Friday, December 22, 2006

What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas

Today's Comic Art Friday is dedicated to Katie Rees, the erstwhile Miss Nevada USA, who was stripped of her title by Donald Trump and his fellow pageant owners yesterday after salaciously compromising five-year-old photos of Ms. Rees surfaced on various Internet sites. (Let's make it clear that the salaciously compromising photos were five years old, not taken when Katie was five years old. Because that would be a whole other issue.)

As a general rule, I don't collect much published comic book page art. For me, a page from a comic story requires context — it doesn't possess much meaning or resonance all by itself. (I know that many comic art collectors disagree with me on this. You collect what you like, I'll collect what I like, and we'll all be happy.)

That said, I have a couple of outstanding exceptions. I own the majority of the original pages from the first issue of the 1991 Millennium Comics miniseries Doc Savage: The Monarch of Armageddon — considered by many Doc Savage aficionados to be the character's most representative appearance in the comic book medium. As a lifelong Doc fan, I enjoy having these pages, both for their nostalgic value and for the wonderfully evocative art by penciler Darryl Banks (a personal favorite) and inker Robert Lewis.

I also own several original pages from a relatively obscure comic: Web of Spider-Man #45, published by Marvel in December 1988.

This story, like the Doc Savage book, holds some personal significance for me. It's set in Las Vegas, Nevada — and if you're an SSTOL regular, you know I loves me some Vegas, baby. What could be better than combining my boyhood hero with my favorite adult playground?

I especially enjoy page two of WoSM 45 (seen above), because it contains some classic images of old-school downtown Vegas that don't exist in the real world any longer:
  • Panel 1 (top left): The old sign from the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino (the Nugget is still there, but the sign has been updated) and the corner facade of the Lady Luck (which closed in January 2006).
  • Panels 2 and 3 (top right): The original signage and '80s vintage facade of the Horseshoe Casino (now known as Binion's, even though the Binion family no longer owns it).
  • A shuttle van from McCarran Airport, on which the name of the airport is misspelled.
Later in the story, Spider-Man faces off with his long-time nemesis, the Vulture, in the blazing hot Nevada desert. Why? Who knows? It must have seemed like a good idea at the time. Whatever the reason, it's an opportunity for the Web-Slinger to duke it out with the villain high above the desert floor...

...and to deliver one of his patented quips: "Blow it out your beak, Tweety!"

...and to flirt with attractive federal marshal Sara Glenville, who's cleverly disguised as a flight attendant. Because you never know when you might need a flight attendant in the middle of the Nevada desert. She could bring you a bag of peanuts and a Coke. (Actually, there was a plane crash earlier in the story, in which all of these people were involved. See what I mean about context?)

Giving credit where credit is due, the artists who created these images were penciler Alex Saviuk (who drew Web of Spider-Man for about seven years, and currently is the artist on the Spider-Man Sunday newspaper strip), inker Keith Williams (who teamed with Saviuk on WoSM for roughly half the former's run on the book), and letterer Rick Parker. Writer Adam Blaustein penned the scintillating script.

Remember, kids, keep your clothes on in front of cameras if you hope to be Miss Nevada USA someday. And that's your Comic Art Friday.

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