SPIDER-MAN Forever! - Mania.com


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What if Steve Ditko Picked Up Where He Left Off?

By Chad Derdowski     May 19, 2010
Source: Mania

Comicscape: SPIDER-MAN Forever!
© Mania

Those of you who have been paying attention might’ve noticed a trend in recent Comicscapes. We love talking about this “forever” concept that’s been popping up in Marvel’s mutant books and to a certain extent, has carried over to IDW’s G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero title. Basically, it’s the idea of a writer returning to a title they’d previously written and picking up right where they left off, ignoring any subsequent continuity.

It’s a clever idea and while we freely admit that we’re not reading any of the X-Forever books (we tried X-Men and were less than impressed, though we’ll probably pick up X-Factor in trade form), we’ll definitely be giving G.I. Joe a shot (which you probably already figured out since we dedicated an entire column to it a couple of weeks back). We even suggested that Grant Morrison should receive a Forever book of his own. While discussing this topic with some friends last weekend, we hit upon one of our most brilliant ideas yet – even more brilliant than the oversized, hardcover Spider-Hamnibus we’ve been pushing for the past decade or so. The ultimate “forever” title…

Steve Ditko’s Spider-Man.

We’ll grant you that it’s a bit outlandish. That it’ll never happen and even if it did, it might only sell a handful of copies. Hell, we don’t even know if Steve Ditko even draws anymore, let alone if he’s still any good. But none of that matters. You can critique our ideas in your own column; we’ll hang out with Uatu and come up with What If scenarios all day long. And this is our favorite one yet.


Why He Left In the First Place

Steve Ditko hasn’t done an interview since the mid-1960’s, so there’s no official word as to why he left the title he helped create, but according to industy lore, he felt that revealing the Green Goblin to be Norman Osborn was simply too unrealistic. What’re the odds that Peter Parker’s best friend’s dad would end up being his worst enemy? Well… what’re the odds that a kid would get bit by a radioactive spider and not get cancer and die?

At any rate, Ditko allegedly had some problems with the idea of Pete graduating high school and from all accounts, Stan Lee wasn’t the easiest guy to work with back then. So maybe it was an accumulation of a lot of things and the Goblin reveal was the straw that broke the camel’s back. But no matter what the reason, Steve Ditko left the wallcrawler behind in 1966 and never looked back.


Why He Should Come Back

Because he’s awesome, that’s why. Because Steve Ditko is equally responsible for Spider-Man’s success due to his input in the character’s creation as well as his stunning artwork. He’s not exactly what you’d call photo-realistic, but he’s got a knack for creating a uniquely stylized world with a completely original and often psychedelic feel to it. That, and he was receiving a plotting credit as early as Amazing Spider-Man #25, something none of the other Marvel artists of the day were getting (though they certainly deserved to). Basically, Ditko was writing the book anyway, with Stan just putting the words in their mouths. Since it was his book, we’re not inviting Stan to come back for this project. Plus, Stan gets enough press; it’s time for Steve Ditko to shine! At least… in our imaginary world.


Why It Would Be Awesome

Haven’t you been paying attention? We’ve been discussing that for nearly the entire column. Of course, we know how ridiculous it all sounds. Steve Ditko left the title before much of what we now know as “classic Spider-Man” came into existence. But that’s sort of our point. If you’re talking classic Spidey, it doesn’t get any more classic than the Lee/Ditko era. The book had a drastically different feel to it back in those days, which of course, is due to the Ditko factor. All of you who’ve always wondered “What if Claremont hadn’t left the X-Men … what might he have done?” – extrapolate on that and apply it to Spider-Man. It’s almost like saying “What if Siegel & Shuster hadn’t sold Superman?” What might have happened? How different might the character and he world he inhabits have been?

For those of you who remain unconvinced, we’ll apply it to modern continuity. Steve Ditko left Amazing Spider-Man after issue #38 in July, 1966.

That was one issue before Norman Osborn was revealed as the Green Goblin. The same Norman Osborn who has been running the Marvel Universe since Secret Invasion. So if the accepted story is true and Ditko left due to a disagreement over the Goblin’s identity, then the entire state of the current Marvel Universe is in question.

That was before Mary Jane Watson’s face was shown. Back then, she was the girl Peter was trying to avoid. His Aunt May’s friend’s daughter. Who knows how the story would’ve played out had Steve Ditko not left the title? Would the two have fallen in love? Married? Would Peter have sold her out to the devil in order to save his aunt?

One last thing… it’s before Gwen Stacy died.


Yeah, We Know…

Of course, that was nearly 50 years ago. It’s insane to assume that Steve Ditko would remember what his plans were, or that he even had any in the first place. Those were days where comics were created by the seat of your pants and the only foresight anyone had was to try to top the previous issue. It’s a game of “coulda, shoulda, woulda” and it all amounts to a hill of beans because it’s not going to happen anyway and the truth is, we don’t really want the Steve Ditko of now to return to Spider-Man; we want the Steve Ditko of then. So it’s all a moot point.

But what if?


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spiderhero 5/19/2010 4:05:11 AM

It would probably be better than the crap Amazing has been since Quesadillia wiped the past 20 years of Amazing across his butt.

Roqueja 5/19/2010 6:47:40 AM

I've wondered the same thing for Peter David for Incredible Hulk.  Okay, I've dreamed of it lots in the past few years.  That's a book that needs saving with a coherent writer, and a concise plot .

joeybaloney 5/19/2010 7:25:00 AM

Word spiderhero. I haven't bought a single Marvel comic since the first issue of Brand New Day. Quesada is such a tool.

Rockhead 5/19/2010 8:06:11 AM

one word... No Venom!!!! that would be so awesome to wipe that crappy character and all his offspring out of existence!

Boombatty 5/19/2010 9:20:53 AM

I hate the Forever Concept just as much as Retcons and Reboots.  Build, Don't tear down and destroy.

IDW is making a HUUUUUUUUUUGGGGEEEE mistake with GI Joe.

First they Rebooted the Series, something Devil's Due tried and failed to do. The "Reloaded"  series bombed like that Losers movie.

Their smart and only sustaining move was to continue the Marvel Joe Continuity and build upon it which they did with the main title and spin-offs.  IDW has access to all of the Marvel books and Devils Due books as part of the licensing deal.  They could have continued the continuity much in the way Devil's Due did in that they started with a new book, new series, new jumping on point and since they were moving forward they didn't have to ignore continuity nor be hung up on continuity.  As such they told great stories and had characters for the old school fans to follow and see the growth of the characters during the 10 years of gap between the Marvel and DD run.  In fact they had some stories that took place in the gap to further the process.  They also went back to beginning and told Pre- Marvel stories with Origins.  Pure Genius.

Now IDW is trying to goose readership by starting immediately after the Marvel run ignoring the DD continuity and even many of the storied Larray Hama wrote whilst at DD.  Stupid.  They have the chance to continue the whole thing, something no other publish is doing and make it roll into great stories without having to rehash the same origins, retcon them or reboot them.  This is like the Spider-Man movies starting over.  does anyone really want to see Peter Parkers origin story AGAIN?

Dumb, Dumb, Dumb.

Same goes for this Ditko idea and of course the X-Men Forshame books.


animefanjared 5/19/2010 11:29:54 AM

As stated, this is all a moot point, but I'm also not in favor of Steve Ditko returning to pick up Spider-Man where he left off.  I *like* Norman Osborn as the Green Goblin.  I *like* Mary Jane as Peter's ultimate love interest.  Of course there have been some not so great things done with the character in the following 40 years, but there's been more good than bad, or we wouldn't still be talking about the character.

sasquatchb 5/19/2010 12:47:25 PM

 Ditko Created Speedball for Marvel in the Early 90 or late 80's. It was very much a wanna Be retro Peter Parker type book. And it was awful.

Just saying.

Rheul_home 5/19/2010 1:29:52 PM

Ditko's time has passed. He did some amazing (no pun intended) stuff in the old days with Spidey and Dr. Strange to name two. But it's the crazy Ayn Rand obsessed Mr. A stuff that has turned me off Ditko. I watched the documentary "In Search of Steve Ditko" a while back and I think its a good thing he quit when he did. Ditko adopted the Randian philosophy of Objectivism  that pretty much means you are good or bad and there is nothing in between. No gray areas... Some of his ideas on how Peter should develop were pretty out there. As fans... we're better off without him. I think he knows that and I think its one of the reasons hes never come back.

ChadDerdowski 5/19/2010 3:31:10 PM

You all make good points against it, but you haven't convinced me. 

"Build, don't tear down and destroy" - did the Ultimate Universe destroy the 616?  Or did it build a new continuity to stand side by side with the traditional Marvel U?

"I *like* Norman Osborn as the Green Goblin.  I *like* Mary Jane as Peter's ultimate love interest" - me too.  I like What If and Elseworlds too.

"Some of his ideas on how Peter should develop are pretty out there" - yeah, wouldn't it be cool to see 'em?  Hey, I'm no fan of Ayn Rand either, but it wouldn't hurt anything to have the guy expound on his ideas and philosophies.

I'm not suggesting that Ditko return and hit some giant reset button that erases the past 40 years of Marvel continuity.  I'm not suggesting that Norman Osborn shouldn't be the Green Goblin or that Spider-Man has been so vastly F'd up in the hands of everyone who has come since Stan & Steve either.  All I'm saying is ... wouldn't it be neat?

Did you guys see the Donner Cut of Superman II?  It's pointless.  Completely irrelivant.  The actual movie was released back in '80 or whatever year it came out and it's been how freakin' long and who cares anyway?  But d*mn, wasn't it cool to see what might've been?  It might've been better and it might've been worse depending on your opinion, but it was definitely a unique opportunity to (in a sense) actually see an alternate reality!

If someone offered you the opportunity to actually peer into an alternate reality, you wouldn't do it?  Not even for a second?  Or for 22 pages?  Even if it was only to say "Yup, I was right, that suckedGood thing everything turned out the way it did"?

lister 5/19/2010 3:41:43 PM

Spinning the rack...

Legion of Super-Heroes #1--OK... it's all good now. The three LoS worlds are in order. Let's have some fun!
Superman War of the Supermen #3--It's popcorn fun in the tradition of Siege. Oh yeah, I went there.

Age of Heroes #1--Smells anthology-ish, and that's rarely a good thing at Marvel. Still, I am intrigued...
Atlas #1--Took long enough. An unnecessary renumbering and the unfortunate addition of 3D Man. But I am glad this is getting a fresh start. I think they did a good job, unlike with the Sentry, of using the retconned stories to integrate this team into the 616 Universe. So six of one, half dozen of the other. As long as they get this team out of those backup story "slums"!
Avengers #1--Atlas would have been my TOP PICK of the week... but I mean come on...
Invincible Iron Man #26--The last issue went a lonnnnnng way to getting Tony back in my good graces, even without the big "cop out". I am looking forward to this.
Rescue #1--As a series I would laugh. As a one-shot, I am going to give it a try.
Origins of Marvel Comics #1--Haven't seen a preview, but the description sounds like fun. Like one of those Nintendo DS games with all the little quick mini-games...
Enter the Heroic Age #1--And this sounds kind of like one of those Saturday Morning Fall Preview episodes where they'd show snippets of upcoming cartoons. I dig, I dig.
X-Men Legacy #236--As Second Coming heats back up, so does my interest.
X-Factor #205--This so could have been the Official Title of the Spinner Rack.

And mark me down for "The Cape" preview looks good. Seriously.

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