Saturday, February 02, 2008

Untold Tales of Spider-Man

From 1995 to 1997 Marvel tried an experiment in the life of Spider-Man, the company published a continuity-implant title into the life of our favorite Webbed-Wonder that told previously untold stories from when he was a teenager this comic was called Untold Tales of Spider-Man. (Incidentally, the company is attempting it again with a new comic entitled Spider-Man: With Great Power that tells stories that fall between when he received his powers from the bite of an irradiated Spider to when he really leaned what being Spider-Man was all about, with the death of his Uncle Ben (Amazing Fantasy #15).

Well, with Untold Tales, I had missed this entire run,as it fell into that black hole when I had stopped collecting comics. Once I restarted my collection in ‘01 I began to fill in the gaps by going to the back issue bins at collections (as it turns out I’ll probably be able to collect most of these books and pay less for them now than I would have paid for them if I had purchased them new). Anyway, I’ve almost completed my Untold Tales run, and as I was reading them recently, I suddenly realized a couple of things.

First of all, While I had never considered it prior to now, it had recently occurred to me that Betty Brant, JJJ’s original secretary must have been older than Peter (Peter bing 15 when he became Spidey). Well, if Betty was Jonah’s secretary then she had to be older than 15. As soon as I thought about it,I figured that she would have had to have been at least 18 for her to have been the secretary to the editor and publisher of a great metropolitan newspaper. I mean, it only made sense. Well, I just read Untold #12, where writer Kurt Busiek had penned a story explaining that while, yes, Betty was probably older than Peter, she was only a year or two (tops). (Apparently her mom was Jameson’s secretary, until an accident hospitalized her and when JJJ couldn’t keep another secretary, Betty naturally assumed the role,and Jameson, out of loyalty to her mom, kept her in the position.)

Great retcon storytelling, eh? Well, I thought so.

So, the other thing that struck me about Untold Tales (especially in light of the current retcon that Marvel editorial Joe Quesada is foisting up on us is based on the (misinformed) supposition that fans want to see a younger Spider-Man. Well, if that were the case, then why did Marvel stop publishing Untold Tales? I can only think of one reason. Low sales. (Marvel also tried to retcon the entire Spidey Mythos with John Byrne’s universally panned Chapter One.) Which again goes to prove my point. While some of this might appeal to the nostalgia in us, fans really don’t want to see a younger Spidey. They want to see the one we see now (or, art least saw right up until the closing moments of One More Day.


Tommy said...

Yikes! Stuff about Spidey's time in the spotlight (I'm hoping they're not forgetting Maxie Shiffman) before the death of Uncle Ben means a heck of a lot more things to add the the SMURF code for Amazing Fantasy #15.

000.500 gets pimped out much like Mario does in Nintendo games.

I still have to pick up Amazing #200 to get those bits put in there as well, though I did get Amazing #38 (Vol. 2) with the Aunt May/Uncle Ben argument, so I can put those page numbers in for the next update.


SMURF ramblings aside, I find untold tales fun when they're done with good continuity and observance. The one I'm having trouble stomaching are the scenes with Cap punching out Hulk in the Fallen Son: Spider-Man one-shot.

Besides it being crack, Spidey's recalling this is as the 1st or 2nd time he's fought the Hulk, but...

...I believe the 1st time was when he was dealing with the Goblin & The Enforcers and he gave Hulkie a punch to the face to show him his own power, albeit it didn't do much. It would be a bit odd to make those statements to the Hulk after facing him once, so 1st time...nerp...

Then there is Amazing Spider-Man Annual #3, where Cap and the Avengers need to get a reference on Spidey from if Cap had already teamed with Spidey against Hulk, then why would he need a reference? Thus, 2nd time...nerp...

So at best, that flashback was the 3rd time? Will it even fit good? I doubt it, though I haven't buckled down to check what Hulk and the Avengers were doing at this point. I'm trying to figure out some Clone Saga stuff, but I'm trying to figure out specifically when Christmas took place, so I'm fixing to get the Marvel Holiday Special of that year and see what all characters are doing. There's a few things I'm scratching my head over despite this being the most tight-knit continuity time in the 90's.

I might be nitpicking, but ehhh, someone's gotta do it. :)

Robert J. Sodaro said...

Heh, Better you than me, Ol’ Son. Better you than me.

Paul S. said...

If Memory serves me right the reason that Untold Tales was canceled had less to deal with sales, than to do with the fact that Kurt Busiek had to drop the title to make room in his schedule for his Avengers run.