The Best of Spider-Man Countdown #25-23

Posted by SMReviews Team 25 June 2012

And now we're in the Top 25 of our list of the best Spider-Man stories to date.

25. Unscheduled Stop (Amazing Spider-Man #578-579)

Creative Team: Mark Waid (Writer), Marcos Martin (Artist)

What Happened: It's looking like an awesome day for Peter Parker. A metrocard with just enough money falls on his lap. He gets into the crowded Subway in the nick of time, and meets with a model who needs a photographer. And then his spider-sense goes off, as a Subway car full of people is attacked by one of his enemies. Now Spider-Man has to save a group of strangers from an increasingly precarious situation.

Why It's In The Top 50: Spiderfan001 is a big Marcos Martin fan:

While Mark Waid (as usual) delivers a great script, it's Marcos Martin's artwork that puts this tale of survival over the top. The story of Spider-Man and a group of New Yorkers trapped inside a collapsing subway tunnel captivates from page to page as Martin uses his unique story telling skills to create some truly stunning sequences. His time on Spider-Man was far too short.
Mister Mets was also impressed.
It may just be a coincidence that Marcos Martin drew both of my favorite stories from the first year of Brand New Day, as there was more to the material than just incredible storytelling. This was just an exceptional situation to put Spider-Man in. As far as deathtraps go, it's one of the best in the franchise's history. I think it's going to be copied in the future the same way everyone copies the death of Gwen Stacy, the Kid Who Collects Spider-Man, or the rubble scene from the Master Planner saga.
What the pros say: Tom Beland praised the story.
Amazing Spider-Man #579...
... is the greatest issue of any comic this year.

I'll tell you something. It's no secret what a boner I've had for this character my entire life. There's a reason. He was a character I was instantly drawn to because he had such a great personality to him and the stories took me away, to this awesome place of fun and action.
This is the first book in over twenty years that pulled me back to those exact same emotions and feelings I got from back in those early days. Every page of this book is a time machine for me. The great humor, the put-downs that made me do spit takes and what happens on page 21 is a complete classic. And I mean CLASSIC.

And there's no doubt about it. Marcos Martin is the greatest Spidey artist since the days of Ditko and Romita. His Jonah J. is perfect. Spidey in a ruined costume, page 21... man... it has to be a dream to work with this guy.

Anyhoo... really check this book out. And for guys my age... pour yourself a big bowl of Cocoa Puffs, put on your old baseball cap and enjoy a wonderful comics glow that you haven't felt in years.
Awesome time.

What others say: It was #24 on's list of the top Spider-Man stories and #29 on CBR's list. It made the runoff for best short-form Spider-Man story of the last decade, losing to Doomed Affairs. Adam Chapman of Spidefan gave both issues a 4.5/5 review.

Did you know?  This story marks the first appearance of J. Jonah Jameson's father, J. Jonah Jameson Sr., who would go on to marry Aunt May in Amazing Spider-Man #600

Creative Team: Paul Jenkins (Writer), Paolo Rivera (Artist)

What Happened: A young man with cerebral palsy, utterly unable to communicate with his loved ones, enjoys seeing Spider-Man in action. But unfortunately, this poor guy becomes a target for Morbius, who likes the idea of a victim unable to scream or flee. 

Why It's In The Top 50: Spiderfan001 explains why he liked this story:
Paul Jenkins crafts a wonderful story that sheds light on what it's like to live trapped inside your own body.  The story of Joey Beal and his family is heartbreaking, both for the sacrifices the family makes to take care of Joey, and for Joey who can't even express his gratitude.  Amid all this, Jenkins finds room to say something about Spider-Man as well.  When Spider-Man decides to share a secret with Joey, both Joey and the reader gain new insight into Spider-Man's character and the human condition.  Combine all this with the beautifully painted artwork of Paolo Rivera and you have one memorable done-in-one.
What the pros say: Paolo Rivera has a link to the painted art on his website. He discussed the difficulty in telling the story from the point of a view an immobile character.

What others say: It was #21 on's list of the top Spider-Man stories. Jeff English of Spiderfan gave it a perfect 5/5 review.

Related Stories: Paul Jenkins and Paolo Rivera continued to work together on the Mythos series of one-shots, retelling the origins of Marvel superheroes, usually in time for film adaptations.

Creative Team: Writer- James Owsley (now better known as "Priest"), Penciller- Mark Bright, Inker- Al Williamson

What Happened: After witnessing a brutal murder, a shell-shocked Peter Parker joins Ned Leeds on an investigation to Berlin in the 1980s. But he quickly becomes involved in a plot involving Wolverine, and an old friend of Logan's who has pissed off some nasty people.

Why It's In The Top 50: Mister Mets thought it was an excellent showcase of an out of his element Spider-Man.
One excellent detail which adds to this story's appeal is a small a scene in which Peter's reminiscing about the spider that bit him, and says that for all he knew the professor who shook his hand at the radiation exhibit was the source of his powers. And that's nowhere near the best moment in this dark story. 
This story is about Peter Parker getting involved in something that's out of his league, on a mission to Berlin. It features a perfectly shell-shocked Spider-Man several times, as things just keep getting worse. Some of the great scenes involve dead grocery store owners, snipers & homeless men who see Spider-Man unmasked in Times Square, the discovery of a murdered friend, the search for a trigger-crazy suicidal friend of Logan's, lots of berserker rages, and a really violent battle with Wolverine, in which Wolverine demonstrates that the only way Spider-Man could win the fight is to kill him. 
Other great moments include Peter really damaging his relationship with Mary Jane, his search for a black bodysuit in Germany (when he needs a costume), and a mistake that really traumatizes him. Pity it's referenced so rarely.
What the pros say: In an interview for the Dollar Bin podcast, writer Priest said Spider-Man VS Wolverine was the story he was most proud of. That's high praise considering his Black Panther run.

What others say: Andrew Kardon of Wizard declared it the 9th best Spider-Man story circa 1998. It merited an honorable mention on toptenz's list, where it was declared the second best team-up. Chris Sims of Comics Alliance declares it to be one of the most underrated Spider-Man stories, though he admits that "underappreciated" might not be the best word for the story. Spiderfan gave it a 4.5/5 review.

Critic Douglas Wolk praises the one-shot as an example of what makes Spider-Man unique.

It looks just like another exploitative piece of product (make two characters fight on the cover; watch it sell), but the point of its fight scenes and spy cliches is putting Spider-Man in a situation that’s a moral quandary for him and wouldn’t be for anyone else: an international intrigue that everyone tells him to stay out of because he’s out of his league. He can’t – because of the power and responsibility thing- and his doing what his ethical cod obligates him to do at every turn ends up making matters far worse. It’s not a particularly graceful or subtle comic book, and it wouldn’t have anything like the same impact for someone who hadn’t already read a hundred other stories about Spider-Man, but it’s an unforgettable superhero story whose force comes from the core idea of its protagonist’s history.

Related Stories: There were seeds to this story in the Gang War arc in Amazing Spider-Man #284-288. A death tied in to the Hobgoblin saga in Amazing Spider-Man #289. Owsley wrote a follow-up in Web of Spider-Man #29-30 to tie up a few loose ends, and reconcile the continuity. One death was referenced in Kraven's Last Hunt. Another was referenced in a key moment during "No One Dies."


The point of One More Day was to set the stage for a new era of Spider-Man comics. However, the most radically different thing about the books might have had nothing to do with the retcon. It was the schedule, as the satellite titles were cancelled in favor of increased production of Amazing Spider-Man. Before addressing the wisdom of that, it's worth considering an important question any Marvel editor will have to address: Is Spider-Man worth three books a month?

I think so. With the best character, supporting cast and rogues gallery in comics, there's certainly enough material, along with willing creative teams. It would be an unnecessarily difficult task for an editor to figure out what to cut, especially as the second and third Spider-Man book each month still generate revenue.

In terms of the material, it's worth comparing the title to TV shows like The Good Wife and Revenge, and even the dramas with thirteen episodes an year: Damages, Breaking Bad, Dexter and Doctor Who. These are all dramatic series with clear leads, with content in excess of 720 pages of a comic book.

If there was always going to be a high amount of content, it's up to the people at Marvel to figure out how to publish it. The traditional format was to publish Amazing Spider-Man along with a few spinoff books, but this approach had a few problems. One title will always be perceived as less significant, and it can often fracture aspects of Spider-Man's appeal across multiple titles.

The character works well in multiple settings. But a writer on a secondary Spider-Man title with a clear identity would have tremendous limitations on the subject matter of his stories. The writer of a quirkier Spider-Man title couldn't really do a brutal Carnage murder mystery arc. The writer of a a street-level book couldn't really do a humorous Spider-Man VS Avengers Academy storyline. If Joe Kelly were on Marvel Team Up, he couldn’t just do a straightforward Spider-Man VS Hobgoblin story. Writers on Amazing Spider-Man can tell whatever types of stories they want, as the series has a history of featuring every type of Spider-Man story imaginable.

The alternative to restrictive satellite titles is no difference at all between the various Spider-Man books. In that case, the reason for Marvel to publish Sensational Spider-Man is to provide material for readers who like Spider-Man and don't think one book a month is enough. The raison d'etre of the second satellite title is to attract readers who like Spider-Man and don't think two books are enough. 

Crossovers exacerbate that problem. Marvel got good sales with "The Other" but it meant that there was nothing to distinguish Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man aside from the creative team.

Due to the major events that happened in JMS's Amazing Spider-Man (Ezekiel's introduction, Peter Parker getting a new job as teacher Aunt May learning Spider-Man's identity, Peter & MJ getting back together, Spider-Man moving in with the New Avengers, Spider-Man becoming friends with Tony Stark, Spider-Man becoming a fugitive, Aunt May getting shot, etc) readers who didn't like the book still bought it to follow the key developments of their favorite character. The other Spider-Man titles did not have this advantage, as events in Amazing Spider-Man just seem more important than events in a "B"-title, which makes readers less willing to miss key issues than they are if they know that events don't really "count" (one reason it outsold the other titles by a significant margin).

Spider-Man's disadvantage in this regard is that there is no secondary title with the reputation of Amazing Spider-Man. In contrast, Batman has Detective Comics, and Superman has Action ComicsWhile well-informed and discriminating consumers would argue that a title’s name and the likelihood of major events occurring within its pages has no impact on whether they’ll buy the books, they do not represent the majority of comics buyers. A common complaint about Sacasa's Eddie Brock two-parter in Sensational Spider-Man was that there was less concern regarding Aunt May's welfare than if the story had occurred in Amazing Spider-Man.

Issue to issue continuity in the Brand New Day era with one Spider-Man title was imperfect. But it would have been more confusing trying to keep track of developments in multiple titles. Or some arcs and subplots would have taken much longer. For example, Aunt May was on her honeymoon in Amazing Spider-Man #601. She was married in #600. She was planning the wedding in #595-599. She got engaged in Amazing Spider-Man #592-594 (and Peter also met Jonah Sr.) She met Jonah Sr in ASM #591. Jonah Sr got her number in the one-shot speed dating issue. Each of those beats was essential to get Aunt May to where she was in ASM 601.

This stuff's harder to manage with three concurrent monthlies. If there was a five part storyline in FNSM from May to September dealing with events in a three-day period, and the July issue of Amazing Spider-Man features Aunt May's wedding, the editor and writer would have to figure out how to allude to May's marriage/ engagement in the FNSM story. They'd have to do similar things for every development. If J Jonah Jameson Sr is going to be killed off in a standalone story in one title December 2012, it'll be odd if he appears at the beginning of a story published from October to March, and it'll be a spoiler if his death is mentioned in an October issue.

If it were the case that the post-One More Day Spider-Man is just like Archie, multiple titles wouldn't be anything to worry about, because nothing would change from issue to issue. But that's not the case. Weddings and deaths are presumably rare, but Peter Parker often finds himself in a different place at the end of an issue than at the beginning. During the Brand New Day era, Peter Parker has lost several jobs, pissed off friends and changed roommates. With three concurrent monthlies, it would be problematic keeping track of the sequences.

The comparison was made between the Spider‑Man books and the Batman and Superman franchises, which have survived for more than half a century despite the title heroes starring in several titles. Because Batman premiered in Detective Comics and Superman premiered in Action Comics, and both titles have a rich history of significant events, neither title (assuming the creative teams are roughly equal) is seen as less significant than Batman or Superman. It is also worth noting that during the “One Year Later” overhaul, DC did not hesitate to cancel the other monthlies (The Adventures of Superman, Superman: The Man of Steel, The Legends of the Dark Knight, Gotham Knights) as those titles just weren’t as important. The newer titles that survived (Batman & Robin, Superman/ Batman) sold very well and had clear identities. As Detective Comics and Action Comics don't require Batman or Superman as leads, DC was also able to use those books to focus on other characters, with Greg Rucka and JH Williams's excellent Batwoman run, as well as Paul Cornell's Lex Luthor series, so the company has a bit more flexibility.

Satellite titles exist to make the companies more money. It's based on the premise that readers are more willing to buy a second monthly with Spider-Man or Wolverine than they are to buy the first monthly with Antman or War Machine. So even if Marvel gets rid of most of the satellite books, there will still be supplemental material in some form or another. It's not hypocritical to increase output of Amazing Spider-Man, while also publishing other material.

Marvel has had two different methods of publishing Amazing Spider-Man since One More Day. Let's look at the advantages of the Brand New Day method.


As long as the writers and editors go with an illusion of change program, Spider-Man's story is not going to end. That's the entire point of the approach. And this is especially disappointing and problematic to readers who were looking forward to some kind of conclusion, or at least a substitution of one story engine (Peter Parker's difficulty getting a date) for another (Peter Parker's difficulties as a family man).

Part of the Illusion of Change is delaying the logical ending. And when the editors realize that a story should not have ended, the typical solution is some kind of reversal, even if it seems kinda silly. For example, the DC superhero Deadman was the ghost of circus acrobat Boston Brand, searching for his one-armed murderer. Eventually, his story came to an end and it seemd as if he had caught the killer. When DC editors told Jack Kirby to bring the character back in Forever People, the murder mystery was suddenly reopened with the revelation that another one-armed man had killed Boston Brand.

In serial fiction, it's common for this stuff to happen. Villains who are imprisoned escape. Characters who are believed dead return to life. Former villains fall off the wagon and return to the rogues gallery, Everything's a revolving door. For the most part, the focus is on the micro, rather than the macro. It's all about whether a shorter storyline, or the mega-arc is satisfying, rather than whether it fits perfectly into an ongoing narrative that started in 1962.

It's a fine line to figure out what stories should come to an end in such a long-running series. There is the risk that if the writers pull on too many threads, the entire raison d'etre of a series will be snuffed. But it is bothersome if nothing changes. At some point, some long-running stories have to come to an end. But the writers have to be selective about which ones they choose. Sometimes the reversal just isn't worth it. Deadman's guest appearance in Forever People is still considered one of the low points of Kirby's Fourth World saga.

One More Day put several genies back in the bottle. The most obvious was the marriage, but there was also Aunt May's knowledge of Spider-Man's identity as well as Harry Osborn's death, and the developments in the Civil War tie-in issues of Amazing Spider-Man, which only happened because of the build-up to One More Day.

With Spider-Man, there is the fear that Peter's life will stagnate under the Illusion of Change. Although that problem is preferable to unwise developments that are difficult to reverse. Marvel really doesn't want to break the character, in which case they break the franchise.

The acceptance of reversals in seemingly finished stories does allow for a counter-argument that Marvel could bring back the marriage, or Aunt May's knowledge of Spider-Man's identity, or any reversed development, under the presumption that it could later be undone. Some things could be done repeatedly, but I think killing off characters (and bringing them back), and unmarrying two characters (and then having them marry again) would try the patience of readers, especially since they can have access to all the stories in which it's happened before.

I think it would be foolish for Marvel to undo One More Day, or to go with any developments that require an OMD approach. It would be one thing to kill off a character, and bring him back, as happened with Harry Osborn. It's another to keep the cycle going indefinitely (IE- if Harry were to die again in ASM #735, and come back in ASM #800, die again in ASM #871, and come back in ASM #907.)

While unwise developments could break franchises, excessive reversals could have the same effect. It's also possible to combine the two. An example would be the first Post-Infinite Crisis Batman arc 'Face the Face' in which Two Face became a villain again, and murdered quite a few police officers. That restricted what subsequent writers were able to do with one of the most notable Batman villains. Fortunately, the writers and artists had more toys to play with when one got dinged. Peter's closest relationships are more significant.

I don't think it's worth seeing if fans would be able to handle another shift from a married Spider-Man to a single Spider-Man a decade or two from now. It would be too much of a revolving door, as writers get replaced by those who grew up reading Ultimate Spider-Man, or Brand New Day.

Developments that are more plausible (Peter Parker getting fired from the Daily Bugle, and later getting his job back) could be far more cyclical. But I think death/ resurrection, changing which characters know a secret identity, and erasing and reinstating marital vows between two specific characters could seem absurd.

One problem with the marriage was that it seemed like something that happens in the tail end of a book. In a New Yorker review of a collection of Saul Bellow's first novels, John Acocella notes the problem of focusing on the end of a story about a character's growth.
The novel runs out of steam in its last quarter or so, but that is a case with a bildungsroman (see "Huckleberry Finn," "My Antonia"), because it is the quest that is romantic, and no ending of that, no fall into adult life, will seem a worthy conclusion.
It's about the journey rather than the destination. Although that cliche has been used by fans of the marriage, sometimes inaccurately. Spider-Man: Blue is often mentioned as one of the best stories with a married Peter Parker. It made this website's list of the best Spider-Man stories of all time, and it was #2 on IGN's list., but it's not comforting that his relationship with Mary Jane only factors in to the last three pages. The story could just as easily have been an epilogue to Spider-Man's adventures, with framing sequences set long after Peter Parker had retired.

Another of the most acclaimed Spider-Man stories of the last few years, "To Have and to Hold" (#5 on IGN's list) is more apocalyptic. It's a fantastic take on the character at a rather dramatic time, but it's not a status that could be sustained for long. A story about Peter Parker and Mary Jane as fugitives, after Spider-Man's identity became public is as different from what made the character appealing in the first place as one can get.

There are several things the best stories with a married Spider-Man have in common. They usually fall into one of two categories, with occasional overlap. Many of the stories tend to be self-contained, as creative teams come to tell a one-off adventure. In addition to Blue and Sensational Spider-Man Annual One, there's Kraven's Last Hunt, Peter David's short story "Five Minutes" and Millar's Marvel Knights Spider-Man run. It's an interesting contrast to the single Spider-Man, who seems better represented in stories that are clearly part of an ongoing run. The other best regarded stories tend to feature significant closed doors, as long running stories are given permanent endings. Examples include the Death of Aunt May, the Death of Harry Osborn, Kraven's Last Hunt and even The Return of the Sinister Six, with the Death of Aunt May's fiancee Nathan Lubensky.

Pretty much any storytelling decision removes some choices, while allowing for alternatives, so closing some doors opens others. That said, I am opposed to the idea that all the doors and options are equal. While an illusion of change approach does close some doors it does open others, as different combinations of characters lead to new options. For example, I don't believe we've seen every "Peter Parker goes on a first date" story any more than we've seen every "Spider-Man fights a villain for the first time" story. I'm not even sure if we've seen a story in the 616 universe in which Mary Jane goes on a first date with a guy. And that's something you can't do with a married Spider-Man. 

If the destination is the important thing, there comes a point when the story comes to an end. So if you want to keep everything going for a long, long time, it's better to concern the reader with the short-term.


The Best of Spider-Man Countdown #30-26

Posted by SMReviews Team

We're continuing the countdown of the top fifty Spider-Man stories.

30. One Small Break (Peter Parker Spider-Man #30-32)

Creative Team: Paul Jenkins (Writer), Mark Buckingham (Artist)

What Happened: Fusion has the powers of everyone in the Marvel Universe. And he really really hates Spider-Man. Poor Spidey is hopelessly outmatched as he learns of his indirect involvement in a horrific tragedy, while facing an enemy willing to kill hundreds of bystanders just to send him a message.

Why It's In The Top 50: Mister Mets still thinks that Fusion is the best new Spider-Man villain since Venom.
Fusion's reason for hating Spider-Man is a lot more sensible than Venom's, and something Jonah's warned against since Amazing Spider-Man Issue 1, which sadly does sometimes happen. Of course Fusion loses the reader's sympathy rather quickly by gaining a three-figure body count. He gives Spider-Man a truly vicious beating, giving new meaning to the words "One Small Break." The last issue features the story's best scene as a completely shattered Spider-Man realizes Fusion's secret. 
Other great moments include Jonah realizing he can't publicize Fusion's vendetta against Spider-Man since all the other media sources are doing that, and Peter Parker being comforted by Flash Thompson, in a scene that is perfectly in character.
What others say: Jeff English of spiderfan gave every issue a 5/5 grade.

Related Stories: Fusion reappeared in Peter Parker Spider-Man #39-41, also a solid Doctor Octopus story. During the story, Spider-Man has a flash to something he experienced in the Spider-Man/ Sentry one-shot.

Did You Know? The story started out as a battle between Spider-Man and Super Skrull, because Paul Jenkins wanted Mark Buckingham to have interesting things to draw.

29. Disaster (Amazing Spider-Man #53-59)

Creative Team: Stan Lee (Writer), John Romita Sr (Pencilller)

What Happened: This is more of an episodic assortment of Spider-Man adventures than one entirely self-contained story, beginning with clashes between Spider-Man and Doctor Octopus, and culminating in a two parter in which J Jonah Jameson gets the aid of both a Marvel superhero and Spencer Smythe, Spider Slayer creator, in hunting down Spidey.

Why It's In The Top 50: Mister Mets really likes it.
For a little while, I was convinced that this was the best Spider-Man story I've ever read, and it's only fallen a little bit in my esteem. The story begins with a decent Spider-Man VS. Doctor Octopus battle which doesn't become truly great until Doctor Octopus finds a spider tracer, and sets a nice and suitably nasty trap for Spidey. The next issue ups the ante as Doctor Octopus meets an old friend- May Parker, and agrees to be a boarder at her house. Peter finds him, but I love the sincerity with which Otto comforts May, and threatens Peter. They fight of course, but May has a heart attack, and the wall gets destroyed, and in the next issue Peter worries whether or not insurance will pay for it. And that's something unique to the Spider-Man comics, and to the Marvel Universe. 
In later issues, Ock attacks Stark International with the Ultimate Nullifier, a device which can stop any machine, and I just love how he gloats, and hopes that Iron Man tries to stop him. It's no surprise that it's used on Spider-Man of course and robs him of his memory, which Doctor Octopus uses to convince Spider-Man that he's a villain. It's a nice ironic moment when an editorial by J. Jonah Jameson helps.
Doctor Octopus is beaten, but not by Spider-Man, and I just love how the hero does not regain his memory by the story's end. Meanwhile Peter's friends think Spider-Man kidnapped him, and J. Jonah Jameson convinces one of the Marvel Universe's greatest superheroes to attack Spider-Man (a decision he'll come to regret.) When that plan goes to hell, he teams up with a now psychotic Spencer Smythe, who has built a new Spider Slayer, a powerful robot that Spider-Man must outsmart. And even when Peter regains his memories, he has to explain to friends, and families just where he was. And I haven't even mentioned the exceptional art by John Romita Sr, though the covers should make that abundantly clear.
What others say: CBR readers declared the four part Doctor Octopus storyline as the 42nd best Spider-Man story ever. Mark Ginnochoi described the experiences of tracking down Amazing Spider-Man #56 and using his wife as leverage to get a copy of Amazing Spider-Man #59.

Related Stories: The last issue is the beginning of a new Kingpin arc, which lasts until Amazing Spider-Man #61.
Creative Team: Dan Slott (Writer), Marcos Martin (Artist), VC's Joe Caramagna (Lettering), Muntsa Vicente (Colors)

What Happened: After the death of Marla Madison, Peter Parker is forced to consider all the people he knows who have died, including friends, enemies and innocent bystanders. He makes an impossible promise, which is immediately tested with the introduction of Massacre, a new villain whose superpower is amorality. J Jonah Jameson responds to the tragedy in a different way, using his authority his mayor to come up with an extreme solution to the problem of New York City's newest serial killer.

Why It's In The Top 50: Mister Mets notes how unusual the story is.
This isn't a story you expect to play to Slott's strength, starting with a gorgeously illustrated ten page silent sequence. The bulk of the acclaim comes due to the first issue, especially the virtuoso dream sequence as Peter encounters almost everyone who has ever died in a Spdier-Man comic. It's continuity porn, but it's also an amazing indication of the toll being Spider-Man has to take.
Massacre is an effective new villain, and the battles are more interesting than usual as Spider-Man has to deal with the loss of his spider sense. But the biggest conflict is between Spider-Man and J Jonah Jameson. 
Spiderfan001 praises the artwork:
We've seen Spider-Man launch into guilt trips over failing to save someone before, but rarely has it looked this good.  Marcos Martin delivered stunning and innovative artwork on each page, which combined with Dan Slott's knowledge of continuity, made for a haunting walk down memory lane as Peter confronted all the people he's failed to save over the years.  And the new spider armour?  Awesome.
What others say: CBR gave the first part a perfect score, and the second issue four out of five stars. Weekly Comic Book Review gave an A to the first part, and a B to the second. Rich Johnston trashed the story in a piece about death and superhero comics. It was #12 on IGN's Top 25 list.

Related Stories: This story deals with the consequences of a death, and a change to Spider-Man's powers in Amazing Spider-Man #652-654.The "No One Dies" promise becomes more significant in Amazing Spider-Man #682-687, "The End of the Earth" storyline.
Creative Team: Bill Mantlo (Writer), Rick Leonardi (Artist)

What Happened: Spider-Man tackles gun smugglers, as Peter Parker witnesses the consequences of gun violence.

Why It's In The Top 50:  Combustible Pumpkins explains why this is worth reading:
Granted, on the surface this issue seems like promo for a liberal stance on handgun control. Rob Robertson certainly makes a strong case for it, but this isn't the reason why this humble, little issue is so appealing. It's all about Spidey making a real difference in the world. As Spidey swings off to find where a shipment of illegal guns are arriving in Brooklyn, monochrome yellowed panels reveal at that very moment who is getting killed from handguns.

Rick Leonardi's usage of these panels gradually transitions to real-time deaths involved in the story; and eventually in similar fashion we get to see the lives Spidey inadvertently saves by preventing this gun-running racket. Yet, there is no happy ending here, as the thought of the reality of city violence overwhelms the main characters at The Daily Bugle. It's almost as if this comic had a real important message somewhere in there. They just don't make comics like this anymore, perhaps they can't afford to.
What others say: Adam Winchell of spiderfan gave the story a score of 3.5/5.

Creative Team: Sam Raimi (Director), Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, Willem Defoe, James Franco, JK Simmons (Cast), David Koepp (Screenwriter)

What Happened: Sam Raimi, a Director best known for the Evil Dead series of low-budget horror films, was given a budget of $139 million dollars, and told to make a movie about Spider-Man.

Why It's In The Top 50:

Spiderfan001 remembers first seeing the movie:

I was 12 when this movie came out, and obviously very excited.  There would be no school for me that Friday, May 3rd.  I watched it with my parents and my brother and was blown away.  These days the film isn't held in very high regard; it seems that the humble Tobey Maguire can't compete with the more cool, confident Christian Bales and Robert Downey Jr.'s of the world.  A lot of fans like to focus on what the film got wrong, but for me, the flaws are overshadowed by the many things the film got right.  Director Sam Raimi was able to get to the heart of the Spider-Man character, telling Spider-Man's origin to a modern audience perfectly.  The scenes where Peter Parker is discovering his powers remain one of the highlights of the film (particularly when he tries to figure out how his organic webbing works).  Tobey Maguire was a great Peter Parker, perfectly capturing the character's humanity and heroism.  The wrestling scene was another favourite of mine (Bruce Campbell and all), the upside down kiss with Mary Jane remains an iconic Spider-Man moment, and Spidey's final battle with the Green Goblin is still one of the more brutal showdowns a superhero and villain have had on the big screen.  And the ending was perfect.  Kudos to the filmakers for foregoing a lame Hollywood "happy ending" and instead giving us one that better suits the character.  If nothing else, this film proved that superhero movies that stay loyal to the comics can be highly successful, making many of the beloved superhero movies we have today possible.
Mister Mets wishes to add one thing.
JK Simmons should have got an Oscar for playing J Jonah Jameson. It was a terrific comedy relief role, although there was also the fantastic moment in which he had to lie to the Green Goblin. The rest of the movie was okay.
What the pros say: In an interview, Raimi explained the influence of the Donner/ Reeve Superman film.
“That was my plan,” Raimi says. “I thought to myself early in pre-production ‘I’m going to watch every superhero picture ever made, and I’ll try to understand why they work and why they don’t work.’ But suddenly I was overwhelmed with this outrageously gigantic job of making Spider-Man and pre-production with all its departments and responsibilities, and as far as I got was the first half of Superman I. And I never got to see the rest. I saw X-Men then. So I can’t say it’s based on those pictures or that I had time to learn from them. I remembered how much I loved the first half of Superman I and X-Men was a blast, but I never got around to [any other films].” 
The first Superman film sold itself with the tagline: “You Will Believe A Man Can Fly.” Raimi faced a similar challenge with his web-slinger: not only using special effects to create shots of incredible action, but also using the actors and dialogue to create a sense of believability that allowed audiences to hook into the picture on an emotional level. “They did a great job with Superman,” says Raimi, citing director Richard Donner in particular. “I love that picture. It’s really emotional and uplifting and bright and wonderful, and you did believe that a man could fly in that film. They were successful. They were great effects…. We’re faced with the great challenge of making Spider-Man believable. The kids really want to soar with Spider-Man 60 stories up. They want to dance with him in this aerial acrobatics that he performs. And those illusions are…accomplished a lot of different ways. I don’t want to reveal too much because I don’t want to spoil for the kids and have them start picking them apart as tricks. I want them to be swept up into the thing. But suffice to say that Tobey [Maguire]’s performing a lot of the [action] himself with backgrounds put in and John Dykstra helping him with some CGI.”
What others say: Johanna of Comics Worth Reading thinks it's now dated.
Most surprising to me was how, although this movie isn’t very old (ten years), it feels ancient. That’s not a crack on the film, but a note on how so much has advanced so recently in comic book movies. I’m not just thinking of the effects, but also the acting, the writing, the expectations. They’re all so much improved that, in comparison, this one looks like it was made two or three decades ago. (Some of that may be due to director Sam Raimi’s appreciation for genre classics, too, as an influence.) The effect sequences, as when Spider-Man swings through the city or the Green Goblin rides in on his glider, inspire the imagination, but they look more obviously computer-generated these days. It’s all a bit too cartoony. Other sequences are in Matrix mode, with the slow-mo back dips and such.
The film holds a 89% critical approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes, making it "certified fresh." Empire gave the movie a four star review.

Related Stories: The film adapted elements of Amazing Fantasy #15, the Death of Gwen Stacy (Amazing Spider-Man #121-122) and "Spidey Saves the Day" (Amazing Spider-Man #39-40).



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