|John Holmes Motherfucker - 2021-07-30 |
When I was nine years old, I knew who Jack Kirby was, and I knew who Stan Lee was. Stan was they guy portrayed in NOT BRAND ECCH, Marvel's self-referential homage to Mad Magazine, sitting at a desk with a "List of Things To Do Today" that only had one Item: "Breathe!" Jack was (probably) the guy who drew the picture. At nine, I as amazed at how fucking cool Marvel was, and now, at 63, I'm amazed at just how much I got it right back then. Few things in life have been less disappointing than Marvel. When I watch Avengers Endgame, or Captain America: Winter Soldier, or Thor: Ragnorok, or (Jesus Christ!) LOKI, not only am I channeling nine year old me, but, as an increasingly old man, I am living that little motherfucker's dream! Not every MCU movie is a masterpiece, but they have dramatically elevated the genre. Stan Lee died between the release of Black Panther and Infinity War. THAT is how a culture hero dies, triumphantly, shot from a cannon aimed straight at Pop Culture Valhalla!
The 1967 Spider-Man cartoon was produced at the nadir of American animation, a time of restrictive budgets and tight schedules, and it was pretty ridiculous, but it still managed to be cool. Best of all, it was cool in a way that was characteristically and unmistakably MARVEL.
And the music is crucial to how they pulled it off, especially, of course, that iconic theme song. "Iconic" is overused, but there's no other word. Even as I child, I could detect the Marvel Touch in that last verse, which suddenly turned introspective:
Wealth and fame he's ignored
Action is his reward
To him, life is a great big bang-up
Wherever there's a hang-up
You'll find a Spiderman!
No one would ever write a theme song about how SUPERMAN sees the world, or anyone else to be seen on Saturday Morning Cartoons. It was fresh. It was touching. I thought so at the time, and I still think so.