I've Moved!!!

See my new site at http://tomtesblog.tumblr.com!!!

The Amazing Spider-Man vol. 1

| 15.6.03
Marvel Masterworks: The Amazing Spider-Man, (vol 1), by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko

I've always been a bigger Superman fan than a Spider-Man fan. My only exposure to Spidey as a kid was PBS' The Electric Company along with the occasional comic book and the short-lived 1978 television series. When the Spider-Man movie came out in 2002 it answered many of the questions that I had concerning Spidey's origins. However, it took Marvel Masterworks: The Amazing Spider-Man to really get me interested in Spider-Man on a whole new level.

Marvel Masterworks: The Amazing Spider-Man is a collection of the first eleven comic books ever to feature Spider-Man. This series (from 1962-1964) reveals an astonishing level of psychological complexity, human interest, and a benchmark from which to measure how far the Spider-Man myth has evolved over the years. I think it was WB's Superman series Smallville that really started getting me interested in how the mythology of super-heroes evolve over time. In that series the life of teenage Clark Kent is examined, with all the typical angst of those years. What amazed me reading the early Spider-Man comics was that this "human interest" angle is there from the beginning!

Unlike Clark Kent, Peter Parker is a high school senior when the series begins --actually a nerdy science student who gets mercilessly bullied and teased by his classmates. You can really tell that these comics were written in the '60s --with all the contemporary focus on bullying in schools, and Columbine, this sort of interaction is not seen as funny anymore. Despite the bullying, however, I was reminded of Smallville with the way that Peter tries to balance a social life, high school, and his part-time job at the Daily Bugle.

Many details mirror Superman. Both heroes work at big city newspapers. Reminiscent of the Lois - Clark - Lana triangle, Peter Parker is torn between the dual love interests of Liz Allen and Betty Brandt. Peter Parker even sports Clark Kent-like glasses in first few issues, before they get destroyed by rival classmate Flash Thompson in a fight, never to be seen again.

One big surprise for me was that Mary Jane (MJ) doesn't appear in the early comic books. She must have been added later, although still early enough that some of my friends thought she had been there from the beginning. In the early series Liz Allen is the unattainable girlfriend of bully Flash Thompson, while Betty Brandt (J. Jonah Jameson's secretary at the Bugle) mysteriously leaves town in issue ten of the series --bemoaning the loss of Peter the whole time. It's as though both of these women are merged in the later character of MJ, with disdain and affection transformed into ambivalence.

This compilation is only volume one. I sincerely hope that Marvel continues to release later issues of these classic strips in graphic novel form. I, for one, am sold!

PUBLISHER: Marvel Comics, New York. ISBN: 0-7607-3793-2. Copyright 2003.

No comments:

I've Moved!!!

See my new site at http://tomtesblog.tumblr.com!!!