My latest piece for the Crawlspace is about an old Wizard magazine article on fixing the Spider-Man comics shortly after the Clone Saga. It’s an updated version of something I wrote for this blog several years ago.
This was just after the Clone Saga had come to an end. The creative teams at the time were Tom DeFalco and Steve Skroce on AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, Howard Mackie and John Romita Jr. on PETER PARKER SPIDER-MAN, J.M. DeMatteis and Luke Ross on SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN, and finally Todd Dezago and Mike Wieringo on SENSATIONAL SPIDER-MAN. Joe Bennet was illustrating the quarterly double-sized SPIDER-MAN UNLIMITED, although there was no consistent writer on that title.
The WIZARD staff felt that the main criteria on which the Spider-Man comics should be judged are Sense of Humor, Secret Identity, Unstable Relationships, Death, Youth, Economic Status, the Costume, Intelligence, Supporting Cast, the Depressed Optimist personality, the Rogues’s Gallery, Environment and Unwavering Ethics.
Obviously, your mileage may vary. It could be that the things they liked about the book aren’t what you like about it. Many of the disagreements between Spider-Man fans come down to whether one of the important thing about the character is that he’s younger than most superheroes—which is one of the positions in this article—or whether it’s that he’s the superhero who has actually grown up.
It is an interesting document about how some people who really liked Spider-Man looked at the books shortly before Marvel made some major changes to the title. Pretty soon, Marvel would give Howard Mackie reign over two titles—including AMAZING SPIDER-MAN—replacing the rest with a retelling of the origin, and an anthology series.
One thing that’s kind of telling is that they didn’t focus at all on the art. Granted, the artists at the time were a mix of exceptional (Wieringo, Romita) and good (Skroce, Ross, Bennet, their various fill-ins) so it is to Marvel’s credit that the critics didn’t even bother discussing fixes Marvel could make there.
More at the link.