365 Reasons to Love Comics #219
If you read yesterday’s entry, you can probably guess which excellent writer I’ll be talking about today. This clever comics wordsmith has written some of the best comic runs ever. (It’s my party, and I can archive if I want to.)
219. J.M. DeMatteis
The ever-amazing John Marc DeMatteis is a very intriguing writer. Read his dialogue on Justice League International, and you’d never suspect he’s the same guy who’s written super-serious runs on Spider-Man and Dr. Fate and the like. The same is true in reverse. In the years before I bothered to look at credit boxes, I never thought the Spectacular Spidey guy was the same dude scripting the Bwahaha Justice League.
Clearly, he’s gifted. He’s excellent at comedic dialogue, as evidenced in every comic he’s written with Keith Giffen. I shall reiterate: The comedic era of the Justice League, from International to America to Europe, encompasses one of the best comic runs ever. The focus was on character interaction, and DeMatteis’ quick, excellently paced snappy patter sold us on the cast immediately. The book was loaded with terrific dynamics between the characters, from Beetle and Booster to Fire and Ice to Guy and Ice to Max and L-Ron and Oberon and all sorts of other set-ups. It’s not just that every character was funny– it’s that every character was funny in his or her own way. JLI wins the award for world’s greatest superhero sitcom, but it was one that could have its fair share of drama, as well. Just a damn fine comic. I can’t shut up about it, clearly.
J.M. has also proven that he’s interested in the psychology and spirituality of the superhero, and has explored these themes throughout most of his solo works, including Dr. Fate (which Greg Burgas has written a great Comics You Should Own column about) and loads of others. It’s his run on Spider-Man, however, that’s my favorite. In fact, I’d say that Mr. DeMatteis is the best writer to work on a Spider-title outside of, say, Stan Lee. That means he’s darn good.
From his terrific run on Spectacular Spider-Man with Sal Buscema in which he thoroughly explored the minds and souls of Peter Parker, Harry Osborn, and all sorts of others, even Vermin, for Pete’s sake, to his later run on Amazing with Mark Bagley, in which he deconstructed the Spider-Man/Peter Parker dynamic and killed off Aunt May (which never should’ve been retconned), he’s proven that he knows how to handle the Spider-mythos. And, of course, he wrote what’s probably the best Spider-Man story ever, Kraven’s Last Hunt, which showed that J.M. is truly master of the caption box monologue, and provided excellent characterizations for the entire cast. It also has gorgeous Mike Zeck art.
What else has he done? Well, aside from big league books like Captain America, the Defenders (he totally changed the team, at one point), Marvel Team-Up, Silver Surfer, the Spectre (with Norm Breyfogle), and others, he’s also done indie, acclaimed works like Moonshadow (“a fairy tale for grown-ups” with Jon J. Muth), Brooklyn Dreams, Seekers Into the Mystery, and, most recently, the fantasy Abadazad, which has morphed into a series of young adult books. It features art by Mike Ploog, much like their recent comics collaboration, the Stardust Kid. And DeMatteis is still hanging out with Giffen on stuff like the recent Defenders mini-series, and on Hero Squared.
J.M. DeMatteis is a great writer whose work traces the full spectrum of styles and stories. I’m glad to have him. Check out his blog on Amazon here.
Your turn, dear readers! What are your favorite J.M. DeMatteis works?