Every day this month, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. Today's page is a story from Spider-Man/Human Torch #2, which was published by Marvel and is cover dated April 2005. Enjoy!
Dan Slott, writing this like an old-school 1960s comic, tells us quite a bit on this first page. Spider-Man is looking for the Vulture, who's been committing "high-rise heists" all over town, and Spidey hopes to catch him but also get some pictures of him so he can pay the rent. If anyone ever read a Spidey comic in the 1960s or 1970s (and even a bit into the 1980s), you read this refrain over and over - at least once an issue, it seemed - but in 2005, perhaps some readers needed to be reminded that at one time, Peter Parker was a struggling photographer who wasn't getting paid royalties on a book of Spider-Man photographs and wasn't married to a super-model. Slott does that nicely. We also get a bit of the Vulture's tough talk as he robs a penthouse, but it doesn't give us much information - it's just bad-guy speak.
Templeton was a good choice to draw this mini-series - he's a modern artist, certainly, but he has an old-school sensibility, and his work wouldn't look too out of place in a Spider-Man comic from the 1960s or '70s. Because he knows what he's doing, he does some clever things with the art. Spidey's web line comes in from the upper left in the first panel, moving our eye right down it past all the credits to Spidey himself. Spidey is bent really awkwardly, but he contains the readers eye and moves them down to the bottom row of panels. Templeton doesn't use Spidey's eyes to point toward the far left panel, but that's okay - it's where we naturally go anyway. The Vulture's gun, you'll notice, points directly at his word balloon in the second panel, and Templeton, of course, doesn't have the good guy (we might think it's Spider-Man, but it's really the Human Torch) come in from the left of the final panel, but the right, so that the Vulture's eyes look that way, directing us to turn the page. It's a well constructed page, even as it appears relatively simple. But that's what good artists do!
Even though the Vulture is not the main villain of this story and is captured on page 2, this page gives us information about Spider-Man, and page 2 gives us some information about the Human Torch. That's really the only reason the Vulture is here - to show the heroes looking good before the main villain (Kraven, in this case), shows up. Comic writers do this all the time, and Slott does a nice job with it here. It's part of what makes this a charming comic book!
Next: Even more old-school! Yay! And, of course, here are some archives.