Best Spider-Man stories # 4: Amazing Fantasy #15

Posted by SMReviews Team 10 July 2012

Our fourth-favorite Spider-Man story was the very first.

Creative Team: Stan Lee (Writer), Steve Ditko (Artist)

What Happened: This one story does not need an explanation. You all know it by heart.

Why It's In The Top 50: Mister Mets thinks it's a remarkable improvement over the typical superhero origin story.
If you see lists of the best (and I'm talking about best, not the most influential) X-Men stories ever, X-Men #1 is usually not mentioned. Likewise Detective Comics #27 usually doesn't appear in lists of the best Batman stories. But, if you see lists of the best Spider-Man stories ever, this one is usually somewhere near the top. And it's not because the other Spider-Man stories are worse than the other X-Men, or Batman stories. 
If this issue was the only Spider-Man story ever published (which it could have been, if fans weren't so immediately taken by the character) and I had a chance to read it somehow, Spider-Man would remain one of my favorite characters (if not my favorite comic book character.) It was groundbreaking to be sure (I don't think there were any superheroes who used their powers for selfish reasons before) but that's not why it holds up today. 
It's a damn shame that the story's become so famous that everyone who reads it probably knows how the story ends. But there are other great moments that make me love the tale. Doesn't it make sense that someone with Spider-Man's powers would become a media sensation? Don't you love the scene with the little boy who sees a man crawling on the side of a building? Has there been a better reason for someone to become a superhero?
What others say:  Wizard voted this the fifth best Spider-Man comic book in their Spider-Man Magazine. In Issue 105 they voted this the ninth best comic book ever (the only Silver Age comic book on the list.) In Issue 131 the first Ultimate Spider-Man Hardcover, which also reprinted this story was voted the fifth best trade paperback ever.

It was #5 on CBR's list of the best Spider-Man stories and #10 on IGN's list. The Comics Journal voted Lee & Ditko's run on Spider-Man the 35th best comic book ever. This was voted the best Marvel comic ever in the 100 Greatest Marvels poll a few years back, and is available as a reprint to commemorate its #1 status.

Elsewhere on this board: Brent looked at the issue for the Spider-Man classics series.

Related Stories: This eleven page story has been retold numerous times, most effectively in the first Sam Raimi Spider-Man movie and the first arc of Ultimate Spider-Man. The Burglar returned for an extended arc which concluded in Amazing Spider-Man #200. Ben Reilly had an ill-fated romance with the Burglar's daughter during the Clone Saga. Amazing Spider-Man #273 featured a follow-up to Crusher Hogan, while Tangled Web #14 looked at whatever happened next. Web of Spider-Man #90 featured the return of Peter's agent. Amazing Spider-Man #664 revealed how Peter had let Aunt May down during this horrible night. Amazing Spider-Man Family #4 featured JM Dematteis's take on the immediate aftermath of Ben's death. Amazing Fantasy #16-18 was a mini-series set before Amazing Spider-Man #1.

Scene Analysis: 

There's no better way is there to show how weak Peter Parker is by having his elderly uncle say to Aunt May "I can hardly outwrestle him now." It's a worthy introduction to the best comic book character ever. The guy's so happy with his family that it makes the most famous twist ending in comics especially dark.

We get an astounding amount of character in these eight panels. Peter Parker loves his family, and gets along with his professors, but he just doesn't have any luck with girls or with friends. And frankly, with his demeanor, it wouldn't be out of the quesiton for this guy to become a supervillain.

It's also worth noting that a guy who appears in three panels in this story now has his own book, a further testament to the genius of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.


On a CBR thread, Xistel asked how we would improve the Spider-Man comics. My response was "If I was in charge, I might change the schedule of Amazing Spider-Man from twice a month to weekly (or weekly except for when there's an issue of Avenging Spider-Man on the stands) with occasional intermissions. But that's just because I think that schedule would be effective." To that, Stephen Wacker replied "Oh, how I hate you."

So now it's time to defend my proposed format. I admit that it's difficult to pull off, and editing will be a bitch. Although it's not quite as bad as it initially seems. With a weekly comic, there's no loss of momentum, or questions about when the next issue of ASM is coming out.

Even for a weekly title, there's no need to release 52 issues an year. Marvel could easily have choose to release anywhere from thirty to forty issues an year with an extended hiatus once or even twice an year. This encourages the writers to perfect the art of the cliffhanger, bringing the “season” approach of television storytelling to comic books, and producing one Omnibus collection’s worth of material an year. It also means that the inevitable omnibus could have a beginning, middle and end.

Once a year, you'll have a hiatus when fans discuss what's coming up next. The creative teams gets a few months to get a head start on the next "year" or so of stories. Plus, after a four month intermission (preferably with one hell of a cliffhanger to keep readers guessing) the return of Amazing Spider-Man will be somewhat of an event.

There's no need to have the intermissions be at the same time every year, so it gives more flexibility than a TV show, which usually has to have one season premiere and one season finale every year. This book could easily have 40 consecutive issues followed by a four month break, followed by 30 consecutive issues, followed by a three month break, followed by 50 consecutive issues.

The beginning of each "year" would be a big deal. Jeff Jensen of Entertainment Weekly had an interesting take on DC's new 52 titles. He saw the initial increase in sales as the result of an entire month of highly promoted entry points, and considered if Marvel and DC should adopt a television season style approach. So something like that could be effective for Amazing Spider-Man. It would have the hype of a reboot without the complications for writers inherent in figuring out how a newly rebooted continuity works.

The upcoming "Marvel Now" approach will be a little bit different, with more spread-out entry level points. But this schedule could easily be adopted to something like that. It works regardless of when Marvel wants for the first issue of a new "season." It can fit a gradual roll-out just as well as a month of jump-on points. And it's something that can be renewed once a year.

Although all sorts of complications are possible, especially when it comes to coordinating tie-ins to monthly books. Because of the itinerary, a lot of the work on Amazing Spider-Man would have to be done far in advance, which isn't true of every Marvel title.

Rotating Show-Runners

Considering the amount of content this type of timtetable would require, the weekly Amazing Spider-Man would almost certainly require multiple writers. That strategy usually comes with some disadvantages, as there's the added problem of making sure that the people guiding the direction of the title are all on the same page, especially if all there isn't one writer in charge.

TV shows usually have multiple writers, but the show-runner is the guy in command. He often handles the most important episodes, and guides the direction of the series. It's an approach that's difficult to translate into comics where the customer pays for each installment. Readers could easily be trained to ignore the material that isn't by the main writer.

One exception would be when a writer who isn't the showrunner, becomes much more popular. In that case, fans might be inclined to pick up those stories, rather than the ones in the major arc, which would be a different kind of problem. It would be the comic book equivalent of Russell T Davies's Doctor Who, a period in which the best episodes were written by future show-runner Stephen Moffat, and Paul Cornell.

During the Brand New Day era, Dan Slott was arguably the most significant writer, with his work on the Free Comic Book Day prelude, first arc, first TPB-length story and the major anniversary issue. But the other writers had major storylines that were relevant to the overall narrative, so he was not as powerful as showrunner would be. Marc Guggenheim introduced Menace and Ana Kraven, crippled Flash Thompson, reintroduced Kaine, and tied up the various election day threads in Character Assassination. Mark Waid introduced J Jonah Jameson Sr and Michelle Gonzalez, had Peter Parker get blacklisted and wrote the final storyline of the Brand New Day era. Joe Kelly introduced Norah Winters, handled the American Son, Gauntlet: Rhino tragedy and Grim Hunt. Slott also disappeared for extended periods, with no Amazing Spider-Man work between Issues 600-618, or 620-646.

There may be one way to pull off the showrunner in a comic book series: make it a rotating position..That way the work by someone who isn't currently in charge would still be special, as it could be consequential later. And the work of the previous main writer would still be interesting, dealing with the fallout from earlier stories.

So here's how it could work out. Let's assume that this schedule is implemented in January 2013, right after Amazing Spider-Man #700 schedule, with the writing team of Dan Slott, Gail Simone and Joe Kelly. Dan Slott could be the architect from Amazing Spider-Man #701-719. During this time, he'll write a high amount of material (for example- AMZ #701-703, 714, 717-719) and guide the general direction of the characters.

Gail Simone could be the architect from Amazing Spider-Man #720-732, with a six issue arc from AMZ 720-725 and a three issue arc from AMZ 730-732. She might follow up on threads established in a two part story she wrote while Dan Slott was the architect. During Simone's tenure, Dan Slott might also write two issues to follow-up on an arc from his "run," and/ or to set up his next run as architect.)

Meanwhile, Joe Kelly might have a seven issue arc (Amazing Spider-Man #733-739), during which he'll set up threads for his run as architect in the first half of 2014, or provide the payoff for stories he  seeded while Simone and Slott were the showrunners.

No More Evergreen

Sometimes there are holes in the schedule that have to be filled. This problem is exacerbated with higher output. In his 2006 Spider-Man Manifesto, Senior Editor Tom Brevoort offered a suggestion: Evergreen material.

As a safeguard, we would also commission three to four evergreen-style stories, which could be folded into the run at whatever point the schedule started to slip.
This may be one of the reasons why during the Brand New Day era, it often didn't seem that events of the previous story affected the Spider-Man characters at all. The writers and editors just didn't know how the story would fit together. The problem continues in the Big Time era, during which there have been a few fill-in stories, including a guest appearance with Avengers Academy, and a Daredevil crossover.

Dan Slott explained the inherent flaw with inventory stories on twitlonger.

Whenever you're REALLY stuck, go back to CHARACTER. The character drives the story. And from scene to scene the character MUST go through some kind of "state change." Where they are at the end of the scene/story needs to be a different place from where they started. Or we (the audience) just don't care. 
(THAT is one of the reasons inventory stories usually suck. Because-- more often than not-- they have to leave the character RIGHT back where they started. And that is BO-RING.)
Ever get stuck, a good question to ask yourself is "What is my character's state change at the end of this scene/story?" Where's the NEW place (emotionally) that they've landed/brought themselves/been tricked to/crashed?
With 30-40 issues of Amazing Spider-Man per year, instead of commissioning evergreen material, I would intentionally leave a few holes in the schedule. That allows for occasional one-off stories (as those can be done in a short amount of time) so the writers have some flexibility to respond to stuff quickly. This can also help them to quickly deal with events in other Marvel titles, or contemporary issues.

It's hell on the editor, but having a few holes in the schedule also allows Marvel to deal with contemporary events, and do more "ripped from the headlines" stories, which often get significant media attention. For example, the Telegraph article "50 Facts You Might Not Know about Barack Obama" included the reference to his liking Spider-Man, and was published in November 11 2008. Quesada appeared on the Colbert report to provide comic nerd bait in November 14 2008, so Marvel was aware of the publicity the Obama/ Spider-Man connection was getting shortly after the election. In theory, instead of their five page back-up story, Marvel could have had a 22 page issue of Amazing Spider-Man with Spider-Man at Barack Obama's inauguration in comic stores by January 21 2009 (if not January 14.) It would have been an achievement similar to getting Amazing Spider-Man Volume 2 #36 in stores on November 14 2001.

Unfortunately, this would be more work for all involved. It avoids the ease of having a few evergreen stories to move around whenever a hole in the schedule develops, though those inventory stories will be out of date by their very nature, which may contribute to the problem of developments not being incorporated. Marvel also wouldn't be able to use their slower artists for these stories, as time would be of the essence, which reduces the opportunities these guys (many of whom are quite talented) have to work on the title. I will note that I can respect artists such as Marcos Martin, Adam Hughes and Lee Weeks who are aware of their limitations, and generally won't sign up for work that they'd be unable to finish in time. A need for fast comics places a premium on something that isn't quite related to talent or the ability to impress readers.

I do think leaving four or so open slots an year for issues that can go two months from conception to finished project (less time if it's two twelve-page stories) would somewhat alleviate the problem, giving writers the chance to respond to feedback in a quicker fashion. Though it would probably be hell on Wacker & company, it does allow Marvel to respond to fan commentary quickly. For example, Norah Winters was apparently a hit with the readers, but she didn't appear between Amazing Spider-Man #577 and 590, largely because work was done on most of the stories in between before her appearance hit the stores, and the schedule leading to Issue 600 was already filled. So she could have attended Obama's inauguration with Peter in a rush-job 22 page story in which Spider-Man meets the new President. This approach would also allow Marvel to deal with events that affect Spider-Man in other titles, reconciling his Amazing Spider-Man adventures with the events in New Avengers and The Future Foundation.

During the Brand New Day era, because Marvel filled their quotas so quickly and didn't have any more "room" in Amazing Spider-Man , some fairly commercial stuff was released in the Amazing Spider-Man Extra issues, which contain the same creative teams as the regular title, but get significantly less sales. In the event that there's no "ripped from the headlines" story to do, or no need for a spotlight on a new fan-favorite character, Marvel could still have the material for those types of stories. The epilogue to Character Assassination was probably the strongest chapter of the book, but it had less exposure as it wasn't in the main title.

More Writing For the Trade

For all of the complaints against "Writing for the Trade" there's no indication that fans dislike those types of stories. See "New Ways to Die" and the success of titles like Brubaker's Captain America, Bendis's Avengers, Snyder's Batman, The Ultimates, anything by Jeph Loeb and Green Lantern. As a result, I would encourage three or more 5-8 part stories an year, and I'd try to make sure that at least two of those stories have a commercial concept which can appeal to readers who don't follow the title. "New Ways to Die," "American Son," "Ends of the Earth," and "Spider Island" would all count. 

These will likely be perennial sellers. A generation later, Marvel is making money from Return of the Sinister Six, Kraven's Last Hunt and Torment, self-contained TPB-length stories with a complete beginning, middle and end. 

With more pages, you could have more significant developments with Peter Parker in the course of a single story, the difference between what can happen to a character in an episode of a TV show and what can happen in the course of a movie. With more developments, the stories will seem more substantial, which should discourage readers from dropping the book. It prevents a criticism that "progress" was too slow. It's also a bit easier to coordinate with multiple writers, as it's easier to have developments happen over the course of eight issues with one writer than eight issues with three different writers.

Lead time will be an issue on longer stories. The artist will need the first script months in advance, which also requires all the creative teams to know where the character is going to be in that first issue. But they should have been aware of that anyway, although that's an easy thing for an armchair quarterback like me to say.

The main risk is that these tentpole stories may start to seem insignificant after a while. Or that they may make the rest of the issues seem unimportant. But it's the responsibility of the writers and the editor to avoid that. It's a cheap answer, but one way to avoid that is to make sure that the quality is good. Twenty years later, no one cares that Torment and Return of the Sinister Six came out at the same time.

Annuals and Anniversary Issues

The intermissions would be long, so the annual output of Amazing Spider-Man could be the same as it is in the Big Time or as it was in the Brand New Day era. There would still be an Annual published during those intermissions, to whet the appetite of all the Spider-Man junkies waiting for the next fix. While the schedule would make the annuals seem more special, I would also make each one about 100 pages, just like Amazing Spider-Man #600 was.

Despite a noble effort to make annuals more meaningful post-Brand New Day, the current annuals just aren't impressive enough. It usually features a bit more content from the typical issue, and in recent years it isn't even by members of the creative team. As a result, the sales are much lower than the typical issue, even if it would sell better than a generic Spider-Man one-shot.

I like what Marvel did with Amazing Spider-Man #600, and the promotion of #700 also looks good. But I think the company made a mistake by completely ignoring #550 and #650. I would celebrate those milestones as well. Highly promoted anniversary specials sell more copies than the average issue, and therefore reach more readers. I'm glad that Marvel has realized how to make these jump-on points for new readers, using the event to feature either a self-contained story, or the first chapter of an epic storyline as opposed to the conclusion. I might encourage the former approach, as it gives the writers more pages to establish a storyline, with readers are more willing to have 40 pages of set-up in a single setting, than in two consecutive issues. And if there's a good cliffhanger, they're more likely to come back.

While I liked Amazing Spider-Man #600, an annual doesn't have to be 104 pages of original content (72 pages is quite alright.) Giving writers 48-104 pages to tell a story in a single setting allows them to not worry about details like making it accessible for readers who pick it up in the middle, having a cliffhanger every 22 pages, or the possibility that developments in the final portions will be spoiled when plot information for the end of the story (IE- in the previews) is released before the first part ships. One minor concern is figuring out how to differentiate the annuals from the milestone issues every year and a half, but that shouldn't be too difficult.

If I was in charge of Amazing Spider-Man, this is probably the schedule I would implement. I don't know how long it would last. It's probably an advantage for the post One More Day book that they're not tied down to any particular format.


Around the time I concluded that undoing the marriage would be a major and positive change to the Spider-Man franchise, I started considering how Marvel could take advantage of that. As JMS was leaving Amazing Spider-Man, and Peter David and Sacosa weren’t exactly breaking sales records on their series, I determined that it would probably be best for Marvel to celebrate the new status quo with new writers (and probably new artists) on all the Spider-Man books. Quesada & pals thus had the choice of producing significantly more than 22 pages of Amazing Spider-Man a month (which they eventually chose to do) or developing new monthly titles with their own identities to go along with the flagship.

If Marvel was going to keep doing Spider-Man monthlies, it also made sense to cancel and replace Sensational Spider-Man and Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man with new titles. The simple reason for this was that Spectacular Spider-Man Volume 2 #1, and Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #1 were both the second highest ordered books the month they shipped, so two new #1 issues would bring attention to the franchise, and signify the complete creative overhaul. In addition, the low sales on the last issues of FNSM and Sensational indicated that fans weren’t as interested in those books continuing or the elements which had made those titles unique.

There was never any question about whether there should be an Amazing Spider-Man title, considering that book’s combination of high sales, clear identity and history of great stories. But that too should relaunch with a new #1, as this change to the status quo and creators would have been more significant than the changes which justified the 1998 relaunch. Since Marvel never decided to make Amazing Spider-Man a full weekly, there is the possibility that one (or more) of the side titles will be made anyway.

As for the titles, and ideal creative teams I imagined Marvel could do.....

Amazing Spider‑Man

Writer‑ Mark Millar
Artist‑ Mark Bagley

Amazing Spider‑Man would be the flagship title, which establishes the status quo for the other books. If Peter Parker gets a new girlfriend, breaks up with his current one, gets fired or gets a new job, it would usually (but not always) happen here. I doubt either Mark would want to stay on the book for longer than an year (although they would be welcome to do so), but they would provide for an excellent high profile relaunch, and I can’t think of anyone more qualified to set the direction of the books for years to come.

When Mark Millar finishes his run on the title, Ed Brubaker would be a suitable replacement, given that he is one of Marvel’s best writers and considers Spider-Man to be one of his favorite characters, one reason I’m really looking forward to his inevitable run on the series. Considering how well Iron Fist has worked out, and how good “To Have and to Hold” turned out to be, I’d have no problem whatsoever with Matt Fraction as Brubaker’s co-writer on this title too.

The current creative teams on the (almost) weekly Amazing Spider-Man prove that there’s almost no shortage of great artists willing to work on the title. In addition to the guys who already worked on the title since Brand New Day, David Finch, Jim Cheung, Frank Cho, Terry Dodson and Chriscross would all have been qualified. The editor and writer would work together to make sure that the series is accessible to those who don’t buy any of the other Spider-Man titles, and enjoyable to those who buy all four. To that end, it will reference (and sometimes follow up on) plot threads from other titles, but not in a convoluted manner.

Spectacular Spider‑Man

Writer‑ Dan Slott
Artist‑ John Romita Jr

Every issue of this book would be self‑contained with a complete beginning, middle and end, though there would be subplots and other threads that cross issues. A model for this would be Fell and Paul Dini’s early work in Detective Comics. This is the book that would deal with the ramifications of events in other books (IE‑ crossovers) something Slott did often in She‑Hulk and later in Mighty Avengers. Some issues will be funny, some will be tragic and some will just have lots of action. Some will feature new villains, while others will feature classic villains, or rarely used B‑level villains, or villains from other franchises. It's meant to compliment the shortages of the other Spider‑Man books, but should still be accessible to those cheapskates who want the best deal in comics and aren’t interested in the other titles. This should also give John Romita Jr an opportunity to do the best work of his career, given the variety of things he could draw over a one-year period.

Because of the “done in one” aspects of this title, fill‑in work may be common, but it should always be good, and by respected creators (IE‑ Paul Jenkins, Tom Beland, Sean McKeever, Roger Stern, Ed Brubaker, Lee Weeks, Paolo Rivera, Kaare Andrews.) I would be strict on the single issue rule, as it would be an important part of maintaining this book’s identity. If Dan Slott wanted to write a longer story, he'd have to do it as a separate mini series, or take over Amazing Spider‑Man for a few months. The writer would work closely with the writers on the other Spider-Man books, given how well this series could be used to set up events in the other books.

The Inferno crossover in the late 1980s might be an example of how the coordination could work. Amazing Spider-Man #312 was an accessible standalone story with a fantastic hook: the Harry Osborn Green Goblin VS the New Hobgoblin as depicted by Todd Mcfarlane. But there was more to the story, and for that you could read Spectacular Spider-Man and Web of Spider-Man.

Spider-Man and The Fantastic Four

Writer- Peter David
Artist- Alan Davis

This struck me as the most logical Superman/ Batman type book you could do in the Marvel Universe, given the ties between Spider-Man and Marvel’s first family, the way it’s difficult to come up with a title for a second Fantastic Four book (this was before Hickman solved that problem with The Future Foundation) and the variety of stories available. In addition to team-ups between Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four, you could do extended team-ups between Spider-Man and any of the individual members (or any combination of the individual members) of the team, in addition to storylines with their supporting characters, as both franchises have a lot of spin-offs and potential spin-offs). There has recently been a trend of Spider-Man writers getting jobs on Fantastic Four books, and vice versa (JMS, Waid, Millar, Sacosa, Slott) so there’s more than enough writers available to do justice to both franchises in one book.

The ideal writer would be able to mix the cosmic with the human, and the action with humor and no one qualifies better than Peter David. His Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man artist Mike Wieringo would have been a no-brainer on the art even before his excellent work on the four issue mini series, but that’s sadly no longer possible. Alan Davis would be an appropriate substitute, given his incredible work on various Fantastic Four projects and how he handled Spider-Man characters in the comics adaptation of the first movie. If he were interested in writing a series like this himself, Marvel should try to make that possible.

Although the series would allow for a lot of fill-ins, it would probably be better to avoid those and give it a bimonthly or twice-quarterly schedule to accommodate Davis, as it’s more important to keep this series successful than it is to just make it a new monthly. A slower schedule allows the creative team to clearly establish the book’s identity, and create a series that can survive their eventual departure. I wouldn’t be surprised if Marvel ever announces this title, regardless of what happens to Amazing Spider-Man's schedule.

Astonishing Spider‑Man

Writer‑ Jeph Loeb
Artist‑ J Scott Campbell

The basic idea would be a high profile accessible Spider‑Man book, which hits the Top 5 every time it comes out, with creators on par with Whedon/Cassady, Miller/Lee, and Morrison/Quitely. My thoughts circa 2006 were to use this book to establish an Astonishing franchise, on par with DC's All‑Star franchise, getting A‑list creators doing what they want on an accessible book, free from the continuity of the other books. 

This would be the book for writers and artists who shouldn’t be put on books that impact the schedules of other books. As Loeb/ Campbell have been working on their story for years, it would make sense to have that be the one that launches the title. Say what you will about their talents as storytellers, their project is going to sell very well and is likely to introduce elements that future writers will incorporate into their own work.

When Loeb/ Campbell are done, appropriate writers for the series would include Roger Stern (considered second only to Lee), Kevin Smith, Joss Whedon, Michael Chabon (wrote for the second Spider-Man movie), Brian Michael Bendis (this would demonstrate the differences between the regular Spider-Man and the ultimate one), Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, Frank Miller, Warren Ellis and Grant Morrison. I’d want Marvel to also aim high with the artists, going after guys like Bryan Hitch, Jae Lee, Tim Sale, The Kubert brothers, JH Williams, George Perez or Neal Adams. If Todd Mcfarlane or Steve Ditko were to ever return to the Spider-Man books, this is probably the one they would go to.

With Amazing Spider‑Man's increased schedule, Marvel has more of a use than ever for an accessible entry‑level Marvel Universe book, so an Astonishing Spider-Man (almost) monthly is more useful than ever. While Marvel would have a difficult time providing artists who are more impressive than the ones who worked on the post-BND Amazing Spider-Man (Romita Jr, Jiminez, Bachalo, McNiven, Martin, etc) this could become a showcase book for extended runs by less reliable artists (and writers), who shouldn’t be trusted on a book that can’t be late as is the current case with ASM. There might be a little confusion as it shares the title of a British reprint series, but there are too many benefits for Marvel in setting up an "Astonishing" brand, in terms of being able to promote two of the best-selling books (and therefore the X-Men and Spider-Man franchises) at a time, for them to consider a different title.

The idea is a little bit less effective, as Marvel did try to create an Astonishing brand, and many of the stories sold rather poorly. Although the gay marriage issue of Astonishing X-Men did get a lot of attention quite recently.

Other Satellite Books

Marvel has published other Spider-Man satellite titles in the past, many with a compelling enough concept. Marvel Team-Up has had a long and storied history. Ultimate Marvel Team-Up had an interesting hook, with a new artist for every storyline. Avenging Spider-Man has a slightly more commercial title for a book with the same theme.

Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man was initially supposed to be the book which featured the big developments in Peter Parker's private life. It was the title in which the major moments happened in his relationship with the Black Cat.

While David Michelinie was writer of Web of Spider-Man, the point of that book was to take Peter Parker out of  New York City. Todd Mcfarlane's Spider-Man reimagined Spider-Man's enemies as the type of figures you would usually see in horror movies. Howard Mackie and John Romita Jr's Peter Parker Spider-Man was a street-level crime comic. Tangled Web was an anthology focusing on independent talent, looking mainly at people affected by Spider-Man.

There is one problem with having these books as the Spider-Man monthlies. It makes crossovers absolutely impossible, as that would contradict with the identity of the other series. If something like that was determined to be absolutely necessary, Amazing Spider-Man would have to ship a few issues a month for a brief period of time. I do think that these books would avoided the problems that have plagued the spinoff Spider-Man titles (a lack of a unique identity and a sense of insignificance), although there are many advantages to keeping Amazing Spider-Man's increased schedule. But my approach to that would be slightly different than what Marvel has done.



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