Steve Ditko

Amazing Spider-Man #19: It's... ASBESTOS!!! 34

Amazing Spider-Man #19, page 19, panel 5

Amazing Spider-Man #19, page 19, panel 5

Amazing Spider-Man #19: It's.... ASBESTOS!!! 34

Written By: Spidey's Godfather, Stan Lee

Illustrated By: Spidey's Big Daddy, Steve Ditko

Lettered By: S. Rosen (Spidey's Second Cousin On His Uncle's Side!)

Skipping through the majority of the issue, we reach a moment of ridiculousness that stands out in a fairly ridiculous comic. At the moment when the two teen heroes have the Sandman and the Enforcers on the verge of defeat, Johnny manages to get in the way of Spider-Man's web, and the two end up coated in it, unable to stop the villains from escaping.

We get the first confirmation that asbestos is an ingredient in Spider-Man's web, although it's unclear if he's using a variant for this fight or if his standard webbing has a highly toxic substance as part of the formula. I mean, this was before the founding of the EPA, so it certainly could be...

Check out our coverage of Amazing Spider-Man #19 on our thirty-seventh episode: Yes, Mr Lister, Sir!

Amazing Spider-Man #19: It's... ASBESTOS!!! 33

Amazing Spider-Man #19, page 4, panel 3

Amazing Spider-Man #19, page 4, panel 3

Amazing Spider-Man #19: It's... ASBESTOS!!! 33

Written By: Spidey's Godfather, Stan Lee

Illustrated By: Spidey's Big Daddy, Steve Ditko

Lettered By: S. Rosen (Spidey's Second Cousin On His Uncle's Side!)

We're taking a dive into Amazing Spider-Man #19, which allows us to indulge ourselves in Steve Ditko's full artwork for a little while. And, because this issue features The Enforcers getting the better of the Human Torch, we also get an asbestos rope. Unlike in any given issue of Strange Tales, here the asbestos lasso simply restrains Johnny, rather than extinguishing him. It's up to Fancy Dan, wearing a fire extinguisher on his back, to finish the job.

It's a small panel, without much space to show off, but Ditko shows great definition on Johnny's body, depicting his flame lines with ease where some of Kirby's inkers would fudge the job with thicker lines.

Check out our coverage of Amazing Spider-Man #19 on our thirty-seventh episode: Yes, Mr Lister, Sir!

Amazing Spider-Man #18: Flamin' 'Eck 56

Amazing Spider-Man #18, page 15, panels 1-2

Amazing Spider-Man #18, page 15, panels 1-2

Amazing Spider-Man #18: Flamin' 'Eck 56

Written by Stan Lee, Author of The Fantastic Four

Illustrated by Steve Ditko, Illustrator of Dr. Strange

Lettered by Sam Rosen, Letterer of… Patsy Walker?!!

I can give a pass to Johnny using his flame to create a giant '4' logo above the centre of New York to summon the nearby members of the team. I'm a lot less likely to do the same for an entire message, written in the sky above the centre of New York, that can be read all the way out in Forest Hills.

Traditional skywriting letters are approximately 3000 feet tall, and last for no more than a couple of minutes. These letters are approximately two feet tall, and no indication is given as to how long they last. Assuming that they behave similarly to their smokey counterparts, then it's very lucky that Peter wasn't somewhere out of sight of the sky for those couple of minutes. Like, say the little Spider-Boy's room. And let's not get into how great Parker's eyesight is, being able to clearly read these letters from  a distance of about 10 miles...

Check out our coverage of Amazing Spider-Man #18 on our thirty-sixth episode: John Byrne Quits Comics

Amazing Spider-Man #18: Flame On 77

Amazing Spider-Man #18, page 14, panel 6

Amazing Spider-Man #18, page 14, panel 6

Amazing Spider-Man #18: Flame On 77

Written by Stan Lee, Author of The Fantastic Four

Illustrated by Steve Ditko, Illustrator of Dr. Strange

Lettered by Sam Rosen, Letterer of… Patsy Walker?!!

It's a quick dive into the world of Ditko/Lee Spider-Man. Peter Parker has given up being Spidey, and has been branded a coward by J. Jonah Jameson. For some reason, Johnny decides to stick up for the guy he's done almost nothing but fight with, and seek him out to lend support.

Ditko does pretty well with a guy that he's spend more time inking than pencilling, but less good with the rest of the team, crowded in the back of the shot there. I swear The Thing is missing the lower part of his right arm...

Check out our coverage of Amazing Spider-Man #18 on our thirty-sixth episode: John Byrne Quits Comics

Amazing Spider-Man #17: Nova Time 10

Amazing Spider-Man #17, page 18, panel 2

Amazing Spider-Man #17, page 18, panel 2

Amazing Spider-Man #17: Nova Time 10

Ruggedly Written by: Stan Lee

Robustly Drawn by: Steve Ditko

Recently Lettered by: S. Rosen

Remember when the Green Goblin used such weapons as bombs that look like ghosts from a Mario game that explode into a thick, clinging mist that surround someone to suffocate them? Aaah, the good old days, back when you could cry 'Make Mine Marvel' safe in the knowledge that nobody thought abut a villain's arsenal beyond the point of how cool it looked.

Anyway, it turns out misty ghost bombs can be neutralised if you have the power to set your entire body on fire and can focus the heat of that fire into one part of your body. So I guess that's why we never saw these weapons again.

Check out our coverage of Amazing Spider-Man #17 on our thirty-fifth episode: House of the Fallen Storm

Amazing Spider-Man #17: Flame On 76

Amazing Spider-Man #17, page 16, panel 3

Amazing Spider-Man #17, page 16, panel 3

Amazing Spider-Man #17: Flame On 76

Ruggedly Written by: Stan Lee

Robustly Drawn by: Steve Ditko

Recently Lettered by: S. Rosen

It's time to take a quick dive into the world of Amazing Spider-Man. The Green Goblin gate-crashes a meeting of Flash Thompson's Spider-Man fan club (Forest Hills chapter). Despite the gullible teenagers thinking that it's all part of a stunt (and Liz Allen getting just a little too close to the truth as to Spider-Man's identity), there's one teen who sees the truth of the situation.

Johnny Storm.

Considering the antagonistic relationship at this time between the two teen heroes, Johnny doesn't hesitate to jump in and have some fun with the Green Goblin, giving us our first Steve Ditko-drawn Flame On. Considering the size of the panel, Ditko crams a lot in here, and just about avoids it feeling cramped and crowded.

Check out our coverage of Amazing Spider-Man #17 on our thirty-fifth episode: House of the Fallen Storm

Amazing Spider-Man #8: Flamin' 'Eck 35

Amazing Spider-Man #8, page 21, panels 3-4 Written by: Stan Lee

Drawn by: Jack Kirby

Inked by: Steve Ditko

Lettered by: S. Rosen

The completely spurious battle continues, with Jack and Steve using visual imagination to create interesting-looking things for the two heroes do, and Stan doing his best to keep up (and over-writing a little).

It's the flaming buzzsaws, a slightly more reasonable use of Johnny's powers. These are, for all intents and purposes, fireballs with a different shape. No homing abilities, no fancy flame colours, and no intelligence. It almost - but not quite - gets a pass from me. Just how does he prevent the flames from losing the definition on the teeth of the blades?

Check out our coverage of Amazing Spider-Man #8 on our twenty-second episode: Going Underground.

[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/ffcast/FF_Episode_22.mp3]

Amazing Spider-Man #8: Flame On 54

Amazing Spider-Man #8, page 20, panel 3 Written by: Stan Lee

Drawn by: Jack Kirby

Inked by: Steve Ditko

Lettered by: S. Rosen

The seldom-used team of Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko reunite for this 6-page backup strip in Amazing Spider-Man #8. It's an unusual strip, where Spider-Man acts like a massive dick for no reason other than to mess with Johnny Storm. Marvel seemed pretty keen to push the idea that their two teenage super-heroes were not-so-friendly rivals, but never really came up with a reason why they would be so antagonistic towards each other.

So, we have Spider-Man gatecrashing a party hosted by Johnny, before goading him into a four-page wacky fight scene where he manages to piss off pretty much everyone at the party to prove how he's so much better than the Human Torch. Yeah, right...

Anyway, we get an unusual Flame On, where it seems that Johnny is unbuttoning his shirt whilst igniting. I guess his party shirt wasn't made from unstable molecules...

Check out our coverage of Amazing Spider-Man #8 on our twenty-second episode: Going Underground.

[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/ffcast/FF_Episode_22.mp3]

Strange Tales Annual #2: The Moment That Made Steve Walk Off

Strange Tales Annual #1, page18, panels 1-2 Written by: Stan Lee

Drawn by: Jack Kirby

Inking: Steve Ditko

Lettering: Art Simek

So, this is the moment that made me walk off the show (thankfully, towards the very end of the story, so Andy and Jon weren't left high and dry for too long). I've always found the idea that roller skates popping out of shoes make someone uncatchable to be pretty ridiculous. For the record, it's my least favourite of Iron Man's gadgets. The guy can fly - why does he need roller skates?

Here, a master of disguise also turns out to be a master of a miniaturisation technology, as he fits perfectly balanced wheels, a control system and actual rocket propulsion into a standard pair of shoes. To catch him, Spider-Man once again makes a connection with the speed force and overtakes him. Instead of, say, webbing him.

Stan, Jack and Steve were fairly straight-laced, but it's hard not to imagine that this issue was cooked up after a heavy night of drinking, or some specialist smoking...

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales Annual #2 on our sixteenth episode: The Best Of Annuals, The Worst Of Annuals. It's the one where Steve walks out over the utter ridiculousness of the story, leaving the show in the hands of Andrew and guest-host Jon M. Wilson.

[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/ffcast/FF_Episode_16.mp3]

Strange Tales Annual #2: Flame On 45

Strange Tales Annual #2, page 9, panel 6 Written by: Stan Lee

Drawn by: Jack Kirby

Inking: Steve Ditko

Lettering: Art Simek

I walked out of the coverage of this annual in protest at the levels of ridiculousness achieved in the story. Of all the issues of Strange Tales, this is the one I want to re-read the least. And so, I'm sitting here, writing about this panel without a single clue as to why Spider-Man and the Torch are ready to beat the tar out of each other.

I think it's something to do with a bank robber, but let's face it, there are more than enough of those even in the nascent Marvel universe. I was reading Daredevil #25-26 and Amazing Spider-Man #46 for my ancillary reading for the show, and in all three issues we get super-villain origins that involve breaking into safes or bank vaults.

Anyway, there's some sort of tenuous plot that leads to Johnny crying out his catchphrase.

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales Annual #2 on our sixteenth episode: The Best Of Annuals, The Worst Of Annuals. It's the one where Steve walks out over the utter ridiculousness of the story, leaving the show in the hands of Andrew and guest-host Jon M. Wilson.

[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/ffcast/FF_Episode_16.mp3]

Strange Tales Annual #2: Flamin' 'Eck 29 (WTF Spidey Edition)

Strange Tales Annual #2, page 7, panel 2 Written by: Stan Lee

Drawn by: Jack Kirby

Inking: Steve Ditko

Lettering: Art Simek

So, how does Spider-Man deal with Johnny's flame duplicates? Why, by using his super-speed to run away really fast. And not in a straight line, either. Why run very quickly in one direction when you can rapidly change direction for no real reason at all.

Seriously, super speed? I know Spider-Man was a fairly new character at this point, but with the series artist providing inks, and the series writer writing, did nobody think to send the pages back to Jack with a polite 'thank, but no thanks' and a request for a redraw?

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales Annual #2 on our sixteenth episode: The Best Of Annuals, The Worst Of Annuals. It's the one where Steve walks out over the utter ridiculousness of the story, leaving the show in the hands of Andrew and guest-host Jon M. Wilson.

[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/ffcast/FF_Episode_16.mp3]

 

Strange Tales Annual #2: Flamin' 'Eck 29

Strange Tales Annual #2, page 6, panel 6 Written by: Stan Lee

Drawn by: Jack Kirby

Inking: Steve Ditko

Lettering: Art Simek

What have I done to deserve this? I've stated time and time again that my least favourite crazy power of Johnny's is to create fire duplicates of himself to confuse an enemy (or, once, to track an enemy). Here, he not only does this, but he states the plan - to confuse Spider-Man. Presumably this will work until Spidey hits one of them and his fists pass right through them. Of course, if Johnny doesn't shut up, it'll be pretty easy to work out which is the real one.

Thankfully Johnny is the only person displaying crazy powers in this issue and there definitely won't be a post tomorrow detailing Spider-Man's new powers.

Oh no.

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales Annual #2 on our sixteenth episode: The Best Of Annuals, The Worst Of Annuals. It's the one where Steve walks out over the utter ridiculousness of the story, leaving the show in the hands of Andrew and guest-host Jon M. Wilson.

[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/ffcast/FF_Episode_16.mp3]

Strange Tales Annual #2: Flame On 45

Strange Tales Annual #2, page 5, panel 4

Written by: Stan Lee

Drawn by: Jack Kirby

Inking: Steve Ditko

Lettering: Art Simek

I mentioned a few posts ago how rare Steve Ditko inking Jack Kirby was, and this annual is (I think) the final instance of the two working together. With Amazing Spider-Man going monthly, with Ditko slowly taking over plotting the strip, the need to provide inks to maintain a regular paycheck (presumably) lessened to the point where it just wasn't a requirement.

This lovely close-up of Johnny presents a much softer face than Ditko would provide by himself, and with a lighter touch than Ayers would give to the same pencils. I rather like it, and it's an interesting view into another world where circumstances meant that Ditko's inking would be more common than we saw in ours.

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales Annual #2 on our sixteenth episode: The Best Of Annuals, The Worst Of Annuals. It's the one where Steve walks out over the utter ridiculousness of the story, leaving the show in the hands of Andrew and guest-host Jon M. Wilson.

[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/ffcast/FF_Episode_16.mp3]

Strange Tales Annual #2: Flamin' 'Eck 28

Strange Tales Annual #2, page 1, panel 4 Written by: Stan Lee

Drawn by: Jack Kirby

Inking: Steve Ditko

Lettering: Art Simek

It's training day at the start of this annual, and a rare Sue and Johnny scene. Considering they're brother and sister, surprisingly little time is given to this relationship, to the two characters interacting as siblings, rather than as heroes or team-members. It's a source of drama and story that future writers would mine far more successfully than Lee and Kirby. Of course, Sue refuses to acknowledge this relationship, referring to her brother as 'Torch'.

But all of that aside, we're here to take a look at Johnny's training. See how he successfully shapes his flame into that of a key. Presumably the right key, as well. Marvel at how his flame totally doesn't melt the tumblers and pins into molten slag, forever buggering up the locking mechanism, and most likely incinerating whatever was inside the safe.

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales Annual #2 on our sixteenth episode: The Best Of Annuals, The Worst Of Annuals. It's the one where Steve walks out over the utter ridiculousness of the story, leaving the show in the hands of Andrew and guest-host Jon M. Wilson.

[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/ffcast/FF_Episode_16.mp3]

Fantastic Four Annual #1: Reed's Stretchy Body 37

Fantastic Four Annual #1, page 4, panels 2-3 Written by: Stan Lee

Drawn by: Jack Kirby

Inking: Steve Ditko

Lettering: Ray Holloway

A bit more Spidey/Reed action, with inks by Steve Ditko. Here, Reed takes his penchant for spanking Sue and uses it in a less acceptable manner.

I don't have a huge amount to say about these panels, other than the fact that some rogue Pym Particles appear to have snagged Spider-Man in the second panel - he's teeny!

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four Annual #1 on our sixteenth episode: The Best Of Annuals, The Worst Of Annuals.

[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/ffcast/FF_Episode_16.mp3]

 

Fantastic Four Annual #1: Reed's Stretchy Body 36

2014.01.22.2

2014.01.22.2

Written by: Stan Lee

Drawn by: Jack Kirby

Inking: Steve Ditko

Lettering: Ray Holloway

One of the more unique elements of the Fantastic Four Annual #1 was six pages devoted to retelling and expanding on the brief sequence in Amazing Spider-Man #1 where Spider-Man tries to join the Fantastic Four, only to end up in a fight with them. The opening caption claims that 'countless letters' have asked for this to happen, although it would not be inconceivable to suggest that Stan and/or Jack felt that there was more to be gained from the meet-up than had seen print.

Rather nicely, we get a rare collaboration between Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, as the Spider-Man artist lends his inks to the pencils. Ditko had provided inks for Fantastic Four #13, and this would be his final contribution to the title, if not the characters.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four Annual #1 on our sixteenth episode: The Best Of Annuals, The Worst Of Annuals.

[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/ffcast/FF_Episode_16.mp3]

Fantastic Four #13: It's... ASBESTOS!!! 9

Fantastic Four #13, page 16, panel 6 Story: Stan Lee

Art: Jack Kirby

Inking: Steve Ditko

Lettering: Art Simek

Today's panel represents  a first for this blog, and certainly a first for comics.

What seems like a perfectly harmless (well, mostly harmless) sheet of asbestos is actually a patriotic Communist shape-changing ape who is in an ancient abandoned alien city on the moon. I'll bet you never guessed it was going to be that!

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #13 in our eleventh episode: Red? Yes! Communist? Yes! Russian? No!

[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/ffcast/Episode_11.mp3]

 

Fantastic Four #13: Reed's Stretchy Body 21

Fantastic Four #13, page 3, panel 6-8 Story: Stan Lee

Art: Jack Kirby

Inking: Steve Ditko

Lettering: Art Simek

Casually forgetting that he has already invented a rocket ship pilotable by one man that can easily break orbit, Reed is concerned about winning the space race and beating the Communists to the moon. However, he's seeing it as a solo mission, again forgetting that his best friend is a crack US air force pilot with spaceflight experience.

So, it's no wonder that Ben is not happy at being left out of the plans, making his point rather physically by grabbing Reed and stuffing him into a nearby oversized test tube. I love this visual, with Reed seemingly shrinking to ensure that he fits in the tube.

I mentioned yesterday that Steve Ditko's inks would create some great visuals in this book. In these three panels, we see his influence on The Thing, giving more definition to him than we'd seen with Dick Ayers, whilst still retaining the concept of Ben's skin being hide-like. I love how he gives expression and feeling to Ben's face whilst never letting us see his eyes through great use of shadow.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #13 in our eleventh episode: Red? Yes! Communist? Yes! Russian? No!

[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/ffcast/Episode_11.mp3]

Fantastic Four #13: It's... ASBESTOS!!! 8

Fantastic Four #13, page 2, panel 1 Story: Stan Lee

Art: Jack Kirby

Inking: Steve Ditko

Lettering: Art Simek

We've made fun of unusual uses of  asbestos before, focusing on Stan and Jack's misguided understanding of the physical properties of the substance, from cells and dungeons, to buzzsaws and spray. And don't get me started on Johnny's room...

But as we all know, asbestos is a nasty and toxic substance, whose fibres cause a very nasty lung condition that leads to death. Which is why it's darkly funny that Reed would mix asbestos and unstable molecules to create a protective stretch-suit for himself.

It's not very apparent from this panel, but the inker for this issue is Steve Ditko, regarded by Stan Lee as his favourite inker for Jack Kirby. We'll see some notable differences in the artwork this issue as the two styles mesh to create a unique and different look for the book, one that sadly would not be reproduced in Strange Tales Annual #2.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #13 in our eleventh episode: Red? Yes! Communist? Yes! Russian? No!

[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/ffcast/Episode_11.mp3]