Tag Archives: spider-man

70 Aspects of Batman: 34

JOHN ROMITA JR.

From Wikipedia:

John Salvatore Romita, Jr. (born August 17, 1956) is an American comic book artist best known for his extensive work for Marvel Comics from the 1970s to the 2000s.

Romita was born in New York City, the son of John Romita, Sr., co-creator of several notable Spider-Man stories in the 1960s and 1970s.

He began his career at Marvel UK, doing sketches for covers of reprints. His American debut was with a six page story entitled “Chaos at the Coffee Bean!” in The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #11 (1977).

Romita’s early popularity began with his run on Iron Man with writer David Michelinie and artist Bob Layton which began in 1978. In the early 1980s, he had his first regular run on the Amazing Spider-Man series and also was the artist for the launch of the Dazzler series. Working with writer Roger Stern on Amazing Spider-Man, he co created the character Hobgoblin. From 1983 to 1986 he had a run on the popular Uncanny X-Men with Dan Green and author Chris Claremont which was well-received. He would return for a second well-received run on Uncanny X-Men in 1993.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Romita enjoyed an extended stint on Daredevil with writer Ann Nocenti and Eisner Award-winning inker Al Williamson, noted for its creation of long-running Daredevil nemesis Typhoid Mary. His work on Daredevil was well-received, with Romita Jr. further refining his style.

Romita later collaborated with Frank Miller on a Daredevil origin story entitled Daredevil: The Man Without Fear, a revisiting of the character’s origin. He worked on a host of Marvel titles during the 1990s, including The Punisher War Zone, the Hulk, the Cable mini-series, The Mighty Thor, a return to Iron Man for the second Armor Wars written by John Byrne, and the Punisher/Batman cross-over. Klaus Janson was a frequent inker.

In the 2000s, Romita had a well-received return to The Amazing Spider-Man with writer J. Michael Straczynski. He drew Marvel’s Wolverine with author Mark Millar as part of the character’s thirtieth-anniversary celebration. In 2004, Romita’s creator-owned project The Gray Area was published by Image Comics. Romita’s art has since appeared in Black Panther, The Sentry and Ultimate Vision, a backup story featured in the Ultimate line, written by author Mark Millar.

In 2006, Romita collaborated with writer Neil Gaiman on the reinterpretation of Jack Kirby‘s The Eternals in the form of a seven-issue limited series. Romita worked with Greg Pak on the five issue main comic of Marvel’s 2007 crossover event, World War Hulk.

In 2008, Romita again returned to Amazing Spider-Man. He is also collaborating once more with Mark Millar, for a creator-owned series, Kick-Ass, published by Marvel’s Icon imprint. The Filming of the Movie: Kick-Ass, began in September 2008. Romita, one of the producers, made his directorial debut by directing an animated flashback sequence in the film.

Romita is the regular artist for Avengers, which relaunched the franchise in May 2010.

John Romita Jr. may be the best pure superhero artist working in comics today. Over the course of his over 30 year career he has worked almost exclusively for Marvel Comics, so any images of characters from other companies by him. Fortunately, in the mid-90s before Marvel and DC became parts of huge conglomerates and were still open to crossovers, Romita Jr. drew a Batman/Punisher one-shot. For a reader used to Romita’s work only appearing in Marvel comics, seeing the denizens of Gotham City drawn in his style creates a certain cognitive dissonance…but once the brain adjusts, it’s a great visual experience. To date, apart from a sketch or two, Romita Jr. hasn’t drawn Batman since, which is a shame as his style has become more stripped down and direct as time’s gone on…kind of like this sketch below, done years after the one-shot:

I love this sequence from Batman/Punisher…it’s a well drawn sequence that flows and says a lot about the characters portrayed in it:

G.

70 Aspects Of Batman: 27

STEVE DITKO

From Wikipedia:

Stephen J. “Steve” Ditko (born November 2, 1927) is an American comic book artist and writer best known as the co-creator of the Marvel Comics heroes Spider-Man & Doctor Strange. Considered a legend by many for his co-creation of some of Marvel’s most iconic characters, Ditko’s post-1960s comics work has had little impact, and by the end of the 1990s he had retired from mainstream publishing. For most of the last few decades, Ditko has maintained a secretive profile, only occasionally self-publishing his Objectivist-inspired comics.

What more can I say about Ditko that I didn’t already here? Well, he drew Batman once, that’s what. As far as I can tell, the only time my favorite Objectivist artist ever drew the Dark Knight Detective was, bizarrely, in the pages of Man-Bat #1, from 1975. An extremely short-lived series (this was the first of only two issues before it was canceled), Man-Bat featured the exploits of Kirk Langstrom, a scientist whose experiments in things led him to become the incredibly-literal titular creature.

The 70s saw Ditko largely acting as a journeyman penciller, drawing varied books for varied publishers while working on his more personal Ayn Rand-inspired work. Hence his work on Man-Bat. Even on work-for-hire like this, Ditko’s quirky style shines through. I love how almost every one of his Batman renderings hides his face in complete shadow apart from his eyes. I don’t think I’ve seen another artist do that before.

Like Jack Kirby, Ditko did a lot of work for DC after leaving Marvel, creating or co-creating characters like The Creeper, Hawk & Dove and Shade, The Changing Man along the way. Also like Kirby, he rarely worked on DC’s most famous icons. So it’s a treat to see his take on Batman, even if it’s just in the form of a few pages in an obscure spin-off

– Greg

20 YEARS AGO: 1990

MOVIES

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES (d. Steve Barron)

HOME ALONE (d. Chris Columbus)

WILD AT HEART (d. David Lynch)

EDWARD SCISSORHANDS  (d. Tim Burton)

GOODFELLAS (d. Martin Scorcese)

ALBUMS

DEPECHE MODE – VIOLATOR

PIXIES – BOSSANOVA

HAPPY MONDAYS – PILLS ‘N’ THRILLS AND BELLYACHES

MORRISSEY – BONA DRAG

THE LA’S – THE LA’S


COMICS

SPIDER-MAN #1 by Todd McFarlane

GIVE ME LIBERTY by Frank Miller & Dave Gibbons

Cable debuts in the pages of NEW MUTANTS #87.

Frank Einstein A.K.A. Madman debuts in CREATURES OF THE ID #1.

AKIRA by Katsuhiro Otomo concludes after eight years in the pages of Young Magazine.

G.



Wednesday Comics: 11/4/09

 

Marvel Strange Tales #3 cover

 

It’s Wednesday, and Wednesday = comics. So here are some comics you can buy today!

 

http://www.examiner.com/examiner/x-27333-Des-Moines-Graphic-Novels-Examiner~y2009m11d4-Wednesday-comics-11409#

 

Strange Tales, Lobo, Criminal…y’know, whatever.

 

G.

 

Happy Birthday, Steve Ditko!!!

94697-24608-steve-ditko_large

Remember Steve Ditko? Co-created Spider-Man and Doctor Strange, worked on lots of other comics? He’s 82 today, and I wrote a bit of a biographical piece on him in celebration of his birthday. Please check it out, it took a bit of time to research and write, but I think it turned out pretty well.

http://www.examiner.com/examiner/x-27333-Des-Moines-Graphic-Novels-Examiner~y2009m11d2-Steve-Ditko-cocreator-of-SpiderMan-is-82-today#

Please feel free to offer any comments, criticisms, etc. Thanks!

G.

the SPIDER-MAN newspaper strip

Did you even know there was a newspaper comic strip starring Spider-Man?  The dang thing has been around for over thirty years and is interesting for a variety of reasons.  First, the strip is and always has been written by none other than Stan Lee.  Considering how famous this guy is in the world of comics you might think the strip would be somewhat celebrated as the only regular vehicle for Lee’s writing over the last three decades.


Stan Lee is so modern.

Originally, the strip was illustrated by John Romita, the well known artist that penciled The Amazing Spider-Man comic book from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s.  The strip has had a few different artists over the years, but Larry Lieber (Stan Lee’s brother) has been the day-to-day penciler for several years now.


Ugh, seriously?!

The aspect of the newspaper strip that holds the most interest for me is that it exists outside of the Marvel Comics continuity.  Some common Spider-Man enemies from the comic book are absent from the strip and likewise there are villains that are exclusive to the strip.  Additionally, various Marvel super heroes make guest appearances with qualities that differ from their comic book situations.  Occasionally, major events will coincide between the book and strip, like Peter Parker’s marriage to Mary Jane Watson in the late 1980s or, much more recently, the “Brand New Day” storyline that ended the marriage (but which has been since reversed in the strip).


I hate all that wasted space at the top of the Sunday strip

In spite of its low profile, the newspaper strip must be read by many times more people than the actual comic book, which sells about 100,000 copies per issue.  Think about it!

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Marvel Comics Silver Age Challenge: 1962 (and a bit of 1961)

FanFour

(There’s no official point where the Golden Age ended and the Silver Age began. For the purpose of this challenge, I’m using a transition approach. Basically, I’m counting any new characters/series that debut after November of 1962 when Fantastic Four #1 hit newsstands.  Existing series that reflect a Golden Age approach were phased out over the next couple of years and won’t be covered in the Silver Age Challenge.)

FIRST APPEARANCES
Mr. Fantastic
Invisible Girl
Thing
Human Torch (Silver Age version)
Hulk
Spider-Man
Thor
Ant-Man
Dr. Doom
Mole Man

As you can see, a whole lot of famous characters were introduced in 1962 and late 1961.  From a conceptual standpoint, the minds at Marvel were very, very rich at this point.

IncHulk

ONGOING SERIES
Fantastic Four (9 issues)
Incredible Hulk (5 issues)
Journey Into Mystery (starring Thor, 5 isues)
Tales to Astonish (starring Ant-Man, 5 issues)
Strange Tales (starring Human Torch, 3 issues)

The new super heroes began to take over the established anthology titles just a few months after Fantastic Four debuted.  The FF and Hulk stories were 20-25 pages while the anthology lead features were about 10-14 pages.  All of these stories were written by Stan Lee and, incredibly, penciled by Jack Kirby (some of the dialogue was written by Lee’s brother, Larry Lieber).

AmSpid

SPECIALS
Amazing Fantasy #15 (starring Spider-Man)

The only 1961/1962 Marvel super hero comic that wasn’t penciled by Jack Kirby, instead illustrated by Steve Ditko.  Amazing Fantasy was on the ropes but the one-off Spider-Man story was a success, leading to the character’s own series the following year.

JouMyst

REVIEW!!!!!

Okay, let’s be frank: the writing is terrible.  A lot of the concepts are cool but the writing is just fucking wretched.  I think Stan Lee was either afraid of women, hated them, or just hadn’t met any, because their portrayals are disturbingly shallow.  Unlike her Fantastic Four teammates, Susan Storm/Invisible Girl has no apparent interests and spends most of her time daydreaming about the hunky Sub-Mariner.  The women in the Hulk and Thor strips spend most of their time being thoughtless and swooning over the title characters.

Additionally, the solutions to most scenarios are incredibly cheap and often involve powers that the heroes heretofore had never displayed.  Remember the battle at the end of Superman II in which Superman suddenly has the power to create illusion versions of himself, or shoot lasers out of his hands, or to throw the ‘S’ on his chest and have it transform into some kind of cellophane trap?  That’s the kind of crap you get here.  The Human Torch makes “mirages” of items he saw earlier in the day, even though he’s on the top floor of a skyscraper and can’t even see the item he’s somehow making a mirage of.  Thor spins his hammer so fast that it produces “anti-matter”.

TalAst

There are plenty of super simplistic “Free World vs Commies” type politics that can only be described as retarded.  I know that the political atmosphere was quite different back then and comics were under completely unfair scrutiny but it feels like Rush Limbaugh was the political adviser.  The Cuban issue is touched on, presenting Castro as a straight up villain and Batista as a good guy (ugh).

The art is almost always solid but the fact is that is you can’t expect a guy (Jack Kirby) to pencil 40-60 pages a month and have it all be awesome.  It seems like some titles were either higher priorities or just had better inkers, as Fantastic Four and Thor stories seem to have better art than the Hulk stories.  Of interesting note is the constantly-evolving nature of some of the series, especially FF and Hulk.  It seems that Hulk is written and drawn differently each issue.  They just didn’t know what to do with him.

The best series is definitely FF, thanks largely to the hilarious bickerings of Human Torch and THing.  As I read the stories, I keep hoping they will murder each other.  Additionally, the delightfully haughty Sub-Mariner comes by all the time to try to kill the male members and have a shot at raping Invisible Girl.  The weakest series is ol’ Ant Man.  The old bore just shrinks himself down and then engages in run of the mill anti-commie detective work.

GRADE: B-
Pros: strong concepts, solid art
Cons: awful writing, inconsistency

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