ISSUES 253-285: TOM DEFALCO COMES ALONG (1984-1987)
How do you follow one of the greatest comic book writers in history? By building on the themes he started, of course. Tom DeFalco, working mostly with Ron Frenz, followed Stern’s Mafia-like storylines with characters like The Rose and more Hobgoblin stories, and developing the idea that MJ is in on Peter’s secret. DeFalco also had to deal with the alien symbiote thing, in #258, which left Spider-Man in Fantastic Four longjohns with a paper bag over his head. Don’t ask. Just read it. It’s terrific. This was the kind of thing DeFalco was an expert at: Prior to working on Spidey, he’d been editing the surprisingly good G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero title, launched the Dazzler ongoing series, and worked on the first Machine Man series. He was good at action-packed adventure books. And that was the tone he brought with him to AS-M.
I could have done without the Secret Wars 2 stuff, though. In fact, there were quite a few cross-promotions during this time, with Spidey being used to help promote Daredevil, the Scourge storyline, and X-Factor. Towards the end of his run, DeFalco also broke with Marvel (a common symptom of Jim Shooter’s reign as Ed-in-Chief)—Jim Owsley had to finish what DeFalco started in the “Gang War” storyline. Still, for the most part, this was a pretty damn good follow up to Roger Stern. DeFalco was dismissed by Jim Shooter, under less-than-pleasant circumstances. Beginning to sense a pattern?
During Tom’s run, we also got to read a couple fill-in issues by none other than Peter David, one featuring Frog-Man, the other featuring Spidey’s commute from Long Island. Both are light-hearted and genuinely hilarious.
Grade: B+, with many A- storylines throughout. Excellent work.