Letters : Spider-Oracle : 2013 : Spider-Oracle Petitions 14/04/2013

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From Danial

I've been trying to find out when ASM switched from newsprint to gloss and can't seem to find the info anywhere, so I thought I'd try here. You're obviously a big Spidey fan, so do you happen to know, or can you find out? I asked Tom Brevoort on Tumblr, and although he didn't know, he believes it would have been around #404.

In fact, the switch-over for the paper stock in ASM was seven years later than Tom's guess.

That's much later than ASM #404, which was back in Aug 1995.

Most likely, Tom was thinking of one of the two other significant changes to the printing process at Marvel, which happened during the 1990's. Both occurred with issue #400 (rather than #404).

In Amazing Spider-Man #400, the comic swapped to "bleed to the edge of the page" printing. Previously, there had always been a clean white border around the edge of each page in ASM. But with ASM #400, the look changed to effectively eliminate all white borders. Pages in ASM now had a black border - or else had no border at all, with the panel artwork bleeding to the very edge of the page.

Note that black border and/or full colour to the edge of the page was actually introduced years earlier (in 1990) by Todd McFarlane with his visually ground-breaking Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #1. For five years, McFarlane's book was alone in that practice, until ASM and the other titles (Spectacular Spider-Man and Web of Spider-Man) suddenly adopted the same style.

The other major printing change around that time was the introduction of digital printing, and the ability to use air-brushed, shaded colouring, instead of simple blocks of colour as per the old four-colour printing process. A quick scan through our archives shows air-brushed colour being used on the cover of ASM as early as Amazing Spider-Man #363 in June 1992. Have a look at the shaded blue around the eyes of Venom and Carnage on that cover. Earlier examples may exist.

Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #363
Jun 1992 : SMURF 363.500 : NM ($7.00) : SM Title

Summary: Venom
Arc: Part 3 of "Carnage"
Editor:  Danny Fingeroth
Writer:  David Michelinie
Pencils:  Mark Bagley
Inker:  Randy Emberlin
Cover Art:  Mark Bagley
Staff Only
 Reprinted In: Spider-Man: Carnage (TPB)

Inside the comic, however the benefits of digital printing seem to have been a little slower to show themselves. A quick dig through the issues around that era show this panel from Amazing Spider-Man #385 (Jan 1994) using airbrushed colour. Again, there may be even earlier examples in ASM.

However, shaded/progressive colour was still the exception at the time, rather than the rule. Issues of Amazing Spidey prior to #400 tended to feature only a handful of air-brushed panels per book. But once again, that all changed with Amazing Spider-Man #400. From that point onwards, nearly every panel was coloured by air-brush shading.

From SpookMann

I see you reviewed Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture by Rob Salkowitz, and gave it a full 5-web rating.

I was just wondering what Rob might have to say about Marvel's policy of including a free digital copy code with their current titles! It's an approach that I didn't see mentioned in his book, I guess they just started doing that about the time it went to print.

We got in touch with Rob and put your question to him directly. Here's his answer:

I think Marvel's plan makes perfect sense for consumers, but might raise concerns among retailers that Marvel is trying to "convert" direct market customers to digital readers. I know there was some push-back from retailers when DC tried something like this last year, although maybe the past year's decent results have put the fear of cannibalizing the market to rest.

It will be interesting to see if anyone offers a promotion going the other way - e.g., offering a voucher good for the paper copy of the book, redeemable at any (or a specific) retailer when you buy the digital copy.

IMO, physical stores still offer the best venue for upsell/cross-sell and impulse purchasing, and if I were the publishers, I'd be thinking of more ways to get non-traditional direct market customers with an interest in digital comics into the stores to show them the range of offerings, graphic novels and other merchandise rather than vice versa.

I've been saying for a while that I think we will see lots of experimentation in the next 12-18 months around integration of the physical and digital product before any clear winning strategy emerges. Marvel's move is definitely part of that process.

From Joe

Is there any chance that Peter Parker might be raised from the dead? It broke my heart when he died. I'm not interested in Spidey comics or even the new movies that they will come out with out him in them. I felt like I lost part of my childhood.

Do you really believe that Peter is dead forever? I find your lack of faith... disturbing.

From Pete

I recently saw an image of a page from a Spider-Man comic, and am trying to determine if 1) the page is actually a published page and not a fan creation and 2) if it saw print, which issue is it in? It's pretty recent, has the "modern" look to the colors and is clearly set after Brand New Day.

It features Spider-Man on trial, apparently being sued by J. Jonah. Spider-Man (still in full costume and clearly his identity is still secret) is asked why he thinks J. Jonah hates him so much. Spider-Man replies he thinks it's because he's black. This freaks out the entire court room, especially J. Jonah, who starts sputtering that he's open minded and some of his best friends are black. Until Spider-Man says, "Kidding. Sorry," and everyone laughs at J. Jonah.

The story you refer to is 100% official. It is from She-Hulk (Vol. 3) #4. It is part of an entertaining She-Hulk run by writer Dan Slott, who is now the main writer on the regular Amazing Spider-Man title.

From cjdwden

Hi, I was reading an old Marvel magazine Marvel: The Year in Review 1993 and came upon a character named Bile. I was wondering if you had any information on this character because I've never heard of him. I posted that picture on Reddit and nobody there knew him either.

One thing somebody did respond with however was a picture of a forum submission. Here is the submission photo. This is making me really curious on who and what he/it is, it's almost like a conspiracy haha. So if you could tell me anything about him, that'd be awesome.

The character Bile was one of a series of imaginary "combined" characters postulated in that issue of Marvel: The Year in Review 1993. Specifically, they suggested the following:

  • Spider-Man + Venom + Carnage = Bile (Cannibalistic madman with the proportionate strength of a spider)
  • Captain America + U.S. Agent = The Patriot Missile ("Blow all them foreigners to hell and let God sort 'em out!")
  • Thor + Thunderstrike = Godhead (Convinced he is God. Holed up in his compound, waiting for Ragnarok)
  • Wolverine + Sabertooth = Clawjaw (Unhousebroken, uncontrollable killing machine with poor bodily hygiene)
  • Iron Man + War Machine = Terror Device (High-tech armored Avenger with two attitudes and Plausible Deniability)
  • Green Hulk + Gray Hulk + New Green Hulk = Red Hulk (Intelligent rampaging monster with a big gun and razor-sharp claws)"

These characters were just one-off bits of fun, and never appeared in any official stories - unless you want to suggest that the "Red Hulk" here was in some way an inspiration for the Red Hulk who turned up on the scene many years later.

From thunderbird0

please help me place this issue number, because for the life of me, i can't. the issue shows a brief epilogue of brock walking the streets after learning of his cancer, eviction, and divorce. please help if possible, thanks!

This occurs in Spectacular Spider-Man (Vol. 2) #4.

(From the review by Jeff English):

"Nonetheless, the web-slinger tells Brock that he's going to jail, but Brock just laughs. When Spidey asks him what's so funny, Brock says that he has cancer..."

From Greyzlack

I learnt that the symbiot Toxin made a reappearance in the new adventures of Venom without Pat Mulligan, I'm very found of this character, I really enjoyed the link that Peter Milligan gave to the symbiot and his host. If you know something about it, can you tell me if there is an explenation about the schism between Pat and Toxin?

He was killed off panel, in an issue of Venom (Vol. 2). It was kinda "Here's the Toxin symbiote" and nothing else

It is possible that the Venom writers will show what happened to Pat. Certainly they did so with Scott Washington and the Hybrid symbiotes after Carnage U.S.A. was finished.

From Todd

I was in your character bios, reading up on my favorite Spidey supporting cast people and noticed that under former aliases Mary Jane is listed as Red Sonja (briefly).

I've looked around and can't find an answer as to how a barbaric sword wielder is akin to a fashion model, aside from also having red hair, a lot up front, and being a geeks wet dream.

Oh, knowledgeable Spider-Oracle, can you fill in the blanks?

The answer to your question is simple to the point of triviality.

Marvel Team-Up #79
Mar 1979 : NM ($4.00) : SM Title

Summary: Spider-Man & Red Sonja (MJ Watson becomes Red Sonja)
Editor:  Al Milgrom
Co-Plot/Pencils:  John Byrne
Writer:  Chris Claremont
Inker:  Terry Austin
Cover Art:  John Byrne
Staff Only
 Reprinted In: Marvel Tales #208 (Story 1)
 Reprinted In: Mighty Marvel Team-Up Thrillers