First Published: December 2000
Contents: First and Second Editions: Amazing Spider-Man #69 (February 1969) to #89 (October 1970), and Amazing Spider-Man Annual #4 (1967) and #5 (1968); Third Edition: Amazing Spider-Man #66 (November 1968) to #89 (October 1970), and Amazing Spider-Man Annual #5 (1968)
Key Creator Credits: Stan Lee, John Romita Sr., John Buscema, Jim Mooney
Key First Appearances: Vanessa Fisk, Martha Robertson, Silvermane, Man-Mountain Marko, Hobie Brown/Prowler, Richard Fisk/Schemer/Rose, Mary Parker, Richard Parker
Story Continues From: Essential Spider-Man Vol. 3
Story Continues In: Essential Spider-Man Vol. 5
Overview: Spider-Man swings into the 1970s with this Essential volume. Still battling traditional foes like the Lizard, Doctor Octopus, and the Kingpin, new foes are introduced with Silvermane and the Prowler. We see more of the real-world social issues of the era creeping into the pages of the comics, as student protests are the norm across the Empire State University campus. Other characters from across the Marvel Universe, such as Quicksilver and the Black Widow, get caught up in Spider-Man’s webs. For those occasions when he is out of costumer, Peter has a daily challenge to balance the demands on his time – from Aunt May to Gwen Stacy, from college classes to freelance photographer.
What makes this Essential?: After five plus years of publication, Stan Lee had developed a predictable formula with his stories in Amazing Spider-Man. The art team, which rotated between John Romita, Sr., John Buscema, and Jim Mooney (with a touch of Gil Kane for good measure) perform admirably in their assignments. But the story structure doesn’t seem to alter much. Most stories end with the villain being defeated, but rather than celebrating his victory, Peter laments about how bad his life is – troubles with Gwen, overdue college papers, and he forgot to take photos for the Daily Bugle. The supporting characters introduced flesh out the storylines, but they don’t advance it along either. If you are a Spider-Man completist, look for this volume if you don’t already own the original issues. For the average Marvel fan, your collection will not suffer with this Essential not being on your shelf.
Footnotes: Please note that there are different content listings between the first and second editions and the third edition of this Essential. Volume #4 had different content listings between the editions, due to the placement of Amazing Spider-Man Annual #4.
The full review can be found at EssentialShowcase.com.
To find the original issues, or reprints, of these Amazing Spider-Man issues, check with your local comic book. In the Midwest, I strongly recommend Clint’s Comics in midtown Kansas City. Clint’s has been in business for nearly 50 years at the intersection of Main St. and Westport Rd. The back-issue selection is incredible, and what you see in the store is just a small fraction of their total inventory. In addition to the back issues, Clint’s stocks current issues, trade paperbacks, toys, T-shirts, and more. Check out Clint’s Comics to build your own essential collection!