April 1, 2007

Shadows & Light #1 [1998]

SHADOWS & LIGHT was a short-lived anthology title from Marvel featuring black and white stories. Ditko contributes story and art for a 12-page Iron Man story, "A Man's Reach...!", to this issue, with scripting by Len Wein. This may be the last new work he had published by Marvel (though I half-suspect it might be a holdover from many short stories of this kind he did back around 1990 instead of newly commissioned for this book. But Ditko didn't usually get to ink those, and some of the shading here looks like what Ditko would do for a story meant for black and white publication, so perhaps not).

Whatever the origins of the story, it's a pretty typical old-school Iron Man short, with Happy and Pepper being attacked and Pepper taken hostage by villains who steal an experimental device that Stark Industries is working on. Iron Man goes to the rescue, endangering a business deal as Tony Stark, and falls victim to the experimental device (as well as a hired thug named Longarm with arms stolen from Doctor Octopus. I wonder if Ditko put that in or Wein just added it because of the similarity in designs?). Fortunately Pepper is able to help out with a well timed kick taking out the device and then later her ear identifying the criminal mastermind.

A bit old-fashioned for the time, but not a bad little story. Ditko's art kind of varies in it. Most of it is pretty decent, a few places are really nicely done, with interesting inking techniques, but in other places it looks a bit sloppy.

This issue also features short biographies for the creators before each story, although managing to do so for Ditko without using the "created" word when mentioning Spider-Man and Doctor Strange.

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