Monday, March 16, 2015

Guest Review - "My Funny Valentine" - Spider-Man: Blue, a love letter to the Silver Age"

Today the BAB is proud to welcome one of our long-time and faithful readers/commenters to the writer's chair. You know him as Dr. Oyola; he regularly writes about comics and music on his own blog, The Middle Spaces (

Dr. Oyola: Sometimes in taking a close look at something we like, we come to learn that maybe we don’t like it as much as we thought we did. Or perhaps, more accurately, we are able to better see the complexity and nuance of our relationship to it. Take for instance Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s Spider-Man: Blue from 2002-03, which is the focus of this review/overview. I first picked it up because it seemed right up my alley—a re-telling/re-imagining of the beginning of the John Romita, Sr. era of Amazing Spider-Man. I love adaptations and re-tellings and I love Silver Age Spider-Man, so it seemed like a no-brainer to get it. Plus, the art looked pretty amazing. However, after the first two issues or so I decided it wasn’t so good after all. I can’t recall exactly what it was that led me to that opinion, but I think I got the rest of the series without even bothering to read it all. Instead, not too soon after I put the whole series up on eBay. No one wanted to buy it!  Stuck with it, I stored them with the rest of my comics and on a whim reread the whole thing in one sitting a few years later and decided my original estimation was wrong. I was glad I had failed to sell them. I recently returned to them while doing research on a post on my own blog on romance comics (and to some degree their influence on superhero comics) and decided that they’d be a good subject of a Bronze Age Babies guest post—taking a look at a relatively recent re-framing of a Silver Age romance whose dissolution through death marks the beginning of the Bronze Age for many. The thing is, as I said above, now having spent a lot more time examining the series, I find myself returning to ambivalence. I am split. I love the art and the visual storytelling, but when it comes to the writing, while I appreciate the updated dialog and how some of the elements of the plot are handled, overall its failures are less acceptable than in the original material seeing as Loeb had 30+ intervening years to get it right.

Spider-Man: Blue
is a six-issue mini-series that came out as part of the Marvel Knights imprint in 2002-03. Each issue is referred to as “Book One,” “Book Two,” and so on, and each one uses the name of a classic popular love song for a title: “My Funny Valentine,” “Let’s Fall in Love,” “Anything Goes,” “Autumn in New York,” “If I Had You” and “All of Me.” It was the second in a series of re-telling/re-imaginings of early days of Marvel heroes, which started with Daredevil: Yellow, and included Hulk: Grey and Captain America: White.
I haven’t read the others, but the Daredevil one looks interesting. All of the series were written by Jeph Loeb (who has done a lot of uneven, and even highly criticized work for both Marvel and DC) and Tim Sale who does a great job emulating John Romita, Sr, with an occasional flourish that reminds me of Steve Ditko.

While Spider-Man: Blue is ostensibly a re-imagining/re-telling of Amazing Spider-Man #40 to #48 and #63 with a focus on the love triangle between Peter Parker, Gwen Stacy and Mary Jane Watson which haunts Peter and MJ way past Gwen’s death and into the days of their marriage, the series is really a love letter to those early Lee/Romita, Sr. days, as there is plenty of superhero action and focus on interaction of some of the supporting cast. Each issue features a small scroll/banner that reads, “Dedicated to Stan Lee & Steve Ditko & John Romita, Sr. Web-heads all!”  As such, I went back and read the original issues this series is based on, however, and just like every time I read Silver and Bronze Age comics I was amazed at how much they used to squeeze into a single issue back then (I miss those days), so there is a lot left out as well, including references to the main plot of some of those intervening issues from which some of the relationship stuff emerges, leading to Loeb and Sale compressing the stories and having to find new ways for events from disparate issues in their original telling to flow together.

The series is framed through the conceit of modern day more adult Peter, now married to MJ, recording audio tapes every Valentine’s Day as if he were talking to Gwen, re-telling her the story of their meeting and early relationship now that he can admit his alter ego. Throughout the six issues, Peter Parker narrates his own story through the blue text boxes that float in the panels. The first issue opens with Spider-Man swinging his way to the top of one of the towers of the Brooklyn Bridge to lay a flower from where Gwen Stacy fell to her death—but wait, didn’t she fall of off the George Washington Bridge? This is one of those things that continuity has gone back and forth about since in Amazing Spider-Man #122, the text calls it the GWB, but Gil Kane drew it as the Brooklyn Bridge. I go back and forth on which I prefer. Regardless, the narration and story then jumps to the events of ASM #40, unlike the obsession with her death that has become common—from the confrontation with the Jackal in the original clone saga to the attempt by the Green Goblin much later after his return to throw Mary Jane off the Brooklyn Bridge (Marvel Knights: Spider-Man #12)—Spider-Man: Blue is about the beginning of their relationship not the end. So while, “My Funny Valentine” may start with an infamous confrontation with the Green Goblin, this is meant to set up and contextualize the relationship with Harry Osborn, through which Peter meets Gwen.

The re-telling of the warehouse scene with the Green Goblin from ASM #40 sets the tone for the liberties Loeb and Sale take with the source material. For example, the Goblin himself never takes off his mask (or else has already put it back on), and the way Peter frees himself and attacks the Goblin is totally different, though the results are the same, including the arrival of the firemen and the passing off of a now amnesiac Norman Osborn. There are other less apparent changes in how the story unfolds in Book One, like Peter pays for his motorcycle in cash from a biker looking dude in Spider-Man: Blue, while in ASM #41 he has to call J. Jonah Jameson to vouch for his bank loan. In addition, Loeb and Sale take further liberty in making it seem like Peter and Gwen don’t have their moment of romantic chemistry until both happen to be in the hospital visiting Norman Osborn, and having Peter give her a ride on his new motorcycle, when in ASM, they already know each other, there is no hospital scene. They talk when he runs into her with Harry and Flash, but then he goes home to show the bike off to Aunt May and Anna Watson instead.

There are tons of other changes ranging in importance in the details and order of events throughout Spider-Man: Blue but I am not bothered by most of them, in fact I quite like it, as I imagine it being the result of faulty memory many years after the fact in Peter’s re-telling. One of the things I like most about the changes is in the dialog—whether you think of them as corrections on the part of Loeb or self-corrections on the part of Parker’s memory— is that Peter does not come as much a sexist creep when talking to Mary Jane and Gwen. Seriously, re-reading the issue the series is based on, I cringed every time he called one or the other “doll” or did the 1960s equivalent of what pick-up artists call “negging,” talking down to them and getting all defensive when asked a question.

In scenes involving these young women, since the story as a whole is meant to focus more on their relationships than on Spidey action (though there is plenty of that, too), they are given a little more intelligence and agency. For example, unlike in ASM #43, where Peter just makes an excuse about taking pictures of the Rhino and leaves Mary Jane in the crowd, in Spider-Man: Blue Book Three—“Anything Goes”—she is the one who comes up with a plan, flirting with a cop, to allow Peter to get past the barricades in order to ostensibly take pictures (but really to tackle the Lizard, not the Rhino—another of those changes). The great thing about this version is that it works both if you are an old schooler who prefers a version where Mary Jane did not know his identity, or someone like me who loves that it was eventually revealed that she knew he was Spider-Man all along. In my mind, I like that she is really helping him to do his Spider-Man thing, but not letting on. Another example—this one from Book Two—which retroactively echoes the Gwen Stacy of the recent Spider-Man films, she is seen working in the lab at Empire University (and where Miles Warren, later to become the Jackal, makes a cameo). Or did she always major in biochemistry? I just don’t recall any scenes of her working in a lab in the original Amazing Spider-Man run, save for her first appearance where Harry and Flash use her as a distraction in chem lab to play a trick on Peter—but that can hardly be considered her “working” in the lab. When Spider-Man seeks out Curt Connors’ help in making special webbing to melt the Rhino’s suit, it is based on an idea he originally gotten from something Peter and Gwen were developing together in class. I like that Loeb and Sale make an effort to give the love interests some depth and character, rather than just existing as eye candy and props in Peter’s story.

Book Three focuses on the return of the Lizard (one of my all-time favorite Spider-Man villains), by combining the events of ASM #43 and #44, but more directly linking the transformation to the special webbing Dr. Connors helps develop, which in part has its basis in the same self-replicating materials that re-grows his arm—there is a foreshadow to his return stuck into his scene in Book Two. More importantly to the theme of the series, a good fourth of the issue depicts Peter bringing Mary Jane to the Silver Spoon to meet the rest of “the gang:” Flash, Harry and Gwen, and how that interferes with his burgeoning romance with Gwen. Events outside of the supporting cast scenes are a lot more compressed. Loeb and Sale do a great job staging superhero/supervillain throwdowns, but the situations are re-imagined to make time for how things develop in Peter’s social life. So, gone is everything with Aunt May’s ill health and her taking a trip to the seaside, the extended nature of Spider-Man’s hunt for the Lizard, and the injury to Spider-Man’s arm (a trope that is one of my favorites—how often has he hurt his arm and fashioned a makeshift sling?) in favor of a more direct and immediate approach.

Again, I am not arguing that his is better than what are to me some classic issues of Amazing Spider-Man. Instead, I see this series as supplemental. In fact, I’d say that the original issues are better, but it is nice to see a relatively contemporary comic paying respectful homage to the Silver Age. Furthermore, despite there being places where the re-arranging of the plot reveals weakness in the writing, Tim Sale’s art seems to get stronger as the series develops. His art is especially showcased by two-page splashes on the second and third page of each issue, but there are others scattered throughout that are beautiful, full of movement and/or depth of emotion. The first one is not so great, though the blue tone of the coloring (by Steve Buccellato) is apt to the melancholy theme of the series’ framing, but they get better and better. My favorite is the kitchen scene at Aunt May’s house in Book Four, but Spidey taking on both Vultures (Adrian Toomes and Blackie Drago) in Book Five is pretty friggin’ awesome, too. In addition, the art in the series evokes the 1960s story beats, and those origins remain to me the quintessential Spider-Man era.

Book Five—“If I Had You”—is essentially ASM  #63, put before the events of ASM #47. In it Adrian Toomes escapes the prison hospital with the help of Kraven the Hunter, who it turns out has been stalking Spider-Man in order to complete the hit on our hero taken out by the (now thought dead) Green Goblin (Kraven, drawn in shadow, also freed the Rhino back in Book Two). When Kraven the Hunter explains that Toomes is not dying and that Blackie poisoned him, he gives the old man the antidote and sends him after Blackie as revenge for failing to kill Spider-Man in the previous issue (the events of ASM #48). It is during Spidey’s fight with both Vultures that Flash Thompson is depicted walking around wondering why Peter Parker’s star seems on the rise while his is fading is put into danger and Spider-Man has to save him. It is a great scene, and it leads to Flash reconsidering what he is doing with his life when he realizes that Spider-Man is probably no older than he is and is doing so much with his life. He breaks the news to his friends afterwards: he is joining the army.

This is the change in the re-telling that I have mixed feelings about. I really don’t like it, but at the same time, the scenes depicting it are well-staged. What bugs me is making Flash Thompson volunteer for the U.S. Army rather than be drafted, as happened in the original run. While I can understand wanting to update the timeline in such a way that his enlistment is not tied to conscription, and thus the Vietnam War, there is nothing else in Spider-Man: Blue that changes the feel of the time period. Even Peter’s casual sexism isn’t necessarily connected to the Sixties, since I am sure there were plenty of young men who didn’t talk to women that way, just as there are plenty who still do (with whatever update to that language). Loeb does a great job developing the sense of Peter and Flash’s crossing social and economic trajectories, but I think Flash being drafted really captures the change of fortune due to forces way beyond our control (kind of like being bitten by a radioactive spider, but worse). Suddenly, part of what makes Peter Parker an outsider is saving him from a fate that many young men faced in the mid-to-late 60s. As Gwen says in ASM #43, “I don’t think they’d take Peter! He’s a scholarship student -- at the very top of his class!” By making Flash being saved by Spider-Man the impetus for enlistment it removes the parallel imposed responsibility between the characters. Plus, in the context of the controversy of the Vietnam Era (or really any war…uh, I mean “police action” since) the idea of Flash “helping people” by joining the army is cast into doubt. Better he should be something more arguably selfless, like a firefighter—but of course that would have been too much a change and not line up with continuity (still, if it led to him not ending up as “Agent Venom” wearing the black suit symbiote for the government, as he is these days, it’d be worth it).

The final issue of Spider-Man: Blue takes the greatest liberties, because it not only changes the order of events from the original, but changes the very reason that Kraven crashes Flash’s going away party at Harry and Peter’s. Originally, Kraven kidnaps Harry to get at Norman Osborn who Kraven thinks works for the Green Goblin. In Spider-Man: Blue, Kraven confuses Spider-Man’s scent with Harry’s (something about him borrowing Peter’s cologne) and thinks Harry is Spider-Man. He tries to kill the young Osborn in order to finally fulfill the contract put out on Spider-Man by the Green Goblin.
I have to say that even as the art and visual storytelling in this series gets better and better the story work in terms of the writing seems to lose steam as the threads start to fray. The weakness of the whole cologne thing, for example, is highlighted by Peter’s narration explaining that Kraven must have been so embarrassed by his mistake that he “never tried that stunt again.” You’d think as sharp a hunter as Kraven would be able to figure out that it must have been someone else at Flash’s party, especially since Spider-Man showed up to save Harry and beat his butt so quickly. Furthermore, if Kraven knows there is a connection between Norman Osborn and the Green Goblin, what sense would it make that Spider-Man would be his son?

The series seems to have two distinct endings. First there is Peter finally getting back home after fighting Kraven the Hunter and Gwen Stacy finds him there. She is in a slinky black dress and what looks like a white fur coat and kind of presents herself to him in a very sexy way. The suggestion is that they consummate their relationship that night and then start to date. This feels kind of abrupt and a little too contemporary a notion of the development of a romantic relationship, which is weird since the whole premise of the series is supposed to be an examination of the romance in that era of Amazing Spider-Man, but despite Peter calling this a “love story” in his narration and a couple of scenes involving the love triangle of Peter/Gwen/MJ, this element feels lost in the events of the battling Vultures and Kraven’s attack. The actual ending of Spider-Man: Blue is back in the “present” of Peter Parker telling this story into the recorder as a way of talking to the now dead Gwen, closing the frame that opens the series. It turns out Mary Jane (still Peter’s wife at this time) was listening in, but rather than express jealousy at Peter’s continuing obsession with his dead former girlfriend, she tells him “To tell Gwen hello” for her—demonstrating her deep understanding of his feelings and her own feelings for her dead friend and one time competitor for Peter’s affections. There is a definite sense that Peter is finally moving on, but that this final reflection on his love of Gwen was a necessary step to do that.

In the end I have to rate Tim Sale’s art (complemented by Steve Buccellato’s coloring) as the selling point for this series. There are elements of the re-telling that are very strong, but overall I’d say it is uneven—perhaps others would come to different conclusions. I am particularly impressed by the composition of some singular panels that have a certain quietude to them that evoke the depth of tension in Peter’s life. The splash page kitchen scene is a great example, but so is a panel simply showing Aunt May’s hand going into “the kitty” (literally a cat-shaped cookie jar) for the money for Peter’s motorcycle.

One last note about Spider-Man: Blue: I know there is a trade that collects all six issues, but I have the original issues with high-quality heavy bond covers and interior pages. For some reason Marvel chose to include ads in those original issues (which for a high concept higher price point limited series seems weird) and in two cases included back-up stories that are essentially BS. One of them features Jay Leno (!) as a guest-star helping Spider-Man fight ninjas, but is part two of a two-part story whose first part appears in some other title at some other time. It makes no sense. It really takes away from the special feel of the issues.

And there you have it. I hope you’ve enjoyed this review/overview. I know Spider-Man: Blue itself is not a Bronze Age Comic, nor is it even based on a Bronze Age comic, but most folks around here seem to have a lot of respect for the comics of the Silver Age, and anyway, without the Silver Age to inform our precious Bronze Age stories, we wouldn’t be here.



david_b said...

Outstanding review, sir.. The series seems to extend the classic Silver charm, with some '40/50some yrs later' liberties both narrative and visuals. Looked like a great way to lure in us old-timers and it works well.

I've read a few titles like this, and this particular series looks much better (and done with far more love) that that Hank Pym retrospect (published around the same time..) where he becomes 'The Wasp' (duh-duh-DUHHHHHH...).

The tape recorder notion was a good tool to use for the narrative aspect. Like you, I'd probably want to get the issue-by-issue collection rather than the TPB.

Can't wait to hear others thoughts.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Doug said...

Colin --

That's Kirk Alyn, who played Superman in the 1948 and 1950 movie serials.


Redartz said...

Great in-depth review, Osvaldo! You raise some good points about the tweaks in story continuity, and the way events transpired. I have read the first three issues of this series but haven't picked up the final three yet. My take was that the artwork , as you say, was a big draw for the series. Sale does a nice job evoking Romita Sr.'s clean, smooth style. As for the variant story elements, they didn't really bother me too much, but I can't really say for certain not having read the conclusion.

David_b: if you enjoy retellings such as this, have you read the Sensational Spiderman Annual from several years ago? It was published in the middle of the Civil War arc, but the story was an evocative look back at the Peter/Gwen/MJ triangle. It referenced events from the mid 60's up through the Conway/Andru era, and the artwork paid homage to some classic panels. A fine book...

Doug said...

Tangentially, did any of our readers read and enjoy the two Earth's Mightiest Heroes mini-series?

I've read Miller and Romita Jr.'s DD: Man Without Fear. It was OK, but I really don't care for JRJR's art.

Tim Sale is pretty solid, as others above have commented.


Dr. Oyola said...

I am going to be gone most of the day (I am down in FLA visiting with family), though I will be back this evening to respond to any comments. But, I wanted to encourage everyone to make sure you click on those two-page splash page spreads to get a good look at them.

Thanks for the kind words, so far.

Anonymous said...

Oops, I should have thanked Osvaldo for his hard work on that review, very interesting reading. And thanks to you, Doug - the only b/w Superman I know is George Reeves, but I wasn't sure if that was him or not which is why I asked :)

Edo Bosnar said...

Very nice review, Osvaldo. You've really piqued my interest - I'd love to read this, despite its flaws.
Not too long ago, I read a sort of similar story Loeb and Sale did for DC, called Superman for All Seasons. Generally I liked it, although as you noted for this story, it had its weak points.
Regardless, I kind of respect what Loeb and Sale were trying to do with stories like these, i.e., evoking or using the nostalgia for those older stories and combining it was a new look at the characters and situations, and putting new wrinkles into them.
Also, I completely agree about Tim Sale's art - it is perfectly suited to the stories, and is absolutely gorgeous.

Karen said...

Osvaldo, this is really outstanding and I appreciate all the effort you put into it. Although I have never read this series, I'm also interested in re-imaginings, and this particular one brings up the issue of stories that are tied to a particular time frame. For me, that sixties period is so integral to those Spider-Man stories, even more so than say the early FF stuff, that it's hard to imagine them without all those references, like the cases you cite. Those comics had something to say about their times, even if it was done in a subtle way -perhaps that also being the best way to do so.

The situation with Flash Thompson in those Lee/Romita books was a way to make commentary without hitting people over the head. A lot of young men were going off to war and emotions at home were swirling over it. Without that backdrop, Flash enlisting loses meaning. The need for the books to divest themselves of ties to the past, so the characters aren't all 60+ years old, unfortunately deprives them of context in some ways.

Doug said...

I think I understand why these stories exist. My take is that "modern" comics readers (which I suppose is not the same thing as readers of modern comics) may feel put-off by what they would consider the "archaic" art of the Silver Age. So "updating" classic stories with a more modern feel to them in terms of language, art style, and coloring perhaps makes them palatable to younger readers of today. It keeps the history alive, I guess.

But for older readers who've known the source material for literally decades, I as one don't really find that these tales add much. And in some specific cases, notably seeing the Teen Titans of the Haney/Cardy era using cellphones for texting, somewhat puts me off. And I feel curmudgeonly when I think that way.

But as Osvaldo states on numerous occasions in his review, the art if really nice and very respectful of the subject matter. I believe I have three of these five issues (maybe four), so they bear a second look on my part.

Thanks for the write-up, Osvaldo!


Ward Hill Terry said...

Well done, Dr. Double O! I read/skimmed this collection in a big bookstore once. Overall I like the approach and the art, but Osvaldo's critique points up things that bug me, like the pointless revisionism. Why change the villain that Spidey fought? Why move the sequence of stories? That stuff starts out as a mild irritant, but then it grows, so that every subsequent annoyance gets magnified. Your description of the Kraven story makes it seem ridiculous!
One of the things I enjoyed about Marvels is Busiek's efforts at keeping the stories in context and intact. Your perspective on Flash is great. Flash's story in this series suffers from the attempt at updating. I think MJ's story does as well. I don't like the idea that she has/had sussed out Peter's secret. One of the great things about MJ was that she was Peter's (girl) friend and had nothing to do with Spider-Man. She wasn't a hostage, or a snoop, or a motivation, or a source or any other hero-girlfriend trope.
Oh, the bridge thing! I had read the Marvel Tales reprint of Gwen's fate early on in my comic collecting career and it made a big impact. Years later when I drove through NYC for the first time I thought about that story on the whole drive across the George Washington Bridge! (I still think of it as the Gwen Stacey Bridge!)

Martinex1 said...

Spectacular review Dr. O. I have never read these "Blue" issues, but even with the critique of the reworking of the story, you have piqued my interest.

I am glad you mentioned the coloring, because even from the samples that you supplied I think the color palette is really nice. I like the flat colors so much more than the three dimensional toning that many attempt today. It is so much clearer to me and it really shows off the line art. In this case, Sale's art in not at all muddy or cloudy. I have to agree with you that the kitchen scene with Peter and Aunt May is striking.

I don't ever recall Peter having a motorcycle; I had some of those early issues, but don't recall that at all. I was kind of surprised by the fact as I thought surely Aunt May would take the opposite approach and warn him of all of the dangers of a motor bike. At the very least he would be wearing a helmet, wouldn't he?

Thanks for sharing. Very enjoyable.

Anonymous said...

Great review, Osvaldo! I read this mini-series a few years ago and thought it was pretty good overall, but some of the continuity changes really bothered me; I don't mind small changes (or even a little updating), but when they start changing villains and plot points, it bugs me. I thought Busiek did a better job fitting things in on Untold Tales (though I didn't like how he kept shoehorning in "new" villains).

As for Flash in Vietnam, I always thought ALL college students got deferments? Hence the cliche of the student who took just enough classes to stay in college, but not enough to graduate, just to beat the draft. And Flash was there on a sports scholarship, so you'd think he'd have a deferment too...unless his GPA wasn't high enough? I assume people on a sports scholarship would have to maintain a minimum GPA or something? I dunno, I'm Canadian, so I don't know how all that stuff works (or used to work) down in the States.

On another note, I think Osvaldo has given me an inspiration for another guest post...assuming Doug and Karen are interested, of course!

Mike Wilson

Doug said...

Mike, you just bring it on.

I've been thinking myself about a 100-Word Review of a Thor story I read over the weekend. It's one of the all-time classics, and has been reprinted several times. Getting my thoughts into 100 words could be a real challenge!

Your point, Mike, about Busiek introducing new villains into what should have been a "flashback" Spidey series reminds me of my main gripes with Byrne's X-Men: Hidden Years series. Additionally, introducing characters before they "could have been" introduced -- like Storm. Pfah...


Edo Bosnar said...

Sorry to stray away from the topic at hand, but man, Doug, I just have to emphatically agree with you about Storm's appearance in Hidden Years - I recently re-read the entire series (gotta love those Panini digests!), and that was the one thing I found unforgivable...

Dr. Oyola said...

Thanks for all the kind words. As I said in my review, I think this one is worth keeping for the art alone. And I don't mind most of the changes, they don't change the original stories (would this series even make sense w/o the originals?). I like to think of it as Peter 20 years on misremembering the order of event and who was there. . .don't we all do that?

That said, I do hate stuff like that that Doug and Edo pointed out - the thing is, if you write it well, it doesn't matter, but if the writing is weak. . .well, part of that weakness is not considering the viability of the idea.

Some time in late spring or early summer I am going to do an overview/review of Dan Slott's Spider-Man & Human Torch - which I absolutely love. I should probably do Untold Tales, too - since I am a huge fan and it is partially responsible for getting me back into comics.

I really really love that two vultures splash.

Dr. Oyola said...

P.S. I am really surprised no one has yet expressed outrage over Flash Thompson becoming Venom. ;)

Anonymous said...

Great review.
I hadn't seen this stuff before.
I like Tim Sale's work, which I only know from Batman. It seems to me, anyway, to have a retro feel to it.
Peter did have a motorcycle. If not for the sweater vest, he coulda been almost cool.

Redartz said...

Osvaldo- Untold Tales was one of the bright spots in 90's comics. Would love to see your overview. The first Untold Tales Annual is a big favorite story for me; might be fodder for a 100 word review...

Anonymous said...

Aaaaah, Osvaldo! The Spider-Man/Human Torch mini was the "inspiration" I referred to earlier for another guest post here; I love that mini-series too! Oh well, you called it first, so it's yours...back to the old drawing board :)

Mike Wilson

Dr. Oyola said...

Mike, I haven't written it yet and it is going to be a while before I have time, but if you are willing to wait - I would be down to do a co-written one in the style of our illustrious hosts, Doug & Karen. . . a collaboration.

Karen said...

I think that collaboration would be fabulous. If we can help facilitate it in any way, let us know at our email address.

Martinex1 said...

Just a comment on the kitchen scene about what makes it nice for me; it is the small realistic touches. Aunt May just has the sweater over her shoulders like a shawl. Peter's tie is thrown over his shoulder to avoid a mess. He sits comfortably with his left foot tilted on its side. The Frigidaire is the old style with the internal freezer. Those are the small nuances that make Sale's work great. I can see other artists blowing past those details.

Mike and Osvaldo that Spider Man and Human Torch review would be a highlight.

Flash is Venom? I guess I knew that somehow. It is ridiculous though. Seems like a jumping of the shark. Cannot wait for Betty Brant to be the new Black Widow.

Anonymous said...

Ah another great post from our esteemed Dr. Oyola. I'm not generally a fan of 're-imagined' comics series that try to put a different spin on classic tales, but this one here looks like the exception. Tim Sale definitely looks like he was channeling Steve Ditko here. His uncluttered art style really works here.

Regarding Flash's reasons for joining the army, i.e. the issue of his enlisting versus being drafted, well, it seems to me that Loeb was trying to add some humanity to Flash in this series. In the classic Stan Lee/John Romita Snr. series Flash always came off as the class bully to Peter, the stereotypical bad guy who made life hell for our hero. Pretty one dimensional stuff character-wise. I know some people might say it's straying too much from the original story, but here I think it comes off beautifully.

I agree with Doug in having a preference for Romita Senior's art. Romita Junior's art somehow has never resonated with me. Gimme Gil Kane with his contorted limbs and up-nostril shots any day!

By the way, like my namesake Mike Wilson, I'm open to any collaborations for posts too. I think it'll add to the richness of our beloved BAB community. HB? Edo? David_B? Martinex1? Anyone? Just drop me a line on Twitter and away we'll go! (The name's included below in my handle)

- Mike 'web_dragon' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Anonymous said...

A collaboration would work for me, Osvaldo. Let me know when you're ready (Doug has my email address).

Mike Wilson

Edo Bosnar said...

I'd be open to a collaboration in theory, but I'm not sure how it would work out in practice. Even so, anyone who wants to should feel free to contact me - Karen and Doug have my e-mail address, and they have my permission to give it to any of the BAB regulars.

Doug said...

Karen and I have had success collaborating via email or by one of us starting a Word document with some thoughts and the other building off of that starting point. Exchanging an email or document 3-4 times usually gets it done, particularly if the roles of the writers are established up front. As you know, when we were doing our full-blown synopses, one of us was the "play-by-play" author and the other provided the "color commentary". We took turns each week in those roles.


Unknown said...

I have all 6 anyone interested?

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