50 Greatest Spider-Man Creators: Writers #25-21
In honor of the fiftieth anniversary of Spider-Man, we’re doing four straight months of polls having to do with Spider-Man, culminating with the release of the Amazing Spider-Man film in July. The last installment will deal with Spider-Man stories, but this month will be about Spider-Man’s writers and artists.
You all voted, now here are the results! Here is a master list of all the creators listed so far. We continue with Spider-Man writers #25-21…
25 Denny O’Neil
O’Neil was the regular writer on Amazing Spider-Man from #207-223 (he missed two issues, #220 and #222). He also wrote two notable Annuals, #14 and 15. The former was a return of O’Neil to one of his earliest Marvel works, Doctor Strange (as Strange and Spidey teamed up) and the latter was a really good Punisher team-up with artwork by Frank Miller.
O’Neil’s run was a dramatic departure from Marv Wolfman’s previous run. O’Neil seemed to be interested in evoking a Steve Ditko/Stan Lee feel to his Spider-Man stories. He introduced new characters like Madame Web and Hydro-Man and he really amped up the “down on his luck” style stories with Peter Parker. Here’s a bit from #216, one of O’Neil’s most notable issues from his run (his MOST notable issues are the two Annuals mentioned above) where Spider-Man tries to protect the runners of the New York City Marathon. As you might expect, Spidey, in effect, has to run the marathon himself from the air. In any event, earlier in the issue, Peter reflects on his “Parker luck”…
24 Fred Van Lente
Fred Van Lente has written a number of Spider-Man comics over the last few years. As a member of the rotating team of Amazing Spider-Man writers, he wrote a bunch of issues, including #589, 602-604, 605, 626, 647 and co-writing credit on #654, 659-660. He also had a stint on Marvel Adventures: Spider-Man and a bunch of other Spider-Man mini-series and one-shots. His most notable stint as a Spider-Man writer, though, most likely came in the short-lived Web of Spider-Man anthology. During the Gauntlet storyline (where a number of famous longtime Spider-Man villains made re-appearances in Amazing), Van Lente gave a new twist to all of their origins as they appeared. Then he had a memorable three-parter where he introduced the Extremist, a compelling new villain who can see whether people are “good,” “bad” or “in the grey.”
Van Lente’s work is strong in characterization and interesting situations for Spider-Man to be thrown into. I am sure we’ll see him on more Spider-Man projects in the future.
23 Todd Dezago
Todd Dezago is probably best known for how FUN his Spider-Man stories were. Dezago broke into the Spider-Man titles scripting a few issues of Tom DeFalco’s Spectacular Spider-Man run during the Clone Saga. When DeFalco left Spectacular for Amazing Spider-Man when Ben Reilly took over as Spider-Man, Dezago took over Spectacular and wrote it from #230-240 when J.M. DeMatteis returned to Spectacular (along with Peter Parker. Yep, Ben Reilly’s run as Spider-Man was less than 12 issues). Dan Jurgens had launched a new Spider-Man title, Sensational Spider-Man, with Ben Reilly but Jurgens left after just six issues (Jurgens was never much into the idea of Ben Reilly). Dezago took over that title with #7 and wrote it until the series ended with issue #33 (he did double duty on Sensational and Spectacular for awhile). Mike Wieringo took over as artist on Sensational and he and Dezago made a wonderful team. Wieringo’s charming colorful artwork perfectly matched Dezago’s upbeat, adventurous stories.
The two of them later created a great creator-owned book together called Tellos.
What I liked also about Dezago is that just because he was a FUN writer did not mean that he was not interested in doing strong character work, as well. With that in mind, here is a page from Sensational #23 by Dezago and Wieringo…
Dezago has written a bunch of issues of the various All-Ages Spider-Man comics (Marvel Age: Spider-Man, Marvel Adventures: Spider-Man) in the last decade.
22 Howard Mackie
There was a tremendous amount of turnover on the Spider-Man titles in the 1990s. Howard Mackie, though, was the exception to that chaos. When Mackie took over Spider-Man in 1994 (after a 12-issue stint on Web of Spider-Man in 1992-1993) with issue #44 (the book had used different creative teams on short story arcs since Erik Larsen left the book with #22) he did not miss a MONTH of Spider-Man comics until he left the Spider-books in 2001!!!
Mackie was not just a steady hand, he was also a strong writer, especially in his standout run on Peter Parker: Spider-Man (Spider-Man changed its name to Peter Parker: Spider-Man with issue #75) with John Romita Jr. Romita joined Mackie on Spider-Man with #64 and stayed on the book through its end with #98 and through #1-19 of the relaunched Peter Parker: Spider-Man.
When the Spider titles decided to consolidate the Spider-Man line into just two monthly titles both written by the same man (which is quite similar to the set-up today with Dan Slott), Mackie was the man chosen to be that one writer.
He was riding high off some particularly strong issues, like Peter Parker: Spider-Man #95, where Peter and Norman Osborn are riding in an elevator with Norman’s grandson, Normie Osborn and Peter’s friend, Jill Stacy (cousin to Gwen Stacy). A bad guy attacked the elevator (trying to kill Norman). So Peter is in a perilous position. Jill is hurt. They’re all covered in rubble. Peter will have to use his super-strength to get them out of this, but with security cameras likely running, it will expose Peter’s identity. Osborn taunts Peter through the situation (as Normie is unconscious, also, although unhurt).
It’s a powerful issue…
21 Mark Millar
Mark Millar launched the title Marvel Knights: Spider-Man with a year-long Hush-esque storyline where Norman Osborn conspires with Mac Gargan to kidnap Aunt May and tear Spider-Man’s life apart. Spider-Man is in turmoil as he searches for Aunt May and also has to fret about whether his identity has been exposed.
This storyline introduced Mac Gargan as the new Venom. Osborn really rattles Spider-Man to the core in the final confrontation, taunting Peter as being a wasted talent. All those brains and what has he done? A rescued Aunt May (spoiler, I suppose, but I think you all figured she survived as she is still in the comics) sets him straight in a nice scene…
Millar later rocked Spider-Man’s world some more in Civil War where Spider-Man reveals his identity to the world to disastrous consequences.
Millar did a great job capturing Peter’s voice in his run on Marvel Knights: Spider-Man – he acknowledges that this a guy (Peter Parker) who can really let life get to him, but he does not allow himself to decend into a cloud of angst (but he also does not detach from those close to him). Millar also did a really nice job with Black Cat (who DOES detach from others and Millar shows the problems with that).