Stop the presses! J. Jonah Jameson here, humanitarian, award-winning editor of the Daily Bugle, and upholder of such ideals as courage, honor, and most importantly, the Truth!
Everywhere I look these days; on billboards, TV commercials, magazine ads, on the sides of busses, and even on the internet, I’m seeing advertisements for SPIDER-MAN 2. While some namby-pamby Hollywood types are sitting in their fancy offices, sipping Espresso and making movies, I’ve been telling the world the real story about that masked menace all along. But do they listen to me? Nooo. They go and make that freak look like some kind of hero. They should be making a movie about ME! Not that masked menace. I’m the real hero here.
A bunch of no talent internet hacks named "The @$$holes" have decided to class up their piddly little column and asked me to host something they call…THE @$$MAZING SPIDER-COLUMN. It’s where a bunch of guys and gals who have nothing better to do than gab all day on the internet write up some comic book recommendations to seek out just in case you liked the movie. If you’re looking for a movie review, I’ll give you one:
The only good parts are the ones with me in it. All the rest…pure garbage!
If you want something of real quality, depth and good taste, check out the latest edition of the Daily Bugle. But until tomorrow’s edition, you might as well take a look at what these @$$$holes have to say about that no-good Spider-Man.
THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #157-159
Scenes from the SPIDER-MAN 2 Cutting Room FloorSPIDEY and DOC OCK duke it out above the streets of New York.
SPIDEY: Hey, how come you have mechanical arms?
OCK: What are you talking about, fool?
SPIDEY: I have organic webshooters, you should have organic arms!
OCK: Now, that would just be plain silly!
SPIDEY: Not to mention seriously creepy!
SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #108
JJJ: Bah! A good Spider-Man story is like a bad cigar. There’s no such thing! It wouldn’t surprise me if the Sin Eater, Daredevil, and Spider-Man were all in cahoots together. Let’s see what this next punk has to say.
MARVEL SUPER HEROES: SECRET WARS
More Scenes from the SPIDER-MAN 2 Cutting Room FloorINT. JOHN JAMESON'S BEDROOM -- NIGHT
John and Mary Jane make out heavily. It's getting serious.
MJ: Face it, tiger, you hit the jackpot! When it comes to hip, happening scenes, old MJ is your gal! Leave those serene scenes to the teen queens and--
JOHN pushes Mary Jane away.
John: For Chrissakes, will you quit talking like Stan Lee! Maybe you should go back to dating Peter Parker!
MJ: Oh, pretty, puny Petey may be fine for the tamer true believers, but this frantic female is---
John: How about Harry Osbourne? Good looking guy, rich, you'd make a great couple! No? How about Eddie Brock? Ted Raimi? Irving Forbush?
SPIDER-MAN: THE DEATH OF CAPTAIN STACY (TPB)
JJJ: Criminy, do these @$$holes think they get paid by the word? What a bunch of jabber mouths. They talk more than that webbed wierdo. Let’s see who we have next. Hopefully, this one will be brief. Who’s up? Another one from Cormorant? Never mind.
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #231 & 232
I’m going to get around to Spider-Man in a bit, but first a lament:
Poor Mr. Hyde.
No, not the child-stomping villain of Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel. Not even Alan Moore’s violent buggerer from the pages of THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN. I’m talking about the Marvel Universe incarnation of the character, a scientist named Calvin Zabo who obsessed over Stevenson’s book, created a formula based on Jeckyl’s, and embarked on a life of crime! My friends...they don’t make villains with cajones like that anymore!
But he’s fallen on hard times of late. Here’s a bad, bad dude who, according to my old OFFICIAL HANDBOOK OF THE MARVEL UNIVERSE, can lift/press fiddy damn tons...who fought Thor on his first outing...and who, with the Masters of Evil, beat Hercules into a coma and tortured loveable manservant Jarvis nearly to death.
And yet modern writers are playing this guy as a punk.
Bendis made a joke of him in DAREDEVIL with Spidey and DD dropping Hyde between a bout of male bonding. When Geoff Johns used Hyde in his first issue of AVENGERS – granted, a more serious treatment, but Hyde was still just the warm-up act villain; the equivalent of whoever Bond dispatches in a pre-credits sequence. And the latest anti-Hydite is another fine writer, one Robert Kirkman, who similarly wussifies Hyde in his pending first issue of CAPTAIN AMERICA (full preview here). Jeez, guys! Did you not read Roger Stern’s terrifying Mr. Hyde story in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 231 and 232 like I did as a nine-year-old urchin?
Ah, well maybe that’s the problem! Maybe I can help.
Roger Stern, who’s sadly slipped from the industry spotlight, was described by Brian K. Vaughan recently as, “...the biggest influence on everyone writing Spidey today.” Damn straight. Stern had a special gift for making any villain intriguing, from Hyde to Will ‘O The Wisp to The Foolkiller. He never treated them as jokes or B and C-listers, even when they were; under his pen they were strictly A-listers.
Which brings us to the Spider-Man story in question. AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 230 and 231 came hot on the heels of Spider-Man’s legendarily grueling battle with the Juggernaut, and Stern appropriately opened with a misleading calm before the storm. In 231, we see Peter Parker in a rare happy mood as he finishes sewing up a new Spider-Man costume with the patented “armpit webs” back after an extended absence from the design. Quintessential Peter Parker moment: posing and flexing in front of a mirror in the new costume, obviously quite pleased with himself. During the course of the issue, Spider-Man finds himself on the trail of snake-themed supervillain, Cobra, former partner of Mr. Hyde, even as Hyde himself pursues Cobra on a mission of vengeance. Seems their last partnership didn’t work out so well and Hyde aims to collect some bloody payback. Spidey gets the drop on Cobra at the end of the issue only to narrowly dodge an entire hurled building corner aimed at the both of them. The pitcher is our Mr. Hyde, drawn with true ferocity by a young John Romita Jr. Hyde’s pissed, and there’s a shitstorm a’comin’...
Now it’s issue 232 and Hyde’s chasing Spider-Man across rooftops, hurling wrenched-up chimneys and ripping up massive 220-volt cables to whip Spider-Man with them. See, Spider-Man’s still holding onto the terrified Cobra, bouncing him around like a rag doll, and he’s barely a step ahead of death in any given panel. What really sold my nine-year-old mind on Hyde as a threat was when a chunk of thrown building crashes to the ground on the back of a cab, coming within inches of killing the cabbie. It’s one of those “New York” moments you get in SPIDER-MAN, with a touch of comedy coming from the in-shock cabby’s terrified muttering, but Romita’s rendition of the damage sure as hell sells the threat.
I think my favorite moment, though, is when Spider-Man finally gets tired of Cobra’s squirming, decides he’s not worth the effort, and just pitches him at Hyde! His trick is that he’s coated Cobra’s mask with web fluid – now Hyde’s the encumbered one – but Hyde still shrugs off all his attacks and eventually loses Spider-Man by knocking a water tower over on him. This is what supervillains do. And then we get to see Hyde’s guile. He terrifies Cobra into telling him where his hideout is, then clubs him unconscious with a fist as big as Cobra’s head. Afterwards he transforms into human form, drapes his cloak over Cobra’s costume, peels back the mask, and walks right past the doorman of Cobra’s swanky penthouse explaining that he’s helping a soused pal back to his room. In the apartment he re-forms into Hyde and pours acid on the webbing to dissolve it. Smoke rises from off-screen as Hyde growls, “Blast! It has more effect on my hand than his cursed webbing!” Nice grisly touch from Stern, who always managed to suggest serious stakes without getting too excessive, and Hyde does indeed get loose.
Hyde’s about a second away from unleashing a vengeance on Cobra he describes as “meticulous” when Spidey makes the scene (remember the Spider-tracers of old?). There’s no way I can do adequate justice to the knockdown, drag-out fight that follows, but Hyde comes across nearly as menacing as the previous issue’s foe – the Juggernaut – and his rage is palpable. Think “angry drunk” or “seven-foot-tall Joe Pesci from GOODFELLAS.” As a kid I was also amused by Hyde nearly bellowing out that Spider-Man was a “dirty son of a bitch” after a vicious sucker-punch, only to be gagged by webbing on the last syllable. Shades of Eli Wallach’s similarly truncated epithet at the end of THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY, and another example of the value of implication over literalization.
In Stan Lee’s day, there was maybe an overemphasis on every new villain being the “most deadly foe” the hero had fought to date, which is kind of wearying after a while. But Stern was part of a generation of creators who realized you didn’t have to go quite that far...nor go the opposite direction and play the more outrageous villains as jokes or as filler plot devices. He played ‘em real - never more powerful than they were - but always operating at some credible threat level. And he used their backstories to bolster their desperation, built up circumstances around them that amped their menace. A generically rampaging Hyde is a bore, but the revenge-bent sadist Stern wrote was as memorable a villain as the best of ‘em.
Next-gen writers, please take note. Next-gen readers, join me in hoping that Marvel one day collects Stern’s phenomenal run.
Even More Scenes from the SPIDER-MAN 2 Cutting Room FloorINT. DAILY BUGLE -- DAY
Jonah paces, trailing cigar smoke.
Jonah: I hate that wall crawling freak! He's making a mockery of this city--
Robbie: I think you hate him because you just don't understand him. You're not smart enough! You don't get him!
Jonah: What? You're fi--
Betty: I think you're jealous! You'd like to be a superhero yourself but you just can't make it.
Ned: Yeah. Jonah's a frustrated superhero. He's not good enough to make it fighting crime so he has to put down those who are!
Jonah: No! That's not...you're all fired! All of you!
Peter: What's everybody talking about?
Brock: Jonah being gay for Spider-Man.
JJJ: Classic storytelling? In a comic book about Spider-Man? I’ve read Classifieds that had more punch to it. You want classic works of literature, check out my editorials: SPIDER-MAN – HERO OR MENACE? Or WEBSLINGER TERRORIZES CITY or THE SECRET SPIDER-MAN 2/LYME DISEASE CONNECTION. Now that’s what I call quality journalism. I’ll bet that Spider-Man put them up to this. That’s it! Robbie, get in here! I have tomorrow’s headline…SPIDER-MAN TAKES OVER AICN @$$HOLES COLUMN! Run it, print it, get Parker in here with those photos!