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A Spider-Man For All Seasons, Part 2

A look back at 40 years of amazing adventures from the creators who made Spidey a hero

By Arnold T. Blumberg     August 31, 2002

Last time, we examined Spider-Man's universal appeal through the eyes of his many creators. Now the really fun part - we ask these talented guys to pick their favorite Spidey issues ever!

Every Spider-fan has his or her own list of their favorite moments in the life of the web-spinner, but what do some of these past and present Spider-Man creators remember most when they think of the charming guy with the creepy red and blue tights?

Norman Osborn began his first bout with amnesia at the conclusion of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #40.

"The story where he decides to give up being Spider-Man but then finds he cannot," says Lee, referring to the classic AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #50 as his favorite Spider-tale.

"I have to go with Gwen Stacy's death [in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #121]," says Bendis. "[It's] the first time I remember seeing something like that in a comic. It raised the bar for comic writers like nothing else since."

John Romita Jr. concurs.

The middle chapter in the famous non-Code drug story arc, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #97.

"The death of Gwen Stacy story arc was my favorite moment in the history of Spider-Man," says Romita Jr.

Stern dips a bit further into the past for his choice.

"The Master Planner story from AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #31-33. It's
never been equaled," says Stern.

Interestingly, both Spider-Man group editor Axel Alonso, and writer/editor Tom DeFalco go for the more way-out and wild sequences in Spider-Man's saga.

"[AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #100-102], where Peter Parker suddenly sprouts extra arms like a real spider," says Alonso. "I thought that was pretty darn cool. Granted, I was probably about five at the time, so the possible downside to being a six-armed freak was lost on me."

"I loved the moment [in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #230, edited by DeFalco] when Spider-Man realized that he had absolutely no hope of stopping the Juggernaut...and then he went out after him anyway!" says DeFalco. "That's my definition of a hero!"

Beneath the stark black cover, J. Michael Straczynski offers a moving elegy on the events of September 11, 2001.

John Romita Sr., perhaps one of the most beloved artists ever to put pen to Spider, chooses perhaps one of the most intimate and heartfelt moments in the Spider-saga.

"When Mary Jane, about to run and hide after Gwen Stacy's death, grew up and stayed to help Peter face the loss," says Romita. "She opened the door [to leave Peter's apartment], paused and shut the door and became a woman."

And what about Quesada? Not only does he partially concur with Alonso on the selecting of a memorable Spider-story, his choice also coincides with his initial discovery of the Marvel Universe.

The cover that dared readers to guess the tragic truth. AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #121.

"For me it would have to be the series of issues where Stan dealt with drug addition [in the non-Comics Code approved issues, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #96-98]," says Quesada, "to the point with Peter battling Morbius and growing extra arms. I'll never forget that. That was my introduction to Marvel Comics actually. It was really great stuff."

A Goblin revealed! Cover to John Romita's first AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, #39.

It may have taken 40 years since his first appearance, but at last Spider-Man is achieving some of the worldwide recognition that he always deserved. When faced with such an amazing milestone - and just think, Spidey's 50th is only ten short years away - it naturally inspires forward-thinking speculation about the future potential of the character. Spider-Man has been swinging through our lives for so long now, is it likely he'll still be spinning his webs another forty or fifty years down the road? Will the world always need a Spectacular Spider-Man? Certainly his creators think so, and we doubt many fans would disagree. As we discovered earlier, it's his down-to-Earth sensibility in the face of impossible odds that endears him to us all. Whether he's slugging thugs in Brooklyn or trying to stay sane when Dr. Strange sends him into some distant dimension, Spidey retains his New York attitude and never-say-die resolve. He's a hero for all ages and all eras.

"Peter Parker is not from another planet," says Alonso. "He does not have a sidekick, a mansion, or a manservant. He's a nerd from Queens who often crashes on his Aunt May's couch. He has to hustle to makes ends meet, is largely unappreciated by the world, and is constantly battling bouts of self-doubt and insecurity. That's a lot to relate to."

One of John Romita Sr.'s most memorable Spider-Man covers

"There's a little Peter Parker in all of us," says DeFalco. "We all share his insecurities and the wisest among us wish we had his sense of responsibility."

"As long as people are insecure about themselves, then characters like Spider-Man will be thriving," says Quesada. "He's classic in nature, Shakespearean in nature. It's a subject matter that's as old as humans."

But the last word has to go to John Romita Sr., who concurs with his colleagues but points out that key to the massive Spider-success has been the warmth that has always existed between Peter Parker, his friends, and his extended family of devoted fans who have seen him through triumph and tragedy lo these many years.

"Other series have had great villains and personal problems," says Romita Sr. "But Peter Parker's unending minefield of crucial choices makes him emotionally every reader's buddy."

After 40 years, our Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man is still fighting for the little guy and struggling with his own chaotic lifestyle, and if we have anything to say about it, he'll still be balancing his Great Power and Great Responsibility for countless decades to come. Just the old Parker luck running true to form...and we wouldn't have it any other way.

Happy 40th, bunky!

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