An "X-Force" To Be Reckoned With - Marvel's Mutant Militia Turns 25
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 #15-11…
15. Marv Wolfman
Marv Wolfman wrote Amazing Spider-Man from #182-204. Wolfman had a lot of fun with his run on the book. He introduced Black Cat, who was one of the best additions to the Spider-Man mythos in some time (I guess the Punisher was the last great addition back in #129). Wolfman made good use of the weird Spider-Man villains, like the Big Wheel and Rocket Racers.
That was the superhero aspect of the comic. On the personal side, Wolfman had Peter Parker go through some rough times. Wolfman broke off the Peter/Mary Jane relationship (even having Mary Jane turn down Peter’s marriage proposal) and had Peter reconnect with a now-married Betty Brant. Ultimately, Peter’s better nature had him realize he couldn’t continue seeing a married woman so he selflessly gets Betty to dump him. Good stuff.
Most famous, though, was the 200th issue of Amazing Spider-Man, where Wolfman had the burglar who shot Uncle Ben come back into the story. Wolfman explains why the burglar chose to rob the Parker home in particular. When Spidey confronts him…well, it is all he can do not to kill him. Here’s a great scene from the issue in question…
Wolfman wrote a few other Spider-Man stories here and there, but his run on Amazing is likely what he is best known for (although oddly enough, I think Wolfman is the only writer to write a story in three different Spider-Man team-up books. He wrote an issue in Marvel Team-Up Volumes 1 and 2 AND Spider-Man Team-Up).
14. Mark Waid
Mark Waid is one of those writers who you just can’t believe that he never really had an extended run on Spider-Man, as he is so perfect for the title. However, the timing just never worked out for it to happen. Still, what Spider-Man stories we HAVE gotten from him have been excellent.
One of the best parts of Waid’s stories tend to be his imaginative situations that he cooks up to throw Spider-Man into. For instance, like his great Christmas story he did for the Marvel 1996 Holiday Special…
Similarly, when he became one of the rotating writers on Amazing Spider-Man, his first solo story arc “Unscheduled Stop,” was just one of those brilliant “throw Spider-Man into an interesting situation and see what happens.” In it, Spider-Man is on the subway when the train is attacked. It appears that the jury of a mafia boss is the train and a super-villain has been hired to silence them. Spider-Man must keep them alive as the tunnel they are in begins to collapse (and the East River is above them, so that’s not a good thing). Oh, and did I mention that one of the jurors is J. Jonah Jameson’s estranged father? CLASSIC!
Waid’s solo issues of Amazing Spider-Man were #678-697 (Unscheduled Stop), 583, 592, 601, 612, 623-624 (where Peter gets fired and has his photography career ruined because he faked a photograph to help exonerate the falsely accused J. Jonah Jameson) and 642-646 (Origin of the Species, the conclusion to Brand New Day).
Waid recently wrote an issue of Amazing that tied in with his excellent run Daredevil as well as an issue of Avenging Spider-Man with Greg Rucka that also did the same. Go read Mark Waid’s Daredevil! It is amazing! It is spectacular! It is sensational! It is…uhm….web!
13. Bill Mantlo
Bill Mantlo first began writing Spider-Man on a regular basis with a stint on Marvel Team-Up from #38-56. It was here that Mantlo introduced an intriguing new supporting cast member, Jean DeWolff, a police captain who dressed like she was in the 1930s (even driving a 1930s-era car) and, unlike most other folks in the police department, trusted Spider-Man.
Mantlo had two long runs on Spectacular Spider-Man. First #9-42 and then #61-89. It was during his second run that he did a really nice job exploring the burgeoning relationship between Spider-Man and Black Cat. Also, most notably, he wrote the Doctor Octopus/Owl gang war that led to a destructive showdown between Spidey and Doctor Octopus after Doc Ock put Black Cat into the hospital.
The showdown came right when Peter was going through some problems in graduate school. Mantlo summed Peter’s thought process up well…
12. Kurt Busiek
There was a period in 1991 where Kurt Busiek actually wrote five Spider-Man issues (three Web of Spider-Man issues and two Spectacular Spider-Man issues). He also wrote a Spider-Man/X-Factor mini-series (how random of a pairing is THAT?) in 1994 and, of course, he famously featured Spider-Man in Marvels. However, I think it is fair enough to say that his association with Spider-Man truly began with his exemplary run on Untold Tales of Spider-Man, which he wrote from #1-25 (Tom DeFalco scripted from Busiek’s plots on #22-24, Roger Stern plotted #25 and Stern wrote #-1, from Marvel’s #-1 month, detailing stories that took place before each series).
In the series, Busiek masterfully played between the margins of Steve Ditko and Stan Lee’s classic Spider-Man run, filling in blanks here and there while always maintaining fun superhero action every issue. If you knew the classic stories, you appreciated how carefully Busiek fit into the continuity. If you didn’t, then it did not matter as you were getting awesome adventure and great characterizations every month.
One notable thing Busiek did was to give a bigger role to the minor background characters from the early stories, characters who he could do more things with (most notably Sally Avril, a character we barely meet in one of the early Ditko/Lee tales). Another neat thing he did was to better explore the thought processes behind characters and their decisions in those early issues. Most memorably, I think, is his take on J. Jonah Jameson, from Untold Tales of Spider-Man #4, where a group of “heroes” calling themselves the Space Men vow to hunt Spider-Man down. Jameson backs the Space Men with all of the Daily Bugle’s might and when it turns out that they are criminals, well…
Very nicely done.
11. Tom DeFalco
Tom DeFalco has written a whole ton of Spider-Man comics but he is likely still best known for his initial run from Amazing Spider-Man #251-284 (well, unless you count his Spider-Girl work, that is). Working primarily with penciler Ron Frenz (who co-plotted a number of issues with DeFalco), DeFalco continued the strong work Roger Stern had done with the Hobgoblin while also exploring the mystery of Spider-Man’s new black costume and, perhaps most notably, revealing that Mary Jane Watson knew Peter was Spider-Man!
DeFalco also introduced a bunch of good new characters, including Silver Sable and Puma.
A notable DeFalco issue was Amazing Spider-Man #274, where the Beyonder and Mephisto (who was using the demon Zarathos as his agent) make a wager as to whether Spider-Man would allow Kingpin to die without stopping Kingpin’s assassin. Spider-Man appears past the breaking point when…
DeFalco had another run on Amazing Spider-Man from #407-439. He also had a run on Spectacular Spider-Man from #215-229. He also wrote the first six issues of Spider-Man Unlimited plus a few issues later in the run. He has an arc in Webspinners plus a few Annuals and one-offs here and there. DeFalco and Spider-Man go well together.
Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.