50 Greatest Spider-Man Stories: #45-41
In honor of the fiftieth anniversary of Spider-Man, we’re doing four straight months of polls having to do with Spider-Man, culminating with the release of the Amazing Spider-Man film in July. We’ve done Spider-Man covers, Spider-Man characters, Spider-Man creators and now, finally, Spider-Man stories!
You all voted, now here are the results of what you chose as the 50 Greatest Spider-Man Stories! We continue with #45-41. Click here for a master list of all the stories revealed so far!
45. “Cosmic Spider-Man,” Spectacular Spider-Man #158-160, Web Spider-Man #59-61 and Amazing Spider-Man #327-329
This was less of a traditional crossover and more of an event where all the Spider-Man titles were affected for three months during the Acts of Vengeance storyline. Acts of Vengeance was about a group of super-villains who team up to come up with a plan to take out the world’s heroes. Super-villains will trade opponents and take on heroes who are not prepared for them. Things did well for the villains with Graviton handling Spider-Man easily until Spider-Man gained the power of Captain Universe. However, through a fluke accident, Spider-Man gained the POWERS but not the CONSCIOUSNESS of Captain Universe, so he did not know what was going on, just that he was much more powerful out of nowhere. Things continued like this, even in a fight against the Hulk (in Todd McFarlane’s last issue of Amazing Spider-Man)…
Eventually, Spider-Man realizes the mistake but not before he has to take on the Tri-Sentinel! The creators (Gerry Conway and David Michelinie on the writing side, Alex Saviuk, Keith Williams, Sal Buscema, Todd McFarlane, Erik Larsen, Al Gordon and Andy Mushynsky on the art side) are clearly having a blast putting Spider-Man through the paces as suddenly a Superman-level hero. Plus, in Amazing, there’s a fun little subplot about Flash Thompson’s poor taste in women.
44. “A Death in the Family,” Peter Parker: Spider-Man (Volume 2) #44-47
After a big storyline where Norman Osborn essentially offers to make Peter Parker his heir (Peter eventually turns him down), Osborn was out of the picture. He returns in a big way with “A Death in the Family,” as Paul Jenkins expertly examines the strange relationship that the two men have with each other. Humberto Ramos and Wayne Faucher provide the artwork, which is powerful.
Flash Thompson finds himself in the middle of Peter and Osborn’s battle, with Osborn framing Flash for a drunk driving accident that leaves Peter’s classroom in wreckage and Flash in a coma (and facing criminal charges if/when he recovers).
Green Goblin taunts Spider-Man on television about Gwen Stacy’s death, with the Goblin explaining he never wanted her to die and was in fact trying to save her when Spider-Man foolishly grabbed her with his webbing, which the Goblin argues is what killed her.
But when the Goblin decides he wants to off his own grandson, Peter is forced to possibly cross that line he never wants to cross – to KILL the Goblin…
Powerful stuff. So powerful that Marvel created a new title just for Jenkins and Ramos.
43. “The Conversation,” Amazing Spider-Man (Volume 2) #38
In Amazing Spider-Man #35, Aunt May discovered that Peter was Spider-Man. After a 9/11 interlude in #36 and a second interlude in #37 (where she deals with what she just saw) she finally calls Peter and tells them that they have to talk. #38 is an entire issue of just May and Peter discussing his secret. It is powerful work from writer J. Michael Straczysnki and artists John Romita Jr. and Scott Hanna.
Here is a snippet…
The whole issue is strong like that. Possibly the best work Straczynski did on the title he did in this issue.
42. “Doc Ock Wins,” Amazing Spider-Man (Volume 1) #53-56
This four-part story was the first Doctor Octopus storyline of the Stan Lee/John Romita era. Mike Esposito inked Romita on all four issues. The story follows Doctor Octopus’ quest for the Nullifier, a device that can stop all mechanical devices (even simple ones like guns) when it blasts them. Before Doc Ock gets to that point, he first causes problems by becoming a boarder at Aunt May’s boarding house!!
Besides the Doc Ock drama, Peter’s love life is getting interesting as Gwen Stacy seems more and more interested in him. They go together on a trip to the museum, courtesy of one of their professors, a kindly man named Dr. Miles Warren who will certainly never make clones of them in the future.
Doctor Octopus finally gets the Nullifier and when he uses it on Spider-Man, a funny thing happens – it takes away Spider-Man’s memory!! Uh oh…
This sets up a dramatic finale as our hero tries to remember that he is, well, you know, our hero!
#57 sort of ties in, as well, as once the Doctor Octopus stuff is over, Spider-Man still doesn’t know who he is. He remembers at the end of the issue.
41. “The Wedding,” Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21
In this story, written by David Michelinie (from a Jim Shooter plot) and drawn by Paul Ryan and Vince Colletta, Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson struggle with whether they actually WANT to get married while they also inform their friends and family of their upcoming nuptials.
Peter worries that his life is too dangerous and Mary Jane worries that she is giving up a lot of the glamorous trappings of her life as a model. Eventually, when the time for the ceremony comes, neither Mary Jane nor Peter are there! Mary Jane shows up, though. But no Peter!