A post from my old Marvel blog concerning good comics I worked on, in this instance SPIDER-BOY #1
Starting off the week with the first of our profile of Good Comics I Had a Hand In, to see if that teaches us anything (or at least if we can get through it without people thinking I’m taking a dump on certain folks.)
Today’s inaugural entry is SPIDER-BOY #1, part of the initial Amalgam event which took place right in the middle of the Marvel vs. DC Crossover. For those not aware, the Amalgam line was a series of twelve one-shots, six produced by DC and six produced by Marvel, in which concepts from the two respective universes were smooshed together in hopefully-interesting ways, as though they’d always been one and only one universe. These books ran the gamut–frankly, some of the folks involved didn’t get the gag, or understand the mechanics of the thing–but SPIDER-BOY was generally considered to be one of the best entries from that initial flight. (The other standout was the DC-produced SUPER-SOLDIER by Mark Waid & Dave Gibbons)
SPIDER-BOY was an amalgamation of Spider-Man and Superboy, kind of an odd choice for a pairing when you come down to it, but Superman was already being melded with Captain America, and I guess this combo was the best that all of us could come up with at the time. The book was written by Karl Kesel, the writer of Superboy and the guy who clearly understood the fun of combining the worlds in this fashion. Karl packed this book with plenty of in-jokes and references to a fictitious, sprawling backstory. Beyond that, he made the kid and his world instantly likeable, and made you wish that there were going to be more issues of the title.
Artwork was handled by Mike Wieringo, the first time I’d worked with Mike–he’s got more books on this list of “Good Comics” than anybody else, so I clearly love what he does. He gave SPIDER-BOY a bouncy, upbeat style filled with kineticism and energy. I remember that Bob Budiansky, who was then the Spider-Man office EIC, had wanted Humberto Ramos to draw the book. I love Humberto’s work as well, but I think I was actually happy when he turned the assignment down, as both Karl and I really wanted ‘Ringo for it.
This was the first crossover book I worked on, which meant that there were a lot more moving parts than is usually the case. Not only did every page of script and artwork need to be directed to DC for their approval, but because the crossover was being coordinated by Mark Gruenwald, he needed to get copies of all of it as well. This turned out to be something of a boon, though.
The SPIDER-BOY cover was the first of the Marvel Amalgam covers to be completed, and was going to run as the cover to MARVEL VISION, our promotional magazine, sort of a Marvel-only Wizard. And for that cover, Tim Tuohy had the budget to get the piece colored in full-rendered color, as opposed to the more limited color separations we were stuck with in those days. I quite liked the end result, but Bob thought it was too dark–he wanted to change the background color to a bright yellow, so that things would “pop”. (Yellow covers tend to be a matter of personal taste. Because yellow is a primary color, a cover with a yellow background will almost always be visible. But, at the same time, I personally feel that a bright yellow cover somehow gives a book a juvenile feel.)
So I conspired to Mark in order that the cover should see print as it had been done. We waited for a day when Bob was out of the office, and then Mark signed off on the cover as EIC (which he could do, as he was the EIC of the Heroes line at that time), and off it went. There was a brief scare a few weeks later, when the cover had to come back in-house due to some change in the UPC or the ads or some such–I remember having to sneak it around so as to avoid Bob seeing it and demanding the cover coloring be changed.
What else? The name Bizzarnage (an amalgam of Bizzaro and Carnage) was suggested by Dan Slott and used with his approval. And I wrote the made-up letters page, signing all of the letters using the names of obscure characters from the Dick Van Dyke Show.