Mar 20, 2015

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 24: The 100 Greatest Marvels of All Time #1, December 2001

Have you guessed yet? I find it interesting that the backs of each of these issues says that the "only way to find out" "who came out the winners" "is to pick up these reprints," but that's not entirely true, is it? Perhaps for the square-bound collected volumes that precede these last 5 issues, but the top five have been, honestly pretty obvious.

Anyway....I love Steve Ditko's art. Have I mentioned that? I think now that I'm done these 100 Greatest reprints, I'm going to move on to some of his later "super-hero" work. Look for a full week of the original Shade, The Changing Man coming up. Though that might steer me into re-reading Peter Milligan's sublime take on the character, so we might be in Shade-land for a few months. We'll see.
There's a panel on the second page of the lead story in this issue where a car is speeding away from Peter Parker, and the motion that's captured in the artwork is quite fantastic.

Side note, it's also the panel from which the Sean Howe-edited collection Give Our Regards to the Atomsmashers! takes its title. The rest of the issue is filled with Lee-Ditko one-offs, weird Twilight Zone-esque short stories, and one of them is one of the very stories I was mentioning in my earlier thoughts on Ditko's work. I think Ditko is an artist I've not paid nearly enough attention to, and hopefully this project will remedy that.

What does one say about Stan Lee's writing? Yesterday, I was fairly disparaging of his stilted dialogue in Fantastic Four #1. Less than a year later this issue of Amazing Fantasy hits, and there's none of the awkwardness. Perhaps it's because he only had one lead character to put his mind to, rather than four, that Parker's personality seems more...I don't know, genuine, perhaps? It might also be that he was inspired to let his words be more fluid to reflect what, in my humble opinion, is a far superior work of visual art than Kirby's less-than-stellar work on Fantastic Four. (On that particular issue, that is. I'd never go so far as to disparage all of Kirby's work on FF.)

The biggest thing to strike me about this issue is how much Parker is basically the same character now, how well-realized, in 11 or so pages, Spider-Man is right from the beginning. Both visually and narratively, this is Peter Parker. Again, in contrast to the Fantastic Four at their inception, Spider-Man is incredibly well-realized. And perhaps this is why this comics deserves the top spot of this countdown. The story somehow, despite its age, doesn't seem dated (fashion and slang aside, I suppose). The superhero, as I'm constantly arguing, contains within it something timeless. In this story, Lee and Ditko crystalize that notion, and give us a hero for the ages.

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