Wednesday, March 9, 2016
More Running Than Walking, Actually
Thanks to a special feature added to the issue of Marvel Tales which reprinted the story from Amazing Spider-Man #103, the main story ("Walk The Savage Land!") would need to be edited to be split into two separate issues. Consequently, artist Gil Kane is tapped to pencil a second cover for the story which only takes its first half into account, while leaving Part Two's cover essentially intact to match the original.
Kane was no stranger at this point to providing different interpretations of cover art for reprinted stories, yet it's something of a treat to have him take another look at his own work and do things a little differently, even if he's simply following the dictate that only a part of the story needs to be represented. I can't say I'm particularly fond of the looming Spider-Man figure--though, aside from possibly Jameson, there otherwise wouldn't have been any other visual elements on the cover to entice a Spider-Man fan to buy the issue. (I would have thought "Starring: Spider-Man!" in large bold letters would have covered that base.) It's interesting to wonder what Kane would have substituted for the figure of Spider-Man--tribal structures? Maybe a silhouette of Ka-Zar and Zabu?
As for the wrap-up issue, the "box" aspect to the original cover is removed to allow Kane's imagery to be expanded, with a darkening of the title area to give the illusion of the trees now filling the entire cover space (though obliterating most of Spider-Man's webline in the process). There's not much you can do to improve on Gog's mammoth, menacing aspect, and it would certainly be challenging to bring even more of him into the available space--made even less available by our friendly barcode symbol, which shrinks Zabu a bit to appear closer in proximity to Ka-Zar than he originally was.
One final observation concerns how all three covers expand on the story's title. Perhaps only writer Roy Thomas could tell us why he worded the title as he did--"Walk The Savage Land!" sounds as if it's paraphrased from some other source, but for the life of me I can't pin it down. It doesn't particularly make a great deal of sense when applied to this story, other than in a romanticized, adventurous way of presenting Jameson's expedition. Both the original cover and its facsimile reapply the title to reference Gog; frankly, paring it down further to "He Who Walks The Savage Land!" would have worked well on both the cover and on the splash page. Kane's revised cover even goes so far as to make stronger changes in the wording, apparently feeling that "walking" the Savage Land hardly conveyed the boldness involved in exploring such a region.