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Alan Moore on Spider-Man: Commentary and Criticism

In addition to being an immensely influential writer of comics for well over four decades, Alan Moore is also a valuable critic of comics. He wrote comics criticism in the 1980s, has published essays of introduction for a variety of comics creators, and written articles on a variety of stuff in many publications. Yet, despite having commented on many renowned and obscure comic book publications, Moore’s comments on Spider-Man is rarer by far and it’s interesting how a writer with an encyclopedic knowledge of comics history should be comparatively silent on perhaps the most popular and successful solo hero of the last forty years. Moore’s comments, observations, and stories featuring Spider-Man are brief and threadbare and it’s worth surveying them all; gathering them under one roof and going over them one by one.

When people talk about Alan Moore’s career, the most storied is his work for DC Comics which is a small part of his career, lasting between 1983-1988, which is six years. The grand majority of his career before and after was spent for independent publications (though some like WildStorm was bought out by DC), smaller presses, independent failed ventures, as well as other projects he’s done here and there. Still, the major publisher Moore has been associated with is DC. Because of this, many assume that Moore as a writer was largely influenced by DC Comics as opposed to Marvel.

But in fact Moore has repeatedly attested to Marvel comics of the 1960s having a major impact on him as a reader. Before Moore worked for DC, he worked for Marvel UK, and almost all his significant comics criticism in his early career concerned Marvel Comics rather than DC.

MAKE MOORE MARVEL

Text and Art by Alan Moore (published under a nom-de-plume called Jill de Ray).

Alan Moore began his career writing and drawing comics in about 1979-1980, including one comic strip Maxwell the Magic Cat that Moore wrote and drew for 8 years from 1979-1986. Moore’s early work was inspired by underground comics and his artistic style never really evolved to “mainstream” standard (i.e. too cartoony and not photorealistic enough to draw humans and backgrounds where they punch each other). Eventually he made a go as a writer only for 2000 AD, N. M. E, Sounds and other publications.

The Daredevils #8 (1983). Art by Mike Collins. Almost all the complaints about Frank Miller since the 90s was covered by Moore in this 1980s spoof.

In 1980, Moore found work at Marvel UK, a local subsidiary where Moore began his first work for the Big Two on Captain Britain with Alan Davis, and at the same time he worked on a magazine called The Daredevils (no relation whatsoever to Murdock and Nelson). In The Daredevils, Moore actually wrote many bits of comics criticism. The most famous is a two-part essay on Stan Lee called “Blinded by the Hype” which represents the fulcrum of Moore’s views on Marvel Comics. There’s also “The Importance of Being Frank” (an appreciative overview of Miller’s Daredevil run) as well as “Grit!” (a short comic which spoofs Miller’s run), there’s interesting essays on counter-cultural attitudes to comics, as well as a good essay on representation of women (“Invisible Women and Phantom Ladies”).

Alan Moore and Jack Kirby, auditioning for a buddy cop movie where Moore quite obviously is the bad cop leaning down to the perp to ask him for information, while Jack Kirby is the good cop trying to be your friend.

The essays for The Daredevils were written in the 1980s, and it has positions and assumptions that Moore probably doesn’t hold anymore. A good example is that “Blinded by the Hype” assumes that Stan Lee is the author of Marvel comics which Moore had no reason to doubt when he wrote the piece, until he arrived stateside and met Jack Kirby in the mid-to-late 1980s and learned first hand the creator rights’ controversy. Moore would later publicly castigate Lee’s use of the “marvel method” multiple times since [1].

Likewise, Moore has cooled his opinion on his contemporary and fellow-founder of the “Deconstructive Era” — Frank Miller. In the 1980s, Moore and Miller were friends, and Moore would write an appreciative introduction of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns but that changed in the 1990s when Miller published 300 which Moore (and others) found homophobic and in the early 2010s, Moore denounced Miller for castigating Occupy Wall Street [2]. Most likely, Moore would agree with his Miller spoof “Grit!” than with his appreciative overview of Miller’s Daredevil run (“The Importance of Being Frank”).

MOORE & MARVEL CONTEMPORARIES

If one reads Moore’s comments on Marvel after the 1980s, one gets a sense of total antipathy for Marvel Comics after Kirby and Ditko left the title in the 1960s. Moore’s attitude which he expresses in “Blinded by the Hype” and subsequently is that Marvel declined sharply after the 1960s:

Believe me, when people my age wax lyrical about the sense of wonder to be found in those old comics, that’s the sort of thing they’re talking about. It was the sort of once-in-a-lifetime utterly mind-roasting concept that made you wonder just how long Lee and his Bullpen buddies could keep up that sort of pace and style.

The answer was, sadly, not long.

As Marvel began to grow into a bigger and bigger concern, Lee seemed to find most of his time taken up in the day to day editorial decisions implicit in such a large enterprise, and less and less time available for the actual writing.

Other writers began to appear. Some of them, like Roy Thomas, were very very competent indeed. Others were less so. The one thing that all of these newer writers had in common was that they had by and large cut their teeth upon the writing o f Stan Lee.

This was good in as much as it lent a pleasing continuity to the books. Roy Thomas following Stan Lee with a style very much like Lee’s own… but bad in that what we were getting was a kind of Stan-Lee-Once-Removed situation. It was a sort of watering down process.

Eventually, writers began to appear who had cut their teeth upon Roy Thomas and the original idea was diluted still further. Writers who had less idea about plotting and characterization than a common earthworm came to believe that all one needed to write a good solid Stan Lee type story was to have Dr Doom or Galactus turn up and the heroes to spend a couple of obligatory frames arguing amongst themselves.

Alan Moore (Blinded by the Hype)

In the essays for The Daredevils, Moore does praise of Jim Steranko’s SHIELD run, Jim Starlin’s Warlock, Mary Jo Duffy’s Power Man and Iron Fist run, as well as praising Louise Jones (eventually Simonson) as a great editor and satellite writer on X-Men. But in general, Moore basically writes off anyone after the 1960s, with rare exceptions. In the 2013 essay “Buster Brown at the Barricades” for Occupy Comics #1 and #2, he lists Steve Englehart and Steve Gerber as two writers who had cut their teeth at Marvel as worthy of praise but neglects to mention the names he highlighted in the 1980s [3].

During interviews given in the 1980s, Moore repeatedly denigrates the work of Chris Claremont, at the time the writer of the leading superhero title:

Let’s really kick Chris Claremont here! There was one particular issue, which was supposed to be really dramatic. It was where the Phoenix (the only good character he ever created) died (and he’s been bringing her back ever since). Well, at the end of the story, he suddenly realized that he’d hardly explained any of the plot and how it all fitted together. It needed a lot of explanation, and he only had three panels left. So what he did was to have the lead character—the boyfriend of the woman (who had just died/committed suicide nobly-but-tragically)—stand there thinking: “Oh Jean! Now I realize that you must have blah blah blah . . . . . . and then blah blah . . . . . . . . . ,” all the way up to the last panel where he’s sinking to his knees with emotion, but of course he has to sink to his knees because the top of the panel is just full of text in this massive balloon. [Laughter] And that’s bad writing.

Alan Moore. 1983 Interview Conversations Page 13.

Getting back to Chris Claremont again, just for a moment. His thing with characterization is that he makes all his X-Men foreign. One’s a Russian. One’s a German. Russian! They’re incredibly Russian. They sort of sit there and let you know how Russian they are by thinking: “How I long for my Ukrainian homeland. How I miss my poor dead brother, Thiodore.” […] That’s what they have instead of characterization. They must be crippled, neurotic, or foreign, and they don’t bother to get anywhere near the complexity of human character. No one has just one character. It depends on what day it is and who you’re talking to. When you’re talking to your mum, it’s a lot different from when you’re talking in a pub. You become a different character; you change.

Alan Moore. 1983 Interview Conversations Page 14
Heroes for Hope (1985) Page 18, Text by Alan Moore. Art by Richard Corben.
Magneto is the only major Marvel character Moore has ever written for.

At the same time, Lance Parkin reports that Moore and Chris Claremont were jointly interviewed in 1985 and they got on well enough in public [4]. Moore later collaborated with Claremont on Heroes for Hope a charity comic featuring the X-Men, curated by Claremont that featured small pages done by individual teams of multiple writers and artists. Pages 16-18 has Moore on the mic, and features some of the best writing Magneto’s ever gotten. Acknowledging the status quo of the “redeemed” Magneto of the mid-1980s, Moore has him confronted by the ghosts of his victims. Grant Morrison famously argued that Claremont/Byrne influenced Alan Moore’s work in the 1980s [5]. And Julian Darius at Sequart has likewise claimed that the Dark Phoenix Saga inspired the climax of Miracleman where the hero confronts a former friend turned into a planet-destroying psychopath [6]. I happen to think both Morrison and Darius have the right of it on this matter. Certainly a number of comments in The Daredevils articles indicates a considerable level of familiarity with the happenings in the X-Men run, such as references to, “centre fold-outs of Dark Phoenix in her Hellfire Club costume” (Invisible Women and Phantom Ladies).

Claremont seems to have been an influence on Moore, albeit someone to whom Moore betrayed a considerable degree of what’s known as the “anxiety of influence.” The literary critic Harold Bloom argued that poets often misidentify their influences, because the aesthetic competitiveness of recognizing brilliance and realizing one must overcome the rival’s brilliance, often leads to a creative misreading or rejection of influence, to the point it becomes suppressed or denied only to resurge again in disguised contexts. Bloom’s argument was that poets relationship to influences was analogous to Freudian psychology and the child’s relation with his father. Just as the child rebels against his parents to assert their identity (at least as Freud understood it), the artist rebels against their influences.

Moore aspired to be the next great thing in comics and he recognized his precursors to be originators like Siegel/Shuster, Eisner, Kirby, Ditko. By doing so, Moore essentially drew a line in the sand between himself, his peers, and his immediate precursors. So it’s likely that Moore saw Claremont’s work less as a reader and more as a hurdle to surpass, sizing up one’s peer, surveying weak points for areas of interventions and making a play to overcome Claremont in fame and esteem.

BROADSIDES ON SPIDER-MAN

Thor #132, by Kirby

Whenever Moore talks about his favorite Marvel creations of the 1960s, the emphasis tends to be Jack Kirby’s Fantastic Four and The Mighty Thor. Particular favorites include “Ego the Living Planet” the two-part story that ran in Thor#132-133, most famous for the closing splash panel of Thor #132 which is a full-page reveal of Ego revealing that Thor’s opponent is a living planet with a face imposed on its surface. The concept of a living planet wasn’t unknown in science-fiction but it was relatively unknown in comic books until Kirby (and Lee’s been open that Ego was entirely Kirby’s idea) came along. Moore did many tributes to Ego such as the Green Lantern story for DC: “Mogo Doesn’t Socialize” as well as more recently the tribute to Kirby in “New Jack City” in Supreme #62 which is a wall-to-wall tribute, ending with a homage to Jack Kirby in the sky looking down just like Ego.

Supreme #62 (Art by Rick Veitch)

In the case of Steve Ditko, the work that Moore favors tends to include his Warren Comics’ horror work published after he left Marvel, as well as Doctor Strange. The psychedelia of Ditko’s Strange run and his portrayal of an aloof hermetic warlock living in Greenwich Village quite obviously had an inspiration (among many) on his run on Swamp Thing and the development of John Constantine. Today with the MCU overwriting cultural memory, it can be hard to fathom that until Benedict Cumberbatch, John Constantine was by far the more famous superhero warlock character in popular culture, with a longer publication history as as serialized ongoing character compared to Stephen Strange. Hellblazer clocked 300 issues as an ongoing in its first volume under many creators whereas Doctor Strange, despite multiple relaunches has yet to make it #100 in a serial ongoing (course eventually Tom Brevoort will cook up some anniversary on the order of Marvel Comics #1000 to fake it after failing to make it).

The elephant in the room of course is Spider-Man who Moore rarely mentions. When he does mention Spider-Man all we have are a series of broadsides, tangential asides dropped without context of a larger unrelated piece. Take the Blinded by the Hype essay where he refers to Spidey twice in very negative contexts:

Without Stan Lee there would have been no Fantastic Four, no X Men, no Hulk, no Thor, no nothing […] On the other hand, without Stan Lee you wouldn’t have to sit through such marrow-chilling dreck as the Spider-Man television show. I suppose it’s a case of having to take the rough with the smooth.

Alan Moore. “Blinded by the Hype”

Now whether Moore is referring to the 1967 Spider-Man Cartoon (which by the time he wrote this in 1983 was already a “bygone” cartoon though regular in syndication) or the Spider-Man cartoon of 1981-1982 then on air (Moore was already a parent at the time and would likely have been exposed to children’s entertainment), or Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, is not very clear. I would say “marrow-chilling dreck” is an acceptable descriptor to the 1967 Spider-Man cartoon, which (theme song and internet memes excepted) is frankly not good animation. Others might argue that Amazing Friends is at least technically better, though on the whole it’s lacking the polish and dated charm of even Superfriends.

His most defining observations about Spider-Man are in Part 2 of the essay:

ASM#243. Art by John Romita Jr. Published in May 1983

The worst thing was that everything had ground to a halt. The books had stopped developing. If you take a look at a current Spider-Man comic, you’ll find that he’s maybe twenty years old, he worries a lot about what’s right and what’s wrong, and he has a lot of trouble with his girlfriends.

Do you know what Spider-Man was doing fifteen years ago? Well, he was about nineteen years old, he worried a lot about what was right and what was wrong and he had a lot of trouble with his girlfriends.

Alan Moore. “Blinded by the Hype”.

At the time Moore wrote the essay, it was 1983 and Roger Stern was writing Spider-Man, in what is considered a major run for the title. Still, one cannot deny that Stern’s run fits the description of “worried a lot about what was right and what was wrong and he had a lot of trouble with his girlfriends.” So Moore even in his casual comments is a very sharp observer, and not easy to refute.

MOORE’S SPIDER-MAN READING HISTORY

ASM#41. Cover by Romita Sr. First appearance of Rhino, the first Post-Ditko Spider-Man Rogue.

More interesting in terms of periodization, is Moore’s broadsides in “The Importance of Being Frank”, his article on Miller’s Daredevil run. Describing the staleness of superhero comics, Moore writes:

“Every month both DC and Marvel seemed content to regurgitate the same stale plot devices and insipid characterization that had been their trademark for the previous ten years. Spiderman would break up with his girlfriend due to a misunderstanding. The Rhino would break out of Ryker’s Island penitentiary and go on a rampage simply because it was a Thursday night and there wasn’t anything else to do.”

Alan Moore “The Importance of Being Frank”

The thing to note is that Rhino is of course a Romita-era villain. So this suggests that Moore was familiar with Spider-Man comics of a post-Ditko era. When talking of Miller’s transformation of the Kingpin, Moore shows a good deal of insight into the original Lee-Romita character and Miller’s rendition:

Daredevil #170. Art by Frank Miller.

In the five brief panels that make up this sequence the Kingpin is transformed in Miller’s capable hands from the podgy, pompous buffoon of the early Spiderman appearances into a man who has buried his humanity under a mountain of iron resolve as vast as his physical body.

This treatment of the Kingpin is a fine example of Miller’s approach to characterization as a whole, whether it be with a creation of his own, like the female mercenary killer Elektra, or with some other writer’s creation like J. Jonah Jameson, the Kingpin, or Daredevil himself.”

Alan Moore “The Importance of Being Frank”

Moore does seem to have read Spider-Man a fair bit more than he lets on elsewhere. A major giveaway is the final broadside on Spider-Man. Here Moore is talking about Miller’s economy of dialogue and use of non-verbal storytelling:

In real life, meeting someone for the first time, you’re forced to reach an opinion of their personalities on the basis of the things they say and the things they do. You don’t have handy thought balloons hovering above their heads informing you that in five minutes they intend to either invite you home for lunch or steal your wallet. You don’t have conveniently suspended caption boxes explaining that they’re only behaving like a complete jerk because of the emotional upset caused by the Green Goblin having fed their girlfriend into a liquidiser.

Alan Moore “The Importance of Being Frank”

This broadside obviously betrays familiarity with Spider-Man’s status-quo and characterization from the Conway era. The comment is obviously hyperbolic, though curiously prophetic. Goblin’s killing of Gwen Stacy is seen as the first instance of “fridging” even if the classic case of fridging, a villain of Kyle Rayner stuffing his girlfriend Alexandra DeWitt in a refrigerator happened in the 1990s, so eventually a girlfriend did get fed into a liquidiser [7]

The perfunctory and mocking description by Moore is also interesting for what it reveals. Chiefly that Moore does not accept the idea that Gwen Stacy’s death was an event of significance of comics history, leave alone attached any value to that story of the kind it came to acquire in the 1990s thanks to Busiek-Ross’ Marvels. In the early 1980s, when Moore was writing this essay, Gwen Stacy’s death was definitely not seen as the end of any “Silver Age” (the term itself had not yet been invented) and Moore’s views of Spider-Man in this post echo the “casual” view of the character.

ASM#122. Art by John Romita Sr. filling in for Gil Kane (who pencilled the rest of the issue but Gerry Conway rejected his original page for this scene as departing from his script).

In terms of evaluating the comment itself, it’s strange that Moore’s focus on non-verbal storytelling and subtle ways of communicating character inwardness, eschews acknowledging arguably the best example of that in the pages of Marvel Comics: the epilogue of The Night Gwen Stacy Died by Gerry Conway and John Romita Sr. (filling the page after Conway rejected Gil Kane’s pencils which was much too emphatic). This single page transformed Mary Jane Watson’s character so thoroughly that it has never been reversed, despite multiple attempts, and Conway did it by non-verbal means in communicating the silent mix of emotions that leads Mary Jane to stay with someone after he lashed out at her. Now of course Moore might feel it’s obviously telegraphed and stagey but it’s certainly sophisticated storytelling by superhero comics standards of the kind he’s calling for.

Moore, the writer who went further than anyone in banishing thought balloons from comics, obviously displayed even more nuanced depictions of inwardness, especially in terms of subtext that’s indicated rather than draws attention to itself (the epilogue is obviously indicating that there’s more to Mary Jane than the readers know) but that’s certainly not to say that Marvel didn’t have examples paving the way to his contributions.

FAMILIARITY AND CONTEMPT

If one looks at the broadside descriptions of Spider-Man, one notes a pattern of familiarity and contempt. Moore is familiar with aspects of Spider-Man comics in the “classic” era (i.e first 25 years), highs and lows, and he certainly shares in the often voiced frustration of readers that the comics seem to constantly recycle and regurgitate the same status-quo. The constant descriptions of Peter breaking off with his girlfriends, and his mocking of Gwen Stacy’s death, giving it no importance whatsoever, certainly hints at a yearning for a Spider-Man who aged up and progressed rather than remain static. At the time Moore wrote his essay in 1983, Peter had most recently broken up with Mary Jane in Marv Wolfman’s run which ended in 1980. Roger Stern had inherited that status quo but didn’t alter it (albeit he unintentionally laid down seeds that did eventually lead to their marriage).

So I wonder if Moore’s attitude to Spider-Man is that of a disappointed and disillusioned reader? Moore is the only major commentator on Steve Ditko I know of, who doesn’t automatically privilege or center his career around Spider-Man and there seems to be a deliberate attempt at repression, as if Moore is a bit embarrassed at having liked Spider-Man at some point. Familiarity breeds contempt as they say. What Moore despises and dislikes about Spider-Man is precisely the absence of any progression in the serialized narrative. The fact that he was still 19-20 “worried a lot about right and wrong and had trouble with his girlfriends” or that Peter’s breakup with his girlfriends happened out of misunderstandings and contrivances forced by the writer in a way that readers saw as inorganic to the narrative. In his own comics, Moore gave a privileged role to romance and relationships, whether it’s Mike Moran/Liz Moran in Miracleman, Abby/Swamp Thing as discussed before, Superman/Lois in Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? or Dan/Laurie in Watchmen. The relationships range across a spectrum but in no way does Moore consider them hindrances or stumbling blocks for any “steady” version of the character.

When discussing Marvel’s approach to characterization, which the company still promotes as being more realistic, Moore opposed that notion completely and used Spider-Man again as an example:

Now what happened when Marvel came along in the sixties was that they thought: “Let’s be realistic and give them human characters. We’ll let them have one characteristic.” They made Spider-Man neurotic, so that whereas Superman goes about being incredibly powerful and beating up villains, Spider-Man goes around being incredibly powerful, beating up villains, and then feeling guilty about it afterwards.

That’s characterization the Marvel way. They’re neurotic. They worry a lot. If they haven’t got anything mentally wrong with them like that, something physically wrong with them will do—perhaps a bad leg, or dodgy kidneys, or something like that. To Marvel, that’s characterization.

[…]

They must be crippled, neurotic, or foreign, and they don’t bother to get anywhere near the complexity of human character. No one has just one character. It depends on what day it is and who you’re talking to. When you’re talking to your mum, it’s a lot different from when you’re talking in a pub. You become a different character; you change. In comics, it’s very much one-dimensional characterization. The level of
writing in the industry is really at a low level.

Alan Moore, Pages 14-15 (1983 Interview)
ASM#21. Art by Steve Ditko

So Moore opposed much that is taken for granted by Marvel Editorial, and among a section of Spider-Man’s fandom, as Peter Parker’s “core elements” i.e. the hard luck screwup concept and felt it was indicative of absence of relatable humanity rather than exemplary of it.

From In Search of Steve Ditko (2007): Alan Moore in his aspect as the Warlock of Northampton

Moore’s recent comments on Spider-Man are considerably more hesitant in hinting at familiarity. During the Documentary “In Search of Steve Ditko” by Jonathan Ross, which first aired in 2007 on BBC Four, Moore along with others was invited to contemplate the enigma of Steve Ditko. He discusses Ditko as an overall creator and isn’t restricted to Spider-Man alone. He talks about Ditko’s Objectivist turn and its ties to Watchmen, he talks about Ditko’s work on Doctor Strange and how it was a counter-culture success despite Ditko’s conservatism. In the case of Spider-Man, his remarks are more cursory than original. He talks about the “melancholic” mood of the early stories and his use of city-scapes to ground the character (09:00-10:00mns). He does comment on the “lifting machinery” scene in ASM#33 and how Ditko built up that scene with rhythmic panels (32:00mns). These comments are more conventional in nature.

The most interesting comment Moore makes in the documentary is in the middle section where he addresses Spider-Man after Ditko stepped down and Romita took over. In one section covering Ditko’s departure from Marvel, Jonathan Ross editorializes a complex montage layered with misinformation. For one thing when covering Ditko’s departure and John Romita Sr.’s arrival, Ross implies that Romita Sr. made ASM more successful conveying this dichotomy of “artistic Ditko” and “commercial Romita Sr”. Except Ditko had already made ASM Marvel’s #1 title before Romita Sr. arrived, building steady word of mouth and retaining public favor through character progression and quality stories [8]. Ross also splices in the viewpoint that Ditko’s Peter was ugly and plain-looking whereas Romita’s Peter was more good-looking except Ditko’s Peter became more and more handsome as the series progressed as well.

Ribbon showing how Peter “got hot” across Ditko’s ASM run, going from looking like Sal Mineo and ending up looking like James Dean.

Ross’ editorializing can make Moore’s comments seem in agreement with him. So it’s important to isolate Moore’s quotation and pay attention to what’s actually said:

“Steve Ditko put so much of his DNA in all of the characters he created. I know there were good issues of Spider-Man after he finished the book with 35 or something like that…I know that John Romita did some very good work on Spider-Man. But I kinda lost interest with the first non-Ditko issue because the character was so much a part of Ditko’s world that it looked kind of dull when it was an ordinary muscled man in a Spider-Man costume.”

Alan Moore (30:00-31:24 mns)

Moore doesn’t describe Romita’s Peter as more handsome than Ditko, though it’s easy to misunderstand it when viewing the documentary under Ross’ commentary. Rather he describes the character as an “ordinary muscled man” rather than the more lanky and wiry character of Ditko’s run. That observation is fair since obviously Romita and Ditko have different art styles but it wouldn’t be precise to take the implication that Moore preferred the Ditko version as in “more younger” than more grownup (and besides Ditko’s Peter did progress more than the Lee-Romita’s version). In either case, the documentary arrived in 2007 by which time Moore had established a persona of total antipathy to serialized Big Two comics and it suited him to diminish post-Ditko and post-Kirby comics. Going by his writings in the 1980s, we can see that he was indeed far more familiar with Post-Ditko Spider-Man than he lets on in the Ross documentary, where he still has to begrudgingly admit that the Romita era had good stories.

That’s as far as we can cover Moore’s non-fiction opinions on Spider-Man. But what about the fiction?

WHEN MOORE SORTA WROTE SPIDER-MAN?

Alan Moore’s run on Captain Britain with Alan Davis was his first licensed comic title, albeit a minor Marvel character who was adjacent to the X-Men corner. This run nonetheless incorporated and included ideas that were later tapped into by later X-Men writers, Chris Claremont himself during his run on Excalibur with Alan Davis again, and more recently Jonathan Hickman and Tini Howard’s X of Swords.

Moore took over from Dave Thorpe who had planted seeds for a storyline and Moore was content to work with Thorpe’s ideas rather than bring his own (as in the case of Swamp Thing). Captain Britain is nonetheless the only licensed main continuity Marvel title Moore ever worked on, and during his run he introduced co-creations such as Mad Jim Jaspers (alongside Dave Thorpe and Alan Davis), as well as The Fury and Meggan, the latter two becoming mainstays of the wider X-Corner. The most enduring part of Moore’s run is the fact that it was in these pages that Marvel called its mainline continuity 616 for the first time, incorporating Dave Thorpe’s concept in print for the first time [9].

From the Captain Britain TPB (2002). Art by Alan Davis.

As far as Spider-Man is concerned, he shows up in one panel and it’s of significance as the only time in any comics written by Moore that Spider-Man shows up. This is when Betsy Braddock, Brian’s sister (not yet Psylocke and not yet body-stealing Kwannon, which was only recently restored), having a vision of what would happen if 616’s Jim Jaspers becomes a threat similar to the AU Jim Jaspers they had faced. She envisions a dystopia where superheroes are locked in camps with Spider-Man prominently featured among inmates. A dystopian trope featuring Spider-Man imprisoned, captured, defeated had been a thing in X-Men continuity since Claremont/Byrne’s Days of Future Past (1980) which had Spider-Man prominently featured among the Marvel heroes brought down by the Sentinels. So most likely this is a Moore and/or Davis salute to Claremont/Byrne.

Days of Future Past (1980) – Art by John Byrne

The other time Moore addressed stuff in Spider-Man continuity is a Marvel UK prose story called Night Raven, where he writes of Jameson’s father as an editor during World War II which might or might not be canon [10]. This bit is of significance as continuity house-cleaning since originally Jameson was established as a World War II-era editor which made sense when Spider-Man made his debut in 1962 (making Peter a boomer at outset) but didn’t with the sliding timescale. So Moore decided to make the Jameson of the 1940s into Jameson’s father, and now I suppose someone would come and make him his great-grandfather or something.

As far as Moore and Spider-Man proper goes, it’s one panel and one tangential line item in prose. The most substantial stuff actually comes outside Marvel.

NO ONE ESCAPES THE FURY

What distinguishes Moore from other creators is that his critical views went into his art, his writing, and his fiction much like Bob Dylan’s or David Bowie’s reflection on music history went into their albums, or T. S. Eliot’s views into his poetry, or Martin Scorsese’s scholarship of film history goes into the references scattered in his filmography. You can read what Moore says about Superman or you can read For the Man Who Has Everything and Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? or his run on Supreme and you’d see the ideas he expressed in print conveyed in his fiction as solid dramatic and emotionally resonant story moments.

The major licensed hero Moore has worked on and commented on extensively is Superman. After leaving DC in the wake of the rights issues with Watchmen, Moore decided to go independent and after that work for non-Big two publications. When the Image Comics Revolution commenced, Moore was among major talent scouted for collaboration and Moore saw Image as better than working for DC/Marvel even if it did mean collaborating with Rob Liefeld. The most storied of his Image work is Supreme, originally created by Liefeld as an edgy take on Superman but then Moore was offered to do a run and he converted Supreme into a commentary of the superhero comics genre and an attempt to push back at what he thought was the wrong lessons of Watchmen.

Related to Supreme, though considerably more messy, is 1963.

Due to a mess of rights issues, 1963 has remained below the radar. A collaboration between Moore, Steve Bissette, Don Simpson, Rick Veitch, John Totleben, Dave Gibbons, and Jim Valentino, it’s a thematic series with a series of one-shots based on Marvel Characters of the 1960s, published on its thirtieth year anniversary in 1993. The entire thing ended up incomplete with the final issue unpublished, and all that’s left are a series of one-shots such as Mystery Incorporated (based on Fantastic Four), USA (Ultimate Special Agent aka Captain America), Hypernaut (Iron Man), The Tomorrow Syndicate (The Avengers) and Horus Lord of Light (a Thor analogue but Ancient Egypt instead of Norse).

The 1963 series is not very good. Admittedly it’s missing a final issue to tie it up but even then the issues we have are from the best work done by everyone involved. Moore and his collaborators tried to mimic the “Marvel Method” as they understood it so Moore would present the plot first and then write dialogues after getting the pages and the result is that it lacks the polish from Moore’s other collaborations usually done with full script.

Issue #2 is 1963No One Escapes the Fury aka Spider-Man albeit a Spider-Man who throws discs as if it was Daredevil’s Billy Club. This issue is the closest we can get to an Alan Moore Spider-Man comic.

Art by Steve Bissette
  • The 1963 series is a pastiche which is to say it mimics the surface style and aspects of a pre-existing era but often without any explicit commentary.

  • In other words, Moore with The Fury isn’t deconstructing Spider-Man, he’s simply mimicking and redoing aspects of the Lee-Ditko era not with any thematic drive but out of an attempt to distill and abstract the elements of the Lee-Ditko run in a narrative laboratory experiment. So reading The Fury (a name similar to the villain robot from Moore’s Captain Britain series) is a bit of a letdown for me, since it’s hard to get any real “unified theory of Spider-Man” that one might have expected from Moore.

  • The Fury mimicks Spider-Man in some ways, i.e. his costume has red and blue highlights with a full face covering mask. He’s also got a nickname, “Roofrunner” similar to “Wallcrawler.”
  • Unlike Spider-Man, Richard or Ricky (last name is never revealed) is a legacy hero. He was in fact the child sidekick (Fireball) of a superhero called Fighting Fury who died in World War II and now lives with his widowed Mother rather than his Aunt. Ricky is lying and sneaking away being a superhero while concerned about his mother’s condition if she ever found out her son had become a superhero like her deceased husband. In other words, Moore is mashing Spider-Man with Robin and Bucky Barnes, and highlighting how the boy and teenage sidekick of the Golden Age became a teen superhero in his own right in the Marvel Silver Age. So typical Moore cleverness where the commentary on comics history is baked into the backstory.

SUMMARY OF 1963 #2

Jim Steranko’s Nick Fury and Countess Allegra (Left-Center) and 1963’s Spoof Commander Sky Solo, The Lady from LASER that mashes both characters.

In the story, Fury comes across Commander Solo, head of LASER (a mashup of Nick Fury and Countess Allegra from Steranko’s SHIELD run) and decides to help her transport cargo (which turns out to be a giant dinosaur). Along the way, Fury stops an attempted robbery by a band of jetpack thieves, with Moore and Bissette’s pencils delighting in showing off the acrobatics of “classic” Spider-Man (though in some cases not being exactly “classical” on which more later).

Left. Image from ASM Annual #01 (By Steve Ditko). Scene from 1963#2 (by Bissette, Right).

Then Spider-Man gets attacked by a supervillain called “The Voidoid” who can be described as The Green Goblin crossed with Electro and Mysterio:

  • Voidoid is a “mystery villain” like the Green Goblin, someone whose identity the hero doesn’t know but who hints in his closing thought bubbles that he knows the hero’s identity. He also carries a bunch of gadgets one of which is a “laser lantern” i.e. a spherical device roughly the shape of a Goblin issue pumpkin bomb.
  • He’s a being of pure energy like Electro and like Mysterio he casts illusions of himself to confuse his opponent.
  • Near the end of the comic, Voidoid removes his costume and blends in the crowd with his back to the reader similar to how the Green Goblin’s identity was teased. The comic was never concluded so we don’t know who the Voidoid is but the visual hints by Bissette’s pencils is that Voidoid is Ricky’s own father, the former superhero Fighting Fury who we see in a photograph in a football outfit with his son, having a linebacker’s shoulder. Seen from both angles, he fits. In Spider-Man, Flash Thompson is of course a football champion and athlete so it seems Moore mashed together Flash with Norman Osborn (i.e. father of someone close to Peter, in this case directly Ricky’s own father).
Left: Ricky’s Mom looks at a photograph of her son with her husband shown as a broad-shoulded linebacker.
Right: The Voidoid after ditching his outfit blends into the crowd, back to the reader with a physique and silhouette much like Ricky’s Dad in the photoframe.
  • Voidoid also has an Helmet that shows scans of The Fury in action. The rendering of these images shows the Fury in wireframe which gives him the Ditko Spider-Man web-lines covering his body, in a really clever way to pay tribute to The Fury’s originator.

In terms of direct quotations from the Ditko run:

  • There’s the classic bit where The Fury bails out on a fight and goes to call his mom to see how she’s doing, a straight lift from ASM#17 where Spider-Man’s fight with Green Goblin at High School is cut short because Spider-Man has to drop it and check up on her.
Left: Fury (3 Panels)
Right: ASM#17 (1 Panel)
  • There’s also the finale, where The Fury returns to his room and ducks under the covers while his Mom walks in, not knowing that Fury is wearing his costume under the sheets. Variations of this show up as early as ASM#07 where Aunt May walks in and Peter clings to the roof (which was lifted in Raimi’s Spider-Man 1).
1963#2 (Left) and ASM#07 (Right)
Those who say Ditko didn’t intend Peter to be good-looking need simply see what other attempts at a Peter Parker-type look like.

We don’t see The Fury without mask until the final pages and he does look like “store brand Peter Parker”. So as a pastiche of the Lee-Ditko era it’s pretty recognizable as a homage barring a few oddities:

  • Namely, the high concept of Spider-Man working alongside super-spies, and punching dinosaurs (if nothing else Moore’s idea of Spider-Man was no wimp) is not like any story in the Ditko era, where for the most part it was street crime and gangsters with the only high concept element being criminals with gadgets and super-science (albeit using it for petty schemes). It was the Lee-Romita era Annual#05 that made Richard and Mary Parker spies and SHIELD agents, and it’s in that capacity that having Fury’s father be an ex-superhero known to Commander Solo makes sense.

  • A major fight scene shows Fury chasing down things by landing on a roof of a car and chasing them down. This is far more kinetic and action packed then the action in Ditko’s run was (which, if I remember correctly, didn’t have any vehicular chases, though some goblin glider chases certainly) and if anything it resembles the action of Spider-Man versus the Hobgoblin fight in the end of Roger Stern’s run in ASM#251.

ASM#251 – Top – Art by Ron Frenz
1963#2 – Bottom

So we can see that even in 1963 #2: No One Escapes the Fury, Moore draws on Spider-Man stuff outside the terminus of the Lee-Ditko run. Now this issue was done via Marvel Method, so Moore didn’t write a full script and it’s possible Bissette conflated aspects of later Spider-Man runs (like quoting the Frenz pencilled fight with Hobgoblin) but obviously something like associating Fury with LASER is a fundamental plot-beat that had to come from Moore as opposed to a panel variations where Bissette had leeway. This LASER/SHIELD is more analogous to the Lee-Romita story with Peter’s parents, so even Moore is conflating the Lee-Ditko run with stuff that came later.

RORSCHACH TESTS

Watchmen #06 – Art by Dave Gibbons.

Readers of Watchmen often engage with the comic as a “Rorschach test” i.e. trying to see in the pages of a comic, patterns that seem familiar to them, but which ultimately only reveal their perception. As Dr. Malcolm Long notes in the conclusion of Watchmen#6, the blot test is truly meaningless. That Walter Kovacs chooses Rorschach as his alter-ego without getting what that choice implies about his own hopelessly subjective worldview, is of course part of the gag baked into the character.

A parlor game among Watchmen fans is reading the characters as allegory. Trying to decide which aspect of the superhero genre is being commented on at various beats. It’s understood that Watchmen is an allegory for the comics industry in general and the superhero genre in particular, and that it contains and expresses a great deal about the full genre from start to end. In general, Watchmen has been seen as somewhat allegorical to DC comics history because it’s published by DC so people see Rorschach as Batman, Dr. Manhattan as Superman, Adrian Veidt as Lex Luthor-ish (but also Bruce Wayne). This reading was latched on by the ever reductive Geoff Johns in Doomsday Clock where he paired these characters in two-handers to drive home similarities.

I personally think that the Watchmen characters are fully realized beings; Rorschach is Roschach and not a stand-in for The Question, or actually Batman, and so on and so forth. Ultimately these allegorical readings don’t tell us anything about the Watchmen characters, and most cases they don’t tell us a lot about the DC characters they are paired against. At the same time allegory misused is no cause to cast away allegory entirely. An allegorical reading carefully grounded, and qualified, can provide insight into aspects of various characters. Immersing myself in Moore’s output as I’ve done, with his constant disdain for Stan Lee’s “two dimensional characters” and reading his early 80s comics criticism (which is more Marvel directed than DC) has made me wonder that perhaps Watchmen is in fact a Marvel allegory rather than a DC one:

  • DC Comics are defined by its fictional cities for each hero: Metropolis (Superman), Gotham (Batman), Central City (Flash), Coast City (Green Lantern) and so on and so forth. Whereas Marvel Comics is famously set overtly in New York City that’s partially realistic in topography and background with some fictional elements layered on top. Watchmen is set in New York City, not a fictional city.

The Avengers #2: The Hulk quits at the end of the second issue leaving the Avengers still standing.
Watchmen #2: The Crime-Busters never form in the first place.
  • The main cast of Watchmen are costumed crime fighters who are baby boomers or kids during the 40s (the so-called “silent generation” who were in fact the first teenagers): Walter Kovacs (Rorschach), Dan Dreiberg (Nite Owl II), Laurie Juspeczyk (Silk Spectre II), Jon Osterman (Dr. Manhattan), Adrian Veidt (Ozymandias) with Eddie Blake/Comedian being the main exception. In other words most Watchmen characters in generation terms are closer to Alan Moore (born in 1953) and Marvel readers of the 1960s and 1970s. The “Crime Busters” came on to the scene as superheroes in the 1960s analogous in many ways to the Marvel explosion of the 1960s.

  • One of the many points made in Watchmen is that people who put on costumes are probably not the most healthy and functional in terms of psychology. That echoes a lot of what Moore observed about Marvel’s neurotic characters and their constant bickering (as excerpted above), likewise the dysfunctional group attitude that leads to the Crime Busters breaking up after its first meeting feels like Moore’s attitude to Marvel’s team books (The Avengers, Fantastic Four, X-Men) where bickering and brooding anti-heroes get into shouting matches but come together at the end, but in Watchmen they collapse at their first meeting.

  • If Moore argued that DC characters were one dimensional, and Marvel in the ’60s was two dimensional, the obvious point he’s implying is that he’s the next step in evolution: three dimensional costumed characters and so Watchmen is in fact an update on Marvel in the 1960s, aka the promise fulfilled.

That brings us to Rorschach:

Watchmen #7. Art by Dave Gibbons. Even in the 80s, using “camp” and “kitsch” in comics insta-associated Adam West’s Batman.
  • Many have seen Rorschach as a take on the Batman kind of superhero which depends on which era one has in mind, because the Golden-Silver-Bronze Age Batman from Finger to Denny O’Neill, which pre-existed Watchmen’s production, is nothing like Rorschach as Moore’s own views on the character make clear. If anything it’s closer to Dan Dreiberg, who can be seen as a respectful homage to the Adam West Batman. Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns came out in 1986, the same year when Watchmen‘s first issues dropped, and overlapping lead-time in production means that Gibbons and Moore couldn’t possibly have been influenced by it.

  • Some argue The Punisher but Frank Castle who shoots and kills with guns as opposed to Kovacs, who uses a lot of household makeshift weapons, isn’t the same kind of character. Biographically a married and widowed war veteran and family man, and a poor hobo who has never had sex, have nothing in common. Likewise, the Punisher was a comparatively recent character and not prominent for Moore’s generational references. His first major solo ongoing came in 1987 not before the production and publication of Watchmen #1.

There’s also The Question and Mr. A, Ditko’s Randian creations which I’ve covered before.

One allegory hasn’t been considered of course, and that’s Peter Parker/Spider-Man.

WALTER AND PETER

Now obviously, I want to be clear that biographically Rorschach has no resemblance to Peter Parker. A kid raised in a loving childhood by his Aunt and Uncle has nothing to do whatsoever with a son of a sex worker and one of her johns, who was subject to abuse by his mother and his peers. Rorschach was also educated at an orphanage and sent into the workforce as a garment district laborer, unlike Peter Parker who was a science prodigy who graduated on scholarship. Rorschach is also a major misogynist who cannot relate to women and is homosocial (i.e. feels more comfortable around men of his age than with women). Whereas Peter’s most significant friendships and relationships in the “classic era” have been with women (Betty Brant, Gwen Stacy, Mary Jane, Felicia Hardy) rather than with men of his age (though this has changed in the BND era somewhat). None of Peter’s co-gender friends like Harry, Flash, or in the superhero community Johnny Storm were ever as close to him as the women in his life. Likewise, Rorschach is far more an overt Randian hero whereas with Spider-Man all the subtext is vague and suspect.

With those caveats out of the way:

ASM#01 (Left)/Watchmen #05 (Right)
  • As a superhero, Rorschach’s full face and head mask covering his face does look closer in shape to Spider-Man’s full-face mask than Mr. A and even The Question, both of whom have only facemasks that leave parts of their hair exposed.
Watchmen #01
  • We first see Rorschach climbing the side of the roof using a grappling hook gun, albeit doing it more realistically than the science-fiction grappling pistols of the Burton Batman movie (which introduced it into Batman mythos), and Spider-Man’s web fluids. In other words, Rorschach is a superhero of the urban New York jungle who lives in a world of alleys, rooftops, and city streets much like Spider-Man and Daredevil, or Will Eisner’s The Spirit (the inspiration for Ditko, Miller, Moore).
ASM#01 (Left) / Watchmen #01 (Right)
  • Rorschach is angry, lonely, constantly at the outs with the other superheroes (for justifiable reasons). In this respects, he’s an exaggeration of Spider-Man’s reputation in the Marvel Universe in the classic era, and during the Lee-Ditko run where his original encounter with the Fantastic Four was certainly frosty in many respects.
Watchmen #06
  • Kovacs had a background as a bullied child at school, similar to Peter Parker. Rorschach is also seen as an unpopular superhero by the police and the media in the same way as Spider-Man with the only people vouching for him being the likes of the New Frontiersman, in much the same way Spider-Man’s #1 fan was class bully Flash Thompson during the L-D era.
Watchmen #07 (Left), ASM#242 (Right).
Both Rorschach and Spider-Man have landladies that scorn their lifestyle and values, though Rorschach’s neighbor has more cause than the conservative Mrs. Muggins who scorns Mary Jane for not being a “respectable young woman”.

Now this might seem a stretch to some but in my opinion it’s less of a stretch than seeing Rorschach as a Batman or Punisher analogue:

Watchmen #06. Art by Dave Gibbons. At age 16, Peter Parker was a superhero, Daily Bugle photogapher, scholarship student, doted by his loving Aunt. While Walter Kovacs was sent to the sweatshops at the same age.
  • In a lot of respects, Rorschach can be understood as a more realistic version of Spider-Man/Peter Parker’s take on a “working class superhero” who is misunderstood by society while being personally committed to a code they impose on society. Peter was raised working-class but his career aspirations are lower-middle class professional/academic whereas Walter Kovacs actually did work in what at that time was not so far from today’s sweatshops, and in fact the New York Garment District birthed the name ‘sweatshop’ and one of the worst labor atrocities, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory disaster, concerned garment workers.

  • Rorschach as a superhero without any civilian identity, any sense of divide between work/life, too poor to hold a job, and being eternally unemployable also seems like a more believable take on what “Parker Luck” in the real world would amount to. Someone with the money problems of Peter who operates in New York City would likely end up as a vagrant sooner rather than later, if Spider-Man stories ever went all the way with realism (assuming of course it should). Rorschach isn’t literally homeless and does have a poor apartment and terrible relations with his landlady which isn’t far from Peter Parker’s lot when he stayed at his apartment in (pre-gentrified) Chelsea during the Bronze Age with the crusty bitter Mrs. Muggins.

  • Rorschach snapping as a result of his first exposure to gruesome crime on the city streets, is also a solid commentary on the sanitized nature of action of the Spider-Man comics. Compare the Spider-Man continuity’s reaction to Gwen Stacy’s death and Rorschach’s reaction to Blair Roche’s death. How the attitude of violence in Spider-Man comics, which generally never rises to a nature that unbalances the comedic tone of the series, contrasts to Rorschach who is an example of how someone not trained in law enforcement reacts to an exceptionally gory crime scene.

  • Rorschach is an emotionally stunted manchild who has never matured past his adolescence, which is not far from how Peter Parker tends to be written at his most regressive and conservative (as in the Post-BND era and Marv Wolfman’s run).

A number of Spider-Man comics and media generally tease out a Rorschach-like fate for Peter as in the Howard Mackie run which had Peter destitute, and Zeb Wells’ current ASM run, as well as the ending of No Way Home where Peter Parker has no more social existence, ending up as a kind of destitute hobo Spider-Man, stuck in a pit without anyone to bring him out, though I imagine this will be done away with in short order once the contracts for the next movie are signed.

ASM Annual #21 (Art by Paul Ryan). Released on June 09, 1987, four days after June 05,
the 25th Anniversary publication date of AF#15.

It’s ironic that during the year of Watchmen‘s publication (1986-1987), when Moore presented through Rorschach his warning of a character stunted to a few basic traits (as he had observed about Marvel Comics after the 1960s), it was Spider-Man comics that made a definitive break with stunted development. 1987 — the year of Watchmen‘s final issue was also Spider-Man’s 25th Year anniversary, and the year Peter and Mary Jane got married.

Class of 1986-1987. Any other 24-month period would be considered a landmark for just one of these.

A number of people have argued that 1986-1987 is one of the peak years of comics because in those two years we had such landmark stories as The Dark Knight Returns, Daredevil Born Again, Batman Year One, Watchmen, Kraven’s Last Hunt while on the stands such major runs as Claremont’s X-Men, Moore’s Swamp Thing, Simonson’s The Mighty Thor were still fresh. The independent scene of comics, with Spiegelman’s Maus still being serialized, was also groundbreaking, possibly more so. I’ve not by any means represented all the great stuff of that time. This was perhaps the last real high point for comics as a medium in the cultural zeitgeist. Where comics-first stories and ideas in panels and balloons as opposed to the franchise IP in merchandising and media, made a footprint in the culture, popular and critical.

Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that the franchising of Watchmen began approximately near the same time as One More Day, since the first movie adaptation by Zack Snyder landed in 2009, one year after OMD, and in both cases radical and progressive ideas of comics were reversed without anything tangible added in place.

CONCLUSION

For a while I’ve wondered at Spider-Man’s critical reputation. Generally speaking, where Superman has attracted a lot of commentary as a modern myth and quasi-folk hero, and Batman got his critical reputation beefed up thanks to Frank Miller, Tim Burton, Christopher Nolan, and Claremont’s X-men has likewise attracted mountains of commentary and cultural and literary criticism; Spider-Man seems to be regarded as “Mickey Mouse.” That is to say, a bland and inoffensive mascot character personifying the public-facing image of a corporation, which is a) understandable, b) in some instances accurate. At the same time, it’s not a case that being a corporate mascot devalues artistic merit altogether anymore than Bugs Bunny becoming a corporate mascot has devalued his great cartoons by Chuck Jones or lessened his undeniable charisma and resonance ranging from the “cool underdog” to LGBTQ icon.

Spider-Man’s relative critical neglect can perhaps be traced to Alan Moore. The most critically influential and defining comics creator of the last forty years wrote a major Batman story (The Killing Joke), several great Superman stories (For the Man Who Has Everything, Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?), commented multiple times on the works a bit of Jack Kirby, Frank Miller, Chris Claremont and likewise Steve Ditko’s non-Spider-Man output. And yet, Spider-Man attracted no major comment from him, leaving behind scraps that indicate apathy to the character.

If Spider-Man’s not worth Moore’s time, what worth is he? Moore’s anti-corporate attitudes has likewise led to an overdetermined value to the Steve Ditko run at the expense of writers who followed without any deeper context and engagement. Examining Moore’s commentary on comics in a proper historical perspective reveals that Moore’s views on Spider-Man were considerably more familiar than what he indicated in print, and that it wasn’t exclusive to Ditko as he made out at the time. Likewise, a number of prominent ideas in Moore’s work, while obviously taken to the higher level in his output, was prefigured and anticipated in the pages of Spider-Man, namely non-verbal characterization of the kind he credited to Miller. Likewise, Rorschach from Watchmen while not intended as any kind of allegory of Spider-Man probably was guided to a greater degree by Moore’s antipathy to the happenings (or lack thereof) in his title after Ditko’s departure.

Moore’s brilliance and genius is not in the slightest diminished when contextualized critically. At the end of the day, it was never his intent to be any last word in comics. As he said it, “I leave it entirely in your hands.”

SOURCES

REFERENCES

  1. Hugh Armitage. “Alan Moore criticises Stan Lee, calls Rob Liefeld “ridiculous’.” Digital Spy. 24 Sep 2012.
    https://www.digitalspy.com/comics/a407801/alan-moore-criticises-stan-lee-calls-rob-liefeld-ridiculous/

  2. Alison Flood. “Alan Moore attacks Frank Miller in comic book war of words”. The Guardian. Tuesday 6 December 2011.
    https://www.theguardian.com/books/2011/dec/06/alan-moore-frank-miller-row

  3. Alan Moore. “Buster Brown at the Barricades.” Occupy Comics #2. 2013. Black Mask Studios.

  4. Lance Parkin. Magic Words: The Extraordinary Life of Alan Moore. Chapter 4. Ebook Edition.

  5. Grant Morrison. New X-Men Manifesto. Posted online at “soy leyenda charlie”.
    Otherwise available in the New X-Men Omnibus. Relevant excerpt:

    [Point 1]. In my opinion, and probably everyone else’s too, the best work done on the book, the work which transformed the New X-MEN into Marvel’s primary franchise was done by Chris Claremont and John Byrne between ’77 and ’80 […] Not only were both creators so far ahead of their game they were defining the rules of a whole NEW game (early Alan Moore is PURE Claremont and the reverberations of ‘Days of Future Past’ – with its depictions of the twilight days of the superheroes – are still echoing in too many books to mention) […]
    http://soyleyendacharlie.blogspot.com/2010/07/morrison-manifesto.html

  6. Julian Darius. “Alan Moore’s Miracleman and the Influence of Chris Claremont’s Dark Phoenix Saga”. Sequart. Mon, 30 April 2012
    http://sequart.org/magazine/11190/alan-moores-miracleman-book-one-and-the-influence-of-chris-claremonts-dark-phoenix-saga/

  7. Drew Mollo. “DC Calls Out Green Lantern’s Infamous ‘Women in Refrigerators’ Story”. Screenrant. Nov 16, 2021
    https://screenrant.com/green-lantern-women-refrigerators-infamous/

  8. Douglas Wolk. All of the Marvels: A Journey to the Ends of the Biggest Story Ever Told. Penguin Press (October 12, 2021). Page 49.

  9. Rich Johnston. “Dave Thorpe, the Man Who Invented Marvel’s “616”, Explains Where It Came From.” Bleeding Cool. July 2, 2019.
    https://bleedingcool.com/comics/dave-thorpe-marvel-616-explains-where-it-came-from/

  10. Brian Cronin. “When Alan Moore Surprisingly Retconned J. Jonah Jameson’s World War II Past.” CBR. Published Aug 29, 2019
    https://www.cbr.com/alan-moore-night-raven-j-jonah-jameson-world-war-ii-retcon/
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One thought on “Alan Moore on Spider-Man: Commentary and Criticism

  1. When it comes to Alan Moore’s Marvel UK work, I’m most familiar with the few short Star Wars stories he wrote as filler material for UK comics. While he didn’t care for Star Wars personally, as an avid fan myself his stories still treat the characters with accuracy and respect, while using them as a jumping-off point to tell some very out-there SF comic stories.

    “Rorschach is Peter Parker if he really was an objectivist weirdo” is something I had never realized, but it’s really interesting to think about. And apparently Ditko did once mention Rorschach in comparison to Mr. A, though it was so little that it was hard to take as either a positive or negative view of the character.

    To be honest, your focus on Spider-Man is probably why I gravitated to your comics criticism the most. My other favourite modern comics analyst is Ritesh Babu, who I highly recommend… yet he’s not a Spider-Man fan (which is fine, of course) so your work has really filled that gap for me of nuanced, in-depth criticism about Spidey.

    Liked by 1 person

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