My Favorite Things
Peter Parker, Spider-Man v2 #6
Re-reading all my John Romita Jr. comics for yesterday's post, I stumbled across Peter Parker, Spider-Man v2 #6, which is one of my favorite Spider-Man comics.
Now, this isn't a great comic by any means. It's a simple, uninvolving story about the Kingpin reclaiming control of the underworld, mixed in with the interminable Senator Ward subplot that dominated the Spider-Man titles after the relaunch. There's a lot of talking, a lot of unresolved plot points, a short (but memorable) fight scene featuring Bullseye. It's got some great art by John Romita Jr., but it's not like JRjr Spider-Man comics are in short supply. So why do I like this particular issue so much?
Because the coloring is fantastic.
No, really. This particular issue (along with most of the Mackie/Romita Spider-Man issues) was colored by Gregory Wright, who's one of the most talented colorists working in the industry. The man is a master of simple, yet effective coloring jobs that enhance the linework without totally overwhelming it. And this issue is one of his unsung masterpieces.
You see, this issue takes place over the course of a single day, and Wright carefully alters his color palette to match the position of the sun. The first few pages take place in the hazy, pre-dawn hours, and are mostly blue and gray. The next sequence takes palce in the pale blue of early morning, and a few pages take place in the bright blue of the early afternoon. And then there's the capstone, a gorgeous sequence where Senator Ward and Arthur Stacy finally confront each other on a construction site at sunset...
I mean, wow.
We start on the first page with the sun just setting, the sky shot through with orange and magenta, and the city tinted rose by its faltering rays. And on the second page, the final rays of the sun give one last brilliant glow and the sky gradually becomes purplish and blue. After the sun goes down, we get a magenta after-glow, and the palette starts to shift. Everything becomes darker, from the blue of Arthur's suit to the skin tone of Senator Ward's bodyguard. The whites are shot through with grays and blues as everything becomes harder to see. And then, as bullseye makes his dramatic appearance, we give away to the blue of night-time, with the purplish haze of the city's glow lingering faintly on the horizon. From this point on out there's very little true white — everything is suffused with the faint shades of evening. Even Spider-Man's costume is dimly lit, still garishly bright but clearly not illuminated. And the dark backgrounds make the pink and white swooshes Wright uses for the motion lines stand out dramatically. Three pages after this, bullseye sets off a bomb, and the bright white sound effects and yellow explosion are extra-vivid because they're the only bright colors you've seen for a few pages.
It takes a lot of talent to constantly shift your palette like this, to create dramatic coloring effects on matte paper with flat color, and Wright did it on a comic where no one would have noticed if he'd just slapped down the same colors panel after panel.
Now that's an awesome coloring job.