|Posted on July 2, 2013 at 11:45 AM|
When I was a young comics fan, I read pretty much anything I could get my hands on. But Spider-Man was always at the top of my list. That amazing web-slinger captivated me like no other hero, and I was an avid reader of any and all Spider-Man titles.
But why? Was it his powers? While admittedly cool, other heroes offered plenty of equally impressive talents and abilities. Was it his costume? It’s a great design, no doubt. But the Flash, Wonder Woman, Captain America and plenty of other heroes also have iconic union suits.
No, the reason I was so enthralled with Spider-Man had more to do with the man under the mask. While Spider-Man almost always defeated the bad guys, Peter Parker had a string of misfortune that even Charlie Brown would pity. From Aunt May getting sick and Mary Jane rejecting his marriage proposal to flunking a test and getting chewed out by his boss, J. Jonah Jameson, Peter never benefitted from being Spider-Man. In fact, being a costume superhero often proved detrimental to Peter Parker’s personal life. Yet, in spite of those self-imposed hardships, he never stops using his unique talents to help others.
I started reading Amazing Spider Man during the period when writer Len Wein and artist Ross Andru were at the helm. While not the most famous run of Spider-Man stories, it nevertheless was a good one, with Spider-Man battling such foes as Will O’ the Wisp, Stegron the Dinosaur Man, Doctor Faustus and an all-new Green Goblin. At the same time, Bill Mantlo and Sal Buscema had launched a companion book, Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man, and the soon-to-be-legendary team of Chris Claremont and John Byrne chronicled the wall-crawler’s adventures in Marvel Team-Up. Overall, it was a great time to be a Spider-Man fan, and I eagerly scooped up all three books on a monthly basis.
Before long, I found reprints of such classic Spider-Man stories as the Stan Lee-Steve Ditko and Lee-John Romita Sr. runs. The early 1970s era of writer Gerry Conway teaming with artist Ross Andru was a particular high point, with such landmark stories as the death of Gwen Stacy and the original Clone Saga. After reading these older stories, I was more hooked than ever.
I certainly consider Wildcard to be influenced by the Spider-Man comics of the 1960s and ‘70s. Elizabeth Bradford isn’t Peter Parker in women’s clothing – the differences go well beyond that. But I wanted Elizabeth to have that same selfless sense of duty. The idea that true heroes will do what is right, regardless of the cost it inflicts on the hero, resonates deeply with me and is reflected in Wildcard.