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CSBG Archive

Comics You Should Own – Spider-Man #1-5

“Torment” – a great Spider-Man story, or the greatest Spider-Man story?  The debate begins below!

Spider-Man by Todd McFarlane (writer/artist; colorist, issue #4), Rick Parker (letterer, issues #1-5), Bob Sharen (colorist, issues #1-3), and Gregory Wright (colorist, issue #5).

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Published by Marvel, 5 issues (#1-5), cover dated August-December 1990.

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When Marvel announced that Todd McFarlane, the ultra-hot penciller of one of their flagship titles, Amazing Spider-Man, was not only going to draw but write a brand-new Spider-Man title, the news was greeted with disbelief by fans who could not believe that the astonishingly talented Mr. McFarlane could actually write a viable comic book.  Then, when it arrived, it became not only the best-selling comic of all time, but it garnered bushels of critical acclaim.  McFarlane, it seemed, could do no wrong.  His limitless talent is one reason why this is simply the greatest story in the history of comics.

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We begin with the art, because that’s where everyone knew McFarlane would shine.  Let’s look at the very first page of his epic, where he uses five thin panels, leading into a double-page splash that properly gets us into the swing of the story (so to speak).  His use of thin panels plays to the fact that the action takes place in New York City, home of the skyscraper, and therefore the panels become, almost literally, the skyline of the city itself.  When he uses these panels, as he does liberally, he creates a vertiginous effect, one that leaves the reader breathless with anticipation for the inevitable splash, as McFarlane can only fit so much into these panels and must economically reveal the secrets therein.  Using these panels forces McFarlane, by choice, to show us only those elements that will best push the story forward.  Because of this claustrophobic use of panel layouts, it’s almost a relief when he opens up the page a bit more, and we fall into his expertly rendered drawings.  He’s a master manipulator, like most artists, but we don’t mind being manipulated.

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The thin panels also serve to highlight a minor motif running throughout the story, and that is the dripping of liquids.  Blood, of course, is the most often featured, but water serves as well.  Using the panels to show long strands of liquid flowing from the top to the bottom of the page gives not only a distorted sense of motion (as we read from left to right, and the top-to-bottom flow of the narrative disorients us, which is McFarlane’s purpose), but serves as a way to extend the story itself, as the viscous blood seems to flow forever from the heights to the depths (a motif which is mirrored in McFarlane’s writing).  This lengthening of the story extends the reader’s torment (in a good way), because Spider-Man is being tortured throughout this arc, and we, the audience, are squirming in our seats along with him.  It’s an astonishing way to once again make us claustrophobic, setting us up for the breathtaking larger panels.

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It is, of course, in the larger panels that McFarlane can flex his artistic muscles, something we see from the first double-page splash, in which Spidey swings high above the maddening crowd.  McFarlane’s rendition of Spidey has become iconic and influential, from the eerieness of the twisted and often superfluous webbing to the gangly way in which Mr. Parker moves.  McFarlane’s Spider-Man looks spider-ish, which is why his rendition is so brilliant.  Most artists draw Spider-Man as a man in a spider-suit.  McFarlane draws him as something a bit darker – a true amalgamation between man and spider.  This makes us uncomfortable, although many people don’t realize why they’re uncomfortable, but it also forces us to view our hero in a new way, one that presumes what would really happen if an irradiated spider bit a man and granted him spider-like powers.  Peter is still human, naturally, but he has become more fluid, quicker, and tense.  He seems to flit across the pages when McFarlane draws him, much like an arachnid.  It’s a mesmerizing effect.

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Similarly, the Lizard is a true force of nature, made dumb by Calypso’s spells, lost in its reptilian brain, all trace of Curt Connors subverted except for a vague attempt to warn people of its true nature, when it spells part of Connors’ name in blood on a wall near a victim.  McFarlane’s Lizard is all carnivore, completely inhuman, which McFarlane highlights by keeping the Lizard in Connors’ customary lab coat and pants.  This incongruity helps to show us, more than ever, that the Lizard has left Connors behind and succumbed – through no fault of his own, but still.  The primal nature of the Lizard, coupled with the Caribbean sexiness of Calypso, makes the villains in this piece as dynamic as the hero, and also draws the reader to them.  The Lizard appeals to our reptilian urges, and Calypso to our basest desires.  Without giving us a reason through his writing (which is brilliant on other levels, as I’ll show), McFarlane makes us root for the bad guys even though we know it’s wrong.  It’s a magnificent achievement.

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In the writing is where McFarlane shows that he’s not a one-trick pony.  The writing is, if possible, even more impressive than the art, because we all knew the art was going to shine, but no one was quite sure what McFarlane would come up with for the script.  He doesn’t disappoint.  On the first page, with the five vertical panels, coming from a cityscape to closeups of the people scuttling along in their sad, pathetic lives, McFarlane writes: “The city.  New York.  Littered with towering concrete giants that seem to swallow up the sky.  They are silent — frozen — man-made guardians.  Below is where the city’s heartbeat is.  People scurry about their business.  Oblivious to the crowds — the congestion — the pressure — yet — at times, some wish they could — Rise above it all!“  That last phrase, which is on the second page and introduces the double-page spread with Spider-Man swinging over them, completes this terse, almost Hemingway-esque prose with aplomb.  He continues: “His name — Spider-Man!  His powers — extraordinary!  His webline — advantageous!  Below, the people continue to scurry.”  If we break down those first two pages, we see the genius of McFarlane.  He cuts straight to the heart of the story – the city is stoic, unfeeling, harboring nameless, faceless automatons, who cannot see the cancer in their midst.  Only Spider-Man, who is able to “rise above it,” can see the bigger picture, and only he can save the people from the menace of the Lizard.  But McFarlane is employing irony as well: “below is where the city’s heartbeat is,” indeed.  Spidey may appear to have the “advantageous” position because of his ability to fly above, but it’s deep in the bowels of the town, where the Lizard and Calypso lurk, where the answers lie.  In these two pages, McFarlane brilliantly encapsulates everything we need to for the story, and then he circles back and fills in the blanks.

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As we get further into the story, McFarlane introduces the Lizard, but keeps Calypso secret, at least for a while.  The elements of voodoo in this story, which could be silly in the hands of a lesser writer, work their spell much like McFarlane’s panel layouts, creating a sense of dread in the reader that builds with each passing issue.  McFarlane creates this tale almost in a sexual way, both with the art, as we’ve seen, and with the narrative, which continues on this terse, choppy style and the thudding of the voodoo drums until the tension explodes, literally, when Kraven’s townhouse is destroyed.  This climax, which comes at the end of a frenzied issue #4, leaves us breathless.  Earlier, McFarlane had played on both Spidey’s and the audience’s paranoia when he teased that Kraven had come back to life.  It’s an illusion, however, brought on by Calypso’s poison that is coursing through Spidey’s body.  Calypso takes him to Kraven’s townhouse, where she twists and turns Spider-Man until he doesn’t know what is real anymore.  McFarlane beautifully links this story to “Kraven’s Last Hunt,” except that Calypso, unlike Kraven, does not want to prove that she’s better than Spider-Man.  She just wants to drive Spidey insane.  When the townhouse explodes, Peter Parker is caught inside, but of course both he and his foes survive, for a battle in issue #5 that puts all comic book fights to shame.  The Lizard is defeated, but Calypso escapes (I’ll get to that).  Throughout the epic, McFarlane has been repeating the phrase “rise above it all” on each second page, which accompanies a double-page spread.  McFarlane cleverly links this to the struggles of Spidey to overcome Calypso’s programming, and he ties it back into Peter’s attempts to dig out of the grave that Kraven had put him into.  Finally, the Lizard succeeds in breaking Calypso’s spell, “rising above” the voodoo to once again become the intelligent monster we all know and love.

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Throughout the story, McFarlane checks in on Mary Jane, who spends Peter’s horrific night dancing at clubs.  It seems a bit incongruent, but what it shows is that their marriage far stronger than we might expect.  Mary Jane doesn’t need to wait up for Peter, because she has long ago come to grips with his superhero life.  There’s no need for her to worry.  Showing Mary Jane dancing the night away highlights the torment through which Peter goes.  Her carefree world is what Peter is striving for, and these seemingly dichotomous storylines really show the life that Peter would lose if he gave in.

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The ending of the story really shows why using the word “genius” to describe McFarlane would not be too far wrong.  In his first attempt at writing, he allows Calypso to escape without ever explaining herself.  This is a bold statement, because it shows, once again, that McFarlane is not bound by the conventions of storytelling, and that he is, in fact, creating a new way of writing a story.  When this story ends, we are unsure if Peter himself is insane.  Did Calypso succeed in her plan?  When Spider-Man finally returns to his apartment, he croaks, “Honey — I’m — home.”  This attempt at typical Spidey humor is perfect, because it creates doubt in our mind.  What sane man, having endured what Peter has, would joke the first time he is able to see his wife, his lifeline?  It’s a chilling line, because we wonder about what is really going on in Peter’s mind.  This, coupled with Calypso’s escape, make “Torment” a twisted masterpiece, in McFarlane’s first attempt at writing.

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McFarlane continued to dazzle readers with his next two stories, a two-parter with Hobgoblin and Ghost Rider and a five-parter about a child-killer loose in the British Columbia wilderness that featured the Wendigo and Wolverine.  Both are instant classics, but neither get under your skin like “Torment” does.  If you only ever get to read one comic story, there’s really no question: this is it.  It’s everything comics should be.  We’re just lucky someone like Todd McFarlane went into comics instead of some other field, where he might have cured cancer or hammered out a peace settlement between Palestinians and Israelis or fixed global warming.  These issues, naturally, are collected in a trade, which is probably the best place to read it.  Each individual issue is worth well in excess of $1,000, and a copy of issue #1 with the cool metallic effect can go for $20,000.  I’m just waiting until my kids need to go to college before I sell mine, at which time it might be worth over 50 large.  But you know what?  They’re totally worth it.

Writing any more of these posts would be pointless, as there are no other Comics You Should Own after you’ve read these issues, so I strongly suggest you check out the archives.  Seriously, read the archives!

54 Comments

The city broods like some kind of…brooding city. Hey, this isn’t so hard. Advantageous!

In addition to being a stunning achievement in sequential art and glyphic storytelling, these comics also make for a great investment in these financially-troubled times.

Great piece, Greg – almost rivals Harold Bloom’s treatise on the Joycean motifs in Brigade!

I know this is an April Fool’s post and all, but in all honesty, I found McFarlane’s writing, while bad, to still be WAAAY better than Michilinie’s.

“His webline – “

I remember reading this a few years after it came out. I was about 10 and totally into Spawn, and even then I thought it was absolute horseshit. Then when I was about 14 I bought the trade anyway.

To this day I don’t understand why I did that. I don’t think I’ve ever even opened it.

Greg Burgas, Captain Dry, ladies and gentlemen.

wow, I have no idea how I fucked up the tabs that badly on that one

maybe this will help. If anyone has editing ability, feel free to fix and delete these posts.

Now, to his credit, I did walk away from “Torment” with a new vocabulary word, “advantageous.”

Of course, whenever I see it in print, all I can think is, “ADVANTAGEOUS!”

Thanks a lot, McFarlane.

While I can appreciate the fine work McFarlane did with Spider-Man, the decision to choose it of the exquisite “X-Force” work of Rob Liefeld is baffling.

Spider-Man #1 didn’t even include a trading card…

Wait a minute…is this review being sarcastic?

At least it is not another Rick Astley video!

If I had a quarter for every link I’ve seen today…

I had forgotten what today was until I read this LOL.

I know people will most likely disagree, but I remember his writing being a lot better on the hobgoblin story later in the series.

OMG I totally forgot what day it was when reading this one. You know got me good when I started thinking to myself, ‘Maybe I’ve been too harsh on him …’

W H E W ! (and LOL)

Tis a shame that OMD retconed this gem out of existance.

Also, “Coupled with Caribbean sexiness” is all I want to say now.

Andrew Collins

April 1, 2008 at 12:19 pm

Sigh…and the first issue of this series sold, what, 10 billion copies back in 1990? It was the best of times, it was the blurst of times…

Congrats on a fine April Fool’s prank! I was completely taken in by your review, wondering to myself if the “Advantageous” line seemed weird to anyone but me. (“That’s great writing?” I thought to myself.) It finally hit me in the last paragraph that there was something a little over the edge about this review, and then, of course, the Archives note confirmed it. Thanks for a good laugh.

The saddest thing is that there really was a time when these guys and this style were taking over the industry. And that is no April Fool’s Joke.

Before One More Day, or Brand New Day, the was A Nice Fresh Day!

It took me a minute to catch on to the joke. For much of the early part of the piece, I was thinking, “Boy, do people really like MacFarlane that much?” Then it hit me – Duh, of course it’s an April Fool’s Joke! Well played, Burgas.

I actually just read some of the issues of this last week because they were given to me for free in a stack I bought on Ebay. As Jay Sherman would say, it stinks! Evidently McFarlane’s favorite device is to write in the second person. “You sense this is coming…You fear the lizard, blah blah blah..”

I don’t know what y’all are talking about. McFarlane’s a genius, man …

Yeah, I can’t keep it up. I will say, to georgeblanks’ point, that his writing DID improve. Of course, when you’re starting off with this, you can’t really do anything BUT improve.

Man, what was I thinking when I bought these?

I’m glad I had some of you going!

…. !!….

Some of the worst writing and story telling….. EVER!

I figured it was a prank, but you put so much into it that I thought you were serious there for a sec. Man, I remember back in the day when it came out, I got sucked in..(I think I was 14) I admit it. I even have one of the Metallic Covers. Time to go collect my $20,000.

What a fantastically elaborate April Fool’s gag, Greg – kudos to you.

BUT you didn’t have me fooled!

There’s no such person as this “Todd McFarlane” – good try, though!

I wonder how much crack T has to smoke to make McFarlane’s writing better than Michelinie’s…

Four?

One of the most hilarious things McFarlane ever did (IMO of course, etc. etc.) was when he did live intros for that one Spawn cartoon.
Despite my distaste for the character, I would actually find myself tuning in for the intros & outros, just to see this mookish* goof actually speaking OUT LOUD in the cheesy-ass style everyone’s talking about above, while attempting to pull off some kind of leather-blazered Rod Serling thing.
Never failed to crack me up.

*can’t think of a better word, even if this isn’t a real one

John Trumbull

April 1, 2008 at 3:58 pm

Thanks for the most advantageous post ever, Greg.

Far too harsh.

McFarlane (like Lee and Liefeld) wasn’t a trained writer, yet Marvel agreed to let him write. Blame them for being greedy!

While his writing’s nothing special, there’s no point attacking his art. It may not sit well with the current trend of “photo-tracing” but in my opinion it’s far more interesting artwork, utilising the page far more effectively than the “widecreen” style employed by most big name artists today.

And if he came back for a Spidey one shot or mini, it’d be the biggest selling book of the decade.

It’d make Hush’s sales look like Spider-Girl’s.

I kinda liked this one.

Really.

Alright, I’m probably not defending the text, but the art was purdy. And At least I laughed at “advantageous!”

FunkyGreenJerusalem

April 1, 2008 at 6:30 pm

You left out mention of the repetitive use of ‘Doom’, which at first seems a homage to the classic Walt Simonson Thor issue, but is in fact Mcfarlene is using that device to bring the story to mind, not as homage, but to remind us how far forward he is moving the entire medium in this story – he isn’t referencing mythology in his story, he’s creating a brand new one.

I wonder how much crack T has to smoke to make McFarlane’s writing better than Michelinie’s…

Four?

Didn’t say it was good, but it was better than Michilnie’s dreck for sure, especially considering writing was a secondary job for him and not his main craft. Michilinie’s stuff was just so dumb.

All the stupid stuttering in every other panel, even in thought bubbles, plus his annoying habit of completing the last word of each sentence in the next panel…horrible. Here’s a hypothetical example of writing like Michilinie:

Spider-Man’s thought panel in 1st panel – “G-g-g-g-g-gotta duck—-”

Next panel – Thought panel as Spider-Man jumps -”NOW!”

Next panel – More thought bubbles – “W-w-wow—that was c-close.”

Just horrible, horrible stuff. Every single panel had a stupid thought bubble explaining what was clearly being depicted already by the art, constant scared stuttering even in thought bubbles (Is he writing Spider-Man or Shaggy from Scooby Doo?), inane plots, lame creations with lamer motivations (Cardiac, Styx and Stone, Venom who was only cool because of the McFarlane visual, etc.) and the annoying habit of finishing the last word of every sentence in the following panel. I don’t need to smoke crack to see that was bad writing. And he punished us with it for almost a hundred issues!

Bizarro Beta Ray Steve

April 1, 2008 at 7:11 pm

aH,aH Greg, your post is saddest post ever, it make me cry.
STEVE

Personally, I do actually like that first page with the thin panels – it gives a sense of claustrophobia in New York as well as the skyscraper idea you brought up. It’s not the most innovative in the world, but it works for sequential storytelling.

Now, the ACTUAL storytelling, on the other hand…

So wait, you’re telling me that when I bought all the versions of #1 from quarter bins I was actually overpaying?

I figured this for an April Fools joke as well.

I liked MacFarlane’s work on Amazing–and he does some nice stuff here, but this series was weak story wise–and it didn’t take long to drop it. I’m not sure why I bought it as long as I did. Maybe it was because the art on the other Spidey series was so weak at this time–especially MacFarlane’s replacement–Erik Larsen–who seemed to be a MacFarlane wanna be–even though he’d been in the business longer. Larsen was the reason I stopped buying the re-introduction of the Doom Patrol.

Just horrible, horrible stuff. Every single panel had a stupid thought bubble explaining what was clearly being depicted already by the art,

Really, anyone who complains of that is actually complaining of an entire generation of writers. Right or wrong, they more or less all wrote like that from the 60s to the 80s.

And in Michelinie’s defense, it’s also the case that Venom was going to be a woman that lost her child during one of the Spider-Man’s battles, but some dumb editor thought a woman wouldn’t be a fearsome opponent for Spider-Man, so… we have Eddie Brock with his silly-ass motivation.

Still, I agree that Michelinie’s writing in Spidey was mostly crap, though. It’s only that McFarlane was far crappier…

“What sane man, having endured what Peter has, would joke the first time he is able to see his wife, his lifeline?”

And indeed, Mary Jane proves to be a lifeline most advantageous!

Really, anyone who complains of that is actually complaining of an entire generation of writers. Right or wrong, they more or less all wrote like that from the 60s to the 80s.

Yeah, but Michilinie singlehandedly had every annoying stylistic tic of the era concentrated in one writer. JM DeMatteis used to do that thing of saving the last word of a sentence for the next panel and Chris Claremont used to overexplain in exposition what was already made clear in the art, but Michilinie took every bad stylistic tic of the era would combine them all into one Frankenstein monster of bad old school writers, except minus any of their redeeming qualities. And he also had his own unique annoying stylistic tics all his own, like the Shaggy-like scared stuttering inside thought bubbles every time Spider-Man had to fight someone (who stutters IN THEIR HEAD?). Dumb villains like Chance, Humbug, Jonathan Caesar, Styx and Stone, etc.

Not saying McFarlane was good, just that Michilinie was no better. Maybe working under him so long contributed to his bad writing even, because the longer McFarlane’s run went on, the stories actually improved some.

Did he actually write the “advantageous webline” thing? For REAL? Or is that just from Ambush Bug? I never read these comics and I see no reason why I ever should, so I need you to tell me!

That is a direct quote from the comic, Martin. He actually wrote it!

[i]Michilinie took every bad stylistic tic of the era would combine them all into one Frankenstein monster of bad old school writers, except minus any of their redeeming qualities.[/i]

I dunno, I liked Michelinie’s Iron Man. His Spider-Man truly was mostly crap. Actually Spider-Man was mostly crap the entire 1990s.

I think the worst offender in the overexplanation thing must be Tom deFalco, though. I remember one story in his horrible Fantastic Four run, where Reed said something like “Look out, an antigravity platform is shooting some sort of concentrated laser beam at us!” And the panel clearly showed a high-tech platform shooting a laser at them…

I dunno, I liked Michelinie’s Iron Man. His Spider-Man truly was mostly crap. Actually Spider-Man was mostly crap the entire 1990s.

I only read Michilinie’s Spider-Man and his 90s Iron man run where Tony Stark had a Jheri Curl, so I don’t know if he was better elsewhere. I always hear his original Iron Man run from the 80s was pretty good, but I never tried it for myself.

I think the worst offender in the overexplanation thing must be Tom deFalco, though. I remember one story in his horrible Fantastic Four run, where Reed said something like “Look out, an antigravity platform is shooting some sort of concentrated laser beam at us!” And the panel clearly showed a high-tech platform shooting a laser at them…

Haha, that’s too funny. DeFalco is a write who can do good work at times, but MAN did his FF run bring out the worst in him!

I actually did make a profit from bagged copies of #1. I bought about 6 copies from the newsstand, and a few years later discovered that Mile High Comics was paying $6 for them, so I sold them for trade. Not exactly $1000 per copy, but not bad as percentage of return on investment.

You had me going for a little while there, Greg. Good one.

I am getting pretty tired of the “great ____, or greatest ____” line, though.

I was hoping that the price of the issues wasn’t part of the joke. I was going to go to my parent’s house, dig through the attic, find those babies and sell them. Good post.

You know we started discussing this briefly in the April Fools gag post, and I realized after writing my response that its probably appropriate to copy it here as well for contribution’s sake, and that this post is the more appropriate home for it as well- good job Greg!

I have to admit, for a few paragraphs, I truly was drawn in by Greg’s argument- I mean, those high, thin panels as NY Skyscrapers? And here I was starting to believe I was a troglodyte merely for thinking that was some amazingly obtuse visual storytelling that gave you virtually no information nor compelling art alongside some downright tuuurrible prose that went nowhere, failed to elevate the material like he intended, and sucked the ever-loving fun out of the entire exercise. And then I came to “His Weblines Advantageous” and bingo, I remembered the date. Still, that’s about the smartest Fools Gag thrown my way this year and well worth remembering.

Fair’s fair though, I did start to see some clear improvement in MacFarlane’s writing skills as his run progressed (I think this was after all the guest writers on Spawn, so something rubbed off)- the Wendigo storyline was his best narrative and overall idea- he threw out all the damn meta-expositional junk and gave us a decent whodunit- my only complaint being a Wendigo that was now an albino bigfoot susceptible to bullets rather than a terrible, inexorable cursed thing roaming the land- but for the needs of the story it worked, and Pete got off some of his best one-liners that MacF ever gave him.

And he got Wolvie back in his yellow outfit for the first time in ages, though I did prefer the brown and tan. But at the time it was a nice little gimmick.

“He actually wrote it!”

Wow. That is pretty clueless. Kind of like the linguistic equivalent of a Rob Liefeldt drawing.

Got me!

Like, 100% got me! That was amazing. I literally read the review, and then immediately thought “Oh my god! I can’t believe I passed up multiple opporuntities to purchase Spider-Man #1.” I even went to eBay to see if I could get it for less than $1000 today.

Well, done. \\commences slow clap// Well done.

Sure, like everyone else here, I thought the “advantageous” sounded odd, but since I’ve been reading nothing but the gospel of Greg Burgas today (I’ve been going through, reading “Comics You Should Own”, and noting down what comics I should hunt down) I merely chalked it up to one more moment of brilliance that I needed to experience myself.

Oh, the dangers of coming across April Fool’s jokes months late. I finally realised it was a joke when I remembered how cheap those “Torment” backissues were.

Thanks, Darkhawk. If you read this well after the fact, I can see where it might seem a bit strange. I hope the other columns help you more than this one did!

Hello I was just wondering how much a spiderman comic would sell for nowadays.
I have issue one “Torment: part 1 of 5″ collectors item in mint condition. Or how many yeras should I keep it before I sell it. Or maybe I should save it for my first son? Well please anyone who can assist me contact me when available. Thank you much.

April Fools Jokes are so much better when its September.

Best thing I’ve read I’ll week.

It took me until “Advantageous” to get it – and I just read these issues for the first time last year.

I kept thinking – ‘maybe, I underestimated his Spider-Man run.’

Bravo.

i have all five plus the metallic first issue how much would that be worth

radioactivespiderblood

March 23, 2012 at 9:20 pm

I just finished reading “Torment” and “Masques” for the first time. I had to check teh netz and get a second opinion. Now I know for sure: The writing SUCKS. The first page of issue 1 had me regretting my recent investment immediately. (I bought Spiderman 1-16! ARGH!) I’m not some comic-book snob or even a self-proclaimed comic-connoisseur, I just want a decent story that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Heck, I even enjoy Michelinie’s stuff because it’s good for a chuckle or two. (I’m a sucker for cheesy humor.) But this stuff is just AWFUL. I felt like I was reading a wanna-be-goth-kid’s notebook that got left behind in study-hall. The art doesn’t justify the terrible story-telling. And IMO the art can’t stand alone either. Sure it’s “detailed” but it’s pretty gimmicky as well. Look closely and you’ll see the same techniques used repeatedly throughout the cluttered panels. And he does a pretty bad job at setting the scene. It’s mostly close character shots with artsy-fartsy scribbled excuses for backgrounds. Todd’s style isn’t very versatile and the action gets buried under unnecessary wrinkles, folds, and splatters. I found myself holding the book at arms-length just to get a clear view from time to time. And don’t get me started on “Masques”. What a preachy pile of… wait a minute. Who am I typing to??? :O

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