Saturday, 12 January 2013

The Many Villains Caught In The Web Of Spider-Man


Before I get started I'd just like to take a moment to introduce myself. For those of you who don't know me my name is Ciarán Marcantonio. I'm a writer based in Dublin, Ireland, I write comic books, web comics, prose pieces & reviews and now for the first time a Blog. I'd like to thank everyone at Nerd Invasion for letting me be a part of this fine array of Artists. Some of you I know quite well and others I hope to get to know better soon. I'd especially like to thank Chris Duffy for inviting me to write these (hopefully) weekly Blogs. What he has asked me to do is simple: Spew my many nerdy opinions on the weekly topic here at Nerd Invasion and in particular, the characters featured by our Artists each week.

This week we have a theme that is very special to me, Spider-Man Villains. There are few characters in comics today that can boast about a rogues gallery that is as spectacular as Spider-Man's. I began reading Spider-Man comics at the age of about ten, it was 1993 - a good time to be a kid and a Spider-Man fan. Venom and Carnage had just become major villains, thanks largely to Todd McFarlane and Mark Bagley's artwork, and the globally successful Spider-Man Animated Series was just one year away. My elder brother (who is 18 years my elder) began to realize I was getting into comics and dissatisfied with what was going on in the Spider-Man comics I would bring home, arrived up to visit my Mam & I and brought with him a box of his old Spider-Man books from the seventies and eighties (I still have them, thanks Dave!). This was when I had my first encounters with the villains of Spider-man like Doctor Octopus, Shocker, The Vulture, Rhino, Kraven The Hunter, The Jackal, Electro, Sandman, The Lizard, Hobgoblin and of course The Green Goblin. I love a good villain and Spider-Man has so many its hard to narrow it down to just a few. So for now I'm going to focus on the Villains our Nerd Invaders have put on display this week.


The Amazing Spider-Man #50 - Comic Book Cover
Kingpin would make his first debut in July 1967 Amazing Spider-Man #50 (pictured here), in the famous storyline Spider-Man No More. With Spider-Man battling various crime bosses such as Big Man, Crime-Master, and even the Green Goblin himself, Stan Lee wanted a character who would treat crime as if it was nothing more than a mere business. Wanting a villain who would successfully unite crime into a massive army under his command and be the boss of all other crime bosses, both Stan Lee and artist John Romita would gain their idea from the movie actor known as Sydney Greenstreet and create Wilson Fisk, also known as the King of Crime.
In Amazing Spider-Man #70, Stan Lee decided to add more to Wilson Fisk's character by “humanizing” him. Revealed to be a married man, Fisk would show readers that aside from his life of crime, he would be a devoted husband who cared for his family as much as he cared for his title as the Kingpin of Crime. He has been successfully translated into several other mediums appearing in nearly every Spider-Man animated series ever made. He also made a live action appearance played by the late Michael Clarke Duncan in 20th Century Fox's adaptation of Daredevil. He is drawn this week by Nerd Invader Padraic Byrne.


Morbius The Living Vampire 


The Amazing Spider-Man #101 - Comic Book Cover
Morbius was created by Roy Thomas and Gil Kane and first appeared in October of 1971 in The Amazing Spider-Man issue 101 (pictured here). Drawn this week by Nerd Invader LuCa P. I have a great fondness for Morbius, not your average vampire his curse was self inflicted by the classic experiment gone wrong scenario. The character has refused to die since his creation and has gone on to appear in many other Marvel books like Tomb of Dracula and Blade, and was also translated faithfully into Spider-Man The Animated Series in 1994. He has been both a hero and a villain in his time, with most writers placing him in the villain camp. His popularity like the character himself appears to be immortal, and now with his own new solo series in Marvel Now from Joe Keatinge and Richard Elson, the character of Dr. Michael Morbius looks primed for a resurgence.





DoppelgangerDoppelganger was created by Jim Starlin and Ron Lim in 1992 and first appeared in Infinity War # 1. During the Infinity War, Adam Magus created doppelgangers of Earth's Mightiest Heroes and sent them to Earth to attack the heroes. When Doppelganger encountered Spider-Man, he was already engaged in battle with the Hobgoblin. Hobgoblin defeated the doppelganger by impaling it on a fence. Later Demogoblin found Doppelganger and infused it with supernatural energy. This energy allowed Doppelganger to remain on earth after Magus was defeated. Personally I have only ever been a fan of the visual image of Doppelganger. A character that I feel has been underused by Marvel in favor of the likes of Venom and Carnage. His current status in the Marvel Universe is deceased having met his end in last year's Carnage Limited Series. But that won't stop Nerd Invader LuCa P. from turning in a fantastic sketch of the character.



The Amazing Spider-Man #252 - Comic Book CoverAmazing Spider-Man #252 (pictured here) marks the first appearance of the Venom symbiote suit within the pages of The Amazing Spider-Man. This issue begins with people wondering where all the heroes have gone. Then Spider-Man and Curt Connors come through a portal, followed shortly by the Avengers. Spider-Man then goes about patrolling the city, enjoying the fact that he is finally back home. He also continues to find out what his new costume that he got during the Secret Wars can do.
VenomThe character really came into his own when Spider-Man finally managed to free himself from the symbiotic suit, and the symbiote went on to bond with Peter Parker's rival Eddie Brock, forming the Venom most recognised today. It was this version that elevated Venom's status to a truly iconic level. His popularity soared and the mythology around symbiotes in general was expanded due to this success, leading to the introduction of Carnage, Toxin and Anti-Venom to name but a few. He is so popular that the Nerd Invaders decided to draw him twice this week! The first Venom this week is in the main Marvel Universe style drawn by Paul Kavanagh. The second is drawn in the Ultimate Universe style by Robert Carey. Venom is truly one of my favorite villains in comics. I personally love the Eddie Brock version, I was never crazy on the later incarnations such as Mac Gargan the former Scorpion taking over and, lets be honest, the less said about Topher Grace in Spider-Man 3 the better! I do have to say that after much early protesting on my part, I have been won over by the recent bonding of the Venom symbiote to the now legless Flash Thompson as Agent Venom (pictured right). While I initially thought the idea of attaching a chemically neutered version of Venom to a now battle scarred version of Peter Parker's former high school bully was a bad idea, I have to say I was wrong. It has led to some of the best stories involving Venom since his mid-nineties glory days. The idea that Flash is using one of Spider-Man's greatest villains for good is executed extremely well in the current Venom series from Cullen Bunn and Ireland's own Declan Shalvey. I recommend that any fan of the character should be reading this book.


  The Green Goblin


The Amazing Spider-Man #14 - Comic Book CoverFinally we come to the Greatest Spider-Man Villain of all time in my opinion. Norman Osbourn as The Green Goblin drawn this week by Nerd Invader Chris Duffy. The Green Goblin made his first appearance in Amazing Spider-Man Issue #14 (pictured here). Stan Lee had originally intended to have the Green Goblin an ancient mythological monster found in an Egyptian-like sarcophagus. However, Steve Ditko re-imagined the Green Goblin and turned him into a human instead. The Green Goblin's whole conception was all Ditko's idea. His secret identity wasn't known but he became instantly popular. Lee and Ditko disagreed on the character's alter-ego; Lee wanted it to be someone Spider-Man knew but Ditko preferred it be a new character to introduce a sense of realism to the stories. According to Ditko, he had intended to have Frederick Foswell be the Green Goblin. This disagreement may have led to Ditko leaving Spider-Man and in issue #31, the Green Goblin was finally revealed as Norman Osborn. Green Goblin first appeared as a villain determined to rule the underworld and in order to do that he needed to prove himself by defeating New York's newest hero, Spider-Man. The Goblin's secret identity wasn't shown at first and he made several appearances where he would prove himself as a worthy foe for Spider-Man. The Goblin first appeared using a jet powered flying broomstick (pictured here) which was later replaced with the now iconic Goblin Glider. The Green Goblin was elevated to an even bigger villainous threat when he became the first villain to uncover Spider-Man's secret identity as Peter Parker. 

He was also revealed as Norman Osborn, the father of Peter's best friend Harry Osborn, further adding a sense of drama to the Spider-Man stories. However, he would lose the memory of being a super-villain and would often make appearances as Harry's kindhearted father. Eventually, he would return to his villainous role. Spider-Man's arch-enemy had always been Doctor Octopus until the Green Goblin killed Peter's girlfriend, Gwen Stacy, elevating the Goblin further to the status of being Spider-Man's arch-enemy, the villain who has hurt Spider-Man more than any other. After Gwen's death, Osborn would seemingly die as well and would disappear for the rest of the Silver Age from the Spider-Man comics.  

During his absence, his son Harry would follow in his father's footsteps and become the Green Goblin himself. Also, Harry's psychiatrist Bart Hamilton would later take up the mantle as well. By the end of the Silver Age and the beginning of the Modern Age, the Hobgoblin, a Green Goblin copycat, would become Spider-Man's arch-enemy. Osborn would return in the late 90's when it is revealed that he had been manipulating everyone from the start. His rivalry with Spider-Man becomes even more intense when he kills Ben Reilly, Peter's "brother". Norman would return to the role of "evil businessman" and would torture Peter by being one of the few people to know of his dual identity. The character was successfully incorporated into the first Sam Raimi Spider-Man film, portrayed by screen legend Willem Dafoe, and while there may be something to be said for the (meh!) translation of his costume, it can't be denied that his performance in the role is spot on. Bringing to the screen a feeling of true menace and breathing life into Spider-Man's arch-enemy.

So that's it from me for this week. I'll leave you all with a blast of my favourite Spider-Man intro sequence from the celebrated 1994 animated series. Until next week, see you all in the funny pages!