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Bob Sharen Archives - Comics Should Be Good! @ Comic Book Resources

1987 And All That: Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #122-130

A column in which Matt Derman (Comics Matter) reads & reviews comics from 1987, because that’s the year he was born. Click here for an archive of all the previous posts in the series.

PPSSM1Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #122-130 (Marvel) by Peter David (#122-123, 128-129), Roger McKenzie (#124), Danny Fingeroth (#125-126), Len Kaminski (#127), Bob Layton (#130), Rich Buckler (#122), Malcolm Davis (#122), Dwayne Turner (#123), Greg Larocque (#124), Jim Mooney (#125), Alan Kupperberg (#126-129), Jim Fern (#130), Mike Esposito (#122), Bob McLeod (#122), Art Nichols (#122-126), Vince Colletta (#125, 130), Nel Yomtov (#122-123, 127), Bob Sharen (#124-125, 128, 130), George Roussos (#126), Julianna Ferriter (#129), Rick Parker, Jim Salicrup

I went back and forth a few times while reading these issues, debating with myself about whether or not it would be better to look at this entire run (meaning every issue of this title from 1987 before the “Kraven’s Last Hunt” crossover*) or if I should simply choose a single issue/storyline and zero in on that. Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man (henceforth referred to as PPSSM) is effectively a collection of Spider-Man short stories, with most of the issues being self-contained one-shots. There is a throughline that connects several of them, but it comes and goes from month to month fairly arbitrarily, separated from itself by stories that have absolutely nothing to do with it and don’t even all take place at the same time. That lack of connective tissue is a big part of why this series leaves me feeling fairly cold, so ultimately I decided it made more sense to look at these nine issues as a whole, because when viewed together they leave a slightly different impression than taken individually. Continue Reading »

1987 And All That: Iron Man #219-221

A column in which Matt Derman (Comics Matter) reads & reviews comics from 1987, because that’s the year he was born. Click here for an archive of all the previous posts in the series.

Ghost1Iron Man #219-221 (Marvel) by David Michelinie, Bob Layton, Mark D. Bright (#220-221), Bob Sharen, Janice Chiang, Mark Gruenwald

A good villain should do two things: 1. Work as a compelling character in their own right, someone the audience is interested in regardless of circumstance, and 2. Jive with the hero within the specific context of their shared story. Judged by these two metrics, Iron Man #219-221 is a tremendous triumph, introducing readers to the Ghost, a supervillain whose concept is simultaneously so strong and so simple that he works as a character despite (or because of) a total lack of background details or origin story. We don’t need to know exactly where he comes from to understand his motivations and the danger he represents, and he’s a perfect foe for Iron Man because of both his power set and his ultimate goals. It’s always nice to come to the end of a story and feel fully gratified by it while still somehow wanting more, and that’s exactly what this Iron Man arc delivers. There are no glaring loose ends when the narrative concludes, but there are plenty of open doors and unanswered questions, so that it feels complete but also like it’s the start of something bigger (which, of course, it is, insofar as the Ghost has made numerous appearances throughout the Marvel Universe in the decades since this initial storyline was published). Continue Reading »

1987 And All That: Daredevil #239-240

A column in which Matt Derman (Comics Matter) reads & reviews comics from 1987, because that’s the year he was born. Click here for an archive of all the previous posts in the series.

Daredevil1Daredevil #239-240 (Marvel) by Ann Nocenti, Louis Williams, Al Williamson, Geof Isherwood (#239), Max Scheele (#239), Bob Sharen (#240), Petra Scotese (#240), Joe Rosen, Ralph Macchio

Though not a great story by any stretch, there were two dominant themes in this pair of Daredevil issues that I always like to see explored, even if they’re not handled especially well. The first is the notion of superheroes being as bad for the world (or worse) as the villains they fight. This was not a new idea in 1987, and it’s been discussed many times since, but for any consistent fan of superhero stories (not just in comics but across all media) it’s a point that bears repeated examination, because there is no wholly satisfying answer. Are the protagonists of these narratives really deserving of the title of “hero,” or are they merely super-people fighting against other super-people in a self-fulfilling and never-ending cycle of violence begetting violence? The truth likely falls somewhere in between, and attempting to uncover it is a worthwhile activity. Continue Reading »

1987 And All That: Captain America #325-336

A column in which Matt Derman (Comics Matter) reads & reviews comics from 1987, because that’s the year he was born. Click here for an archive of all the previous posts in the series.

Cap1Captain America #325-336 (Marvel) by Mark Gruenwald, Paul Neary (#325-329, 331), Tom Morgan (#330, 332-336), John Beatty (#325-327), Kent Williams (#326), Vince Colletta (#328-329, 331), Sam de la Rosa (#330), Bob McLeod (#332), Dave Hunt (#333-336), Ken Feduniewicz (#325-330, 332-334), Bob Sharen (#331, 335-336), Diana Albers (#325-332), Bill Oakley (#333), Ken Lopez (#333-334), Jack Morelli (#335-336), Don Daley (#325-334), Ralph Macchio (#335-336)

In some respects, this is a tricky run of issues to review, because they include the beginning but not the ending of the “Captain America No More” saga in which Steve Rogers turned in his shield, his costume, and the moniker that comes with them, and John Walker was appointed to replace him. Rogers’ retirement occurs in issue #332, and Walker becomes Captain America in #333, so while there are a few issues from 1987 exploring that new status quo, the resolution wouldn’t come until February 1989’s Captain America #350. In that sense, then, the issues I’m covering here represent something incomplete, the start of an epic storyline that doesn’t yet finish. But there is still plenty to discuss in terms of what these issues have in common, and how they lead up to and deliver the rather bold, shocking, and powerful moment of Rogers’ decision to give up his Captain America persona. This is a comicbook about the downside of idealism, the strain that any rigid belief system puts on those who follow it, as well as the dangers and evils which that kind of extreme thinking can engender. It’s not necessarily a cautionary tale, but it does warn against believing in anything too intensely or blindly, and shows the readers and characters alike how impractical and unpleasant it can be to try and live life according to a strict set of rules. The world is not rigid or simple enough for any idealism to be a perfect fit, and that’s a lesson learned many times in many ways over the course of these issues. Continue Reading »

Year of the Artist, Day 348: Frank Miller, Part 1 – Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #27 and Wolverine #1

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Every day this year, I will be examining the artwork on a single comic book story. Today’s artist is Frank Miller, and the issues are Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #27 and Wolverine #1, which were published by Marvel and are cover dated February 1979 and September 1982, respectively. The scans of PPtSSM are from Daredevil by Frank Miller and Klaus Janson volume 1, which was published in 2008, and the Wolverine scans are from Wolverine, the trade paperback, which was originally published in 1987 but went through several printings. Enjoy!
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Year of the Artist, Day 327: Erik Larsen, Part 4 – Amazing Spider-Man #335

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Every day this year, I will be examining the artwork on a single comic book story. Today’s artist is Erik Larsen, and the issue is Amazing Spider-Man #335 (plus a few cameos from other issues), which was published by Marvel and is cover dated July 1990. Enjoy!
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Year of the Artist, Day 270: Al Williamson, Part 4 – Classic Star Wars #2 and Return of the Jedi #2

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Every day this year, I will be examining the artwork on a single comic book story. Today’s artist is Al Williamson, and the issues are Classic Star Wars #2 and Return of the Jedi #2, the first of which was published by Dark Horse and is cover dated September 1992 (but reprints strips from 1981), and the second of which was published by Marvel and is cover dated November 1983. Enjoy!
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Year of the Artist, Day 263: Marc Silvestri, Part 2 – Web of Spider-Man #22

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Every day this year, I will be examining the artwork on a single comic book story. Today’s artist is Marc Silvestri, and the issue is Web of Spider-Man #22, which was published by Marvel and is cover dated January 1987. Enjoy!
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1987 And All That: Strange Tales #1-7

A column in which Matt Derman (Comics Matter) reads & reviews comics from 1987, because that’s the year he was born.

StrangeTales_1Strange Tales #1-7 (Marvel) by Bill Mantlo (#1-6), Peter Gillis, Bret Blevins (#1-6), Chris Warner (#1-4), Larry Alexander (#5, 7), Terry Shoemaker (#6-7), Al Williamson (#3), Bob Wiacek (#6), Gerry Talaoc (#7), Randy Emberlin, Christie Scheele (#1, 3), Glynis Oliver (#2, 4-6), Paul Becton (#7), Bob Sharen, Ken Bruzenak, Jim Novak (#1-3), Janice Chiang (#4-5, 7), Ken Lopez (#6), Carl Potts

With a book like Strange Tales, where every issue is divided between two different narratives (or any number of narratives, but in this case it’s just the two), you always want some sort of connection to tie the stories together, something to bring unity to the title. Obviously the stories should work individually as well, but it’s nicer when there’s a bond between them, an identity to the series as a whole that fits with each section’s own goals and attitudes. Strange Tales is split evenly every issue between Cloak and Dagger and Dr. Strange, the two titles which it replaced. Because they’re both continuations of previously existing comics, it would be understandable if there wasn’t a ton of cohesion between their respective outlooks or aims. Whether through editorial design, creator collaboration, or sheer dumb luck, though, the two halves of Strange Tales find common ground almost immediately, and continue to examine the same core concept, though still in their own ways, right up through issue #7 where their narratives actually collide and briefly become the same. Both Cloak and Strange wrestle with remaining heroic while sometimes needing to act unheroically, and this struggle quickly becomes the center of Strange Tales. But the two men deal with their shared problem differently and end up in different places because of it, so their stories stand apart even as they come together, thematically and literally. Continue Reading »

Year of the Artist, Day 232: Jim Lee, Part 1 – Alpha Flight #53

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Every day this year, I will be examining the artwork on a single comic book story. Today’s artist is Jim Lee, and the issue is Alpha Flight #53, which was published by Marvel and is cover dated December 1987. Enjoy!
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Year of the Artist, Day 227: Norm Breyfogle, Part 1 – New Talent Showcase #11 and Marvel Fanfare #29

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Every day this year, I will be examining the artwork on a single comic book story. Today’s artist is Norm Breyfogle, and the stories are “Pacer” in New Talent Showcase #11 and “Story” in Marvel Fanfare #29, the first of which was published by DC and is cover dated November 1984 and the second of which was published by Marvel and is cover dated November 1986. Enjoy!
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1987 And All That: The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21

A column in which Matt Derman (Comics Matter) reads & reviews comics from 1987, because that’s the year he was born.

SpiderWed1The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21 (Marvel) by David Michelinie, Paul Ryan, Vince Colletta, Bob Sharen, Rick Parker, Jim Salicrup, and Jim Shooter

Mary Jane Watson and Peter Parker’s marriage is a weirdly divisive subject for some people, but I don’t personally have too strong an opinion on whether or not Spider-Man ought to be married. When it happened in 1987, it was pretty much a gimmick, an editorially mandated special event designed to sell comics based on the novelty, as opposed to being a story that someone felt needed to be told. As such, there’s only the faintest impression of a plot in this comicbook, despite its extra pages and the fact that then editor-in-chief Jim Shooter is credited with the plot and David Michelinie with the actual script. It’s hard to imagine Shooter’s role amounting to very much more than telling Michelinie, “Spider-Man gets married, even though he and Mary Jane both have doubts.” I’d believe he contributed less than that, because that’s about 90% of what the issue contains, and I want to give Michelinie and the artists some credit.

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Year of the Artist, Day 210: Todd McFarlane, Part 4 – Spider-Man #5

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Every day this year, I will be examining the artwork on a single comic book story. Today’s artist is Todd McFarlane, and the issue is Spider-Man #5, which was published by Marvel and is cover dated December 1990. Enjoy!
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Year of the Artist, Day 168: John Romita, Jr., Part 2 – Amazing Spider-Man #246 and 250

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Every day this year, I will be examining the artwork on a single comic book story. Today’s artist is John Romita, Jr., and the issues are Amazing Spider-Man #246 and 250, which were published by Marvel and are cover dated November 1983 and March 1984, respectively. Enjoy!
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Year of the Artist, Day 75: Kelley Jones, Part 2 – The Micronauts: The New Voyages #14

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Every day this year, I will be examining the artwork on a single comic book story. Today’s artist is Kelley Jones, and the issue is The Micronauts: The New Voyages #14, which was published by Marvel and is cover dated November 1985. Enjoy!
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