Hey everybody, welcome back to another week in Ye Olde School Café! In this week’s installment, we’ll be checking out one of my favorite trades in my catalog with Spider-Man Visionaries: John Romita! Typically, most of the books I have are your average trade paperback, but these books that Marvel put out are a special look at a creator, more so than just one particular storyline. This book focuses on four stories that show Spidey/Peter in different situations that have him doubting himself inside and out. Let’s get to the first story right now!
The first story is Amazing Spider-Man #39 & 40, where we see a young Peter Parker in one of his usual dilemmas. He has to adjust to a lifestyle where a doctor has told him to keep Aunt May under a close watch, because after her recent surgery, she’s so weak that any shock could kill her. Between that and a cold, Pete feels pretty down ab0ut himself. Little does he realize that while he’s apprehending some thugs, he gets hit with a gas grenade that slows him down a bit. After webbing up the culprits, he finds an alleyway to change. The gas has him so loopy, he doesn’t realize that the Green Goblin is lurking above! The Goblin uses this information to track Peter down and then capture him. He then reveals to Peter that he knows he’s Spider-Man, and that the Goblin is really Norman Osborn under the mask! After Norman tells Peter how he became the Goblin, Peter breaks loose, and the fight is on. Both men go back and forth, punches, kicks, weapons, you name it, they try it. Spider-Man eventually gets the upper hand, and he has the Goblin beat; he drags him out of the burning building to the waiting police. Meanwhile, Aunt May has had a relapse due to worrying over Peter’s absence.
The next couple of issues focus on Peter meeting another powerful foe in the Rhino! Not only that, but he must also contend with John Jameson. Top it all off with the return of Peter’s one time flame, Betty Brant, and you get a great story that features Peter finally noticing the blonde bombshell, Gwen Stacy, too! Spider-Man gets blamed for some robberies, but he’s later exonerated by the police. In the meantime, John Jameson has returned from a mission in space, and has returned with superhuman strength. His father, J. Jonah Jameson, tells him that Spidey has been committing crimes and he should stop him. They battle it out with Spidey being able to out maneuver him. Peter returns home only to be met at the doorway by Aunt May. She tells him that her neighbor has invited her niece over to meet Peter. Well, the doorbell rings, Peter opens the door, and Mary Jane Watson is on the other side. That famous scene where she exclaims, “Face it tiger, you just hit the jackpot,” is then shown. Peter’s face is like that of a ten-year-old boy that can’t even mutter a word, he’s so intimidated.
The next issue is my favorite Spidey cover of all time. The issue is Amazing Spider-Man #50, and the cover says it all – “Spider-Man No More!” These three words have been seen more times than any (except more recently “No More Mutants”), but were quite a shock when first read. Basically, Peter has a string of bad luck, and coupled with his own thoughts of guilt that maybe he’s been doing this for the thrill of it, it leads him to believe that he should quit being Spider-Man. A kid finds his discarded long johns, and hands them over to J. Jonah Jameson for a reward. Jonah gives him a free copy of the Daily Bugle for his efforts. Peter then begins to live his new life, and wastes no time looking for Gwen. After he stops a mugging, he starts to realize that he’s more important than he thinks for the city. He remembers talking with his Uncle Ben and making a promise to never let something like that happen again.
Two more issues follow, but this time, the Kingpin of crime is the antagonist. Not much different of a typical Spidey story, but again, the focus is on the artist, John Romita. And what an artist he is. You get great action scenes, but also solid dialog scenes, too. I love the way he draws the Kingpin in these issues. He looks like he towers over Spidey, but not to a point of being ridiculous. The last two issues feature a story with Flash Thompson and a bunch of crazy Vietnamese dudes that are trying to kill him for something he didn’t do back in the war. Another good story that showed off the incredible talents of Mister Romita, the best Spider-Man artist of all time!
Well, that’s it for this week, but tune in next week for more action and adventure right here at Ye Olde School Café on ComicAttack.net!