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Nose Norton

Location: Plainville
Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 6,626
In Reply To
Nose Norton

Location: Plainville
Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 6,626
Subj: Re: Marvel's Flashback Minus Ones Part 3
Posted: Sat Sep 19, 2020 at 12:46:19 am EDT (Viewed 302 times)
Reply Subj: Marvel's Flashback Minus Ones
Posted: Sat Sep 05, 2020 at 11:08:46 pm EDT (Viewed 424 times)

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I've been revisiting (and visiting for the first time) Marvel's -1 books which were coverdated for the summer of 1997.

First of all, these books had a hand in starting the untraditional numbering of comic books, which I've grown to hate. I know stuff like Tales To Astonish becoming The Incredible Hulk happened but after all the #0's and #-1's, all the reboots and returns to the old numbering have taken the magic out of anniversary issues. But anyway...

So far, I've read -1 issues for Ka-Zar, Daredevil, Untold Tales Of Spider-Man and Amazing Spider-Man. I'd forgotten that Stan Lee makes cameos in each ish, pretty good ones, actually. A nice preview of what would come in the movies.

Daredevil -1 was written by Joe Kelly with art by Gene Colan. Stan plays the bus driver as Matt Murdock and his dad Jack are traveling to State University, after Matt's accident but before he becomes Daredevil. There are plenty of honest and touching moments between the over-protective but guilty-feeling single father and the eager-to-be-independant son with a secret which overpower the somewhat ridiculous scuffle at the local bar. Colan's artwork is fluid and classic but not his best work.

Ka-Zar -1 tells a disjointed story of young brothers Kevin and Parnival Plunder. Kevin's story is early Ka-Zar learning a lesson and Parnival shows his evil side before he became The Plunderer. The artwork has a Golden Age feel but the problem is both stories are kind of cliche and, as far as I know, the Plunderer has been forgotten over the years. But I'm more of a fan of Ka-Zar as a guest star in other books rather than in his infrequent series.

Untold Tales Of Spider-Man -1 goes even further back than an early Peter Parker story, telling a tale of Richard and Mary Parker, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. With Roger Stern and John Romita Sr. at the helm, you know you're getting a good tale. I don't know if Stern or Lee wrote Stan's self-depreciating humor but it's classic Stan. I'm a bit iffy on Peter Parker's parents being spies but it is an established storyline and, of course, well done given the talent involved. Wolverine makes a surprise guest appearance as Baron Strucker's captive. I don't really like the idea that Wolverine interacted with every Marvel character in the pre-FF #1 days but I don't think anyone draws a better Wolverine than JR Sr.

In ASM -1, Peter Parker becomes even more relatable to us comic book fans as he discovers Uncle Ben's Golden Age comic book collection. Tom Defalco and Joe Bennett deliver a mostly on-the-nose comic, drawing on Golden and Silver Age nostalgia in a 90s style, but it feels more like a What If...? story with a rushed plot and an unnecessary explanation of how Peter came up with the idea for his webshooters. The story features a gangster story with Kingpin, Fortunato and one-timer Rigoletto. Stan appears in a Spider-Man costume.

Venom: Seed Of Darkness -1, by Len Kaminski, was surprisingly good. It's an homage to Marvel's monster comics as well as to Kolchak, The Night Stalker, which fits perfectly for pre-Venom Eddie Brock. And the monster, Krobaa, is symbiote-ic enough to appease the Venom fans. The artwork by James Fry and Chris Ivy is very Ditko-esque and Stan has a cameo like a Golden Age horror host. As I was reading the narration, I couldn't help but hear it in Darren McGavin's voice, and then, lo and behold, Eddie seeks advice from veteran but disgraced reporter Cal Karlchok. Barney Bushkin (from ASM) even makes a very Ditko inspired cameo. This one might not be for everyone but it hit all the right notes for me.

I enjoyed Cable -1, also. James Robinson (writer) didn't go to Cable's adventures in the future but rather to his earliest appearances in the then current Marvel timeline, which I appreciated. I think artist Ladronn was going for a Kirby look. He doesn't fully accomplish it, but there is a Golden/early Silver age pastiche style. It seems early Human Torch Strange Tales. Stan's cameo dressed as Cable seems goofier than when he dresses as Spider-Man, but, still, somehow, it works. It captures his ability to make the story seem important while also poking fun at it.

Spectacular Spider-Man -1 tells an early story of Peter Parker and Flash Thompson. JM DeMatteis and Luke Ross work well together and in this ish they do what they do best: mirror the lives of the two main characters and show how alike they really are. This issue worked particularly well because you didn't see what DeMatteis was doing until near the end and his characterizations of Peter and Flash made sense when you look at how their relationship developed from the early 60s into the 70s.

I'm not a big Elektra or Stick fan, but Elektra -1 was pretty good. Written by Peter Milligan with art by Mike Deodato, the issue does a good job of showing Elektra's personality before she becomes an assassin. She's very likable but you can see that she's going to be a badass. I liked her battles with the gangsters in the church, though it was somewhat repetitive except that Stick has to save her the second time. Stan looks classy introducing the story almost like a romance comic, though that aspect is limited to the cover and the first part of the book.

Overall, very good comics, especially when you consider that this was a company-wide event that most likely felt forced upon the creators.