May 25th, 2011


I Don't Know What This One's Officially Called in the Marvel Universe

At some point every kid reading the old Spider-Man comics had to have been slapped upside the cranium by the startling realization that Spider-Man's number one villain wasn't The Green Goblin, or Doctor Octopus, or the Kingpin -- or any of those other wonderfully-costumed crackpot criminals stirring up shit in Steve and Stan and Jazzy Johnny's 1960's NYC. No, the honor of  #1 chief prick antagonist goes to J. Jonah Jameson -- newspaper man, comedy relief crank and plot-kickstarter supreme.

You can add to that obsessed lunatic, jealous bastard and Bona fide criminal. However you want to classify him for your revived Sunday Champions game, there came a time when you had to face the fact that the oh-so-hilarious J.J.J. was our beloved hero's Doctor Doom, his Dr. Sivana, his Mort Weisinger. Jameson ranted, hated, harangued, libeled, sweated, shouted, rabble-roused and personally plotted to capture and/or outright kill Spider-Man. That's not fucking normal behavior for your average supporting cast member. That's cruddy Norman Osborne shit. Can I get a witness?

Even more galling, unlike most of the guys Bowen Studios makes busts of, he's also a hypocrite. He says he hates Spider-Man for being a costumed vigilante, then bankrolls the creation of a costumed vigilante to go after him, then uses a dangerous robot to go after him, then sends his own super-powered astronaut son (?) to go after him. Well, I call bullshit on that. Bullshit on that! The Vulture isn't fooling himself, he's not playing head games with himself, justifying his behavior -- he wants to steal stuff, he hates Spider-Man for kicking his splintery old ass.

Jameson, he's just a big fat liar. He no good. He bad man. And everyone let's him get away with it! Good ol' J.J.J.! Can you imagine going to work for an asshole boss who gives you shit all day, and then chases you with his space-juiced son or a robot rental during your off-hours? That Peter Parker, what a maroon. I'm sure at some point in the comic he gets hep to his ridiculous situation, maybe there's a stab at explaining away the fact that Jameson should be in jail, several times over. I'm sure more recently there have been stories taking this very silly situation very, very seriously, trying to make sense of it all, very serious, mature, adult sense. I'll take the nonsense. It's a lot more fun.

Which brings us to today's drawing. The Steve Ditko-designed robot up there represents Jameson's second go at catching Spider-Man via super-iffy means. First, he was involved in the creation of the Scorpion (a pretty bad idea on the face of it: insert raging asshole into  Halloween scorpion costume complete with action tail, set loose, cross fingers). That worked out about as well as the Sega CD game system, so a few issues later he gave this clunky little tinkertoy a spin. It was invented by one Dr. Spencer Smythe, an enterprising inventor who knew how much Jameson hated Spider-Man and offered him Mr. Clanky to go play robo-vigilante with. I don't see that as a very good idea, either, but it does get a comic book going, I'll give him that. Anyway, at first Jameson isn't up for it (he says something about it "not being enough of a transgression against God", iirc), but after a demonstration of the Ditkoid's patented Spider-Man-catching features --

1) Senses the presence of spiders!
2) Extendable ropey- tentacle grabbers!
3) Telescoping arms and legs!
4) Cleverly imitates the look of an open Japanese toilet on legs!

  -- and some stupid prodding from Dummy Parker (he has some stupid idea about embarrassing Jameson, it's stupid, let's not get into it), Jonah gets all fired up for the idea.

What probably seals the deal for our boy is that his face will appear in the robot's viewscreen as it tracks Spider-Man, meaning Jameson can see out of it, and taunt his victim, basically offering him a creepy POV snuff porn experience. If he actually succeeds in snuffing Spidey-Man. Which he doesn't. Oh, sorry, should I have put SPOILERS there? I fell asleep in class when they covered SPOILERS. It's not much of a plot point, anyway. Spider-Man only starts losing big-time in the 90's.

Anyway, I guess there isn't much more to say about this one. It is what it is. I was going to type some about Ditko's design work versus Kirby's, his singular, bizarre organic approach and all. Maybe later. I could kibbitz a little about that Smythe idiot, he comes back (don't they all) and has something to do with the friggin' Molten Man (he who cannot wear clothes or hide himself well or anything), and I guess he learns to hate Spider-Man, too, because I think Smythe's the guy who makes the Spider-Slayer robots. Every year or so he comes out with a new model, he has a Spider-Slayer show at the New York Coliseum and shows the robots off and all. I think the J.J.J. T.V. robot is the first official Spider-Slayer. Unless I'm wrong and the (Terrible) Tinker makes those things. Actually, I think the Tinker made the Spider-Mobile. Oh, I don't know what the fuck I'm talking about anymore.

Anyway, it's pretty creepy seeing J. Jonah Jameson's leering face screaming and yelling out of the porthole of a hentai tentacle rape matryoshka doll. It's actually fairly terrifying, and yet another Ditko triumph of inky craziness. The man slays me. He Spider-Slays me!