Friday, May 11, 2007

Listen, bud — he's got radioactive blood!

A few gazillion dollars later, I believe it's now safe to report that Spider-Man 3 is the monumental motion picture hit of 2007.

How apropos, then, that Comic Art Friday seizes this opportunity to share the Spidey love that currently bathes the universe.

Fans of the movie series know by now that Spider-Man's lady love is one Mary Jane Watson. It wasn't always so in the comic books. At the beginning of the Wall-Crawler's existence, back in the early 1960s, Peter Parker had a crush on Betty Brant, the secretary (that's what we used to call administrative assistants in those politically incorrect times) of Peter's boss at the Daily Bugle, J. Jonah Jameson. Later, Peter fell headlong into love with picture-perfect blonde Gwen Stacy. He ping-ponged back and forth between MJ and Gwen for years, until Gwen's untimely death at the hands of Norman Osborn, the original Green Goblin. (Both Betty and Gwen turn up in the Spider-Man movies, but Betty is merely a background presence — never a romantic interest — in the series, while Gwen, who debuts in the latest film, resembles her comic book incarnation only in name and physical type.)

In this rough pencil sketch by Comic Art Friday regular Al Rio, Spidey and MJ take a swing through the streets of New York City.

One of these days, one of my favorite inkers is going to take this piece in hand and transform it into finished art. (He just doesn't know it yet.)

Next, our friendly neighborhood arachnid goes solo in this dynamic drawing by Space Ghost artist Scott Rosema.

In recent years, Marvel has published a number of series set in what is popularly referred to as the "MC2 Universe," a possible alternate future (about 20 years from the Marvel Universe "now") in which Spider-Man is retired from superheroics. In the MC2 version of what's to come, Peter and Mary Jane Parker have a teenaged daughter, May (nicknamed "Mayday"), who has inherited her father's arachnid powers. Mayday Parker fights evil — much to the chagrin of her parents, who fear for her safety and wish she'd content herself with normal adolescent activities — as The Amazing Spider-Girl in a thoroughly enjoyable book by that title. Spider-Girl, written in rambunctious Silver Age style by former Marvel editor-in-chief Tom DeFalco, and capably rendered by the veteran team of Ron Frenz and Sal Buscema.

In the drawing below, another artist named Ron — Ron Adrian, best known for his work on such DC Comics titles as Supergirl, Flash: Fastest Man Alive, and Birds of Prey — presents the female offspring of Spider-Man in all her web-slinging wonder.

Meanwhile, back in the "real" Marvel Universe, there's another former paramour of our favorite Wall-Crawler prowling about. Felicia Hardy — better known to the world at large as the Black Cat — enjoyed an on-again, off-again relationship with Spidey for decades, usually coinciding with those dramatic moments when Peter and MJ were on the outs for one reason or another. A former cat burglar (like you would never have guessed that) and career criminal, Felicia reformed through her association with Peter, and became (more or less) a force for good. These days, she's a member of the super-team Heroes for Hire, in the current Marvel series of the same name.

Here, pencil artist Jeffrey Moy (best known for his run on Legion of Super-Heroes) and Jeff's longtime inking partner W.C. (Cory) Carani give us an eye-popping look at this tempestuous twosome.

And that, Spider-Fans, is your Comic Art Friday. Consider yourselves webbed.

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