Follow by email

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Spidey Masterclass: All you need to know about Spider-Man

Me and Spidey - second and third from front
The Spider-Man reboot is getting good advance reviews and all indications are that Marvel may have another major hit on their hands. Spidey is this time played by relative newcomer Andrew Garfield - whom I once worked with on Dr Who and am really chuffed because I can say I know Spider-Man.

And so in anticipation of the movie the Archive presents a crash course in all things Spidey.

Spider-Man was created by writer Stan Lee and artists Steve Dikto and he first appeared way back in 1962  in issue 15 of Amazing Fantasy. Spider-Man was very much a child of the Sixties and what made him so refreshing was that unlike Batman and Superman, he was an ordinary Joe which made him easier to identify with and readers of the time made Spidey and his weedy alter ego Peter Parker  instant superstars. Peter Parker was a teenager and the star of the strip when teenagers in most other superhero titles were relegated to the role of sidekick.

"With great power there must also come great responsibility." The line, used so effectively in the original Spider-Man movies actually comes from the first ever Spider-Man comic strip story.

Spider got his own title in 1963 with issue 1 of The Amazing Spider-Man and was an immediate success, especially with the counter culture who considered Spidey to be anti-establishment. A 1965 Esquire poll of college campuses found that college students ranked Spider-Man and fellow Marvel hero the Hulk alongside Bob Dylan and Che Guevara as their favorite revolutionary icons

It wasn't too long before Spidey made the transition to the small screen and the 1967 animated series is considered a classic. Although produced on a small budget the cartoon series would run until 1970 and is still repeated across the world. The show would eventually transform into Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends but rights problems soon ended the show in 1983. In 1994 a new Spider-Man cartoon his the screens. Titles simply Spider-Man this show was darker than previous shows and featured a revamped version of the original theme this time performed by Joe Perry.

There was also a Spider live action TV series - it played on primetime when I was a kid and it was popular with us fantasy starved kids but it soon vanished from screens. The effects were not so special and the low budget was painfully visible. The series is fondly remembered though and until Ramini's Spider movie there was talk of bringing the series back.


The original Clone Saga - Marvel's Clone Saga of the mid 90's was one of the worse comic book events in history, but the original Clone Saga from the 1970's should not be ignored. The story is about the Jackal – originally Miles Warren, Peter Parker’s biology professor at ESU – who we learn had a secret obsession with Gwen Stacy and blames Spider-Man for her death. Out of his pain he clones both Gwen and Peter, leading to a rather tormenting series of events for the wall crawler.

The Conversation - Babylon 5's creator, J Michael Straczynsk had a great run of stories but this was surely his finest.  JMS tackled a conversation decades in the making: Aunt May confronting Peter about being the wall-crawler. The twist comes with JMS giving May her own share of guilt over Ben’s death – it seems the pair had a tiff the night he was killed, and she’s felt responsible for what happened. This was clever comic book writing at its finest that can stand head and shoulders with any other kind of literature.

The Wedding - Spider marries Mary Jane, the marriage lasting twenty years, and comic book fans were served a wonderful celebration story. MJ ponders becoming domesticated, giving up her life of parties and rich boys to become the wife of a superhero while Peter reflects on Gwen Stacy's death and how his being Spider-Man directly contributed to it.

A big screen version of Spider-Man was in and out of production many times during the 80's and 90's and for awhile it looked as if James Cameron would direct the movie but many fans were surprised when the film went to Evil Dead creator, Sam Ramini.The movie which starred the Toby Maguire as the webhead was a triumph and was Marvel's biggest money spinner until this years, Avengers squashed everything it its path. The sequel was even more polished and to many remains the best of the three Ramini Spidey movies. The third movie sunk under the weight of all the bad guys and killed the franchise until the latest reboot.

Will the latest Spidey movie be a hit - early reviews seem to suggest that this one will be a biggie, but there is plenty of competition to be the biggest superhero movie of the year. The Dark Knight Rises with its promised death of Batman seems a sure thing and of course Avengers Assemble is proving to be unstoppable.

The Amazing Spider-Man opens next month

No comments: