Pipeline #1116: A Spider-Ham Spider-Jam

There's no more timely or topical a book from 2007 right now than "Ultimate Civil War Spider-Ham" #1.

Thanks to Spider-Ham's (co-)starring role in the new "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" movie, the porker is hot again. Seriously, he's on a kids' t-shirt at Old Navy. I saw it myself.

I even took a picture:

Spider-Ham and Spider-Gwen on an Old Navy t-shirt for kids
(Photo: Old Navy, Marvel Entertainment)

30 years ago, he was a silly joke. Today, he's a movie star. "Into the Spider-Verse" isn't even a proper MCU movie, and still defied all odds to thrive.

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised it worked as well as it did. Even Howard the Duck has had a movie comeback, though much more limited...

Back to the Comics...

Ultimate Civil War Spider-Man #1 cover
(Photo: Mike Wieringo after Mike Turner, Marvel Entertainment)

This long-titled one-shot was set in the aftermath of the "Civil War," as you might have guessed. I'm not sure there was anything "Ultimate" about it, but those titles were selling pretty good back then, so who am I to judge marketing?

It's a funny book. That plays directly to the strengths of its writer, J. Michael Straczynski. He's a wickedly funny guy when he gets going. With this book, he puts Spider-Ham through his paces looking for his lost thought balloons.

He tries to enlist help from Doctor Strange, who would be the natural fit. The good doctor is too busy swearing ("Hoary Hosts of Haggoth"?!?) and fighting unseen enemies. There's an extended bit drawn beautifully by the great John Severin called "The 'Ham" that, yes, is a riff on the old "The Nam" series. In this case, though, the jungles of Vietnam are replaced with the darkly-lit cubicles of the Marvel bullpen.

But, really, most of the book is just an excuse to have a jam piece. It brings in more than a dozen artists to draw a furry-fied Marvel character for a page or two. You get pin-up gags from the likes of Skottie Young ("Wolverham"), Ariel Olivetti, Jim Mahfood, Chris Giarrusso and a few more.

Sean Phillips even provides the final pin-up tying the book into Marvel Zombies.

It's a cute pin-up book with a few short short stories that have a very thin string of a plot to carry them all along.

That works for me!

Spider-Man walks past the feuding Marvel heroes and villains
(Photo: Mike Wieringo, Mike Manley, Marvel Entertainment)

The lead story -- the one with the most pages -- is drawn by Mike Wieringo, as is the cover. Mike Manley is credited on those pages, as well. I'm not sure if he was just inking, or if he also helped out with some of the drawings. I don't know.

The story is mostly Spider-Ham walking woozily in an alley way, chasing after his caption boxes and asking where his thought balloons are. Given the way the "Spider-Verse" movie incorporated caption boxes into the animation, this little bit of story is almost prescient.

It's a fun book. It's thin, but you buy a book like this to see a bunch of cool artists drawing characters from a similar origin point. This book delivers that, with a range of good jokes.

It's available digitally today if you want to have a copy for yourself, too.


One Quick Movie Thought

Ultimate Civil War Spider-Man #1 cover
(Photo: Mike Wieringo, Mike Manley, Marvel Entertainment)

We're looking at the very real possibility that the Oscars might nominate "Black Panther" for Best Picture and "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" for Best Animated Picture.

There's a good chance, many think, of the Spider-Man movie winning. Oscar voters love movies that try new things, and they don't really much care about the animated movies. I doubt very many would want to give the award to a "video game movie" ("Wreck-It Ralph 2").

If the Spider-Man movie wins, it's possible that its director and producers might climb on board the Oscar stage to accept. Brian Bendis is an executive producer. He's lower on the totem pole, I'm sure, than Amy Pascale and Avi Arad, but as Miles Morales' co-creator, I can see them bringing him up, if only as the quiet guy looking awkward in a tux behind the bigger names.

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