My Life as an Irish Fanboy: Part 13

More Spider-Man!!!

by Glenn Matchett

So the decision had been made, I would catch up to the American comics and be up to date with Spider-Man for the first time ever since the closing of the small comic shop towards the end of the Mackie/Byrne run.  At this point collections had become ‘the thing’ and it was ridiculously easy for me to catch up and I had a lot to catch up on.

Not only had I several arcs of Amazing to read but there issues of Jenkin’s run of Peter Parker I was missing as well as new titles Spectacular and Marvel Knights.  Fortunately for me a combination of patient and online buying made sure I got these arcs not only quickly but also for a decent price.  In recent years comic collections have become more popular and readily available than ever before.  Everything is collected and reprinted no matter what it is and even older stuff is being repackaged into new formats to benefit new readers on the hunt for classics.  Collection wise it’s a great time to be a comic fan and I was reaping the rewards of this as I sped through quite a few Spider-Man trades in a short period of time.  I saw the 500th issue of Amazing, the whole of Millar’s Marvel Knights run, Jenkin’s run conclude, the resolution of the long burning Spider Totum/Ezekiel story/ the arrival of the controversial Stacy twins and an interesting arc about a deeply troubled former classmate of Peter’s.  All of this I experienced in quick succession and it was quite a creative boom to go over.  There are some brilliant stories in there, some yes were controversial but all of them were truly gripping and left me on the edge of my seat.  The trade that collected Amazing 500 also collected the 2 issues prior and following this landmark issue in a collection simply called ‘Happy Birthday’.  About a year and a half prior to reading ‘Happy Birthday’ I had read the classic Spider-Man story ‘Kraven’s Last Hunt’ and it became my favourite comic ever.  Its raw emotion and sinister undertones really took me deeper into a comic than I ever thought possible.  It was also interesting because in that story Spider-man never exactly beats the man who shoots and buries him.  He gets a slight moral victory of the insane hunter but ultimately in a battle of strength Kraven beats the hero soundly and it’s an interesting concept that I don’t think could be done with any other hero.  ‘Last Hunt’ was partially originally crafted as a Batman tale featuring Hugo Strange and I’m glad the writer J.M Dematteis told the story with Spider-man instead because with another character I don’t think the story would have been as interesting.

However to me the 5 issues that ‘Happy Birthday’ collected took the top spot as my favourite Spider-man story ever.  Not only did it deal with some great scenes involving Spider-man’s past and possible future but also had him travelling in time (yay) and share a great scene with Uncle Ben.  The other two issues gave more depth to Aunt May’s feelings about the discovery of her nephew as Spider-man and also a slightly more humorous issue involving a super hero tailor.  To me those 5 issues pretty much sum up the JMS years pretty well mixing not only a grand scope but also more personal and comedic stories also.  His run was met with a lot of controversy but as a long time Spider-man fan who has seen a lot of different people on the book his run to me will always be one of the strongest ever.

Once I had caught up I was ready to jump on board with Amazing which was about to start a new arc and so was the secondary title at the time ‘Marvel Knights’ which was getting a new creative team. Amazing Spider-Man 519 was my first issue back in the realm of collecting the up to date American copies.  Am I paying more?  Probably but its great to be up to date in the world of Spider-man and his many titles.  Speaking of titles in a short space of time I saw a lot of them.  Since Amazing 519 Spider-man has also been Spectacular, Avenging, Friendly and also featured anthology comics like Web Of which I didn’t focus on as much unless they featured a creator or story I liked.  I also watched Ultimate Spider-man grow into a simply brilliant comic over its initially 112 issues or so.

It was ridiculous how much ‘I would want to read the next issue of Ultimate and how each issue would want me needing a little more.  I had also caught up with it via the collection route and signed up with the beginning of the Hobgoblin arc and I hoped I would get a modern revamp of one of the best Spider-man villains ever.  I didn’t get that exactly but no matter how good Amazing and the other titles were Ultimate for a long time seemed to be in a league of its own.  It relaunched twice and these days seems to be spinning its wheels in comparison but I can’t credit the title enough for what it gave me as a fan beyond Spider-man…..but more on that next week.  Meanwhile over in Amazing something strange was happening it seemed that JMS was leaving and so was the marriage between Peter and Mary Jane.  It seemed Marvel wanted to reset the characters to a more ‘iconic’ status and tell stories with a single Spider-man that you never could with a married one….or so we were told.  Being initially a fan of the cartoon the Spider-man I knew initially was single and I didn’t have an issue with the marriage, I actually quite liked it.  I think it added to the mythos nicely and added a lot not only to Peter’s character but also MJ’s.  Long gone was the party girl with the smile but instead remained in my view one of the most in depth and interesting female comic characters ever created.  People will argue with me over my view on the Spider-marriage but at the end it was irrelevant as right or wrong Marvel wanted it gone and with the gong of a bell it was in the form of ‘One More Day’.

It came and went and JMS was replaced with not one new writer but four of them!  One of which was Dan Slott who had written an absolutely brilliant and underrated miniseries which was titled ‘Spider-man/Human Torch: I’m with Stupid’ and I was cautiously optimistic.  I didn’t like where OMD had led me but I was willing to give ‘Brand New Day’ a fair shake.  The experiment often resulted in a roller coaster of quality where one arc would range from great to so-so in a very sharp manner.  Following that Slott took over the title on his lonesome and had to me led the book to an overall very strong direction under his solo voice.

Which takes me to where I am now waiting for the storyline ‘Ends Of The Earth’ to begin as Spider-man celebrates his 50th anniversary.  I’ve been a fan of Spider-man longer than I can remember and despite the ups and downs (gladly for me I can honestly say I’ve had more of the former than the latter) I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.  Other comics and characters will come and go and my support for Spider-man and his titles will never wain, I’ve enjoyed the ride too much and although this may sound odd to those of you reading this who don’t read comics I would not be who I am and not be doing what I am doing if it wasn’t for Spider-man and for that I will be eternally grateful.

Comments are closed.

Powered by WordPress. Designed by Woo Themes