Susan K. Putney & Berni Wrightson – The Amazing Spider-Man: Hooky (1986)
Berni Wrightson is one of my favorites. I used to have some of his haunting Swamp Thing comics, as well as a trading card series featuring his art, but I’ve lost most of my things over the years in various moves (and attempts at fleeing from whatever agency it is that keeps trying to kill us. WE WILL NOT BE SILENCED!!!) So when I was handed this little graphic novel by my older daughter, I was very pleased.
The story itself (written by Susan K. Putney, a name I don’t recognize) is a strange, dimension-hopping fairytale focused on a 200-year-old little girl who lives in an eternal summer that she has created in a pocket universe, but who is now being attacked by a magical, morphing creature bent on destroying her. Oddly enough, she finds Spider-Man beating up some petty criminals while she’s shopping for supplies in New York, and invites him to come back to her universe and fight the creature with her. One of the great mysteries about this book, for me at least, is WHY this is a Spider-Man story at all. Doctor Strange or Silver Surfer or Son of Satan or even Howard the Duck all seem more in tune with fighting magical morphing beasts in alternate dimensions than Spidey does, but whatever. It’s a Spidey story.
The mood is pretty kid friendly, more fairytale-like than the gritty, violent books that seemed to dominate the comic shops when I was visiting them in this era, and Wrightson’s artistic abilities are somewhat underutilized for much of the book—until we get to the CREATURE, and as soon as the nasty shows up, we get to see Wrightson go to town! I won’t give away too much, but let’s just say, if you are a Berni fan, you will be happy with what you get. Hell, the cover art alone is worth the $12 or $13 this book sells for now-a-days. So that’s my overall take on the book: starts a bit slow, has Spider-Man in it for no particular reason, Wrightson kills it with the monsters, and the story might be too tame and kidsy for our modern, jaded readers, but for the price, it’s not a bad book.
—Richard F. Yates