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  1. #1

    Default Joe "Robbie" Robertson appreciation thread 2021

    here's to Joe "Robbie" Robertson, longtime supporting character in the Spider-Man titles:

    616
    https://marvel.fandom.com/wiki/Josep...on_(Earth-616)

    main wiki
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robbie_Robertson_(comics)

    Ultimate
    https://marvel.fandom.com/wiki/Joe_R...n_(Earth-1610)

    Marvel.com site:
    https://www.marvel.com/characters/jo...bbie-robertson

    Raimi films:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zzB76CbVDJU

    1990s Spidey cartoon:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=slVjvZroQb4

    Blogosphere analysis:
    http://guttertalkcomicsblog.blogspot...robertson.html

    Mighty Joe Robertson: An Overdue Appreciation (Dredging Up The Past Part II*)
    (*For those keeping score at home, the 2005 interview with Nat Gertler has been retroactively dubbed Part I of this misguided exercise in nostalgia.
    Recently, a conversation with Jonathon Riddle turned to the topic of black and African American characters in comics of the Silver and Bronze Age, and I repeated my contention that the most significant African American character in Silver Age Marvel Comics was The Amazing Spider-Man's Joe "Robbie" Robertson. Jon asked if I was planning a blog post on the subject, and I mentioned that I had already done one back in 2007 on my earlier, now moribund blog The Word From On High. Jon suggested I repost it on Gutter Talk so he could read it, because, of course, going to that blog and reading the original posting would be just too much effort.
    Seriously, though, I figure that the readers of the old Word From On High and the readers of this current effort are probably a different set of people, so I am re-presenting my post on "Robbie" Robertson for my newer readers, and while I was looking over the old blog, I found a couple of other old posts, such as the aforementioned Nat Gertler interview, that are still relevant and which I will be re-posting over the next few days.)

    Much has been made of Marvel's Black Panther, introduced by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in Fantastic Four #52, being the comics' first Black super-hero. (He is sometimes referred to as the first African American super-hero, though this is incorrect. The Panther was T'Challa, a prince of the fictional African land of Wakanda, and not any kind of American. The first African-American hero is most likely The Falcon, introduced by Lee and artist Gene Colan in Captain America some years later) I believe, however, that the most important Black character introduced during Marvel's Silver Age was, in fact, Joe Robertson, a supporting character in The Amazing Spider-Man, where he served as city editor of The Daily Bugle, the fictitious newspaper for which Spidey took photos in his Peter Parker identity.
    No fanfare or alliterative cover blurbs accompanied the character's debut in, coincidentally I'm sure, ASM #52. His first appearance in that issue lasted all of two panels and he was not even formally introduced to Peter Parker until two issues later. Following this rather unceremonious, to say the least, introduction, "Robbie," as he was known around the newsroom, soon became a mainstay of the wall-crawler's supporting cast. He was most often portrayed as the voice of reason gently countering Bugle publisher J. Jonah Jameson's frequent anti-Spider-Man rants.
    You may be asking yourself what's significant about such a fairly minor character. If he were introduced in 2007, the answer would be "nothing." But you must remember that the character came on the scene in 1967. It was a time when Black characters in any entertainment were a rarity and positive portrayals of such characters nearly nonexistant. I remember watching a show on the cable channel TV Land a while back in which the stars of Julia, a sitcom that aired at about the time we're discussing here, reported recieving death threats because their show dared to feature an African American woman as its title character.
    Thus, when you consider the media landscape into which Joe "Robbie" Robertson quietly stepped, you can begin to see my point. Here, almost unnoticed in the putative "children's" medium of super-hero comic books, Lee and artist John Romita were presenting to their youthful readers one of the few positive characterizations of an African American male available in any medium. He was no criminal or junkie, as Black men were most often depicted, if depicted at all, in the media of the day. Rather, he was an educated, professional, avuncular family man. His job at the Bugle put him in a position of authority over white people, including the comic's titular star, which I believe was a first for a Black character in any medium. Moreover, Robbie is treated as a friend, confidante and, most importantly, equal by Jameson, the newspaper's rich, white publisher.
    Unfortunately, when histories or analyses of the Black characters in comics are written, Joe Robertson generally goes unmentioned. Much like the way character himself is portrayed in the comics, Robbie's impact on the medium was quiet but powerful.

  2. #2
    Formerly Assassin Spider Huntsman Spider's Avatar
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    Thanks for putting this up. Considering the current state of things for Robbie, I'm wishing The Daily Bugle miniseries hadn't been cut short, as I thought it had a lot of great potential for him to address and react to the changes in contemporary (news) media and society.
    The spider is always on the hunt.

  3. #3
    Astonishing Member K7P5V's Avatar
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    Kraven's Last Hunt had my all-time favorite "Robbie" scene (616):


    Whether he knows the secret or not, I'll always think of "Robbie" as a really cool dude.
    Last edited by K7P5V; 04-13-2021 at 02:38 AM. Reason: Made Adjustments.

  4. #4
    Incredible Member Spidey_62's Avatar
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    Robbie's always been one of my favorite supporting cast members. The long periods where he just didn't show up was felt by me, happy he's been around more prominently again.

    Also, ditto about the Bugle mini.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hypestyle View Post
    here's to Joe "Robbie" Robertson, longtime supporting character in the Spider-Man titles:


    Blogosphere analysis:
    http://guttertalkcomicsblog.blogspot...robertson.html
    Thanks for putting this up. Considering the current state of things for Robbie, I'm wishing The Daily Bugle miniseries hadn't been cut short, as I thought it had a lot of great potential for him to address and react to the changes in contemporary (news) media and society.
    With Marvel's sliding time line, it's interesting to think about how various historic/social events get quietly pushed further into the distant past. Robbie's presence at the Daily Bugle circa the mid-late-1960s certainly had a profound context in the midst of civil-rights-era turmoil, with his role as a senior editor at a major newspaper with national reach (e.g., NY Times) providing an intriguing window to look at the evolving state of journalism works and people's reactions to it. Fast forward to 2021, major newspapers have merged as part of bigger (and bigger) corporations, faced drastic staffing cuts (e.g., no international-bureau staff), dwindling readership, relying increasingly on news wire services, limited opportunities for freelancers, etc.; not to mention the fact that newsrooms themselves have even fewer racial minorities as staff or in the editorial ranks. The expansion of the Internet/social media/blogosphere has made "everybody" a commentator, for both the better and the worse.

    When C. Priest was writing Captain America & the Falcon, he wanted Robbie to have a more prominent role, as a "Commissioner Gordon" figure who Sam would confer with on mystery/crime developments. It didn't work out that way, unfortunately, especially as editorial mandates involving Cap altered several storylines. https://digitalpriest.com/legacy/comics/caf.html

    If there is ever a Marvel version of DC's "The Other History of..." by John Ridley, I would suggest making Robbie the center character. I know that people naturally have affection for the Phil Sheldon character, also Ben Urich.. I'm confident that Robbie would have some outlooks not shared with either of them.

  6. #6
    Formerly Assassin Spider Huntsman Spider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hypestyle View Post
    With Marvel's sliding time line, it's interesting to think about how various historic/social events get quietly pushed further into the distant past. Robbie's presence at the Daily Bugle circa the mid-late-1960s certainly had a profound context in the midst of civil-rights-era turmoil, with his role as a senior editor at a major newspaper with national reach (e.g., NY Times) providing an intriguing window to look at the evolving state of journalism works and people's reactions to it. Fast forward to 2021, major newspapers have merged as part of bigger (and bigger) corporations, faced drastic staffing cuts (e.g., no international-bureau staff), dwindling readership, relying increasingly on news wire services, limited opportunities for freelancers, etc.; not to mention the fact that newsrooms themselves have even fewer racial minorities as staff or in the editorial ranks. The expansion of the Internet/social media/blogosphere has made "everybody" a commentator, for both the better and the worse.

    When C. Priest was writing Captain America & the Falcon, he wanted Robbie to have a more prominent role, as a "Commissioner Gordon" figure who Sam would confer with on mystery/crime developments. It didn't work out that way, unfortunately, especially as editorial mandates involving Cap altered several storylines. https://digitalpriest.com/legacy/comics/caf.html

    If there is ever a Marvel version of DC's "The Other History of..." by John Ridley, I would suggest making Robbie the center character. I know that people naturally have affection for the Phil Sheldon character, also Ben Urich.. I'm confident that Robbie would have some outlooks not shared with either of them.
    That would have been an excellent idea, and I'd love to see a new take on Marvels with Robbie as the central character, too. Get his perspective on how the Marvel Universe evolved over the years/decades he'd been alive, delve into his past with Lonnie "Tombstone" Lincoln and his relationships with his family, Jonah, and Peter/Spider-Man --- could even answer once and for all whether he's secretly suspected (or even known) all along that Peter and Spider-Man are one and the same.
    The spider is always on the hunt.

  7. #7
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    I always felt Robbie knew. There was a scene during the clone saga when Peter as a civilian and Ben in costume as Spidey showed up in JJJ’s office at the same time and Robbie was shocked and speechless.

  8. #8
    Formerly Assassin Spider Huntsman Spider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HypnoHustler View Post
    I always felt Robbie knew. There was a scene during the clone saga when Peter as a civilian and Ben in costume as Spidey showed up in JJJ’s office at the same time and Robbie was shocked and speechless.
    Come to think of it, during the Civil War tie-ins in the Spider-Man books after Peter publicly unmasked, Robbie did call out Jonah with a reference to Occam's Razor, the simplest explanation being the most probable, saying they both ignored all the signs pointing to Peter being Spider-Man all along because his Spider-Man photos --- technically himself as Spider-Man --- brought in money for The Daily Bugle, and after everything that had transpired since Peter's unmasking, perhaps they shouldn't be so quick to cast stones.
    The spider is always on the hunt.

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