My Misspent Youth — Crazy Magazine

I read a lot of comic books as a kid. This series of posts is about the comics I read, and, occasionally, the comics that I should have read.

As if predicting the indie cred craving, college rock fellow I’d become a few years later, I largely rejected Mad when I was a youngster. I adored the brand of goofball, snot-nosed comedy offered up by that particular periodical, and there were certainly enough paperback collections culled from its pages strewn about my various homes that it’s reasonable to say I was reared on its insolence. But when it came time for me to fish some nickels out of my wee pockets to grab some age-questionable comedic content from the racks on magazines at the grocery store, I decided Mad was too venerable, or maybe too predictable of a choice. I opted for the off-brand competitors instead. And since I was following the Make Mine Marvel plan when it came to my superhero comics, I did the same with my humor mag.

Crazy was launched by Marvel in 1973, as part of ramping up of a magazine line that included horror titles artfully eliding the Comics Code Authority and soon serve as the publishing home of the behemoth success The Savage Sword of Conan. It devotedly followed the Mad model, with a parade of bratty, lowbrow gags rendered by distinctive cartoonists. Like Mad, movie and TV parodies took a central role, usually built on jokes so cheeseball they didn’t even rise to the lofty accomplishment of groaners.

crazy raiders

Because the magazine was officially created under the same roof as the high-flying heroes of the Marvel Universe, there was, it seemed to me, a greater willingness to generate material from the vagaries of superhero storytelling. Except for a few characters that had crossed over into the broader public consciousness, most of the Marvel titans were still relatively obscure. In Crazy, though, they could become fodder for intensely specific gag work.

crazy kvetch men

In the early nineteen-eighties, I’m doubt any other magazine would have let the idea of imagining Uncanny X-Men as a product of Momma cartoonist Mell Lazarus get past the brainstorming stage, but Crazy ran with it. As someone who studied the daily comics page and my latest superhero adventures with similar scrutinizing focus, I felt the magazine was catered directly to my specific sensibilities.

Crazy had recurring features that were, to be fair, notably mediocre. To me, the comfort of their familiar jokes was a huge part of the appeal. There was nothing all that memorable in, say, the monthly installments of “Teen Hulk” or the basic as can be song lyric parodies under the conceit of loose spoof of The Midnight Special.  There was also the charming oddity of Steve Mellor’s “Kinetic Kids,” a regular experiment in two-page flip book animation from the artist who eventually had a strong hand in the heyday of Spider-Ham.

Nothing found in the pages of Crazy had the feel of mild classic that could be discerned in Mad‘s best stuff. Even at the time, I knew that. It didn’t really matter. I was completely invested in finding new, wild, rule-flouting comedy that could be my very own. Crazy, by aping Mad but also standing indifferently separate from it, satisfied that desire nicely. That I found few others who partook of its ripe japery only confirmed the rightness of Crazy for me. Juvenile comedy rebellion doesn’t require teammates.

crazy obnoxio

Previous entries in this series (and there are a LOT of them) can be found by clicking on the “My Misspent Youth” tag.

My Misspent Youth — Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man by Bill Mantlo and Ed Hannigan

I read a lot of comic books as a kid. This series of posts is about the comics I read, and, occasionally, the comics that I should have read.

At the time I started reading superhero comics, figuring out how to follow favorite characters was a fairly simple task. As opposed to the overlapping sprawl of the current array of titles from the two main publishers, which finds heroes with only marginal or obviously fleeting popularity popping up all over the place, being a completist about any given fictional figure’s ongoing adventures was usually as simple as committing to their monthly (or bi-monthly) publication and that was that. There were exceptions, of course. In the case of Marvel Comics, my comic crafters of choice, it took a lot of nickels to keep with all the doings of our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.

My challenge was a relative shortage of nickels. While blessed with generous familial benefactors supporting my comic-buying habit, their largesse had limits. Typically, I had to settle on only one of the wall-crawler’s three monthly titles on the stands at the time. (Or four titles, if the reprint monthly Marvel Tales is included in the tally.) For reasons I can no longer discern — but perhaps attributable to a tiresome indie cred lifelong instinct toward seeking out the slightly less popular option — I often bypassed the flagship periodical to snatch up issues of Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man. Even now, I have a stronger nostalgia for the web-slinger’s secondary series.

Launched in the mid-nineteen-seventies, the original concept — suggested by Peter’s civilian name in the title — was that the ongoing series would offer more concentrated glimpses at the hero’s life apart from his costumed crime fighting. By the time I was reading it, any such mandate had slipped forgotten between the cushions. But there was still a sense that the comic existed to exploit the storytelling opportunities creators didn’t have time or space for over in Spider-Man’s main title. Sometimes that could mean a new scrap with one of the character’s oldest foes.

peter parker electro time bandits

Bringing in major villains wasn’t necessary impetus for long, complicated sagas. Electro was a formidable foe, but his malicious return into Spider-Man’s orbit could still be contained within a single issue, packed tight with plot. In this instance, it helped that the title New Yorker just so happened to be in possession of a rubber air mattress boasting the exact same colors as his famed costume, allowing for an early Project Runway unconventional materials challenges with the grand prize of significantly reduced likelihood of electrocution when battling a supervillain.

peter parker electro raft

Writer Bill Mantlo and penciller Ed Hannigan were the main creators on Peter Parker when I was buying it with some regularity. Mantlo was especially skilled at slipping back and forth between old, well-traveled characters and comparative newcomers, often of his own creation. Most notably, Mantlo and Hannigan introduced Cloak and Dagger, teen runaways whose superpowers derived from their unwilling injection with an experimental drug.

peter parker cloak dagger

The duo became a quick sensation. They made an encore appearance in Peter Parker less than six months after their first appearance. Around a year after that, Cloak and Dagger starred in their own limited series, which was followed by an ongoing title, albeit one that didn’t last all that long. In the comics, the characters have never quite locked in with the readership the way they did in those early Peter Parker appearances, but that hasn’t stopped them from enduring as a prime part of the increasingly valuable Marvel Entertainment machine.

Correct or not, I had a vague sense that Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man could go just about anywhere with its narrative, but unlike the similarly freewheeling Marvel Team-Up (also starring Ol’ Webhead) these stories counted. Feeling obligated to maintain a working knowledge of the main avenues of Marvel’s overall narrative, I eventually gravitated more or less full time to the character’s primary title, The Amazing Spider-Man. A portion of my geeky heart remained with the scrappiness of the companion title, though. For me, ahead of all other descriptions Spider-Man will always be spectacular.

peter parker cloak dagger 2

Previous entries in this series (and there are a LOT of them) can be found by clicking on the “My Misspent Youth” tag.

From the Archive — Batman: The Dark Knight by Frank Miller

I read a lot of comic books as a kid. This series of posts is about the comics I read, and, occasionally, the comics that I should have read.

In 1986, I was the prime target for bold, edgy comics. At the age of sixteen, I was supposed to have grown out of superhero comic books and moved on to more serious fare, perplexing at that notion might seem in this era in which we have truly moved into the Marvel Age of Movies. Back then, it was still greasy kid stuff, so the emergence of darker fare — widely termed “grim and gritty” — complimented the enduring fandom of people like me. Packed with adult themes and cynical sensibilities, how could anyone think these publications were meant for wee ones?

Few titles better represented the new creative tone — and therefore forecast the industrywide shift to self-consciously bleak stories — than Batman: The Dark Knight, written and drawn by Frank Miller. The creator made his name with a character-defining run on Marvel’s Daredevil a few years earlier, so it was considered a major coup that he was putting his talents to one of the signature heroes of the distinguished competition. Accentuating the momentous feel of the four part story, it was presented in the new prestige format, with heavy paper, no ads, and a hefty price tag. Three dollars per issue!

Batman: The Dark Knight (which eventually became known as The Dark Knight Returns, because that was the title that appeared on the cover of the first issue) was set in a near future, ten years after Bruce Wayne retired as the caped crusader. Without its chief guardian, Gotham City is in chaos, which Miller largely relays through an ongoing Greek chorus of television broadcasts.

btdk-011

In its look, structure, and interlacing of bombastic violence with thumping satire, Miller’s storytelling anticipated Peter Verhoeven’s RoboCop, released one year later. (Unsurprisingly, Miller was enlisted to work on the screenplays for the film’s two sequels.) In this instance, though, the caustic commentary was applied to some of the most iconic characters in all of comics, including the biggest of them all: Superman.

btdk-116

At the time, this approach to DC Comics heroes was still very novel. These were the shiny, safe, approachable characters, far more fanciful than the Marvel equivalents, which were couched in pop psychology and social commentary. In effect, Miller was bringing his own version of the Marvel approach to DC (as was fellow House of Ideas defector John Byrne), instilling flaws into gods. It felt revolutionary. The publisher that invented superheroes was finally catching up to their rivals and arguably surpassing them in urgent sophistication.

There was also a veneer of importance due to the sheer denseness of Miller’s pages. The panels pile up on top of each other, crowding for space. And the ongoing narration, delivered in captions, similarly competes with vast amounts of plentiful dialogue of terse language. The overwhelming impression is that Miller has an overabundance of ideas he’s desperate to share.

btdk-121

Batman: The Dark Knight was a sensation at the time, mentioned in conjunction with DC’s Watchmen, by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, as the future of comic book storytelling. Miller’s series hasn’t aged particularly well, but that’s in part because of how completely it did influence all that followed. Most clearly, the now persistent characterization of Batman as a haunted madman largely started here. The pessimism of the story is a river that runs just as long, as maybe even more wide, spreading to the majority of major superhero sagas in the decades since. For good or ill, nothing was quite the same after Miller’s first dance with Batman.

btdk-148

Previous entries in this series (and there are a LOT of them) can be found by clicking on the “My Misspent Youth” tag.

My Misspent Youth — Mockingbird by Chelsea Cain and Kate Niemcyk

I read a lot of comic books as a kid. This series of posts is about the comics I read, and, occasionally, the comics that I should have read.

mockingbird

When I was a younger, so much younger than today, I was always ready to expound at wearying length about the viability of comic books as an art form deserving of broad respect. This was in the era when major media outlet feature stories expressing gentle amazement about the widening demographic enthusiasm for material that was once thought of as little more than diversionary trash for the junior set. “Comics: They’re Not Just For Kids Anymore,” the headlines would blare, usually with the addition of a “Wham!” or “Pow!” so there was at least still a whisper of condescension.

These many years later, the endurance of comic book superhero storytelling has come to pass in ways I never would have dreamed. Never mind that costumed do-gooders have overtaken U.S. moviemaking to such a stunning degree that the mere release of a trailer is treated as a major event. Periodicals (or, more commonly, collected editions of those periodicals) I would have felt sheepish about reading in public are now consumed by enough people — and a diverse enough array of people — that they’re hardly shameful. It’s a cause for celebration, mostly. But then there’s a whole subset of combative, entitled fans who’ve spent the last few years empowering each other to raise a ruckus of online harassment whenever the legacy superhero publishers don’t continue to skew product lines to their particular, narrow interests.

In 2015, Marvel announced a new ongoing series featuring Mockingbird, S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, former Avengers, and ex-wife of Hawkeye. Kate Niemcyk would handle art duties, and, in something of a coup, they’d recruited a novelist with a healthy collection of bestsellers to her name to write the series. Chelsea Cain made her comics writing debut with an earlier one shot about Mockingbird, and seemed ideally suited to bring an unique perspective backed with proven skills as a creator of engaging genre fiction. This should be an understood boon for the field, especially as overall superhero comic book sales continue to edge downward, even as the metaphysically gifted figures on their pages have infiltrated over other media. It turns out, though, that Cain’s unique perspective is exactly what made some of the brattiest comics fans tremble with idiotic rage.

mockingbird solved

Let me assert this as plainly as I can: Cain’s writing on the series is wonderful in every way. It exhibits a strong command of character and a consistency of purpose. It establishes a clear extended arc, but also develops dense, engaging stories to fill the individual issues. This is especially welcome in an era too often marked by writers who fill multiple issues by taking stories that would be better in a shorter, tighter form and dragging them out with glacial dispersement of incidents. A skilled plotter, Cain covers a lot of narrative territory, every panel containing something that moves the story forward or provides a deeper understanding of the players.

That detailed approach already put her at odds with the modern Marvel preference for gimmick and spectacle. Her misguided detractors, though, took greater issue with the radical notion that Mockingbird, a.k.a Bobbie Morse, might have a worldview shaped by her own particular experience. More specifically, she expressed opinions any reasonably intelligent woman might have — maybe should have — when traversing a supposedly enlightened culture in which her contributions and capabilities are immediately, instinctively dismissed for no other reason than her basic biological makeup. In basic parlance, Mockingbird kicked ass. But she also existed in a space where it was occasionally required of her, in a way it wasn’t for a man clad in iron or a god of thunder, to point out that truth. Wisely, that’s how Cain wrote her.

mockingbird hostage

The themes of Mockingbird are important and valuable. But if the title were nothing more than those themes, it would be a mere diatribe. It still wouldn’t be worthy of the derision Cain and her collaborators eventually endured at the keystrokes of supposed fans who took malevolent pleasure in the book lasting only eight issues, but the series would be flawed, to be sure. That’s not the truth of it. Cain exhibited a delighted command of Marvel lore, peppering in cameo appearances from the likes of Howard the Duck and Hercules, taking the kinkiness of the villainous Hellfire Club to its logical conclusion, and generally showing she understood the inherent appeal of these colorfully clashing titans. Cain combined the zippy energy of Marvel Comics’ long-gone heyday with a vivid freshness that added relevance to a character that had been around for decades, but had previously had little driving purpose. Due to the inspired creativity of Cain and her collaborators, Mockingbird was perfection.

Comic book superhero storytelling needs more writers like Cain. It’s too bad Marvel still hasn’t figured that out.

mockingbird end

Previous entries in this series (and there are a LOT of them) can be found by clicking on the “My Misspent Youth” tag.

My Misspent Youth — Marvel Treasury Edition #28 by Jim Shooter and John Buscema

I read a lot of comic books as a kid. This series of posts is about the comics I read, and, occasionally, the comics that I should have read.

Through a good chunk of the nineteen-seventies and -eighties, Marvel Comics did their best to expand the reach of their comics storytelling, experimenting with different formats and presentations. The Marvel magazines line was fairly robust, in part because it was free from the smothering content controls of Comics Code Authority, which especially benefited the adventures of a certain Cimmerian. Those felt out of reach to me, mostly because they struck me as too adult for a wee lad such as myself. Instead, I longed to get my chunky little hands on the various Marvel Treasury Editions.

The Treasury Editions were essentially oversized comics, printed on heavier paper. Usually they reprinted earlier adventures of the publisher’s most famed characters, occasionally collated according to theme. For the issue that proved to be the last of the series, it was instead a whole new adventure, and a highly significant one. In a rare feat of cross-company cooperation, the most famed superhero in the Marvel stable teamed up with the DC Comics Kryptonian who started it all. At a time when getting a special edition like this required an arduous trip this rare, wondrous place called a comic book shop, I forced a weary adult to take me to shell out a whopping $2.50 to acquire a momentous meeting of Spider-Man and Superman.

A similar unlikely pairing happened five years earlier, and it was a true merging of talent from the two  publishers. In this instance, it was a heavily Marvel affair, which suited my youthful preferences. Jim Shooter, Marvel’s editor-in-chief at the time, wrote the story, and mainstay artist John Buscema provided the pencils. Accordingly, it was especially comfortable with the internal lore of the Marvel universe, including a depiction of Peter Parker’s clumsily ineffectual love life, complete with a requisite Elvis Costello reference.

supes spidey 1

So this comic was released in 1981, when Costello played three straight nights at the Palladium in support of the very strong album Trust. Squeeze opened, and Glenn Tilbrook routinely came out to join Costello on “From a Whisper to a Scream.” Tickets were $12.50. These were good shows, people. Cindy would probably still be with Peter to this day if he could have scraped up the bread.

Naturally, the story also peeked in on mild-mannered Clark Kent as he went about his day. Superman’s alter ego was a bit more adept at dealing with the nettlesome challenges that came his way.

supes spidey 2

With a staggering sixty-two pages of story at their disposal, the creative team was able to pull out all the stops. Besides the main protagonists, other celebrated stalwarts of the respective periodical lines showed up. For example, the eternal schoolyard question as to who would win in a battle between Superman and the incredible Hulk was addressed.

supes spidey 3

And ol’ Webhead encountered a certain Amazonian, who offered him some advice about his general sartorial approach.

supes spidey 4

This mix and match was highly enjoyable, especially when fellow newspaper employees Kent and Parker participated in a sort of exchange program between the two metropolitan dailies. The main event, though, was the scintillating skirmish with supervillains. Relative obscure Superman foe Parasite represented DC Comics (Lex Luthor, the more obvious choice, was evidently busy with other nefarious endeavors). More to my personal liking, the Marvel baddie who stepped into the fray was none other than the despotic ruler of Latveria, Victor Von Doom.

As a Fantastic Four fanatic from the very beginning of my superhero collecting days, I was always ready to watch Doctor Doom throw down. He wasn’t a prime member of Spider-Man’s rogues gallery, but Doom got around. Besides, there was no more fearsome fellow in the mighty Marvel saga. In a story this big, only Doctor Doom would do.

Shooter was often maligned for the mediocre writing he delivered when stepped from behind the editorial desk during his days at Marvel, but he wrote a great Doom.

supes spidey 5

In those panels, the dismissiveness of referring to Superman as simply “alien” is bested only by the send-off “Farewell, cretins!” I also loved — even then — that this clash between titans is ended when the villain essentially invokes diplomatic immunity by retreating to the Latverian embassy. Some stories end with a whimper and some with a bang. This ends with a legal technicality.

I added this jumbo story to my collection fairly early in my time obsessively following superheroes, and read and reread this issue until it was as worn as the oldest dishrag in the drawer. Even when I occasionally consume comics these days, I lack the time and wherewithal to consume them at that insatiable level. More than even the comics themselves, I think that craving is what I miss. No matter the competing impulse, I always wanted to read more, even if it meant — especially if it meant — reading a favorite story one more time.

Previous entries in this series (and there are a LOT of them) can be found by clicking on the “My Misspent Youth” tag.

My Misspent Youth — The X-Men Companion II

I read a lot of comic books as a kid. This series of posts is about the comics I read, and, occasionally, the comics that I should have read.

Once I locked into superhero comics as a youngster, my appetite for them was insatiable. The array of colorful wonders available for purchase at the local grocery store underwent fierce scrutiny from me every time I was toted along on a shopping trip, the adults undoubtedly pleased to leave me rustling through the periodicals in an eager hunt for exciting new issues. (Otherwise, I would have been following close behind them making a plea for every sugary nightmare foodstuff with a clownish character on the package.) By financial necessity, I needed to be selective, but that didn’t prevent me from doing my level best to glean what was happening in every odd corner of the Marvel Universe from the studying beautifully bombastic covers and snatching the occasional glimpse at the pages within.

That craving to know everything about the fictional adventures that captured my imagination led me to further seek out reference material that both provided creative background and traced character continuity with a reverence usually reserved for musty detailing of the mythology around the United States of America’s founding fathers. Magazines and other more modestly priced periodicals, difficult as they were to come by, were my usual source of such material, but on occasion I whined just relentlessly enough to get a surrendering caretaker to shell out the extra money required to get something a little thicker. In appreciation, I would usually read those books until they were worn down like an ancient shoe. That was certainly the case with one of my most prized possessions: The X-Men Companion II.

xmen companion austin

The trade paperback was published by Fantagraphics, home to peak-of-the-form comic series and, more pertinently, periodicals offering news and criticism of the various sequential art creations. According to Gary Groth, co-founder of Fantagraphics, it was the fearsome reputation of the the company’s flagship magazine that helped secure the material needed for a book covering Marvel’s merry mutants.

“I cut a deal with Jim Shooter, who gave us carte blanche to use all the X-Men images we wanted to for the X-Men Companion,” Groth later remembered. “They even supplied black-and-white stats for us. My gut told me that there was a sort of quid pro quo implied, that we would be nice to Marvel in The Comics Journal as a result of this largesse. I chose to ignore that implication, of course.”

xmen companion jean

The second volume of The X-Men Companion focused intently on the era of the superhero team that had just concluded, but was already on its way to legendary status. Written by Chris Claremont, pencilled by John Byrne (who also co-plotted most of the run), and inked by Terry Austin, this stretch of issues took a reinvention of the team book that had already begun to a whole new level. Claremont was able to convey a deep sense of character with a few quick strokes and had a knack for storytelling with a soap opera momentum. And Byrne’s art was crisp and vivid, especially when boosted by Austin’s finishes. It practically popped off the page at a creative intensity almost unseen since the heyday of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.

The issues were middling sellers upon release and developed a heightened reputation not long after, mostly because of the informally dubbed “Dark Phoenix” saga. Most of the comics hit stands before my time as a true blue collector, and the back issues had already skyrocketed in value, putting them well beyond my means. And this was before comic stories were routinely collected into bound volumes. For me, the generous reprinting of panels and thorough recounting of story elements — in long-form interviews with the creators — was my entryway into comics I longed to read, but felt were nearly impossible to attain.

xmen companion xmas

Eventually, I properly read every comic the Claremont-Byrne run. The experience was tinted by memories of my countless hours with The X-Men Companion II, because of both individual pages that were instantly familiar from the reprinted chunks and the retrospective perspective of the creators on what elements worked best. Byrne, in particular, was a completely unguarded interview subject, spilling opinions on every bit of the experience. I could see what was on page, but also the specter of what the artist felt should have been there. It was like having a commentary track embedded into my brain, always there for easy access.

It’s entirely possible that these X-Men issues were my favorites from the era of Marvel when I joined the grand saga. (As I’ve previously recounted, my inaugural purchases took place the same month that the monumental X-Men #137 was released, though I sadly didn’t acquire it at the time.) That I my exposure to those issues was shaped far more by The X-Men Companion II than the original comics themselves doesn’t diminish my affection one bit. It probably enhances it.

xmen companion hembeck

All images in this post nicked from elsewhere.

Previous entries in this series (and there are a LOT of them) can be found by clicking on the “My Misspent Youth” tag.

My Misspent Youth — What If? #19 by Peter Gillis and Pat Broderick

I read a lot of comic books as a kid. This series of posts is about the comics I read, and, occasionally, the comics that I should have read.

When I was snapping up as many Marvel mags as my humble boyhood budget allowed, the regular adventures of my Marvel superheroes weren’t always quite enough to sate my need for wild imaginings. Because a diligent adherence to continuity was one of key ways Marvel set itself apart for their distinguished competition, the publisher was far less likely to indulge in so-called “imaginary stories” or, say, dropping in Don Rickles as a supporting character (though other real life figures were known to cameo). But Marvel had a space where creators could fully follow their thought experiments: a bi-monthly, double-sized comic called What If?

Those extra pages meant extra silver to secure a copy, so I needed to be selective, but when a premise caught my eye, I was helpless. One of the very first issues I bought posed the question, “What if Spider-Man had never become a crimefighter?” and featured a cover with everyone’s favorite neighborhood being introduced as the host of last night talk show. As much for the snazzy showbiz milieu as anything else, I eagerly grabbed it off of the comics rack at the supermarket.

Written by Peter Gillis and pencilled by Pat Broderick, the story began with the usual recounting of Spider-Man’s origin story. Peter Parker is bitten by a radioactive spider and tries to use his newfound powers to win some cash at a wrestling match where audience members are challenged to last a round with a burly grappler. In the established lore, it’s Peter’s callous refusal to stop a fleeing burglar that sets into motion a chain of events that results in him fighting crime, at least initially to assuage some guilt. In this alternate version, Peter makes a different choice.

what if 19 start

As explained by Uatu the Watcher, the title’s usual narrator, Peter’s motivation is still selfish. He envisions the positive headlines that will follow his act of bystander intervention, guessing they will help him leverage his colorful personage into fame and fortune. As the cover promised, the resulting notoriety even nabs him a gig filling in for Johnny Carson.

what if 19 tonight

There’s a big Hollywood movie about his exploits (starring Marlon Brando and Gene hackman, natch) and a familiar fearsome feud with J. Jonah Jameson, the publisher of the Daily Bugle, who’s angered that the public is more enamored with the empty showboating of the webhead than the tragic heroism of his son, John Jameson, an astronaut who perished on a mission. Jameson’s investigative reporters are a little more talented in this particular timeline, and they wind up uncovering Spider-Man’s secret identity, which is printed onto the front page of the paper as a major scoop.

In the main continuity, Peter Parker is worried about being unmasked because of the way it might put his loved ones in harm’s way. When he’s just another celebrity hustling for the next gig, he simply uses the revelation as a prompt to start his own PR firm, recruiting a bunch of other costumed do-gooders into his stable of clients.

what if 19 spiderman productions

This is What If?, so things are bound to go very, very bad. It was practically a requisite of the issues to have every road untaken lead to a dire outcome, as if to reassure readers that the Marvel writers got it correct in the first place. In this instance, the ill will between Spider-Man and J. Jonah Jameson escalates until our hero seeks revenge, ruining the newspaperman’s career with a story about supposed mob connections. Later, Spider-Man is confronted by a band of super-powered foes and discovered the mastermind behind their attack.

what if 19 end

Spider-Man collapses in shame, realizing Jameson’s accusations of villainy are basically true. The cosmic comeuppance is that the heavy guilt that has been part of Spider-Man’s existence since the beginning managed to find him after all.

It was a fairy heavy-handed morality fable, and I loved it unequivocally. And I still wouldn’t mind seeing Spidey host The Tonight Show.

Previous entries in this series (and there are a LOT of them) can be found by clicking on the “My Misspent Youth” tag.