“The Terrible Threat of the Living Brain”
“Spider-Man Tackles The Torch!”
Amazing Spider-Man #8
Written by Stan Lee
Pencils by Steve Ditko (Jack Kirby in part 2)
Inks by Steve Ditko
It’s a super special teenage issue this month as we see Parker slug it out with school rival Flash Thompson and even Johnny Storm gets a few pages to stretch out his talents with the wall-crawler. Not only this but we also get a rampaging computer “thinking machine” of sorts that goes berserk when someone accidentally bumps into it. Must be that time of the month. Sorry.
But yeah, a bit of a jam-packed issue with lots of little tid-bits but no real meat to any of the stories with the exception of Parker and Thompson’s boxing match which even then comes off as a little silly. Nevertheless, it’s still fun to read which is not at all what I can say for the Living Brain segment which just goes on and on and on. You can tell that Lee and company were having a rough time filling in the panels this month, as not only do we have lots of little miniature stories (plus a completely separate run-in with the Torch during which a bizarrely out-of-character Spider-Man drawn by Kirby acts like a complete jerk and ruins and party before running off more or less with tongue out, hands at ears singing “Naa naa naa naa”) but the stories themselves are milked to no end. Literally for about five pages, Spider-Man leaps about trying to get to the machine’s control box. Wow.
So I guess you could say that this is probably the poorest Spider-Man to date, and you’d be right, but that doesn’t mean that it is downright unreadable either—there’s just a high standard of quality expected from this series, which this one undeniably doesn’t get close to. Nevertheless, there are some fun moments here and although the last segment involving Torch is equally ridiculous, seeing Spider-man be a complete wise-guy troll is at the very least entertaining to watch. So it’s not all bad; but it’s something of a sign that the once impeccable Amazing series is starting to flounder.
MY SCORE: 5.0 (out of 10)
“The Hate Monger”
The Fantastic Four #21
Written by Stan Lee
Pencils by Jack Kirby
Inks by George Bell
One of the few issues of Fantastic Four not to be inked by Dick Ayers in over a year, this latest issue tries to break from the mould a bit thus far established by previous issues and the result is a little less than stellar. While obviously stemming from good intentions, the majority of the Four’s adventure this month which deals with hatred, bigotry and injustice, is a little too plain-faced and simplistic to significantly deal with the themes at hand. Of course, this was a good fifty years ago, so something as mainstream as a kids’ comic book making even a small go at such themes is somewhat admirable. Nevertheless, the whole thing just never comes together—especially with the bizarre twist at the end. Usually it’s fun to see these guys fight in amongst themselves, but this time it just drags on and on. Oh well, it’s not all bad—but in an issue centred on hate, there isn’t much of the stapled Fantastic Four fun and excitement to be found here. Just half-baked politics and ironic flag-worshipping. Probably the poorest issue in the series since #2.
MY SCORE: 3.5 (out of 10)
“Iron Man Is Born!”
Tales of Suspense #39
Written by Stan Lee & Larry Lieber
Pencils by Don Heck
Inks by Don Heck
Colours by Stan Goldberg
Out with the old, in with the new. March 1963 saw the end of the premature Incredible Hulk series, and in turn envisioned a brand new character by the name of Iron Man. Of course by now in 2011, everyone and their grandmother know who Iron Man is, but as far as origin stories go, this one was a pretty solid beginning for Stark. There are some rough patches here and there (the usual Lieber and Lee shtick of the hero overcoming odds with cunning rather than pure brawn works at odds with a guy seemingly working inside an iron suit), most notably in Don Heck’s somewhat ambiguous, murky art, but generally Iron Man’s beginnings here are a good read and leave a lot of room for interesting characterisation that may build upon the “tragic” side of Stark’s empowerment.
WONG-CHU NO LIKEY ENGLISH GRAMMAR. WONG-CHU NO SEE IRON MAN BEFORE.
MY SCORE: 5.5 (out of 10)