This issue–even though it’s got Betty Brant and I doubt Byrne’s going to have a chance to foul up their flirtation–might be the worst so far. Again, I don’t care (does anyone care about Chapter One? I know even Byrne distanced himself from it, though I swear I read he once said “anyone who doesn’t like Chapter One doesn’t like Lee and Ditko’s Spider-Man,” to paraphrase), so it’s hard to get really vicious.
Electro’s costume’s dumb. It’s interesting to see Byrne, who did Fantastic Four for so long or whatever, make the Human Torch out to be a complete jackass.
Mysterio makes a way too early appearance here–I guess Byrne isn’t going to do the more high school centered stories–and Green Goblin’s promised for next issue. It’s too bad he didn’t stick with the original series, just because then it’d be constant at the least.
Madness Is All in the Mind; writer, artist and letterer, John Byrne; colorist, Christie Scheele; editors, Matt Hicks and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.
This issue, with Byrne eschewing most of Electro’s origin, not to mention the Lee and Dikto issue featuring him, is maybe more what all of Chapter One should have been. It’s got Byrne’s fingerprints all over it, versus a more direct “retelling.” For example, Byrne adds a huge Human Torch fight sequence this issue–the Torch thinks Spider-Man is Electro and is wants to bring him in–it’s just awful.
After opening without resolving the previous issue’s Lizard cliffhanger (instead, Byrne resolves that cliffhanger in a flashback, one Peter narrates–and it’s heavily edited from the original), the issue just goes further and further downhill. When Norman Osborn shows up–he’s after Spider-Man and is engineering all the supervillain attacks, apparently–it’s just icing on the cake.
I wish I had some more energy for vitriol, but the comic’s too dumb to get anything but an eye roll.
Clash; writer, artist and letterer, John Byrne; colorist, Christie Scheele; editors, Matt Hicks and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.
Wow, it’s worse when Byrne only tries to retell a single Lee and Ditko length issue. He does half the Doctor Doom story (ignoring the initial meeting between Doom and Spider-Man, again, a somewhat interesting omission) and half the Lizard story.
The originals probably took fifteen minutes to read. Maybe more. Byrne’s retelling is a four or five minute read.
He does keep the really lousy things Liz Allen says to Peter around this issue though. I’m curious if he’ll try to reform her at all. There’s also a lot more with the Fantastic Four showing up at Doctor Doom’s flying hideout to save Spider-Man’s butt. Maybe Byrne just missed drawing the fantastic four.
The Lizard stuff, so far, is probably the best thing in the series. It moves quickly and having a non-human opponent means at least, when the Lizard, he won’t look like everyone else.
Lost Faces; writer, artist and letterer, John Byrne; colorist, Steve Buccellato; editors, Matt Hicks and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.
Reading the original issues, I noticed how money concerned Peter’s actions often were during the first few issues. Bryne seems to have noticed it too, turning it into something of a plot point–Spider-Man realizes he should be selfless or some such thing. The problem with Byrne’s take is how lousy it suggests Spider-Man was before that moment. In the originals, he’s just never shown stopping a mugging. It’s never said he wasn’t doing it. Byrne says he isn’t doing it.
He also ties the Doctor Octopus story with the Doctor Doom with Flash and Peter fighting at school (bickering, not fighting, I wonder if he does the boxing match). This way, he can have Johnny Storm show up a couple times in the issue.
Chapter One is like reading an old message board FAQ trying to explain logic inconsistencies in some sixties television series. It’s completely useless.
Doubt; writer, artist and letterer, John Byrne; colorist, Steve Buccellato; editors, Matt Hicks and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.
It’s somewhat interesting to see how Byrne adapts the originals–for example, he sets up a cliffhanger on something from the middle of an original (Spidey’s initial defeat at Doctor Octopus’s hands). But interesting isn’t good. Or worthwhile.
Here, Byrne introduces a previously unknown Superman and Jimmy Olsen relationship between Spidey and Flash Thompson. Byrne continues his boycott of any real moments for Peter and just rehashing of Spidey scenes. There’s something very particular about turning your bully into your sidekick, but Byrne doesn’t do anything with it. He turns it into a “Flash is a moron” scene.
Worse, Byrne totally changes the Tinkerer story (they aren’t aliens anymore, no Tinkerer mask). It’s some addle-brained overarching plot thing he’s got going and it ruins any sense of organic narrative–and organic narrative is what he did on Man of Steel, so it’s not too much to ask. Or expect.
First Fall; writer, artist and letterer, John Byrne; colorist, Joe Andreani; editor, Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.
Byrne’s approach to retelling the first “year” of Amazing Spider-Man issues is pretty simple, at least from what’s going on here. Gut the teenage Peter Parker drama and put in all Spider-Man and supervillains. Given how much of the originals Lee spent on the teenage drama, I imagine it had something to do with their popular. Byrne’s removing what made those issues special and leaving the regular, inspectacular stuff instead.
One particular problem I have with this issue is the rescue of John Jameson’s flight–Spider-Man doesn’t hijack the plane anymore, instead Jonah goes after him for setting it up for his own “glorification.” It would have been a lot more interesting to see why the general in the original issue didn’t think to call down to the airfield to get Spider-Man a jet.
Lots of lame, premature cameos–Mary Jane, Norman Osborn, a Kraven mention.
Masks; writer, artist and letterer, John Byrne; colorist, John Kalisz; editor, Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.
It takes Byrne twice as long to tell the Spider-Man origin this issue. Retell, sorry.
I’m trying to think if there’s a single thing he does in the comic worth mentioning. He adds black people, he makes Peter’s classmates really vicious, Liz Allen in particular.
Otherwise, it’s not much different than a padded retelling of the Spider-Man origin one might read in any retelling, without a big Chapter One written across the top, except Doctor Octopus’s new importance.
Byrne’s artwork is boring, the standard Byrne of the nineties, but he does frame the pages with Spider-Man heading over to beat up the robber. Conceptually, it’s a little more interesting, but for all the “advances” in graphic storytelling, Byrne’s story panels are in no way better than Ditko’s. They pad out scenes not needing padding out.
Uncle Ben doesn’t tell Peter the “great power” line here at all.
Bitter Lesson; writer, artist and letterer, John Byrne; colorist, John Kalisz; editor, Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.