May 27, 2008

Marvel Tales #100 [1979]

As a backup to this landmark issue, there's a reprint of the full 9-page "The Secrets of Spider-Man" feature from THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN ANNUAL #1 [1964]. A remarkable little showcase for Ditko's art and design. The first page presents a classic half-and-half Peter/Spidey image, showcasing Peter in the lab. Next is a quick recap of the origin, and then the page shown here, which is a brilliant design, a great showcase for the unique costume and the peculiar body language that defined Spider-Man and has been copied so often since.

We also get a page with some details on the web-shooters, Spidey's strength (with Thor, the Hulk and the Thing looking on as he lifts some weights, clearly unimpressed ), wall crawling, acrobatic abilities and the use of his webbing (using the Fantastic Four as examples for the comparison. Gotta get in that universe building cross-referencing).

But what about his spider sense, you ask? That gets a feature, too, as vaguely defined as it is. We also get an explanation of how when they show the radiating lines for the spider sense, or show Peter with a half-Spidey face, that's just dramatic license. Turns out the other characters don't actually see them. Who knew. Of course, the half-Spidey face is a genius bit of dramatic license. Is there any example of it being used before Spider-Man? Or, for that matter, being used effectively for any character but Spider-Man? It really does need that intricate full-face mask to work.

The final page explains some details about Spidey's mask, and how he can see out of it, and the overall costume, in particular how it's designed to conceal Peter's secret identity.

A remarkable feature, showcasing a lot of the thought that Ditko put into his designs. Certainly it seems very little of it was by accident.

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