Wow. I just read the classic 80s Spider-Man saga “Kraven’s Last Hunt” with art by Mike Zeck. I had halfway-written this long post about a convoluted story involving getting Mike Zeck’s autograph on some comics spanning 2 comic cons. Then I figured out why it was so convoluted in my memory was that I had totally confused Mike Zeck and Michael Golden! The Michael Golden comic is below. I’ve still never read any of his stuff.
Anyhoo, “Kraven” was truly amazing. I was immediately struck by the storytelling of Zeck’s art. Everything was so clear and dramatic and intricately paced. Conveniently, when I looked at his Wikipedia page, the writer J. M. DeMatteis perfectly summed up what was going on:
“Because Mike nailed the plot elements so perfectly in his pencils—every action, every emotion, was there, clear as a bell—I didn’t have to worry about belaboring those elements in the captions or dialogue. I was free to do those interior monologues that were so important to the story. If any other artist had drawn “Kraven’s Last Hunt” … it wouldn’t have been the same story.”
I don’t really know anything about comic book art or acting but I’ve always felt there’s overlap in what they do. Obviously they are totally different, but in both instances the point is to communicate human emotion and thoughts through an artificial medium. Look at Spidey’s posture in the upper right panel. He is absolutely crazy. Without printing a word Mary Jane pulls his humanity back a bit. Nonetheless, he swings out into the night to stop the bad guy. But we saw that he’s not standing on the mental brink he might have been.
There’s also a climactic sequence when Spidey is fighting one of the villains in the sewer. It’s interspersed with flashbacks to when he was buried alive. The writer never needs to explicitly state it, Spider-Man has NO BUSINESS fighting in the sewers. He’s totally out of his element, that’s for Ninja Turtles. Zeck clearly communicates with his art how challenging this is for Spidey. So much of the series is spent in the ground, the dirt, the muck. It’s just wrong. It’s a great strategy for a villain, keeping out hero out of the sky.
I will leave you with this classic cover: