Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. Today’s page is from Uncanny X-Men #123, which was published by Marvel and is cover dated July 1979. Enjoy!
Back in the good old days, seeing a splash page of Spider-Man swinging along in a book titled Uncanny X-Men wouldn’t have made a ripple in the Marvel Universe, because back then the titles hadn’t become ghettoized like they mostly are today. Spidey’s presence in the book is indicated on the cover, which shows him in a little “guest-star circle,” and getting his own splash page on Page 1 of this issue isn’t really that weird in 1979.
It’s kind of a boring splash page, unfortunately. Claremont gives us the boilerplate Spider-Man introduction, as Peter is swinging off for a date with the unfortunate Cissy (he never makes it to the rendezvous) while fretting about the fact that he just paid his income taxes so he’s now – you guessed it – broke. Peter really ought to move out of the most expensive city on the planet and live somewhere like Topeka, where he could probably make a good living taking pictures. Or he could get a few roommates. Come on, Peter!
Byrne doesn’t have much to do, either. He angles the page well, leading us from the top left to the bottom right, from the title of the issue to Peter’s feet, which point toward the next page. The fact that everything – even the buildings – is angled is a nice touch, because it helps give us an idea of motion in a static panel – we can almost feel the arc of Peter’s swing, which is kind of neat. I’m not sure if the arch (it’s Washington Square, I assume, because it looks like the arch and Peter is in Greenwich Village) is photoshopped (or the 1970s version of it) or if Byrne drew it – it looks like a picture, but I’m not sure – but if it’s not a drawing, it fits in well with the surrounding buildings.
This is, I think, the third time I’ve had an Orzechowski book, and each time, he’s done something interesting. In this case, the way he letters the title of the issue is nice. The italics of “stop me if you’ve heard it” help emphasis the interruption of the main clause, and the fiery “kill” is well done, too. It’s an unwieldy title – shocking for Claremont, I know – but the way Orzechowski letters it makes it actually sound in our heads as if someone is saying it, which makes it less clunky. That’s why Orzechowski gets paid the big bucks!
I should point out that on the next page, Spidey comes across Scott Summers and his date, Colleen Wing. I forgot that those two dated. Now I want a series starring Misty Knight and Jean Grey as roommates in the 1970s even more, because Scott and Colleen could totally be members of the cast, and not only would Misty and Jean fight bad guys, there’d be all sorts of tension between them all. Give me a call, Axel and Joey Q! I would totally write that sucker for you!
Next: A tiny press comic! They do publish those, you know! Find some others in archives!
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