Episode 31: Spectacular Spider-Man #197

For the podcast’s first foray into the Spider-Man of the Spectacular variety, host Nathaniel Wayne takes a look at this issue which saw the pairing of Spidey with a classic team of X-Men characters to take on… well we won’t say who. We’ll let it be a surprise. As in, we’ll be surprised if you’ve ever heard of this guy.

Listen to Episode 31: Spectacular Spider-Man #197.

You can subscribe to the Council of Geeks Podcast, home of 90s Comics Retrial on iTunes or on Stitcher.

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Finally, a reminder that the podcast theme song is by Erica Dreisbach, and you can find more of her work at her website right here.

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4 thoughts on “Episode 31: Spectacular Spider-Man #197

  1. Frank says:

    I never saw Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man as a lesser title than Amazing, though I can’t see a reason for its existence in its first several years beyond delivering dollars to Marvel. However, my first issue was #76, which featured a cover of Spidey carrying Black Cat from a battle as she bled out. The lent me the perception that Spectacular was the darker, edgier, more sophisticated Spider-Man title. Amazing was the more straightforward, mainstream super-hero slugfest title, plus I was never as enamored with Roger Stern’s run as everyone else, and outright disliked Tom DeFalco. Spectacular was Spidey in Gotham City, and while I cringe at that prospect today, I was all about it as a kid. Al Milgrom became “my” Spider-Man artist for many years, and even though I didn’t particularly like the stories he wrote, when I bought Spidey, I typically defaulted to Milgrom’s. Then “The All New, All Daring” period began with funny, cynical, gritty Peter David scripts and appropriate art from the likes of Rich Buckler and Mark Beachum. It was Sin-Eater and Santa with a Terminator gun and Aunt May dating the Subway Vigilante and Sabretooth and The Foreigner. I ate that stuff up.

    Even when Peter David and editor Jim Owsley got fired, Gerry Conway and Sal Buscema carried on the urban crime feel with the extended Tombstone arc, guest appearances by the Punisher and the like. I lost interest in continuing to buy Spider-Man titles around the time of the Inferno crossover, but Spectacular was the last one I quit (although I read most of the first two years of Todd McFarlane’s eponymous Spider-Man on my brother’s dime, and it ended up being more macabre and violent than Spectacular but significantly less “sophisticated.”

    Sal Buscema has never been a favorite of mine, and in general he’s probably best known for being John’s brother, but I have definitely enjoyed his work on the right material. His run with Conway qualifies, since he brought an element of horror to his violence that drove home how unpleasant and undesirable that sort of “action” would really be. The man drew a disgusting corpse, all contorted and unglamorous. His work was boxy and brutish and so spare on detail that he was almost more of a layout artists at times. On the other hand, his work was emoted in a macho way with dynamic presentation, and his storytelling always clear. Sal was the ugly friend with a good personality who needed help with his clothes and hair from an inker that could massage him into a more attractive package. With someone like Ernie Chan as a wingman, he could even compete with Big John, and both Buscemas were quintessential Marvel artists.

    By 1993 though Sal was long in the tooth and had no business inking himself. As I recall, he got the same Bill Sienkiewicz treatment as Jim Aparo (by way of Jimmy Palmiotti) where editors didn’t want to shove him aside ala Curt Swan or Herb Trimpe, but also knew he wasn’t commercially viable without a major makeover. Further, he was coupled with J.M. DeMatteis, who I often love, but whose more maudlin tendencies were only aggravated by Sal’s “cheap seats” theatrical renditions.Throw in the always overcooked original X-Men and a villain I only know because he had a well drawn listing in the Marvel Universe Handbook of the Dead, and this story sounds unbearable.

    X-Men Adventures leftovers: Andrew Wildman drew the entire series, and I knew him previously from his stint on G.I. Joe. He’d also worked on Transformers, and if I recall correctly, writer Simon Furman only agreed to continue the Marvel continuity at IDW if Wildman joined him on the project. Also, I remembered after commenting that the main reason I bought the first issue was for the Steve Lightle cover, as he was and remains a favorite of mine and I especially liked his take on Gambit.

    Links to scans of those Mexican trading cards I mentioned:
    http://nurgh.blogspot.com/2009/04/1994-marvel-comics-pepsi-prisma-cards.html
    http://nurgh.blogspot.com/2008/12/1994-marvel-pepsi-mexico-quicksilver.html

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  2. I’ve got to disagree with your assessment of Sal Buscems. To me, he is Marvel of the 70’s. He does have a house style and I prefer his 70s work over his 90s, but he’s still a great storyteller. Plus, his Peter Parker in the early issues of Spectacular were some of my first comics.
    Prof Power was a bit of a pet character for DeMatteis, appearing in his runs in Marvel Team-Up and The Defenders. I don’t like when DeMatteis goes to his pet characters too often, and Prof Power isn’t a great character, I give you that, but I feel if you had picked a different issue of Spectacular from around ns this era, you would’ve gotten a much better comic.

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  3. Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man, as it was originally known was a book I liked more than Amazing at one point. That point was in the 80s, but still.

    Oh man, what happens when the OHOTMU girls find out the Angel they loathed became a pink and blue monstrosity?

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