Still AMAZ­ING

With a new Spi­der-Man movie in cin­e­mas, Worlds of Won­der looks back at some of the web-slinger’s more spec­tac­u­lar sto­ries.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Front Page - beau­ti­fully re-cap­tures Gwen and Peter’s early court­ing days. By KALEON RAHAN star2@thes­tar.com.my

HAV­ING watched all the Spi­derMan movies, (yes, even the old Ni­cholas Ham­mond ones!), it is en­cour­ag­ing that they get bet­ter with ev­ery new ven­ture. One im­por­tant in­gre­di­ent for this suc­cess­ful trend is the adop­tion of more and more comic book el­e­ments, from or­ganic web­bing to the re­cent shut­ter-mask up­grade.

Over­all, I’ve been a happy camper when it comes to Spidey movies, but that still hasn’t stopped me from com­par­ing them to clas­sic comic book tales. Stick­ing to my per­sonal tra­di­tion, here are 10 (in no or­der of pref­er­ence) iconic Spidey tales for you to fol­low up on – just in case you caught the Home­com­ing bug!

Orig­i­nal ori­gin

High school kid gets bit­ten by ra­dioac­tive spi­der and be­comes Spi­der-Man, but swears to use his pow­ers to help peo­ple af­ter his Un­cle Ben is shot and killed by a rob­ber he had let go ear­lier.

Since it was first told 55 years ago in Amaz­ing Fan­tasy #15 (1962), Peter Parker’s ori­gin story is one that has been told re­peat­edly, both in the comics and in the film.

While Spi­der-Man: Home­com­ing mer­ci­fully spares us from hav­ing to sit through Un­cle Ben dy­ing yet again, giv­ing Spidey’s ori­gin story a new spin is not easy.

En­ter Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Ba­gley, whose first is­sue of Ul­ti­mate Spi­der-Man in 2000 gets my pick for best story on Peter Parker’s ori­gin.

The added depth and di­men­sion this Ul­ti­mate ver­sion of­fered just made it im­pos­si­ble to re­sist, plus the fi­nal page where Peter hangs up­side down got me scream­ing “Wow!”.

From Peter’s so­cial in­ept­ness to the ad­di­tional pan­els fo­cused on Ben Parker, this 21st cen­tury re­vamp cer­tainly smoothed the tran­si­tion into the 2002 Spi­der-Man movie.

Spidey vs. the Sin­is­ter Six

The big­gest al­lure of be­ing a Spidey fan is watch­ing him work to up­hold his “with great pow­ers comes great re­spon­si­bil­ity” mantra. This has re­sulted in him go­ing against in­sur­mount­able odds most of the time.

Some of the more mem­o­rable bruis­ing en­coun­ters that come to mind in­cludes Spidey stop­ping the Jug­ger­naut (see Amaz­ing Spi­derMan #229 and #230), go­ing up against Thanos (Mar­vel Two In One An­nual #2), and even go­ing toe-to­toe with The Hulk (Amaz­ing Spi­derMan #120).

How­ever, all these pale in com­par­i­son to his first show­down with the Sin­is­ter Six in Amaz­ing Spi­der-Man An­nual #1 by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.

With his pow­ers fad­ing away, Peter had to take on Doc­tor Oc­to­pus, Elec­tro, Mys­te­rio, Kraven, Vul­ture and Sand­man in or­der to res­cue Betty Brant and Aunt May.

The in­di­vid­ual pan­els show­ing his show­down with each of the vil­lains are still some of the most iconic Ditko has ever drawn.

Hit­ting the jack­pot

There have been so many wor­thy Peter and Mary Jane Wat­son mo­ments through­out the web­slinger’s his­tory.

Their first meet­ing in Amaz­ing Spi­der-Man #42, Peter’s pro­pos­als (#184 and #290) and their wed­ding (Amaz­ing Spi­der-Man An­nual #21), to name a few.

But the one sin­gle is­sue that best de­fines Peter and MJ’s re­la­tion­ship is en­cap­su­lated in the event­ful Sen­sa­tional Spi­der-Man An­nual #1 by Matt Frac­tion and Sal­vador Larocca.

Set post-Civil War, with the Park­ers on the run from SHIELD, a short pit stop for a cup of cof­fee re-opens a flood of mem­o­ries for the two love­birds, re­trac­ing their early days and what makes them com­plete each other. The panoramic shot of them perched on top of the Em­pire State Build­ing is sim­ply breath­tak­ing!

Then Mar­vel had to spoil it all by eras­ing their mar­riage with the whole One More Day fi­asco. Sigh.

Kraven steps up

The Green Gob­lin, Venom and Doc Ock may have threat­ened Spidey’s life the most num­ber of times.

But it is Sergei Kravi­noff aka Kraven The Hunter who has the hon­our of in­flict­ing the heav­i­est de­feat on the wall crawler, in J.M. DeMat­teis & Mike Zeck’s Kraven’s Last Hunt story (Web Of Spi­derMan #31-32, Amaz­ing Spi­der-Man #293-294, and Spec­tac­u­lar Spi­derMan #131-132).

For years, Kraven was a bit-part vil­lain who usu­ally ended up get­ting sucker punched by Spidey be­fore the last panel.

Well, the kid gloves are cer­tainly off in Kraven’s Last Hunt, as he not only de­feats Spidey but he also buries him alive and re­places him! While this may sound both evil and sick, Kraven’s ac­tions seals his stature as a bonafide grade-A Spidey vil­lain.

Fashion up­grade

In the 70s, the in­tro­duc­tion of the Spi­der-Mo­bile (a dune buggy that fer­ries Spidey to do his crime fight­ing!) was an idea that bor­dered be­tween ridicu­lous and blas­phe­mous. To­day, we have the Spi­der-verse ex­pos­ing us to ev­ery pos­si­ble Spidey-vari­a­tion.

All these of­fer a glimpse of how the tra­di­tional Lee-Ditko cre­ation can be al­tered. But some­times, all it takes is a wardrobe change to hit the jack­pot.

Be­fore Tom DeFalco, Roger Stern and Ron Frenz put him in the now fa­mil­iar black cos­tume in Amaz­ing Spi­der-Man #252 (1984), Peter had been wear­ing the fam­liar red and blue cos­tume for more than two decades with­out ever chang­ing.

Throw in the fact that it was ac­tu­ally an alien sym­biote that would give birth to in­flu­en­tial Spidey char­ac­ters like Venom, Car­nage, Toxin and Agent Venom, and it makes his fashion up­grade even more iconic!

Cross­ing the line

Some­times we wish Spidey/Peter would cross the line some­times and be more self­ish in terms of his per­sonal needs and life. We got a glimpse of that with the Su­pe­rior Spi­der-Man run (2013-2014) by Dan Slott with Ryan Stegman, Hum­berto Ramos, and Giuseppe Ca­muncoli.

While putting Doc Ock in Peter’s body caused a huge up­roar ini­tially, it ended up be­ing one of the most re­fresh­ing twists on the char­ac­ter in its his­tory.

Doc Ock ac­tu­ally helped im­proved Peter’s life, by com­plet­ing his long over­due aca­demic recog­ni­tion, mak­ing a profit from in­ven­tions, op­ti­mis­ing his crime fight­ing meth­ods, and main­tain­ing a steady re­la­tion­ship. Slott is a freak­ing ge­nius for over­turn­ing the death threats he got at first into ac­co­lades!

Still got the blues

Be­fore MJ be­came Spidey’s per­ma­nent love-in­ter­est, there was Gwen Stacy (and be­fore her, Betty Brant).

While to­day’s gen­er­a­tion of Spidey fans would know her as Spi­der-Gwen, the orig­i­nal Earth 616 Gwen ac­tu­ally had strong ro­man­tic ties with Peter but sadly died with­out know­ing that he is Spi­der-Man (though that changed with the re­cent Clone Con­spir­acy story)

Any­way, Spi­der-Man Blue (2002) by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale is a bio­graph­i­cal trib­ute that beau­ti­fully re-cap­tures Gwen and Peter’s early court­ing days. What makes it even more spe­cial is that it even came with MJ’s bless­ings!

Death be­comes her

The Night Gwen Stacy Died is one of the most im­pact­ful Spi­der-Man sto­ries of all time. Told in Amaz­ing

Spi­der-Man #121 and #122 (1973) by Gerry Con­way and Gil Kane, it is also one of the best Spidey sto­ries, and taught me that there’s ac­tu­ally ‘life’ in comic book char­ac­ters.

I re­call read­ing this when I was seven and Gwen’s death hit me just as hard as a loved one’s de­par­ture.

When the Green Gob­lin (Nor­man Os­born) met his fate at the hands of his own glider in the fol­low­ing is­sue, I felt Gwen’s soul be­ing avenged and still cheer on when­ever I read that is­sue.

While Bat­man fans will never agree, Gwen’s death stands out as one of those rare comic book mo­ments where death, re­venge and ret­ri­bu­tion came in one swift pack­age.

Come what May

Be­fore Home­com­ing’s younger ver­sion played by Marisa Tomei, Aunt May has al­ways been por­trayed as a frag­ile sep­tu­a­ge­nar­ian who gets a heart at­tack ev­ery time some­thing ter­ri­fy­ing hap­pens. Hence, most of the 60s and 70s Spidey-sto­ries had Peter in panic mode when­ever she gets caught in the cross­fire.

Any­way, one ma­jor re­deem­ing fac­tor from J Michael Straczyn­ski’s con­tro­ver­sial Spidey stint (think Gwen-adul­tery and Os­born-twins) is the han­dling of May’s re­ac­tion to find­ing out about Peter’s se­cret iden­tity in Amaz­ing Spi­der-Man

#38 (2002).

The post-con­ver­sa­tion be­tween the duo cer­tainly does jus­tice to the parental bond they share.

Best Make-A-Wish mo­ment

While it seems as if al­most ev­ery­one knows Peter Parker is Spidey these days, back in the 80s, only a rare hand­ful of peo­ple knew his iden­tity.

If mem­ory serves me, Roger Stern and John Romita Jr’s The Kid

Who Col­lects Spi­der-Man story in Amaz­ing Spi­der-Man #248 (1984) was the first time Peter vol­un­tar­ily re­vealed his iden­tity ... and it was for a good cause!

Ti­mothy Har­ri­son is a nine-yearold di­ag­nosed with leukemia, who col­lects ev­ery­thing re­lated to Spidey, from ar­ti­cles and para­pher­na­lia to Spidey-re­lated “ar­ti­facts” from crime scenes. In this “Make A Wish” tale, Spidey takes a night off from sav­ing the world to spend time with his big­gest fan.

Spidey’s first show­down with the Sin­is­ter Six in Amaz­ing Spi­der-Man An­nual #1 fea­tures some of Ditko’s most iconic pan­els.

Gwen’s death stands out as one of those rare comic book mo­ments where death, re­venge and ret­ri­bu­tion came in one swift pack­age.

Sen­sa­tional Spi­der-Man An­nual #1 was one story that best de­fines Peter and MJ’s re­la­tion­ship.

Putting Doc Ock in Peter’s body as the Su­pe­rior Spi­der-Man was one of the most re­fresh­ing twists on the char­ac­ter in its his­tory.

The con­ver­sa­tion be­tween Aunt May and Peter af­ter she finds out his se­cret cer­tainly does jus­tice to the parental bond they share.

In Kraven’s Last Hunt, the vil­lain not only de­feats Spidey but also buries him alive and re­places him!

Spi­der-Man Blue

The Kid Who Col­lects Spi­der-Man story was the first time Peter vol­un­tar­ily re­vealed his iden­tity.

The fi­nal page where Peter hangs up­side down in Ul­ti­mate Spi­der-Man makes this one of the fresh­est takes on the ori­gin story ever.

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