Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Amazing Spider-Man #282.

EDITOR'S NOTE: I thought I'd publish this one because my sidekick Chris wrote about Spider-Man 3 a couple of days ago, and this comic kind of, sort of, relates to the movie a little bit.

My cousin Dave bought me this comic. This is significant because my cousin Dave lives in Canada and I've only ever met him like two or three times. In the summer of 1986, my family drove from Los Angeles to Niagara Falls, where my Aunt and my Cousin live. So one day while we were there, and Dave decided to bring me along to get some groceries from a nearby market. We zoomed over at about 48 KPH (I specifically remember asking him what the heck a Kilometer was) and arrived at the store. While we were in the checkout line, he saw me looking at comics and told me to pick one out. The Amazing Spiderman #282 was sitting on the rack and that ended being the winner, mainly because there wasn't a whole lot of other options. Published in "November" (really July) of 1986, it featuring the super rad cover with most of the Marvel Universe in a cool border treatment. I think I ended up buying G.I.Joe #53 after the trip because I was away for a month (G.I.Joe was the main title I was collecting at the time), so I had no idea that Marvel was doing this on all of their covers for "November" of 1986 in honor of their 25th Anniversary. As a kid, I thought this cover treatment was totally rad, and as an adult, I still think it's pretty cool, because I love covers that have a ton of heroes crammed into them. However, on this cover, I have no idea why the half of the Avengers are covered up by the UPC box when they could have moved Luke Cage over there. Now, I love me some Luke Cage, but seriously, in 1986, was he really in the upper echelon of super heroes in the Marvel Universe? He gets a spot right below the FF and above most of the West Coast Avengers? Really? Power Man? I refuse to believe he was that popular in the eighties. I don't even think he had his own book at the time. And as much as I really hate Ant-Man, he totally got jobbed on this deal. Cage got a prime and undeserved spot and Ant-Man gets half of his super small body covered by a big white box. He's Ant-Man for Christ's sake, they couldn't have found room for him? He's super small, you can stick him anywhere and he'll be visible, except for behind a big white box. Meanwhile, Powerman's cold chillin' on the other side of the frame without something covering his face or body, which would have been the right thing to do. I'm just sayin'.

Anyways, in buying me this comic, Dave would send me down a path that, at the time, he had no idea he would be sending me down. This issue had a guest spot featuring X-Factor. Up until this point, I was mainly collecting G.I.Joe, Transformers and a few other "kid" comics. The mutant titles, like X-Men, X-Factor and The New Mutants, were for adults or teenagers, or at least that's what I think my reasoning was at the time for some strange reason. Six months later I would purchase X-Men #213, and my life would be forever changed. But THIS comic set the groundwork for that life changing event.

Anyways, to get to the review, it starts off with a recap of recent events; Peter Parker's good friend Flash Thompson has been framed for the crimes of the Hobgoblin which was a big news item at the time. Mary Jane comes home to her apartment to find Spidey passed out in the bathroom, after getting his bell rung by the Rhino in the previous issue:

A quick sidebar: this issue featured Spidey in his super cool black costume. Now, as an adult I can fully recognize this for what it was; a total gimmick. Giving Spidey a new costume was a way to try and increase book sales. Look! It's Spidey! He's got new costume! Buy this book! I understand this now, but when I was ten, I thought it was the coolest thing ever. Spidey had the same boring costume since about 1961 so he was due for a change. In fact after the success of this costume change, Marvel made a major costume/look change for each of their major characters, by the time they got around to Cap, I was kind of over it. However, since this change was the first one, I thought Spidey's new costume was totally rad and I remember thinking, "Look! It's Spidey! He's got a new costume! I'm gonna buy this book!" Ok, I admit it, 10-year-old Tyler drank the Kool-Aid, but in his defense, 10-year-old Tyler was pretty naive. (EDITOR'S NOTE: The same could be said for the new movie. Look! It's Spidey! He's got a new costume! Go see the movie! Adult Tyler hasn't seen it yet, and he might end up waiting until HBO starts playing it in six to nine months)

Ok, so we've established that this comic is totally rad for two reasons; the kick-ass cover and Spidey's black costume. But we're just getting warmed up. It also features X-Factor, aka: the orginal X-Men. Ok, so we need an angle for them to get into the story. If only JJ was standing around in his office talking to Robbie to give us some expository dialogue:

Yes, exactly like that. Good thing Jonah's around. Anyways, to recap: blah, blah, blah, he hates Spider-Man, blah, blah, blah, he wishes there was something he could do about it, blah, blah, blah. What would be really cool is if there was a TV on in the background with a commercial playing that could help him with his problem...

...alright, now we're cookin'. He calls X-Factor, and they're gonna totally, finally get rid of this Spider-Man pest, once and for all. For sure this time. Not playin' around. It's really gonna happen. Take it to the bank. Guaranteed. Hmmmm, it could happen, right? Um, yeah, probably not.

Cut to X-Factor training at their headquarters, and in the time honored tradition of "The Comic Book Guest Spot™", within the first page or two of appearing, each character must refer to all other guest stars by their name, in bold, so the readers will know who they are (enlarge the image to the right). Ok, so did we get everyone? Looks like we're good to go. Like most DangerRoom or training sequences, one team's members collide with each other in a ball of mutant arms and legs so Cyke can stand above them with an irritatingly superior demeanor. Yeah, I'm not the biggest Cyclops fan. The guy's a sick-in-the-mud. Anyways, Hodge (aka Judas) gets on the horn and informs them they've got a job to do; they have to hunt down Spidey. Wha? Spidey's not a mutant. Or is he?

Now, I'm gonna tell you the truth, I really never got the rationale behind X-Factor's gig. They help mutants under the guise of hunting them down. They have two identities, one as X-Factor in which they "hunt" mutants down, and one as the X-Terminators, where they're mutants that "fight" X-Factor and help the mutants that are being persecuted. I understand that they're trying to form some kind of mutant underground railroad while sticking it to the mutant racists that call them, but man it's kind of complicated to follow. No wonder they dropped that storyline after 25 issues. And seriously, no one can figure out that when they're in their civilian clothes, the guy with the ruby quartz sunglasses is Cyclops and the guy with the freakin' huge backpack is Angel? I thought Warren Worthington III (Angel) was a public figure because he was a multi-millionaire and I'm also pretty sure it was public knowledge that he was a mutant because it's kind of hard to hide those super huge wings he's got. So no one can figure out that he's running around with four other people as X-Factor and then when the X-Terminators show up he's the Angel and there happens to be four other people fighting with him? Sigh. Also, no one apparently can put two and two together because everytime X-Factor gets a gig, the X-Terminators show up and save the mutants that are being hunted down. Everytime. Sometimes comic book logic frustrates the hell out of me...

ANYWAYS, to get back to the story, Spidey slips out of MJ's apartment and he goes out to try and find his buddy Flash. But he's having a hard time keeping it together because he doesn't feel too good, he's still a little hungover from the fight with Rhino. The X-Terminators (X-Factor in disguise) are in the city looking for Spidey, and, wouldn't you know it, they find him in no time. They try and talk to him, but Spidey's got a migraine, so he's not thinking too clearly. He thinks they're out to get him. They fight, and at some point, Angel accidently knocks Spidey into Marvel Girl (aka: Jean Grey). Way to go Angel, you're a total pro at this Super Hero racket (I'm not the biggest Angel fan either). Spidey tries to save her, but passes out right after he shoots his web which he hopes can stop her from falling in time. Luckily, Jean's a telekinetic and can fly, so she saves herself. The weird thing is how Spidey passes out. He's still totally buffed out. This is totally not possible. Check the pic off to the left if you don't believe me. It just doesn't look right.

So while he's still passed out, the group then debates what they should do and they come to the obvious conclusion: they stick to JJ bigtime. They refund his money because Spider-Man isn't a Mutant, and they hunt mutants, not Super Heros. I mean, they have morales, Jonah. JJ does not take the news too well and in typical JJ fashion, he starts tearing everyone a new one. X-Factor just decides to ignore him and walk out (why didn't anyone think to do that before?), but Robbie takes offense to JJ's rant and turns in his key to the executive washroom. Whoa dude, calm down. Let's not get crazy here. Quick Sidebar: So. Executive washrooms. Are companies still doing this in the year 2007? Because it seems like a pretty lame idea. As if owners/executives aren't hated enough, they've gotta do their business and wash up seperate from everyone else? Doesn't sound like the greatest idea to boost your company's morale.

So later, after Spidey recovers in a van and Iceman tells him that Jonah hired X-Factor to hunt him down (still trying to keep up the lame gimick), and he tells him to take it easy. Spidey then goes back to looking for Flash, and it's like this whole story didn't even happen. How can this be? In a comic book? Oh, wait, I think I just answered my own question. So, to wrap things up, we cut back to the Bugle and Robbie receives an interoffice package (what, they don't have email?). He opens the package, and it's his key back. See, Jonah does have a heart of gold, it's just really, really, really buried deep in a pit of hate and self-loathing. So everything's ok, Robbie and JJ ride off into the sunset and the status quo is maintained. The status quo must be maintained at all costs. That's the lesson for today, kids. Anyways, I read this one a lot as a kid, and it does remind me a lot of that trip my family took in '86. I also still think it's a pretty good comic, despite all of it's faults and it's timely, given the fact that Spidey 3 features the super cool black costume that at somepoint becomes Venom. So go buy this comic! Or see the movie! Sorry about that. So, yeah, that's about it; Amazing Spiderman #282, two thumbs up.


Jenny said...

a.) Don't get used to this - I'm just dutifully checking out this page as a good friend.
b.) Rockin' design!!
c.) I don't know if this can be considered your secret hide-out if you post links on your other blogs...

Tyler said...

If you read comics, you'd know that "secret hideouts" aren't really all that secret. They eventually get found out and/or get destroyed. Hopefully that won't happen to this place.

Thanks for the support!

Jason said...

I got referred to this blog by a friend of mine who hates when I talk about comic books so she thought it'd be best to provide another outlet. That being said...

I remember this issue, just like I remember making it my duty to collect ALL of the Marvel titles with the similar covers (with the exception of Dr. Strange...I hated Dr. Strange).

My favorite thing about this particular issue, though, is the art. It's a lot more detailed and realistic than most of the art that I've seen in comics recently. The people look normal here and there aren't exagerrated body-types.

(By the way, my comic-book-dorkiness is struggling not to google the artist credits for this particular issue. My gut tells me it's Ron Frenz because he was the main Spider-Man penciller around that time. However, I remember that he had a problem drawing heads that were too big for their characters bodies, making them look like the statues from Easter Island.)

Tyler said...

Jason, you're definitely welcome to hang out here.

I totally forgot to mention the credits. Rick Leonardi - Penciler, Bob Layton - Inker, Tom DeFalco - Writer, Joe Rosen - Letterer, and Nel Yomtov - Colorist. I don't remember DeFalco getting that many writing credits, I remember him mainly being an Editor or Editor-In-Chief.

I also thought the art on this one was done rather well. Like you said, it just looks...normal. I liked Jim Lee's run on X-Men, but I think he started that exagerrated bodytype trend. Another thing about this particular issue was that a lot of the time the guest stars are always drawn off model, but I thought this one was the exception to that rule. X-Factor looks almost exactly like they did in their own book.

Tyler said...

One more thing, I think I'm cookin' up a What If...#4 post. It's be coming up soon. Probably the last Spidey one we'll do for awhile. And a little FYI, I was mainly into '80s and early '90s Marvel (and some DC) and my friend Chris (the other contributor) collected through most of the '90s (mainly Marvel), so that will probably be in the range of stuff we'll be talking about.

Jason said...

I would have guessed that Layton did either the inks or the pencils. He had a tendency to make people look very square, with very sharp facial features (particularly on men). Defalco I remember as being the main writer for all of the Spider-Man titles.

Myself, I was mostly into Marvel (Spider-Man, X-Men, Avengers and Captain America) in the 80s to early 90s, with some DC mixed in (mostly Batman and the short-lived-yet-hilarious Justice League).

As for the exagerrated artwork, Lee had a big part of that but I remember MacFarlane and Liefield having a big part in it.

Oh man, I know waaaaaaaaaaay too much about comic books. It's a wonder I ever lost my virginity.

Tyler said...

Yeah, McFarlane, he definitely went overboard with the Spidey huge head madness.