn from the heart & soul, and always contemporary & passionate & scathing & insightful ... well, you know. :)
Which leads into Jack's comment above, about some people saying that those stories from the 60s & 70s were good "for those times." Yes, there was some clunkiness here & there, I'd be the first to admit. Even so, what makes so much of the popular entertainment from the time stand out is that is was almost always about something. Why does the original Star Trek still work so well? The Twilight Zone? Because they weren't merely solid entertainment (which they were & then some), but because their creators & writers had something to say, something of themselves to offer. They wanted to entertain AND give the readers/viewers something to think about afterwards. Which is one of the qualities that draws me to your work, of course. I wish there was more like it these days.
Please allow me to recommend the newly released complete 4-season set of Route 66 for just that sort of storytelling. Man-Thing, especially with Gerber at the helm, always struck me as having just that sort of anthology approach. And of course he always knew that the most terrible monsters are the ones inside us.
Hey, Tim! Yes, it's been a while. I still haven't read the Man-Thing story, but I'm sure it's everything you (and Jack) say it is. As I'm sure you know, Gerber was one of the reasons I kept reading comics at an age when I might have given them up: he was a real inspiration to me and remains so to this day.Delete
We're very much in agreement about those 60's/70's classics. The pacing of those old shows is very different from what we're used to today and the style of writing -- especially where Serling is concerned -- is very specific, very unique and, perhaps, slightly baffling to a young viewer in 2012. But, as you well know, once you surrender to those stories, you can't help but be caught in their spell. And you're right, those shows had something to say: at their best they spoke from both the depths of the heart and the heights of imagination. They provoked, they challenged, they moved us.
Haven't seen ROUTE 66 in many years (beyond a William Shatner episode I came across on YouTube a year or two back) but I watched it regularly when I was a kid. Maybe it's time to watch it again. (Glenn Corbett, right? And he went on to become Zefram Cochran on STAR TREK!)
Thanks for stopping by, Tim. It's always wonderful to hear from you.
I found you on another list!ReplyDelete
I tracked down the Going Sane issues on eBay a couple years ago... Then of course, like a week after I got them all, DC announced the TPB!
I really do like that story, though. Out of all the superhero comics you've written, I think it's one of my favorites. (By the way, speaking of lists, where can I find that list you made where you ranked your own favorite works?)
Sorry it took so long to post this, Dru...it got lost in the comments folder!Delete
I saw that list recently and was very glad to see that both GOING SANE and my work with Giffen on JLI made the cut. And thanks for your kind words about GS: of all my mainstream superhero work, it's my absolute favorite.
As for that list: http://www.jmdematteis.com/2009/12/top-to-bottom.html
Did you hear about the recent terrible shooting massacre at Denver, Colorado? The entire world is completely shocked about it.ReplyDelete
Unspeakably tragic. Unspeakably sad.Delete
Hey JM, the web zine is online http://clfc.com.br/somnium/.ReplyDelete
You can download it here :
( I am actually in this issue too, as Daniel V. Gomes )
Thanks so much, Daniel: I'll check it out!ReplyDelete
we have to thank you so much for the opportunity to have one of! your brilliant texts. Thanks a lot!"ReplyDelete
My pleasure, Daniel!Delete