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I’d Make A Harper’s Island Reference, But Does Anyone Else Watch That?

J.D. Dunn is one of my favorite wrestling reviewers on the ‘net, but he also writes a good game when it comes to film and comics. This review/analysis of the Death Of Jean DeWolfe storyline is a good example of the latter. If he wasn’t likely to make us all look bad (well, at least me), I’d say I’d love to see him do more comics writing. Well, beyond his reviews of Spider-Man from the beginning. As long as he sticks with Spider-Man, we should all be okay.


Harper’s Island is still on? I thought that Agatha Christie rip-off was axed by now.

I’m pretty sure it’s on the cusp of being. I’m not even sure why I watched it, since it was pretty bad. But hey, one of the characters shares a name with this guy I’m linking to that you didn’t acknowledge at all, Reed!

Okay, how’s this:

It’s like Cliff Notes, but with comics and spandex and stuff! Yeah!

Dude, the guy is reviewing Spider-Man from the beginning starting with Amazing Fantasy #15 and is up to Amazing Spider-Man #10 and his ratings for them so far are mostly C+’s and B-‘s. What the hell? When you rate the Lee/Ditko issues like that you’ve got ZERO credibility in my book, at least as a Spider-Man reviewer, sorry.

CBS is currently burning off Harper’s Island on Saturdays.

Thanks for the SpiderMan link…I may have to follow along.

Tom Fitzpatrick

May 27, 2009 at 4:44 pm

“Harper’s Island is still on? I thought that Agatha Christie rip-off was axed by now.”

Unfortunately for you, Harper’s Island is slated to run 13 episodes, period, regardless of how well or badly it does in the ratings.

NBC is (or is it CBS?) guaranteening it that all episodes will run to the very bitter conclusion.

Whether it will come back next season in a different format, remains to be seen.

I’m getting a kick out ot it, but don’t necessarily NEED to have it every year. ;-)

I agree, Amazing Fantasy 15: C. Also, Sistine Chapel: D+, and meh as well to Citizen Kane: B- as I’m feeling generous.

While I grant that not every Lee/Ditko story was a gem (for example, ASM #1 isn’t particularly strong), to grade a work which in 11 pages lays pretty much the entire, yet-to-be-altered foundation for literally thousands of Spider-Man tales, to grade that as a C is pretty crass. And for trivial reasons, no less. The pacing? The pacing is standard fare for Silver Age comics, especially ones slated for cancellation and thus not permitting “To Be Continued”s. It seems like he might as well be knocking the book for its coloring because, you know, it falls short of today’s standard.

Cass, ASM #1 isn’t particularly strong today because many of the innovative elements in it are considered commonplace by today’s standards, but it was actually pretty notable and groundbreaking. Far as I know, many of the things that happened in it were pretty unique for 1963 superhero comics. Think of it in terms of what was on the stands the same month and the superhero comics that preceded it in the decades before.

Off the top of my head, the hero is worrying about money troubles. J. Jonah Jameson is one hell of a unique supporting character for that era, not clear cut good or bad. The hero is not even 100 percent sure he wants to be a hero, he actually considers a career of crime before thinking twice about it. He takes on another team of superheroes, not under mind control or a misunderstanding, he breaks in with a brash, disrespectful attitude and fights them to show them how good he is. That alone is unique. And why? Because he wants to serve humanity? No, because he’s hoping to score some big cash. And when he finds out they don’t pay salaries, he storms off in an angry huff and tells them off! He gets blamed for the Chameleon’s crimes and says screw the world and storms off sobbing to himself, complaining that he can’t do anything right. He sobs! Take every superhero comic off the stands that was released that same month and I can bet you there was nothing comparable on the stands at the time.

How is that book not strong? It opened up so many doors as to what kind of acceptable behaviors and emotions could be exptressed by a protaganist superhero character. Nowadays after hundreds or thousands of similar Spidey stories it may not seem so strong to see Jameson chewing out Spider-Man or seeing him get blamed for everything and messing up or feeling sorry for himself or angry at the world, but ASM #1 helped break all that ground.

I’ve never once heard of Harper’s Island, and I read entertainment websites every day. Hurm.

Both of those Dunn articles were terrific. Seeing the first year of Spidey encapsulated like that, it kind of blew my mind to remember how much Peter Parker’s life was the focus of the story and how rich the supporting cast was right off the bat. And that Peter’s brains saved the day as often as his brawn, yet Spidey went from fighting wrestlers and stick-up men to going toe-to-toe with the Fantastic Four in no time flat. And that the FF seemed to be co-stars for most of that first year.

I read the Death of Jean DeWolfe as it came off the racks and I remember liking the issues a lot, but not being blown away by them. It wasn’t until I read them again years later that I got rocked back. That was probably because Spidey was appearing in at least three monthly titles at the time, plus minis, plus showing up in everybody’s second issue, so it was hard to isolate a good arc from all of the other chatter.

And Spider-Man’s origin was 11 pages. Take that, Decompression!

I enjoyed his review of The Death of Jean DeWolffe; it seemed more exhaustive and thought-out than his Essential vol. 1 review.

I suspect that either he has read a very narrow range of comics or he’s not quite clear on what meta-fiction is when he claims, “I don’t think anyone has brought more of a feel of “meta-fiction” to comics as Peter David has, and it’s evident right away here.” As far as I can tell, he attributes this due to PAD’s use of analogues of real-world figures.

Hey, WE like Harper’s Island. But we usually watch it On Demand through the cable company.

I’m always interested in mysteries that claim to have actual clues and so on. So far I’m ambivalent about how well Harper’s is doing in that department but we are invested enough to keep up with it. We like several of the actors and it’s okay as a mystery. We have been assuming that it’s a one-off, an event maxi-series, rather than an ongoing.

Whether it will come back next season in a different format, remains to be seen.

Uh, no.

CBS announced its upfront schedule for next season, and Harper’s Island was nowhere to be seen.

After its July finale, it’s done.

Enjoy it while it lasts.

Once you get pushed to Saturday night, you’re done. There’s no coming back from that.

In Australia, Harper’s Island is currently running at 1:15 Monday morning, so Saturday night looks pretty good from that point of view.

The first few episodes of Harper’s Island were a bit too “Scream”-esque, but the show has evened out, particularly with the most recent episode. I’m excited to see how it ends.

@T: I don’t want to argue at length with you about this, as I do think it’s a good issue, and moreso now that you’ve refreshed my memory. To be honest, when I wrote that parenthetical I only had the Chameleon story in mind, which I still think carries enough flaws to keep it out of “gem” territory (note my wording). For one, I don’t love the way Ditko draws the FF. Also, we just one issue piror (the ONLY issue prior) travelled the “I can get rich off this!” route, and I don’t believe that this character, even with what little we have of him so far, would actively seek out new get rich quick schemes so soon after the events of Amazing Fantasy #15 or else would lend it some serious thought, though I grant that a job with a superteam is a good deal more noble than wrestling for TV – sorry Brad!

The Chameleon is not a great villain as he appears here, a pretty generic master of disguise character, a Silver Age “commie” villain who falls short of the pathos of a Dr. Octopus or a Curt Conners. Plus, I recall some silliness about the Chameleon already grasping Spidey’s powers so well that he could tap into his Spider sense, and this before the two ever met. But yeah, the John Jameson story kicks ass and even the Chameleon story has its moments (one you didn’t mention was web slingshot, whose awesomeness made the jump to the silver screen). I suppose there were better, or perhaps more agreeable, examples of unstellar Lee/Ditko Spider-Man stories later in the run, but the Chameleon was just the first thing that popped into my head.

Oh and, while I don’t really consider this a major flaw, it’s pretty funny to note that the FF/Chameleon story features the amazing adventures of “Peter Palmer.”

Cass, wasn’t arguing in anger or attacking you or anything, not sure if my tone came off correctly.

Not at all, T. I just wanted to clarify why I used ASM #1 as an example. On the whole, I think you and I hold very similar opinions on Lee/Ditko Spider-Man (i.e. omgbestcomixevar), so I think it’s perfectly fair for you to take me to task on my initially unsupported criticism.

Yes, I love Harpers Island and Yes the murder mystery will be back with Happy Town starring Amy Acker from Angel and Dollhouse.

Annoyed Grunt

May 28, 2009 at 3:58 pm

It’s been a little while but I remember ASM #2 being the weakest of the Lee/Ditko run. The Vulture story was fine but not particularly memorable however the alien plot was rather insipid. So of course, that gets this guy’s highest rating of the first 3 issues.

Ok Cass, fine, I was just rereading my comment and worried maybe my enthusiasm might accidentally have conveyed the wrong tone. And Annoyed Grunt, I agree, ASM #2 was one of the weaker ones in the first 10 issues, one more reason this guy’s ratings on Spidey don’t seem to trustworthy.

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