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CSBG Archive

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.

Story continues below

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!



Didn’t see any of these coming! (probably ’cause I haven’t read any of them, except that Hulk issue and the wedding). Quite an emphais on the more modern stuff this time out.

Shaping up to be a fun and interesting list!

Always had thought the Cosmic Spidey story was underrated. Glad to see it on here. That and the Wedding are both understandable choices to me. The others are meh.

“Sometimes I wonder what would’ve happened if you’d really gotten to know her. If you’d just let her personality reach out and fix you, you know?”

Oh, how little did Peter know at that point just how much reaching had been going on between Gwen and Norman…

“44. “A Death in the Family,” Peter Parker: Spider-Man (Volume 2) #44-47″

GAH! The characters look AWFUL!

The Crazed Spruce

June 23, 2012 at 6:16 pm

I actually had the Cosmic Spidey saga at #9 on my list. Hey, what can I say? It was fun seeing him beat the living crap out of people way outside of his weight class.

I was tempted to vote for the wedding, but for some reason they didn’t have that annual at the store where i bought my comics. (They carried the regular series, and I did get the issue where Peter proposed, but at the time they didn’t always carry the annuals. That, or it was sold out by the time I got there.)

Haven’t read any of the other issues, so I really couldn’t vote for ‘em.

JMS gets a lot of stick (some of it definitely deserved), but the first 9/10s of this Amazing Spider-Man were fantastic, and the conversation is almost certainly the highlight (the Captain America/Dr. Doom issue might be my personal favourite)

A Death in the Family was good, but very much of the early 2000s mold. All the characters have SERIOUS ISSUES, and they’re damn sure gonna talk about them.

I read The Conversation as a teenager, enjoyed it at the time, haven’t picked it up since. I suspect my present distaste for JMS would distort any rereading, so I’m happy to leave The Conversation as a pleasant memory.

Ultimate Nullifier was a surprisingly dull story from Lee and Romita. I didn’t care for the amnesia angle, and doing another story where Peter finds his inner heroism after ASM #50 just a few months prior was a misstep.

I TOTALLY forgot about the “Death in the Family” storyline. Probably wouldn’t have cracked my ten, but I would’ve had to consider it strongly.
The cosmic powers issue where Spidey fights the Tri-Sentinel was the first issue of ASM I ever bought. I had NO IDEA what was going on! It was a fun issue anyway though, soI stuck around, until the Clone Saga started getting bad and forced me away.

Big fan of “The Conversation”. It’s a very important moment for Peter Parker and his oldest, longest-lasting supporting cast member, and JMS/Romita Jr really hit all the right notes, even the old “If Aunt May found out, she would die of shock!” note from the original Stan Lee run. Aunt May doesn’t know anymore, but in the context of the run it still holds all of it’s power.

Doc Ock Wins is a another very fun Lee/Romita Sr story. Wasn’t on my list, but half of them are Lee/Romita Sr so it’s all good.

I had Death in the Family in my top ten. That was the storyline that finally justified bringing Norman back for me. I love the Jenkins/Ramos issues of Peter Parker and Spectacular. Jenkins Dr. Octopus is fantastic.

i’ve been curious about the ‘death in the family’ storyline for a while… the only thing that keeps me from reading it is the art… for me ramos’ art is just plain awful.

Michael Howey

June 24, 2012 at 2:08 am

Very mixed which pleases me greatly. I have all of these in one form or other which helps.
I would love to throw in the acts of vengeance revenge issues from web by Conway and Savuik. Could they be classed as part of the same story?


June 24, 2012 at 7:14 am

“Humberto Ramos and Wayne Faucher provide the artwork, which is powerful.”

Powerfully bad. This is a story I’ve wanted to read since it came out, but can’t get past the artwork.

Cosmic Spidey also showed up in Quasar #7.

Had I been allowed 15 votes, I would have included Coming Home, and called it Amazing Spider-Man #30-35,37-38.

Could this have been a point of confusion, that a lot of people don’t separate the two? Because the Conversation is surprisingly low compared with my perception of its popularity.

Ed (A Different One)

June 25, 2012 at 7:58 am

It’s amazing and easy to forget how downright good those early JMS issues were – and how very tragic that their legacy is tainted by the utter horror that came from his pen later. How could this be the same writer? Just this weekend I picked up an old JMS issue at a flea market – it was one in the middle of that storyline where Spidey was helping out those kids who were living on their own in the abandoned basement and they were disappearing one-by-one. The interactions between the characters were great. It was in that issue that Spidey began building his relationship with that NYPD detective who has never been used again. So much potential in those issues that was just utterly squandered. And, yeah, the Converation with Aunt May was one of those rare ASM issues that gave me goosebumps like I hadn’t felt since the good old days. I didn’t vote for any JMS storylines, mostly because I forgot how good some of them were, but yes, the Conversation definitely deserves to be in the “conversation” if you know what I mean (forgive the pun).

I’ve never read “Death in the Family” but I’ve rather liked Jenkins’s writing over the years. But, yeah, Ramos’s art was pretty hard to get past back then. He’s toned it down a bit in his current work on ASM, but he still takes some getting used to. When Jenkins was writing Spider-Man, he always seemed to be joined at the hip with Ramos for some reason.

And I forgot about that old Doc Ock storyline from way back. If my memory serves, Doc Ock was able to convince Spider-Man that they were partners and actually commandeer Spidey’s services for a while. What I thought was really interesting at this time was that this was the era where Spidey was still pretty intimidated by Ock, but in amnesia as Ock’s “partner”, he actually stands up to Ock quite a bit and they tussell more than a few times while “working together”. Even though the device they employed was rather trite even for the time period in question (memory loss), Lee and Romita did exploit that Spidey/Ock dynamic in interesting ways throughout the storyline. It is another reminder of just how good Lee could be at times once you got past all the “schtick”.

I agree. The Conversation is my very favorite issue of all time. I wish it May could remember it again.

Amazing 328. One last Todd issue and the grey Hulk. Good stuff. “I’m Batma…”

I would have placed The Conversation higher than 43.

“Powerfully bad. This is a story I’ve wanted to read since it came out, but can’t get past the artwork.”

I feel the same. I don’t understand what’s good about that art, unless Spidey and Goblin had been on such a huge fistfight before that page that they ended up deforming both of their faces.

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