Here's a treat to start the working week. When the Spidey newspaper strip started, it was at least as good as the regular book ( and sometimes better ), and this story's a gold plated slab of brilliance to prove the point. Stan The Man & Jazzy John seemed enervated by the chance to show off the wall-crawler in a new medium, and both men are on fire here, particularly Romita who is clearly giving it his all.
These days, John plays down his contribution to Marvel in interviews, saying in essence:
'Ahh, it was just a job. I might as well've been drivin' a cab..'
But it clearly wasn't just a job to this guy, I mean take a look at this stuff. And just look at the smiles on his and Stan's faces in this posed photo over the Spidey newspaper strip. Who has more fun than we do? NO ONE.
Aunt May & The Street Hoods is kind of Stan's version of Death Wish, with a little bit of The Taking Of Pelham 123, and drips with '70's New York street authenticity ( or at least as much as you can get away with in a family newspaper ). There's no super villain, but you won't care 'cos it's so great that even Aunt May's five millionth heart attack has a valid reason for happening, plus the Sidney Poitier of comics, Joe 'Robbie' Robertson gets a little two-fisted and angry, which is a bit of a shock. Robbie is, of course, one of THE great supporting characters, so it's always nice to see him get a bit of the limelight, but boy, is he pissed off here. Then again, so's Petey, and rightly so.
Just in case anybody needed a reminder of why we all love Spidey, and why we all love comics:
Here's everything I could scrabble from around the net from the 1977 Hanna-Barbera Super TV Heroes Annual, a hardback reprint of selected strips from Gold Key's comic of the same name. I used to have this as a kid, and have long since lost it, but it was easily the best Christmas present I got that year.
Because none of these cartoons were ever shown in the UK ( or at least not in our small corner ), this annual was like an entry into a whole other universe of wonderful, exciting new characters.
Sure, this is simplistic stuff, but that's entirely the point. This is brightly coloured fun for ankle biters, and for grown ups who might occasionally need a bit of simplicity and colour in their lives.
And the art throughout, mostly by Mike Arens & Sparky Moore with Mike Royer on inks, is uniformly excellent. As I may've said a few million times before, it takes genuine skill to make it look this easy.
Favourite character? I'm tempted to say Birdman, but he's just pipped at the post by The Mighty Mightor, for three reasons:
1) He's called The Mighty Mightor.
2) He's a stone age Thor in a mask.
3) His mask has huge horns sticking out of it. The visual is everything, are you listening, Ironjaw?
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