And I also read some Spider-Man comics in March.
Venom #32: Solid mostly self-contained issue as Flash Thompson gets used to his new life in Philadelphia, and fights a mostly generic villain, while Bunn and co. lay the seeds for the battle with Toxin.
Marvel Team-Up #7-11: It’s a bit of a historic curiosity to see what else Conway was up to as he was killing off Gwen Stacy. The art by Ross Andru and Jim Mooney is okay, but this Spider-Man’s unpleasant, and not in an entertaining way, to the heroes he meets. There’s no focus on his private life (which makes this somewhat similar to Avenging Spider-Man) and the villains are mostly C-listers, except for Kang, who is underused in a three-parter. The best part was Harry Osborn acting like a jerk, shortly before his ASM 121 relapse. That alone made these issues worth reading. The 8th issue with Man-Killer as the villain has a laughably bad attempt at relevance with a feminist supervillain.
Marvel Team Up #12-14: It’s a bit odd to see a Werewolf by Night crossover so shortly before the first-appearance of the Man-Wolf. That one’s an okay crossover complicated by the guest-starr’s inability to control himself. Coincidentally, I had just read Grey Gargoyle’s previous appearance in Captain America, so the follow-up in MTU is solid enough, with Peter moping around after Gwen Stacy’s death and a guest appearance by Nick Fury. The Namor team-up may be the best, due to the contrast in personalities between the heroes, and Namor’s desire for good old-fashioned revenge.
Amazing Spider-Man #14: I remembered this as one of the lows of the Lee/ Ditko run, but it’s a lot of fun. It’s a great first appearance for a recurring mystery villain, especially with his unconventional plan, and method of drawing Spider-Man’s attention. I also like Peter’s ingenuity in getting to Hollywood, although Betty’s jealousy is annoying. The Hulk’s appearance here actually works quite well as an arc with Amazing Spider-Man Annual 3.
As a side note,, I’m really impressed with how Busiek’s version of Norman Osborn, as someone interested in Spider-Man prior to their first meeting, fits with the Goblin’s first appearance.
Untold Tales of Spider-Man #15: One of Busiek and Oliffe’s best issues yet, with a new villain whose plans draw in Jonah and Betty, and lead to an impressive fight scene in the Daily Bugle. Busiek also makes great use of the Midtown High supporting cast.
Untold Tales of Spider-Man #16: I don’t like that this issue essentially made Parallel Lives canon. But it’s like Marvels in the way it shows the response to a battle between Spider-Man and a supervillain from a peripheral character. And that side plot is quite satisfying.
Marvel Team-Up #15: I first read about this issue on a trading card about 18 years ago, so it’s one I’ve been aware of for a long time. It’s the strongest MTU issue yet. Orb isn’t the first hypnotist to fight Spider-Man, but his connection to Ghost Rider makes this a more consequential team-up than most, and there are some cool moments (especially when he uses the hypnotized crowd to send a message to the heroes). And I appreciate Andru’s use of New York City, with fight scenes in Madison Square Garden, Grand Central Station and the New York City.
Amazing Spider-Man #315: Michelinie’s a bit hamfisted with Nate Lubensky’s gambling problem, but it’s an otherwise solid spotlight for Aunt May’s fiancee. Other highlights include Peter’s difficulties moving in with Aunt May post-ASM 314, and Venom’s brutal escape. Extra point for Todd Mcfarlane’s art. But it’s possible that Kristy Watson is the worst supporting character in Spider-Man history.
Alpha: The Big Time #2
A step down from the first issue. Alpha’s a whiner, and his concern about whether he went too far against an ordinary crook isn’t a good enough A-plot. It takes long for the bad guy to show up.
Amazing Spider-Man #316-317
I’m slightly concerned about giving these two issues a perfect score, since there are some minor weaknesses. But it’s easily among the best (rivaled by ASM 300) of Michelinie or Mcfarlane on Spider-Man. Venom’s such a great foe, and it’s more fun when he’s able to stalk Spidey. And Peter Parker. And these may be among the ten best illustrated Spider-Man issues ever.
Amazing Spider-Man #15
Small examples show how Spider-Man was just better than other comics of the time. I like all the panels with five or so people talking at once, Kraven’s motivations and poisoned Spidey.
Amazing Spider-Man #16
It really had to be difficult for anyone picking this issue not to pick up Daredevil. He’s such a perfect fit for Spider-Man’s world, but this also functions as a perfect intro to his book. The central plot with Ringmaster accidentally hypnotizing Spider-Man is fun, allowing for some wacky circus visuals from Ditko.
Marvel Team-Up #16-17
Basilisk isn’t the best Marvel villain, but he ties in well to Captain Marvel, and this two-parter also features an appearance by Reed Richards at an interesting time, as the Fantastic Four is on the verge of collapse.
Marvel Team-Up #19-20
Stegron’s a second-rate Lizard clone, made more ridiculous by his civilian name. Still, it’s fun to see Gil Kane drawing dinosaur carnage in the Savage Land, and then New York City.
Untold Tales of Spider-Man #17
Hawkeye elevates this issue, as a young Spider-Man realizes that he’s fighting against a good man. Arguably the best of Untold Tales.
Untold Tales of Spider-Man #18
Notable for the twist with the connection between original Untold Tales villain Headsman and the Green Goblin, as well as Peter’s attempts to bring Flash and Liz together.
Untold Tales of Spider-Man: Strange Encounter
Essentially an Untold Tales Untold Tales. Published years after UTSM came to an end, it’s set in the middle of the run with the first meeting between Spider-Man and Doctor Strange. Supporting cast members have believable responses to the oddness. Neil Vokes is sometimes the perfect fit for the project, and sometimes too much of a departure from Ditko and Oliffe.
Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1
The perfect comic book to adapt into a video game. Guest-starrs, solid battles with the best Spider-Man foes (in the space of two issues) and some extras worth reading generations later.
Untold Tales of Spider-Man #19
Excellent self-contained battle between Spider-Man and his greatest enemy, with an appearance by Flash Thompson’s father.
Amazing Spider-Man #17
Chaotic and unconventional. Showcase of what makes Spider-Man comics unique, as his reputation takes a hit twice, beginning with his accidental interruption of a movie shoot. It seems like a one-off, until it becomes clear that it’s a setup to something bigger.
Avenging Spider-Man #18
Great clash of personalities between the Doc Ock Spider-Man and Thor, as well as an impressive battle with Electro.
Avenging Spider-Man #6/ Daredevil #11/ Punisher #10: I like the interactions between the three heroes, and the way the crossover moves forward narratives for both series. Chechetto’s art is gorgeous. But it does go by really quickly, and there aren’t any particularly memorable moments.
Untold Tales of Spider-Man #20-22: Three done in one issues expanding on events from Amazing Spider-Man #18. The Vulture story has some great continuity nods, and I like how this series turns the Crime Master, a one-off villain from a two part story, into a big bad, making a Lee/ Ditko classic seem even more consequential. The evil plan in the X-Men team-up is pretty clever.
Amazing Spider-Man #18: A classic. Among Lee/ Ditko’s best, and further proof they just told superhero stories differently. Among the definitive Spider-Man stories.
Superior Spider-Man #6
I like the Screwball/ Jester duo, and Spock’s response is characteristic. Though it is kinda slight for four bucks.
Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #21
Padding between two fights with Venom.
Amazing Spider-Man #19
Fun team-up with the Human Torch, as Spidey gets his mojo back.
Amazing Spider-Man #20
Thanks to a Marvel Tales reprint I picked up, this is probably the first Lee/ Ditko tale I ever read. Scorpion’s an effective foe, and the tale reveals a lot about J Jonah Jameson, while Spidey gets his ass kicked twice, before he comes up with a way to win. There are two moments that stick out to me. It’s when Spider-Man comes up with a way to beat Scorpion, but Scorpion doesn’t fall instantly. And then there’s Peter’s response to the news that Ned Leeds is heading out to Europe.
Untold Tales of Spider-Man #23
Satisfying enough, but it’s mostly set-up to the reveal of the impostor an issue later, and the confrontation with Crime Master two issues later.
Untold Tales of Spider-Man Annual ’97
I like the guest-starrs, Spider-Man’s laundry problems and the crossover with Amazing Spider-Man. Tom Lyle isn’t a great fit for the series (and he’s especially disappointing when compared to other Mid-90s Spidey artists, like Oliffe, Romita Jr, Zeck, Wieringo and Luke Ross) and Sundown is a weak though, although he is also believable as what a shmuck would do with sudden powers.
Amazing Spider-Man #21
Another fun team-up between Spider-Man and the Torch. But didn’t we just see this stuff two issues ago?
Untold Tales of Spider-Man Annual ’96
Busiek and Allred capture the spirit of the Lee/ Ditko Torch clashes, as Spider-Man also gets a date with the Invisible Girl, and earns the wrath of Namor.
Continuity note: In the Untold Tales of Spider-Man chronology, Busiek posits that the Spider-Man/ Torch back-up story in Amazing Spider-Man #7 had to happen after Issue #21 because Peter didn’t learn about Dorrie’s address until then, and Reed was going to propose to Sue pretty soon, which meant it couldn’t happen much later. The stories clash a bit, considering how Dorrie didn’t care for Spidey in ASM 21, although it is believable behavior for a teenager to assume he can still impress a girl he repulsed.
Amazing Spider-Man #22
Possibly the funniest story of the Lee/ Ditko run, as Spidey gets involved in a falling out between the Ringmaster and the Circus of Crime.
Untold Tales of Spider-Man #24
Slightly clumsy conclusion to two unresolved plots (Batwing, Jason’s plan for revenge against Spidey.)
Amazing Spider-Man #23
Fun Spider-Man VS Green Goblin tale. Has a highlight of the Lee/ Ditko run as Spidey calls his aunt just before a fight with gangsters. Foswell’s return is also an interesting development for the Daily Bugle.
Untold Tales of Spider-Man #25
Good foreshadowing of what’s coming up in the college days, as Spidey fights the Green Goblin at ESU.
Amazing Spider-Man Annual ‘97
Spidey faces two foes he hadn’t seen in years, Lucky Lobo from Amazing Spider-Man #23 and Sundown from Untold Tales Annual ’97. I appreciate it for Peter’s concern over a villain he hadn’t seen in years, as well as Sundown’s reluctance.
Amazing Spider-Man Annual #37
Two self-contained untold tales, as Busiek and Oliffe pit Spider-Man against the Human Top and Stan Lee. Meanwhile, Kesel gives a worthy first encounter for Spider-Man and Captain America, capturing Spidey’s awe quite well.
Amazing Spider-Man #24
Possibly the third best Lee/ Ditko story, as Spider-Man is convinced that he’s going insane. Ditko sells it. Also has a great clash between Jonah and Flash Thompson.
Spider-Man/ Human Torch #1
The first issue of Slott and Templeton’s mini, set in the high school days, is just a joy to read, packed with battles against the Mole Man, Doctor Doom and the Human Torch’s archenemy, Paste Pot Pete.
Webspinners: Tales of Spider-Man #7-9
The most modern take on Peter’s high school days. Kelly deserves a lot of credit for his characterization of Betty Brant and Liz Allen. And there’s a great arc for Spidey as he decides to cut corners in a battle with Sandman.
Webspinners: Tales of Spider-Man #10-12
Jenkins’s audition for Peter Parker Spider-Man. The first two issues with Sean Phillips are essentially a psychological thriller as the Chameleon makes his move against Peter Parker, and you never quite know where the story is going. And then JG Jones provides a conclusion, as Peter deals with tragedy, growing up and convoluted continuity.
Amazing Spider-Man #25
Fun story of Peter screwing up, as Jonah’s fondest wishes come true.
Amazing Spider-Man #26-27
The first real Spider-Man two-parter. The central mystery is quite satisfying, and we get a lot of cool moments that just wouldn’t happen in non-Marvel superhero titles, as Peter has to deal with replacing his costume, a villain dies fighting cops instead of Spidey, and Peter realizes that he has other choices than the Daily Bugle. Plus, Peter finally lets loose against Flash.
Amazing Spider-Man #28
I like the conflict between Spider-Man and the guy who just developed super-powers. The fight with the Molten Man is one of the most visually interesting in Ditko’s run. And the graduation is fun. But I just can’t buy the central coincidence of someone developing superpowers while Peter Parker is in the room. And maybe things are different 50 years later, but the graduation should have had more initial fanfare.
Amazing Spider-Man Annual #2
Feels like the most disposable Lee/ Ditko Spider-Man story to date, as Spidey is essentially caught in a Doctor Strange story. May be among Ditko’s most visually interesting work. Shame the main story is so slight.
Amazing Spider-Man #29
Generic return of the Scorpion.
Amazing Spider-Man #30
Very busy issue, although there’s a fun Jonah VS Spidey plot, while Peter’s relationship with Betty Brant goes to hell.
Marvel Team-Up #21
A Spidey/ Doctor Strange team-ups with fun moments (as they swap powers, and we see the contrast between reality and Spider-Man’s hallucinations when he fights Strange), and a somber twist involving the supervillain, our old pal Xandu from the second annual.
Marvel Team-Up #22
Generic Hawkeye team-up. I do like the reference to Hawkeye’s struggles with a solo career.
Marvel Team-Up #24
Generic team-up with Brother Voodoo. Extra-credit for the opening with Spidey vandalizing a Daily Bugle billboard.
Marvel Team-Up #25
This could be used as a springboard for why Spider-Man and Daredevil make good team-ups. I like how they deal with a ransom, complicated by Daredevil having more information than Spidey.
Superior Spider-Man #6AU
Good enough standalone issue as Doc Ock responds to the apocalypse.
There’s some solid tension as Morbius must resist his impulses in the course of a surgery for a criminal he injured. And the criminal’s protective girlfriend is believable. But this is really padded.
Scarlet Spider #15
Unmemorable, but good enough, conclusion to the current story.
Amazing Spider-Man #31-33
For a little while, this may have been the best comic book story ever published.
Webspinners: Tales of Spider-Man #15-16
It’s worth looking at a Spider-Man story that’s modern, but predates Bendis, JMS, Slott, Jenkins and company. So there’s a big Dematteis influence as Spider-Man struggles to do the right thing and befriends some cops, while Vulture kidnaps a little girl.
Amazing Spider-Man #34
Takes on a different meaning due to a later story in which Kraven impersonates Spidey. Fun, mostly disposable single issue story.
Amazing Spider-Man #35
There’s a good amount that distinguishes the Molten Man from other Spidey foes, but his rematch with Peter Parker just isn’t all that interesting. One of the two weakest issues of the run.
Amazing Spider-Man #36
The Looter is one of the lamest foes introduced in the Lee/ Ditko run, though Peter Parker’s subplots are more fun, as he convinced Gwen Stacy that he’s a coward.
Amazing Spider-Man #37
The Robot Master is a generic villain, but the story is elevated by the appearance of Norman Osborn, a bystander who doesn’t want to be rescued.
Webspinners: Tales of Spider-Man #17-18
Good reunion for an old Amazing Spider-Man team. A good number of guest-starrs and a high number of villains as Spider-Man questions his morals when he’s forced to work with Silver Sable to help a tyrant.
Amazing Spider-Man #38
The final Lee/ Ditko story. I like the mystery of Norman Osborn, and how Joe Smith is a different type of supervillain.
Webspinners: Tales of Spider-Man #1-3
The last date with Gwen Stacy is fantastic. The Mysterio three-parter is solid, building on the Lee/ Ditko atmosphere, revealing links between Peter and one of his greatest foes and setting up fun sequences, as J Jonah Jameson is convinced that he died and went to hell.
Total So Far: 1051 Comics read in 2013