June 25, 2008

The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #22 [1988]

Ditko plots and pencils a 10-page backup story "He Who Laughs..." in this annual, featuring the first published appearance of his co-creation (with Tom DeFalco) Speedball, the Masked Marvel (he's actually rarely called "Speedball" in his solo stories, usually just called "The Masked Marvel"). The character, Robbie Baldwin, also appears in the main story in this issue, meeting some other heroes on a trip to New York with his mother.

On that same trip, they also ran into a failed actor who wrongly placed the blame for his failure on Robbie's mother. Donning a green mask, the actor tries to get Robbie out of the way and kill his mother at a theatre and then a theatre supply store, only to be thwarted by Robbie using the Masked Marvel powers that allow him to absorb kinetic energy and bounce a lot. Not great powers, but sufficient to defeat a Shakespeare-quoting nutjob.

None of the Speedball stories is really great, but the visuals are nice, with Ditko's rendition of his out-of-control bouncing.

Roger Stern scripts the story, and Jackson Guice inks.


  1. Speedball seemed incredibly promising to me. Neat powers, neat costume, good choice of inkers and scripter. It never quite came together though. The stories didn't have the suspenseful development of Ditko's work in the sixties, and eventually got downright goofy. I remember one story involving aliens that looked like cats that particularly made me wince. Very disappointing, because I was really hoping Ditko would have a new success, and Speedball seemed like the best opportunity he had in the '80's.


  2. Speedball really was a fun character that never really took off...it's really strange now to look at the bizarre things that Marvel has done to him in the last year.