Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Amazing Spider-Man Minus 1 - Comics From The Basement





Hello Dwellers and Welcome To COMICS From The Basement…

You know, when characters have long histories, you often get writers who want to add into their backstory, trying to establish something to new to explain certain details about the character. You got Batman: Fortunate Son… which… implies that Rock N Roll is somehow responsible for the death of Bruce Wayne’s Parents… and that Punk is death and the rage of the beast…  You got Trouble, which implies that Aunt Pay was very loose below the waist when it came to men and that Uncle Ben was shooting blanks…

 
And speaking of characters of The Amazing Spider-Man…. We have this week’s oddity. The Amazing Spider-Man Minus 1… yeah you read / heard that right, Minus 1. This is basically a ‘Peter Parker before he was Spider-Man’ tale… which is a little strange. One thing of note that this comic was written by Tom DeFalco, who can be considered a legend, with his work on Archie (including writing the final issue of the original run of that legendary series), his time as editor-in-chief of Marvel, not to mention having a hand in working with Hasbro in regards to GI Joe and Transformers in the 1980s… and his stuff with Spider-Man… well it includes both the Maximum Carngage storyline and the creation of Spider-Girl, one of my favorite comics from the MC2 line from Marvel in the late 90s, plus he contributed to the 90s Spider-Clone mess...


So it made sense to give him one of the ‘Flashback’ Minus 1 titles that Marvel was doing in 1997 to give some ‘untold stories’ for various characters, from Calbeo to Daredevil to Gen 13 to Wolverine and the Silver Surfer… but that just about where things stop making sense and starting going… a bit odd..



And the oddness starts off with the Cover, where we see Peter Parker laying on a bed, clearly imagining he is ‘Captain America’ with Rob Liefeld approved body proportions… and we also get indication that this comic will include The Secrets of Peter Parker Revealed! Considering this was 1997, and roughly 6 months after the end of Clone Saga where the variations of the phrase ‘secrets revealed’ have been kicked around for the better part of two years, not sure how that would be an incentive for the readers.


But on the first page… we get….  Stan Lee dressed as Spider-Man leaping out of a page…. And delivering this line, “Don’t Panic Culture Lover, Peter Parker Hasn’t Suddenly Become A Weirdo...” Which is true, considering he was probably two steps away from pulling a Columbine in Amazing Fantasy #15… but what this strange splash page is conveying that we are going to see secrets of Parker’s past that are only known to him and members of Marvel’s ‘Bullpen’ of writers…


The gist of the story, called ‘Where Have All The Heroes Gone’ is this, Uncle Ben gives Peter a box full of comics from the 1940s, which includes books like the Sub-Mariner, Young Allies, The Human Torch (the original one, not Johnny Storm) and Captain America… and this raises a lot of questions, considering these are actual series that were printed in the Golden Era… and events in them, are considered cannon to various degrees. Anyway, Aunt May doesn’t approve, seeing as how they could traumatize poor Peter who apparently got nightmares from reading Monster Comics… I wonder what his reaction would be to learn that she is actually his mother… and he fantasizes about himself being a Superhero…. And get this, it’s a skateboarded that barrels past Aunty May, causing her to fall and spraining her ankle that leads Peter to think the following ‘Some Super Hero I’d Make, I just stood there while that punk ran down my only, if only there were some I could Stop him, if only I could reach out and grab him’… which apparently leads to him designing his web-shooters… and also revealing that Peter gave away those Golden Age comics, and Stan Lee saying if he didn’t do that, Peter and Aunt May wouldn’t have to worry about money…



Not exactly a great expansion on Parker’s pre-Spidey days, and it gets better…  cause the ‘Secrets of Peter Parker’,basically is to beat it into people’s skulls how much of a loser Parker was before he got bit by that Spider… that he was clumsy, weak, had a fear of heights, a total geek in the worst stereotypical way right down to how he dressed…

 
Now if Marvel left this comic at that… this would be very much worthless… but then DeFalco had the nerve to put something in the comic that leads into something else, in the main story we get sub plot following Daily Bugle reporter Jacob Conover, who is looking for his big break by investigating the criminal underworld… and ends up saving Don Fortunato who was being targeted by Wilson Fisk, aka The Kingpin, in his rise to power. This would play into events seen in a number of Spider-Man titles in between the summers of 1996 and 1998  that sees Conover get fired from the Bugle, and being rewarded for saving Fortuanto all those years ago (becoming The 3rd Rose and running part of Fortuanto’s criminal empire). That history aspect at how it fits with events of where Spider-Man was in the mid 90s really sticks out, and makes it seems like this comic was created to tell the backstory of Conover without disrupting what is going on.



So what’s the verdict here… the ‘secrets’ of Peter Parker and the glimps into his life pre-Spider-Man is pretty much garbage, the artwork by Joe Bennett, is ok, if at times horrifying considering how he drew Stan Lee. As I said a few moments ago, the real gem here is the stuff with Conover and how it fits in with the story lines that were happening around the same time period. That said, this comic is worth skipping.


But if you are a collector… you can get a copy over at mycomicshop.com, a near mint condition runs about $2.30, which is up from the original cover price of $1.95… I don’t see it on Comixology, and I’ve tried searching on every variation I could think of, but found nada, on eBay the comic can be found, though quality of the copies being sold may varied, and over on Amazon I’ve only see two copies there at the time of his blog / recording.


So that will just about do it for this week… later tonight I will be doing a post-show regarding WWE SummerSlam… and next week’s comic here in the basement, we’re going to follow up on a comic I talked about earlier this year with issue #2 of Super Sketch Painter.


Till Then My Friends and You Are My Friends… have a good one!

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