I also read a bunch of Spider-Man comics last month.
Superior Spider-Man #2: Solid standalone exploring Mary Jane’s relationship with Spider-Men.
Superior Spider-Man #3: A Superior Spider-Man issue that may appear on “Best of” lists in its own right, as Spock has a falling out with an old friend. The story makes the case that the Vulture is a worse person than Doctor Octopus.
Spider-Man/ Doctor Octopus: Negative Exposure #1-5: Great standalone mini-series by Brian K. Vaughan. His master manipulator take on Doc Ock is fantastic, and I also like how he shows the Marvel Universe through the eyes of others, something that’s been done often, but rarely as well.
Ultimate Spider-Man #18-20: Fantastic. Things get bad for Miles’s dad. And then Venom shows up. Great examples of a young superhero out of his league. The 18th issue was particularly impressive, possibly the best single issue with the Miles Morales Spider-Man. It starts with a bad situation in the aftermath of a crossover. Then things get worse as he encounters a new villain. He has a heart to heart with one of Peter Parker’s friends. And this is all contrasted with his parent’s experiences as they search for him in the wrong state, and his dad deals with the consequences of a necessary evil. Bendis is really strong at epilogues (see Ultimate Spider-Man #13 and #65) and this is no exception.
Venom #31: It’s such a change in direction that this may as well be Cullenn Bunn’s first issue. Hell, that might have been an improvement. It’s fun in the way that Sixth Gun was fun, as Flash Thompson’s Venom has a new beginning in Philadelphia. I especially like the debut of Mother Superior.
Spider-Man #24: Mostly mediocre one-shot by Mackie, which sets up later arcs. Doppleganger and Demogoblin both recur in Maximum Carnage, and Macendale will be the big bad in “Beware the Rage of a Desperate Man.” In retrospect it’s remarkable how often Mackie featured the Macendale Hobgoblin.
Captain America #137-138: Having read the preceding year’s worth of Cap stories, this seems to be proof that Spidey makes everything better. His presence livens up the Cap books at the tail end of Stan Lee’s run as Cap was teaming up with Falcon and moping on about being a relic.
Amazing Spider-Man #1-3: The first two issues are better than I remember. This early Peter Parker is a different type of superhero, a guy who considers the possibility he’ll be the villain and who just wants to support his Aunt May. The third issue, with the first appearance of Doc Ock, was just as good as I remember, as Peter is humbled for the first time.
Strange Tales Annual 2: I read this in The Essential Human Torch, although the reproduction quality was quite poor. It’s a fun enough early team-up between Spidey and the Torch, although a bit derivative since Spidey (who had only been in about four issues of his own book) had already been framed.
Strange Tales #115: The other reason for Spider-Man fans to pick up The Essential Human Torch (aside from the first appearances of the Beetle and Paste-Pot Pete.) Lee and Ayers play up on the Torch/ Spidey rivalry, when Johnny decides to tackle an escaped Sandman. Enjoyable for what it says about him and how unusual the Marvel Universe is. This marks the first appearance of a Spider-Man villain in anyone else’s title, and also leads to Sandman becoming a Fantastic Four foe, to the extent that Spidey considers him more of Torch’s archenemy than his in Marvel Team-Up #1. This issue also includes the origin of Lee/ Ditko’s other superhero Doctor Strange, a solid tale of a flawed man deciding to be a hero. Ditko’s gritty fantasy art is exceptional.
Spider-Man/ Doctor Octopus Year One #1-5:
Gorgeous art by Andrews. Wells builds on Defalco’s exploration of Ock’s backstory with a great tale of madness from the villain’s POV.
Amazing Spider-Man #4-6:
Lee/ Ditko’s stories of the superhero who gets no respect as either Peter Parker or as Spider-Man still holds up. The Lizard’s first appearance may be the weakest story, just due to the coincidences and leaps in logic.
Untold Tales of Spider-Man #1-2:
It’s a bit distracting to go from Lee/ Ditko to some riffs on Todd Mcfarlane’s work. And the Spider-Man in these comics seems a bit more hapless than the one in Lee/ Ditko. But it’s a worthy addition to the mythos, and it gets better.
Scarlet Spider #12: Fun self-contained story of Kaine recovering from a traumatic team-up.
Scarlet Spider #14: Good follow-up to “The Other.” Yost continues to make some minor Conway villains interesting, before setting up a potential major change for the series.
Untold Tales of Spider-Man #3: The battles between Spider-Man and Sandman are pretty good.
Untold Tales of Spider-Man #4: The Spacemen aren’t particularly compelling villains, although Jonah’s story is pretty good.
Amazing Spider-Man #7: Fun single issue story as Peter deals with an ass-kicking, and the Vulture attacks J Jonah Jameson.
Amazing Spider-Man #8: The salute to teenagers is a gimmick, the Living Brain is one of the weaker Lee/ Ditko villains, and it’s the third time in five issues criminals attacked Peter Parker. That said, it’s still a lot of fun.
Secret Invasion: Spider-Man #1-3: I was rereading Secret Invasion, and a lot of the tie-ins, so this was just part of that. It’s remembered as a low point of the Brand New Day era, although it isn’t all that bad. It’s an okay enough take on civilians dealing with a major marvel event, with some development with ongoing mysteries at the time.
Venom #28: Okay enough story with Venom running into a serious threat.
Amazing Spider-Man #10-12 Really good stuff. The Enforcers led to some good twists with J. Jonah Jameson and the Daily Bugle. That’s followed by the first storyline to carry across several issues, as Spider-Man’s girlfriends gets involved with gangsters and Doctor Octopus.
Untold Tales of Spider-Man #6-13: And this is when the title got really good, arguably the second-best run on the character in the 90s (after the Dematteis/ Buscema Spectacular Spider-Man.) The focus on Peter’s classmates allows Busiek and Oliffe to play with reader expectations, with events more consequential than we would have expected, including the final fate of a character from Amazing Fantasy #15. They also get some mileage from new villains, as well as Spidey’s interactions with characters from other Marvel titles. And I like the young hero’s attempts to do right by Batwing, a teenage boy who accidentally developed superpowers.
Avenging Spider-Man #17: I’ve been enjoying FF (Fantastic Four, not so much) so it’s a lot of fun to see Spock reacting to them, and his problems with children and people from the future who may know his secret identity. There’s also a ballsy twist that I didn’t see coming in a satellite title.
Count So Far: 542 comics read in 2013.