Friday, September 30, 2016

1980 - Anatomy of a Cover - Iron Man #136 by Bob Layton

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

1981 - Spectacular Spider-Man Annual #3

The Spectactular Spider-Man Annual #3
Writer - David Kraft
Artists - Jim Sherman/Al Weiss/Steve Mitchell
"Dark Side of the Moon"
29 pages

I have fond memories of this King-Size Annual from 1981 and grabbing it off the stands at my local convenience store. Look at that stunning cover by Al Weiss and Joe Rubinstein. How could any 10 year-old resist that work of art!

And the cover actually had something to do with the story. In fact, it highlighted the many internal struggles that really made this issue a memorable one.

Let's get started by jumping right into the story.

John Jameson, son of the Daily Bugle's esteemed publisher, J. Jonah Jameson, is still at the mercy of a gemstone that transforms him into the savage Man-Wolf. Spidey prevents a rampaging Man-Wolf from doing too much damage in the streets of downtown New York City, but the creature eludes him. The following day, Spidey drops in on John and offers to help the afflicted young man.Teaming up with Curt Connors (the Lizard's alter ego and Peter's mentor) to leverage their latest experiment, the Bio-Magnetic Converter, to purge John Jameson's system of the gemstone's influence. The arrival of Jameson's father, Jonah really amps up the story conflict.

Not only is John Jameson battling the influence of the Man-Wolf, but he's refereeing the infighting between Spider-Man and Jonah. Spidey's trying to help Connors and contain the damage that Jonah's causing as he's completely lost it and only wants to help his son.

Fortunately, Connors' Bio-Magnetic Converter does the job frees John of the gemstone's curse.

Sherman and Weiss prove to be a great artistic duo. They excel at not only the great, dynamic action scenes of the story, but also in those quiet thematic moment. The range of expressions and facial reactions are really well done. I also really appreciated how they contained and constrained the action within panel borders.

I also really liked how David Anthony Kraft leveraged all the internal conflict (John's internal struggle, Spidey's struggle with JJJ, and Spidey's physical struggle with the Man-Wolf) to really flesh out the characters involved. It was also great to see Dr. Connors in that mentor role and really give something for Peter to strive towards other than swinging around in tights all night.

Thanos by Jim Starlin


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