Last issue, we heard about Corey’s love of work by Jack Kirby, Jim Mooney, and Ross Andru; and his eventual falling out with the superhero genre itself! Now: Corey once again ventures forth into the Marvel Universe, only to find…
From the late 1970s until the early 2000s, almost none of the comics I saw interested me. During those drought years, the only book I collected was John Byrne’s run on Sensational She-Hulk (1989, 1991-93). I find Byrne a competent artist, and his drawing had the right amount of goofy charm, but his writing was the real attraction of the book, the reason I became a fan of the character. In 2004, when I discovered a new She-Hulk book, it was my fond memories of Byrne’s version which enticed me to pick it up. The new book was clever and well-written, and the art compelling – definitely not the typical hypersexualized female superhero fare. Juan Bobillo’s elegant line is the antithesis of the boldness in Jack Kirby’s work. The meticulous craftsmanship he brings to his work is evident in his inventive layouts and striking character design. His idiosyncratic, cartoony style was a completely different approach to depicting a superhero, and it dovetailed perfectly with the savvy humor of the book.
In the early 2010s, I was given a collection called Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane, a retelling of Spider-Man’s early days from Mary Jane Watson’s point of view. I was unfamiliar with the book, which was then almost ten years old. Spider-Man’s heroics played only a peripheral role, the focus being the social lives of Mary Jane and her friends. Takeshi Miyazawa’s wonderful manga-influenced art captured the teenage experience in a way I’d never before seen. The facial expression and body language of that age are there with all the dramatic glory that they entail – the emotion in his work is visceral and affecting. More recently, Miyazawa worked on Ghost-Spider, a more traditional superhero book, albeit one with a young female lead – an alternate-universe Gwen Stacy being the one who gets bitten by a radioactive spider. In this context, Miyazawa shows his aptitude with action sequences, which he didn’t get much opportunity to do in SMLMJ. He does so with aplomb; he can effectively produce more than teen drama, although that is present – Gwen is college-aged, but still a teenager. Miyazawa also displays his versatility by changing the drawing style a bit from that in SMLMJ – though the work is still unmistakably his – it is more adult, appropriate for the tone of the book.
These days, when I stop by a comic store, I may pick something up because the character interests me, but even if the story is engaging, I usually find the artwork to be not very good to merely servicable. In a 2004 interview, writer/editor Len Wein (Amazing Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, Batman, Superman) expressed what he perceived as a problem with comics at that time – most younger writers and artists didn’t bring outside influences to the medium; they were just second, third, or fourth generation clones of older comics creators. However, Bobillo and Miyazawa prove that there are still creative people in the field who are doing interesting work. I hope to see more of that adventuresome spirit from other writers and artists in the future.
All artwork © MARVEL.