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A Year of Cool Comics – Day 365

Here is the last in our year-long look at one cool comic (whether it be a self-contained work, an ongoing comic or a run on a long-running title that featured multiple creative teams on it over the years) a day (in no particular order whatsoever)! Here‘s the archive of the comics posted in 2010!

Today we take a look at Stan Lee and John Romita’s run on Amazing Spider-Man…

Enjoy!

In retrospect, it is truly remarkable that the very first cover John Romita drew for Amazing Spider-Man after taking over for series co-creator (and basically the driving creative force of the first 38 issues of the hit series) Steve Ditko has become a classic.

The second part of the two-parter is a minor classic, itself!

This, of course, was the reveal that the Green Goblin was Norman Osborn, the father of Peter Parker’s friend, Harry Osborn.

In these early issues, which were inked by Mike Esposito, Romita was clearly trying to give his work (or perhaps it was Esposito doing it, either or) a Ditko-esque vibe to it.

Check out this page from #41…

It is also note-worthy to see that Lee was already deciding to cut ties with the early days of Betty Brant and get ready to move on to Gwen Stacy and, to a lesser extent, the still not-introduced Mary Jane…

but even by the end of #41, you can see Romita toying a bit with some more open panel arrangements than Ditko tended to go for…

In issue #42, Romita takes over the inks himself, and by the time Esposito returns to the book seven issues later, Romita has dramatically changed the style of the book.

First, while Romita is still somewhat sticking to the Ditko style for a lot of the characters, this issue he gives us the famous introduction of Mary Jane Watson, a character clearly drawn differently than something Ditko would ever draw…

Lee picked up on what Romita was handing him, and he began to develop the young adult soap opera a bit more for Romita to draw…

Plus, as you can see from these pages from #46, Romita was really beginning to cut loose in terms of his own style as well as much more open pages of action…

Ditko’s “lot of panels per page” approach was great, but Romita’s broader strokes was beginning to work, as well.

You can see Romita’s particular take on Peter Parker taking over, too, as he gets more and more leading man looking, even as Lee gives Romita a dour story to draw…

Classic.

Also, as you can tell from those pages and this one introducing the Kingpin…

but Esposito’s return to the book as inker does not change much, as Romita has become more of a force on the book, and now Esposito is keeping up with ROMITA’s style on the title.

Romita took two notable breaks on pencils during his run. The first was having Don Heck pencil Romita’s layouts…

and the second was Jim Mooney doing the same…

As you can see, Romita’s breakdowns were still pretty strong guides, as Heck and Mooney are not similar artists, yet the end result is not that far off.

Romita definitely worked better with Mooney, though. Here’s a classic page from Amazing Spider-Man #75, the end of what you would strictly consider Romita’s first run, as this leads to a string of issues by John Buscema and Mooney…

Romita returns in the late #80s, though, including the first part of the story that would later be known as the death of Captain Stacy…

Finally, Gil Kane comes aboard as penciler, with Romita initially inking him, and now the book has done an almost complete 180 from when Romita began. When Romita started, it was all about tying to look like Ditko. Well, now that Romita was no longer penciling the book, it was about making Gil Kane look like Romita!!!

Romita penciled a couple of issues in the #90s, but his last real contribution to what you could call a “run” on Amazing Spider-Man was inks over Kane during the drug storyline. Then Romita was gone and by the time he came back to the book, Stan Lee had left.

But in the 40 or so issues of their run, they made some solid comic books – they did not introduce quite as many new characters, but they did introduce some significant ones, like Rhino, Shocker, Kingpin, Robbie Robertson, and, of course, Mary Jane Watson.

Well, that’s it for a Year of Cool Comics! I hope you all had fun with it!

15 Comments

A lot of fun it was, thank you very much for your hard work :)

Happy New Year! Thank you for all that you do to make this blog fun, Brian!

Thanks again for this great series, that’s two years running down with similar features! I figure this year you’ll probably want a break!

Fantastic stuff! Congratulations and Happy New Year!

I read every single day of this. Its just sinking in that it is ending.

Congrats on 365, Brian!

You saved the best for last.

I still haven’t read very many Romita issues, just the first few and a couple of others. But everything I’ve seen is great. And of course, every artist until the ’80s copied him to some extent.

Another awesome year. _I_ should make a list myself; a list of all the awesome books I didn’t know about that you helped introduce me to!

I gotta get that Spidey run in Essentials now!

Thanks. This was a real pleasure.

Happy new year!
365 thank you for 365 great post Brian.

My favourite Blog and you ended it with a BANG!

Happy New Year!

That dialogue is incredible. How about the scene where Peter Parker meets Betty and Ned, that inner dialogue Lee provided from Peter? Well done!

Thanks again, Brian, for sharing another great yera of comics with us. That hard work alone of doing 2 straight years w/o missing a day is commendable, let alone the wealth of knowledge needed to accomplish something like this. Great job and thanks so much!!!! You’ve done more for my comics education in 2 years time than several years of reading comics on my own.

I won’t indulge in beggin you to do another year like I did last year at the end of your year’s run on “Cool Moments”. Take a well deserved break – you’ve earned it!

Great stuff, Brian. Some comments:

1.Writing: One of Stan’s greatest strengths as a writer is his almost uncanny ability to adapt his scripting to suit the style of the artist. As you point out, the shift from Ditko to Romita really demonstrates this quality.

2. Romita: I have to confess, for years my love for Ditko’s Spider-Man blinded me to the virtues of the Romita run. Reading through the Spider-Man ESSENTIALS, however, has really been an eye-opener.

3. Romita-Heck vs Romita-Mooney: I completely agree with your take, Brian; Mooney just seems more in-sync with Romita.

4. Lastly, let me join the chorus of thank yous for this great series.

Thank you for all the work bringing these great comics to our attention, Brian. I’m glad you featured Stan Lee and JRSR. I grew up reading the Marvel Tale reprints (and a handful of originals) of this run, and have always loved it.

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