Thursday, July 23, 2009

Spider-Man Gets His Butt Whupped Week - One: Doctor Octopus

Spider-Man is my favorite superhero. This week, his flagship title, The Amazing Spider-Man, reached its 600th issue, so I've decided to post a week-long series of drawings celebrating Peter Parker's more colorful alter ego.

What's one of the things we love most about Spidey? His perseverance. His tenacity. His drive to keep fighting, no matter how overwhelming the odds. How he takes a liken', but keeps on tickin'.

Another great thing about Spider-Man is his fantastic roster of villains, arguably the best in comics, inarguably one of the best two (lots would probably give Batman's loony louses the top spot). The web-head's colorful criminals are a compelling group of nutjobs who are also pack a visual punch.

So, starting right now and for the next six days (I'm doing two today to catch up to where they've been posted elsewhere already), we'll highlight these two aspects of the Spidey charm by presenting a series of drawings of some of Spider-Man's most fearsome foes handing him his hat.

First up on our parade of pain is the tubby tentacled terror of Doctor Otto Octavious, aka Doctor Octopus, aka Doc Ock! Poor spidey's being pressed to the pavement, the world seeming to crash in around him, Mary Jane in peril, and the doc about to deliver the big finish with a manhole cover.

Doc, like all the villains we'll be highlighting during Spider-Man Gets His Butt Whupped Week, was created in an amazing flurry of creative genius by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko during their inaugural tenure on The Amazing Spider-Man. Never before or since has some a classic collection of rogues debuted in such a short amount of time.

I drew this installment early on, before I realized that all the bad guys were going to be Ditko and Lee creations. Had I realized that, I might've put Betty Brant or Gwen Stacy in Doc's clutches instead of MJ. Mary Jane isn't really a Ditko creation, even though she technically appeared briefly in a couple of Ditko's issues. In those appearances, though, she was kind of like the neighbor in Home Improvment, always a flower in the foreground or something obscuring her face. She didn't dress anything like the mod party gal we came to know later and we never even saw her signature scarlet locks. I guess you could credit Ditko with creating Mary Jane's breasts, which isn't all bad, but the rest of the look goes to Ditko's artistic successor, Jazzy John Romita.

Ditko may have been the great creator, but I think Romita's pencils are the ones that really created the definitive look for Peter Parker and his pals in most people's minds, and while Ditko deserves all the praise he gets, I think we sometimes forget that.

Next up: a cover of a cover and a wild whuppin' courtesy of Kraven the Hunter!

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