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CSBG Archive

Drawing Crazy Patterns – Spider-Man Lifting Heavy Objects

In this feature, I spotlight five scenes/moments from within comic book stories that fit under a specific theme (basically, stuff that happens frequently in comics). Here is an archive of all the patterns we’ve spotlighted so far.

Today, in the last one of the month, I will spotlight Spider-Man lifting heavy objects!

Enjoy!

The king of this pattern is definitely Amazing Spider-Man #33, by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko…

In Spectacular Spider-Man #168, Gerry Conway and Sal Buscema use this approach. First, She-Hulk and Spider-Man lift a heavy object…

And then She-Hulk (who was really the Space Phantom) drops it on Spider-Man. So Spider-Man has to lift an object that took he and She-Hulk to lift initially…

In the 30th Anniversary issue of Amazing Spider-Man, #365, David Michelinie, Mark Bagley and Randy Emberlin re-visit this approach…

And in the last issue of the Spider-Man books before they re-launched with Howard Mackie writing both titles (Amazing Spider-Man and Peter Parker: Spider-Man), Howard Mackie, John Romita Jr. and Scott Hanna brought us Peter Parker: Spider-Man #98, where a bomb goes off in the Daily Bugle’s offices!!

This leads to an extended riff on the whole “Spider-Man lifts heavy objects” motif. There’s so many pages I can’t share them all with you. Here are a few…

Most recently, in Amazing Spider-Man #578, Mark Waid and Marcos Martin did a short riff on the idea…

But an issue later they did an even cooler VARIATION on the riff, and I’ll share both of them with you…

Stunning work from Martin. Great idea by Waid. A great pair of issues.

Okay, that’s it for Drawing Crazy Patterns month! I hope you enjoyed it! Go check out the archive!

44 Comments

Oh my gods – I never realised it before. You know how Clark Kent spent all ten seasons of Smallville moping about how he couldn’t do this, that or the other, because his life was too horrible and he was an alien and the meteorites from Krypton killed Lana’s parents and all the rest? We all thought it was a bit stupid that Superman, the original Big Blue Boy Scout, could be portrayed as such an emo loser for so long, but now I see it: Smallville was really the origin story of Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Mope! Guilt! Angst! Endless pep-talks that last only as long as the closing credits before a return to the stuttering status quo by next episode! It all makes sense!

I guess it just goes to show that in desperate bleak times Spidey prevails. Great stuff!

Travis Pelkie

July 31, 2011 at 6:46 pm

That last one there looks awesome. I’ll have to hunt down that ish.

A great take on this comes from the Spider Man issue of Ren and Stimpy (#6, I think). Spidey’s got to lift something, and like in all these examples here, he thinks of all the people he’d let down, like May and Ben and MJ, but it doesn’t quite work so quickly, so he’s thinking of an old gym teacher, and Stan Lee, and so on and so forth. Finally he lifts the stuff.

Probably was Dan Slott’s first Spidey writing bit.

So this is the last one of these? It’s all over now, baby blue.

I’ve been waiting ALL MONTH for that!

It’s kind of hard not to read the Ditko/Lee pages in the light of Ditko’s objectivism — Spider-Man’s feat of strength demonstrates that he’s worthy of the power that is his, but does so in a way that saves only himself.

Mike Loughlin

July 31, 2011 at 7:17 pm

deron,

If he didn’t lift the debris, Spidey wouldn’t be able to get medicine to Aunt May and she’d die. At least one other person benefited from his actions, not to mention all the people whose lives were not endangered when he stopped Doc Ock & Co.

When I think of Spidey lifting heavy objects the first thing that comes to mind is the title opening to the Sunday comics Amazing Spider-man where he’s lifting/tilting the side of a bus. Those comics were all downhill after that panel though.

There was a bit of a parody of that in the “Assault On New Olympus” one-shot, where Spidey is buried under a pile of cars after a fight with Hercules (long story). He tries to get out, citing the classic story from way back . . . but he remains pinned, while Hercule and Hebe make out. Worth finding, IMHO.

Three things come to mind:

- The “Terrific Trio” episode of Batman Beyond. Pretty sure they did a frame-for-frame copy of Ditko’s original scene. Yeah, it’s Batman and not Spider-Man, but that whole episode was pretty much either a riff on, or homage to, Marvel comics.

- In the very first Spider-Ham comic, Marvel Tails #1, a bunch of wreckage falls on Spider-Ham in the same manner. He lifts it off, but all the weight causes him to fall through the floor to the story below him.

- In the short “Marvel Apes” prequel story, Spider-Monkey repeats the same scene…until it turns out that Ape-X was the one lifting it off him.

Deron: Um, actually? All that effort, the whole reason he was there, in fact, was to save Aunt May. So I’m not sure your analysis has a ton of weight. If you’ll pardon the expression.

The last panel seems to resemble the one in Fear-Itself: Spider-Man #1 where he’s covered in rats. I smell a new pattern! :D

Cullen, the specific act of strength is for himself — it’s how he demonstrates that he is fit to use the power of many men to be a hero. Of course, heroism is itself a problematic concept for an Objectivist but that’s another argument.

Wow, these pages, despite being obviously similar to each other reminds me once again why Spider-man is and always has been my favorite superhero.

It’s kind of hard not to read the Ditko/Lee pages in the light of Ditko’s objectivism — Spider-Man’s feat of strength demonstrates that he’s worthy of the power that is his, but does so in a way that saves only himself.

You’re letting anti-Randism cloud your interpretation. When Spider-Man lifts the weight off himself, he doesn’t just save himself. He does it specifically with the motivation of saving his Aunt. He even says so. Reread the excerpt. He EXPLICITLY says so.

Cullen, the specific act of strength is for himself — it’s how he demonstrates that he is fit to use the power of many men to be a hero. Of course, heroism is itself a problematic concept for an Objectivist but that’s another argument.

You seem to have come at the material with the anti-Objectivist slant to start with, then interpreted the existing material to fit your slant. Using a specific act of strength to save oneself in the short term so that you can save others in the longer term is just a basic superhero trope. Of course Spider-Man did it the best but it is a basic trope.

The Crazed Spruce

July 31, 2011 at 9:51 pm

So… that was issue #579, right?

Yow, indeed….

In Spectacular Spider-Man 226 there’s a “Peter trapped in rubble bit” and he actually fails until Ben Reilly shows up and lifts it off him! A good bit for the issue which was the official passing of the torch from Peter to Ben. With Bill Sienkiewicz art!

Nice. When I saw the link, issue 33 is the first I thought of. I guess it’s the prime example. I love all the vintage comics (mostly because I wasn’t born in that period) but the art from all the examples is amazing. It’s also nice to see people spelling it as ‘Spider-Man’ :D

Just one question: how come the Space Phantom had She Hulk’s strength? Or was he using his own? ( which would explain their difficulty in lifting it)

JTA –

The Space Phantom, unlike some other shapeshifters, replicates the target’s superpowers too.

I don’t think there is a lot of Objectivism in Ditko’s Marvel work.

It’s interesting that Ditko belongs with Tolkien and Heinlein. All of them became idols of the Counterculture, with many people not knowing at the time that they were all quire right-wing in many issues.

So… that was issue #579, right?

Yow, indeed….

Yep. Great issue.

Waid really has tried to out-do himself on pretty much all of his Marvel projects recently. His Daredevil #1 with Paolo Rivera was excellent, as well.

In Spectacular Spider-Man 226 there’s a “Peter trapped in rubble bit” and he actually fails until Ben Reilly shows up and lifts it off him! A good bit for the issue which was the official passing of the torch from Peter to Ben. With Bill Sienkiewicz art!

That was definitely one I had in mind if I couldn’t find five instances of Peter lifting stuff by himself.

So… that was issue #579, right?

Yow, indeed….

Yep. Great issue.

I have a couple long boxes of Amazing Spider-Man that ends right around ASM #380. And then I have #578 and #579. Nothing from about a dozen years earlier, nothing since then. Just those two issues. That’s how good those two issues are.

One thing I never understand is when comic fans and experts see a skinny Spider-Man and call it “Ditkoesque” or try to say that Spider-Man was created to be a skinnier-than-average superhero (Joe Quesada himself even claimed this once. Look at Ditko’s depiction. He’s HUGE and RIPPED!

Ditko’s Spider-Man was skinny for the first year or so.

I figured a good year into the run would be a fair place to check, so here is Amazing Spider-Man #12.

He certainly has muscles, but he’s mostly a sinewy guy.

Brian, if you look at how Ditko drew OTHER people though, he drew them all of comparable size. He at first drew EVERYONE lankier. Ditko wasn’t just drawing Spider-Man skinnier in those earlier, he drew EVERYONE skinnier. So relative to other people, Spider-Man was still a more muscular than average guy.

For example look at how Ditko drew Spider-Man in comparison to Johnny Storm, Reed Richards, Daredevil and other male superheroes (with the exception of people like Captain America, Thor and the Hulk, who are meant to be extra-massive). Go through the pages of ASM #16 and you’ll see he’s pretty much the same size as Daredevil.

randypan the goatboy

August 1, 2011 at 9:25 am

That first lift was the definitive spiderman moment for me. that last panel is just beautiful to look at and its steve ditkos best drawing ever. That being said i have always hated steve ditkos art. It just never did anything for me. I think the people that are ditko monkeys and kirby monkeys are just being nostalgic. just because you do something first does not mean you did it best. Just my opinion though so no need to break a leg getting to your keyboard to defend kirby and ditkos honor.

If people end up “breaking a leg” to jump all over you randypan, it’s not because they can’t tolerate a differing opinion but rather how you offer the differing opinion. If you call kirby and ditko fans derogatory names like “monkeys” and say they only like who they like because they did it first and not because they objectively judged kirby and ditko to be the best, at that point you’re no longer offering an opinion of kirby and ditko’s work but rather a negative opinion of their fans.

By the way, WOW those Waid pages were great. I usually cringe when I see that “Spider-Man lifting” trope revisited. It’s usually such a soulless imitation of the original that captures none of the original inspiration, especially that Michilinie one, but Waid really managed to bring something fresh to it and knock it out of the park.

“Unscheduled Stop” is probably the best Spider-Man story of the past five years. And I say that as a big fan of BND/Dan Slott’s current run. It captures every single element of why Spider-Man is a great character, and it does it in a timeless way, without bringing up continuity contradictions from OMD or anything like that.

I_Captain Blanco

August 1, 2011 at 11:32 am

There’s one more notable example of the “Spider-Man Lifts Heavy Things” meme: in the Spider-Man paperback novel “Mayhem in Manhattan,” written (I think) by Len Wein and Marv Wolfman, there’s a virtual novelization of the scene from Amazing # 33. Hard to reprint in a forum like this, though, I suppose.

Apparently, I need to pick up some of those post-”Brand New Day” stories in trade. And the new Daredevil. Waid and Martin seem like a fabulous team.

” just because you do something first does not mean you did it best.”

But doing something that has never been done before (i.e. doing it first) is a rarer and more creative act than copying/refining/redoing/updating something that has been done before, no? Which is perhaps why this special kind of creativity is given a special kind of recognition.

T – I think the main thing they’re thinking of is ‘Amazing Spider-Man 8′ where Peter is shirtless in the boxing ring with Flash Thompson and Thompson is clearly more muscular.

Man Eff All of Those Rats!!! That is the biggest fear of my life

[...] Gotta love the dino-spittle. Spider-Man sure loves lifting things (just look here), and I guess the man needs a weight on his shoulders or he’s just not super. I like [...]

There’s also one of these moments in the middle of the Clone Saga somewhere, right before Peter leaves to allow Ben to become the “one, true Spider-Man.” I think the plot is exactly the same, only its about Peter saving MJ with a vial and something to do with Lady Doc Ock. It’s around ASM #406.

Hey, that last story was adapted in the Avengers EMH cartoon!

“There’s one more notable example of the “Spider-Man Lifts Heavy Things” meme: in the Spider-Man paperback novel “Mayhem in Manhattan,” written (I think) by Len Wein and Marv Wolfman, there’s a virtual novelization of the scene from Amazing # 33. Hard to reprint in a forum like this, though, I suppose.”

From what I’ve seen in his novelizations, Marv can make lifting a bagel into a 300-page ordeal.

Also, didn’t they do ANOTHER riff on this during the clone saga, during the story when Peter was going to retire to Portland and leave Ben to be Spidey in his place? Spectacular #229?

Here’s the link to the Life of Reilly article on the subject: http://www.benreillytribute.x10host.com/LifeofReilly14.html

Apparently, Peter was trapped under debris again, but this time Ben Reilly helps him lift it!

They did another riff on this during the clone saga:

Here’s the link to the Life of Reilly article on the subject: http://www.benreillytribute.x10host.com/LifeofReilly14.html

Apparently, Peter was trapped under debris again, but this time Ben Reilly helps him lift it!

Love the understated respect that Shocker shows for Spider-Man in the last piece. Good writing.

Seeing as how he keeps finding himself in exactly this predicament, you’d think some writer or other would let him prepare for the next time. Go talk to Mole Man, see if he has any tips on burrowing out from under rubble. Ask Reed if he can whip up a device to erect a temporary girder. Heck, Peter’s a whiz in the workshop, he ought to be able to build himself a portable jack he can strap on his back . Well, I guess that would be kind of heavy to lug around….

Cool once. Every other time, completely ridiculous.

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