I didn't make it out to the theater to see TheAmazing Spider-Man 2 this weekend -- I had some crucial paint drying that needed to be watched -- but all the hype surrounding it actually did make me want to go back and read some classic Spider-Man stories. The only question was which one would have everything that I wanted, which was pretty tricky since I've only really seen Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone lately thanks to their appearances on The Tonight Show.
But then I found one of the all-time classics, Amazing Spider-Man #89, the one where Spider-Man has to go to the laundromat with a bag on his head because he's trying to get money by appearing as a guest on a talk show. It's even got Electro in it -- although I don't think any of the other 83 villains from the movie make an appearance.
On the off chance that you want to kick off your weekend by going into a blinding rage, I have some good news! Stan "The Man" Lee, one of the founding fathers of Marvel Comics and the co-creator of characters like Spider-Man and Thor, recently did an interview with Bloomberg Television where he said the phrase "I wish my friend Bob Kane were still with us — he’s the fellow who created Batman," a collection of words that I do not understand.
Unfortunately, the report transcribing the quote did not mention whether Lee was rolling his eyes and making a wanking motion while he said this, so we're forced to assume he was sincere.
You might have heard that there's a new Captain Americamovie coming out on April 4. If Marvel's marketing department has gotten its way, this news may very well be tattooed on the inside of your eyelids in phosphorescent ink. Let's say, however, you've never read any Captain America comics before, but now that he's been legitimized as a multi-million dollar film franchise, you're suddenly very interested in that dude with little wings on his head carrying around one of Uncle Sam's rims.
Since being created by Jack Kirby and Joe Simon all the way back in 1941, the hero also known as the Sentinel of Liberty has passed through the hands of some eminently talented writers, artists and editors. Some of these creative teams depicted Cap's adventures for a few months -- some of them for a few years -- before passing the torch to the next creators to keep the flame (or trademark) alive. In comic books, these tenures are called "runs," "series" or "eras," and they're the readers' way of distinguishing one era of a character's saga from the next. Chances are you're not sure where to dive into a a publishing legacy that's spanned more than 70 years, so here is a list, in chronological order, of the Sentinel of Liberty's 10 most interesting and influential comic book runs.
Listen, I've been reading comic books a long time, and if there's one thing I've learned, it's that if you want a package to get to its destination safely, the absolute last person you want handling it is Spider-Man. Best case scenario -- best case, mind you -- is that it's going to be crushed when he stops to fight the Rhino. Worst case? Incinerated by a pumpkin bomb and then thrown off a bridge. Just ask Aunt May's last 51 birthday cakes.
And yet, he is the hero that The United States Postal Service has turned to for an ad tying into the upcoming TheAmazing Spider-Man 2, set to hit theaters this summer with more of Spidey's adventures in a universe where people actually use Bing. Check it out below, and be advised there's a special twist ending!
Describing Stan Lee as "the original genius behind Marvel Comics and most of the superheroes you've ever loved or watched on the big screen" probably isn't doing the 91-year-old comic book veteran any favors as he tries, seemingly, to rehabilitate his reputation for glory-hogging in a wide-ranging conversation to be published in this Friday's new issue of Playboy. Indeed, the (in)famously self-promoting Lee uses the interview to deliberately undermine the public perception -- one he worked hard to create, as recently as last year with his reality show Fangasm -- that he's a tremendously wealthy comic book mogul primarily responsible for the success of some of Marvel Comics' most iconic -- and profitable -- superhero characters.
Q: Why do you think the X-Men didn't find their audience until two decades after they were created? -- @godofthunder851
A: I've got a minor quibble with your timing in this question -- it was more like 12 or 15 years, really -- but you've got an interesting point there. I think most comics readers are well aware of that piece of trivia about how the X-Men were about to get the axe before Giant Size X-Men #1 breathed new life into the franchise and set them on the path of becoming what was probably the single most popular and influential franchise of the '80s and '90s, and that's not really how things usually work. In comics, you tend to either come out of the gate to massive, enduring popularity (like Batman or Spider-Man), come out strong and then fade away for whatever reason (like, sadly, Shazam!), or just sort of flounder in the midcard. It's rare that something sticks around on the edge of being canceled for a solid decade before it finds its footing, and nobody bounced back harder than Marvel's Merry Mutants.
But really, what you're asking here is two separate questions: Why didn't the X-Men take off in 1963, and why did they in 1975? So let's look at the history and see if we can't figure it out.
I think it's safe to say that Spider-Man has been through some pretty weird stuff in his time, right? I mean, that's a fifty-year saga that started with a radioactive spider-bite that gave him limited psychic powers and super-strength that he immediately used to try to find fame as a professional wrestler, and the fine folks over at Marvel Comics have somehow managed to top that for weirdness time and time again. Heck, right now, Spider-Man comics are in the midst of a supervillainous Freaky Friday story that has been running for over a year. That should tell you something.
But for my money, the absolute craziest and most hilarious Spider-Man story in years isn't the one you'll find in the comic shops on Wednesday. It's the one that's happening right now in TheAmazing Spider-Man newspaper strip, by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Alex Saviuk and Joe Sinnott.
Q: What is Stan Lee's actual legacy? -- @TheMikeLawrence
A: I don't think there could be a more complicated subject to tackle in a single column than this one, because as an industry and as an art form, I think we all have a lot of complicated feelings about Stan Lee. Depending on who you ask, when you ask them and what he's been up to lately, he's a conniving credit-stealer, a shameless self-promotion machine, a "driven little man who dreams of having it all!!!" and got it by coasting on the hard work of others, or he's a charismatic innovator who got put into that spotlight because he's a natural showman, a smiling ambassador of the medium and everybody's friendly comics grandpa. And it's further complicated because you can't really talk about him without talking about collaborators like Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, either.
That's what makes him hard to talk about, even if you've spent nearly your entire life being aware of him. There's just so much to get through that's filtered through so many angles, and as a result, I genuinely think that he's simultaneously the most overrated and underrated creator of all time.
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