Saturday, February 18, 2012

On the Coffee Table: The Amazing Spider-Man

Title: The Amazing Spider-Man (Marvel Masterworks, Vol. 1)
Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Steve Ditko

Image via

When Mock began indoctrinating me into the world of comic books, he gave me three boxes filled entirely with Marvel titles. I decided to begin with Spider-Man as he was the character most familiar to me. As it turned out, The Amazing Spider-Man was a great series to begin with for other reasons. It is the one book in either the Marvel or DC universes which has stuck most faithfully to the traditional comic book formula: one hero with one alias, a small supporting cast and a self-contained story in each issue. Spidey is very tidy.

I soon realized that what I really wanted to do was go back to the beginning, to read the Spider-Man saga from his first appearance in the early '60s. The Marvel Masterworks series has provided me with just such an opportunity. I was delighted to find that the writing was every bit as hokey then as it is now. I got to read the origin story and to see the first super villain (Chameleon), the first crossover (The Fantastic Four) and the first girlfriend (Betty Brant). I love that they've left the typos and other mistakes as they were. For instance, in one story, the character is consistently referred to as Peter Palmer.

While the stories in each issue are a bit formulaic, the gradual development in the broader stories helps to maintain interest. As issue #10 wrapped up, I was genuinely curious as to what comes next in the Betty Brant story. I also think that Flash Thompson's changing attitude toward Peter Parker is intriguing. I'm definitely up for Volume 2.

I am glad that some ideas have been scrapped. The underarm webbing in the original Spidey costume is just weird - not that it isn't already plenty strange for a guy to be climbing up walls in full-body spandex! I'm not even sure what it is about the webbing that bothers me. It just doesn't fit with the rest somehow.

Image via

As with many of my generation, my personal history with Spider-Man goes back to The Electric Company.

The Electric Company - Introducing Spider Man

I also had a friend in college who would make appearances around campus in a Spidey costume. He even made his own movie of the origin story - quite a high-budget operation for a student film. He rented a crane for swinging from building to building. Marvel actually sent him a cease and desist letter.


  1. The webbing under the arms does look pretty stupid. What was its purpose? I don't think spiders go around with webbing around them.

  2. The Electric Company--I used to watch that show. I haven't seen that show since the 1970s. Thanks for the clip.

    I hope you consider getting rid of your Word Verification.

  3. The webbing makes me laugh - shouldn't he be shaving that???

  4. Don't recall the webbing under the arms. I used to watch the cartoon. That song is catchy.

  5. I have a modest collection and spiderman is a good chunk of it. For me the best part was the development of his wise cracking character which really made the reads enjoyable. If you like hokey try some old DC titles, talk about corny.