Spider-Man’s Greatest Moments, Part II

Continuing a look at Spider-Man’s highlight in the past 50 years, there are more aspects of Spider-Man that has made him one of the most endearing and popular superheroes ever created.

Unlikely Savior

Though Spider-Man isn’t the most powerful superhero, his pluck and penchant for being in the wrong place at the right time make for captivating stories. Many times these out-of-his-element tales often took place in the pages of Marvel Team-Up. Other times he was a critical element in some wide-reaching storylines and comic books. For instance, it can be said that he was the heart of the Civil War mini-series. While that story dealt with Captain America and his forces squaring off against Iron Man and his side, Spider-Man was trapped in the middle of the war and both sides. At first, he supported Iron Man’s side about registering superhumans and revealed his secret identity to the world (Civil War # 2). But by the time the mini-series ended, Spidey switched sides and paid a terrible price as he was ostracized and his aunt nearly lost her life.

In other storylines, Spider-Man turned out to be instrumental in taking out an overly powerful enemy. Marvel Two-In-One Annual # 2 had him and the Thing taking on Thanos, who wanted to destroy our sun, and was holding the Avengers prisoner. After the Thing was defeated by Thanos, Spider-Man, as usual, was plagued with self doubt that he was out of his league. However, he overcame his inhibitiosn and freed the Avengers to fight Thanos. That wasn’t all, he alone freed the spirit of Adam Warlock to defeat Thanos, which turned the tide of the battle. Throughout this story, the metaphysical entities Master Order and Lord Chaos claimed that Spider-Man was chosen by them to fulfill his destiny by doing these actions.

Recent stories have shown Spider-Man taking on a larger role in saving the entire world and more. Who can forget the time that he was endowed with the cosmic powers of Captain Universe? Possessing fantastic powers, he even punched the Hulk into orbit, Spider-Man was given the powers to fight the menace of the Tri-Sentinel (The Amazing Spider-Man # 329). The most recent one occurred in the “Ends Of The Earth” story arc in The Amazing Spider-Man # 682-687, but more memorable stories include those featured in The Amazing Spider-Man # 678-679 (“I Killed Tomorrow”) where Spider-Man time travels in a desperate attempt to prevent New York City’s destruction and in The Amazing Spider-Man # 48, 49 (Volume 2) and The Amazing Spider-Man # 500. That story (“Happy Birthday To Me”) had Spider-Man squaring off against the mystical foe Dormammu.

Spidey’s Deadliest Foes

One of the most remarkable qualities about Spider-Man is his large and colorful rogues gallery. Many villains have been introduced over the years and most of them are quite memorable. They include the Lizard, Mysterio, the Sandman, Electro, the Chameleon, the Shocker and the Kingpin. But two villains vying for the dubious honor as his deadliest foe are Doctor Octopus and the Green Goblin. Introduced waaay back in the early issues of The Amazing Spider-Man (issues # 3 and 14 respectively), these characters were instantly popular. While Doctor Octopus continuously plagues the Wall-Crawler (and has a major role in the upcoming 700th issue of The Amazing Spider-Man) the Green Goblin took the mantle fairly early as his greatest enemy. That was because he discovered Spider-Man’s secret identity (The Amazing Spider-Man # 39, 40). Those two issues revealed that he was Norman Osborn, the wealthy father of Peter’s best friend Harry. Afterwards, Osborn would use that knowledge of Peter’s secret identity to deadly affect over the years. This culminated in his killing Peter’s girlfriend Gwen Stacy in The Amazing Spider-Man # 121. Continue reading

Spider-Man’s Greatest Moments, Part I

Marvel is celebrating the 50th birthday of their flagship superhero Spider-Man. He’s come a long way since appearing on the last issue of a failing science fiction comic book, but the minute he was introduced in Amazing Fantasy # 15, he became a sensation. Helping to usher in the so-called Marvel Age of Comics, Spider-Man was and is still Marvel’s most popular and iconic superhero. Over the years, our favorite Wall-Crawler has seen his highs and lows when it came to his storylines. There are too many to go through here, so let’s just highlight some aspects of them.

Insurmountable Odds

A hallmark of Spider-Man stories are those where he faces incredibly tough situations or foes. What makes them so special is that Spidey isn’t the most powerful superhero, he can’t shoot beams out of his hands, he can’t even fly. This makes him more relatable to us and is one of the reasons why he is so popular. He’s had to go up against villains that clearly outranked him in power and how he perseveres against them gave us some of the most exciting and hand-wringing stories. Who can forget that two-issue battle against the Juggernaut (The Amazing Spider-Man # 229-230)? Spidey fought this desperate battle against someone who could take on the Hulk. The Wall-Crawler tried everything but couldn’t make a dent against Juggernaut. Still, he wouldn’t give up, and somehow he stopped the Juggernaut by luring him into a bed of wet cement. Then there was his battle with the former Galactus herald Firelord (The Amazing Spider-Man # 269-270), where he shocked the late-arriving Avengers with his sheer will power as he managed to knock out Firelord.

But the best story that showed how determined Spider-Man can be was in the classic comic book The Amazing Spider-Man # 33. In the previous issue, he fought against Doctor Octopus at an underwater base and was left partially buried under tons of rubble and debris with water flooding. Meanwhile, inches away lay a canister containing a cure for his Aunt May’s latest ailment. He spent most of the issue struggling to free himself but failing. He berated himself, resigned to failure. But he couldn’t accept defeat not with his aunt’s life on the line. Spider-Man motivated himself and carefully maneuvered his body to free himself just in time. It was the most dramatic moment seen in a Spider-Man story and copied by others.

Marvelous Team-Ups

Ever since the very first issue of The Amazing Spider-Man, our favorite Web-Head was shown to be an integral part of the Marvel Universe. In the first issue, Spider-Man tried to join the Fantastic Four and ever since, he has butted heads and teamed up with Marvel’s rich roster of superheroes. Some were interesting in that he had unusual pair ups (Howard the Duck, Frankenstein’s Monster, the John Belushi-era Saturday Night Live cast and even Superman in the classic cross-company story Superman Vs. The Amazing Spider-Man) or Spidey was way out of his element (Spider-Man Vs. Wolverine one-shot and Marvel Team-Up # 41-46 where Spidey time travels from the past and into the future).

The most natural friendship he’s had has been with Johnny Storm, the Human Torch. The two heroes tended to behave like college roommates and ranked on each other. Some of their best meetings included the Christmas-themed Marvel Team-Up # 1, Spider-Man/Human Torch #1-5,and most recently with FF # 17. The latter was a hilarious tribute to mismatched buddy comedies like The Odd Couple and Two And A Half Men, where Parker and Storm briefly live together with the expected disastrous results.

But Spidey’s best team-up stories were in J.M. DeMatteis’ run in Marvel Team-Up #111,112, 114-125, 126-133. In those comics, DeMatteis showcased his writing chops with fun, thoughtful, amusing and sometimes poignant yarns that were able to touch a reader’s  soul (Marvel Team-Up #119, 120, 127). The best part is that these issues can be found relatively cheap in comic bins. Continue reading