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 artists #10-7…
10. John Byrne
To get an idea of just how great an artist John Byrne is, just think about him in terms of what characters you most associate with him. There is a decent chance that Spider-Man would not even be in the top FIVE (okay, maybe #5) and yet his work on the character is so awesome that he still makes the top ten!
Byrne began working on Spider-Man in the pages of Marvel Team-Up, paired with Chris Claremont. He penciled Marvel Team-Up #53-55, 59-70, 75 and 79, delivering a number of legendary stories. Seeing John Byrne essentially draw the Marvel Universe was a treat for any Marvel fan.
Byrne is a masterful storyteller and his bold, curvy lines demonstrate a style that appears naturalistic without collapsing into the stiffness of photo realism. From his final (and perhaps most memorable) issue of Marvel Team-Up, here’s Spidey teamed up with Red Sonja…
Byrne did a few fill-in issues of Amazing Spider-Man in the late 1970s/early 1980s, but it was not until the end of the 1990s that Byrne truly devoted himself to Spider-Man. First, Byrne revamped Spider-Man’s origin in the twelve issue maxi-series, Spider-Man: Chapter One. Next, Byrne was the artist on a relaunched Amazing Spider-Man title, drawing issues #1-18 (with two fill-in issues mixed in towards the end). His art was as good as ever. Hopefully some day we will see a return of Byrne to Spider-Man.
9. Sal Buscema
Sal Buscema’s first Spider-Man work was as an inker in the early 70s on a couple of issues of Amazing Spider-Man over John Romita’s pencils. His first regular work came in 1974 when he drew Marvel Team-Up #20-22 and then settled in for a longer run from #33-52 (with a few fill-in issues along the way).
Much is said of Buscema’s dedication and his ability to be the guy you could always turn to if you needed an issue done quickly, but I don’t think enough has been said about the dynamism of Buscema’s artwork, especially during the 1970s. Sal Buscema might be one of the five or so most dynamic artists Marvel HAD in the 1970s.
Also, clearly Buscema was one of the clearest storytellers around. There was definitely a contigent of fans who wanted it to be Sal Buscema who took over Amazing Spider-Man in the mid-1970s. The gig went to Ross Andru instead. Buscema, though, was given the consolation prize of launching a brand-new Spider-Man ongoing series, Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man! Buscema drew the first 20 issues (with Mike Esposito either finishing his breakdowns or inking his pencils).
He returned to the title in the late 1980s for an extended run from #135-238, with Buscema inking himself until #218 (Bill Sienkiewicz came in to ink him for #220-229 and John John Stanisci finished Buscema’s breakdowns on the last six issues or so).
Buscema was willing to change with the times, and his art got “grittier” as the stories he was drawing got darker. Most notably the saga of Harry Osborn as Green Goblin…
Buscema returned to inking and inked many issues of Spider-Girl.
8. Marcos Martin
People who had seen his work already knew that Marcos Martin was awesome before he drew any Spider-Man stories, but it was his work on Amazing Spider-Man that truly put him over the top as one of the top artists working in comic books today.
He has drawn Amazing Spider-Man #659-661 (the first appearance of Mary Jane Watson since One More Day), 578-579 (Unscheduled Stop), a 12-page back-up in #600, 618-620, two-page back-ups from #634-645, 655-656 (The classic No One Dies) and the framing sequence in 657 (Spidey deals with the death of the Human Torch).
Martin’s art style defies a simplistic take, but suffice it to say that he has a Ditko-like quality to his work while also seeming exceptionally modern. The fluidity of his figures combines with the power of his minimal lines to result in absolutely striking panels. And his page layouts are remarkable. Take this page from Unscheduled Stop Part 2. The idea behind the page would have stood out no matter what artist drew it (as it is a perfectly twisted image from the mind of Mark Waid) but Martin makes it all the more powerful (to set the scene, Spidey is lifting a group of subway car passengers from the tunnels. He insists that no one look at him while he is doing it)…
And that is just a drop in the bucket of the amazing pages Martin delivers time in and time out. Go pick up his comics!
7. Gil Kane
Gil Kane was the first regular penciler on Amazing Spider-Man after John Romita left the title. Of course, Romita never really left for good, as he inked pretty much all of Kane’s issues and even came back to draw a few issues himself.
Still, Kane was the penciler on Amazing Spider-Man #89-92 (the death of Captain Stacy!), 96-105 (the famous drug issues plus the debut of Morbius and Spidey’s six arms), 120-124 (the death of Gwen Stacy and Green Goblin) and 150 (the epilogue to the original Clone Saga).
Kane was his typical action-packed self on Amazing Spider-Man, as he was a great pair with John Romita, as Romita could help with the character bits while Kane spotlighted the action sequences that made Kane such a legendary artist.
Here is one of Kane’s most famous pages as a Spidey artist…
NOTE: Kane edged out Martin by a single point! Which is funny is that the writers list also had a result where one writer beat another by a single point (#6-7 instead of #7-8 like here). Cuh-ray-zee.
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