Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man
The Road to 300
by Phil Perich for the Capes and Lunatics Blog
A comic book milestone is just around the corner. Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man will release it’s 300th issue in February. During it’s many years of publication I believe this series has been seen as the “other” Spider-Man book. Since Amazing Spider-Man was first, I believe some fans see Spectacular as not as important or lacking in quality. For most of it’s run over the years, I thought Spectacular was as least as good as Amazing, sometimes surpassing the original, as is the case currently.
The Spectacular Spider-Man was originally a magazine sized adventure of Spider-Man. The magazine only lasted two issues in 1968. Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #1 debuted in December 1976 and become the third ongoing Spider-Man series in history after Amazing Spider-Man and Marvel Team-Up that paired Spider-Man with a different Marvel superhero every month. Peter Parker appeared in the title because original writer Gerry Conway had plans for the book to focus on Peter Parker and his supporting cast more than the other titles, but Conway left Marvel shortly after.
While the infamous Clone Saga which introduced Spider-Man’s clones and his enemy the Jackal to the world appeared in Amazing Spider-Man, another version of Miles Warren first appeared in Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #25 (December 1978). his origin has been retconned several times, original believed to be a clone of the dead super villain, later versions of Carrion were created from innocent hosts infected by a genetic replicator virus mutated from Warren’s own DNA.
Another character that has had a long term impact on Spider-Man and now even the whole Marvel Universe is the Black Cat. Originally appearing in Amazing Spider-Man #194 (July 1979) the Black Cat was a cat burglar who crossed paths with Spider-Man. Later on she would attempt to leave her life of crime behind and start a romantic relationship with Spider-Man. Most of their relationship was chronicled in the pages of the Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man series. In issue #87 (February 1984), Peter Parker reveals his identity to the Black Cat who is taken aback that Spider-Man would choose to live as a regular person. But their romance came to an end when in issue #100 (March 1985) Spider-Man discovered that the Black Cat had received her bad luck powers from scientists employed by his enemy Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin of Crime.
Daredevil, Sin Eater, and Jean DeWolff
Issues #107-#110 (October 1985-January 1986) featured the four part “Death of Jean DeWolff” storyline by master storyteller Peter David. The story began with Jean’s murder at the hands of the serial killer named Sin Eater. Jean had been a friend to Spider-Man on the police force and he took her death hard, especially when Spider-Man discovered “Sin Eater” was Jean’s partner Stan Carter. This storyline became an instant classic not just because this was when Daredevil and Spider-Man learned each other’s secret identities and argued the finer points of the American justice system, but the capture of a copycat Sin Eater ruined the career of reporter Eddie Brock and started him down the road to becoming the villainous Venom!
Acts of Vengeance
In 1989 the Acts of Vengeance crossed over into every Marvel Comic. Organized by Loki, the super villain community decided to trade enemies and battle different enemies in hopes of defeating new foes. One of the heroes everyone thought would be at a disadvantage was Spider-Man, but thanks to what at first seemed like a lab accident in Spectacular Spider-Man issue #158 (Peter Parker was dropped from the title starting with issue #134), Spider-Man was temporarily gifted with the Enigma Force which granted him the cosmic abilities of Captain Universe. With new powers including flight, energy blasts, and even greater super strength, Spider-Man was able to defeat enemies that would usual outclass him in strength, such as Graviton, Magneto, and the Hulk. The Acts of Vengeance storyline that ran through all three Spider-Man books at the times is one of my all time favorites.
My Enemy, My Friend
After the death of Norman Osborn, one of Spider-Man’s greatest enemies as the Green Goblin, Norman’s son Harry had several nervous breakdowns and a battle with drug abuse. After his recovery with help from his friends including Peter Parker, Harry tried to redeem his family’s name and honor by operating as a new Green Goblin, but this time the Goblin would be a hero. But after Harry decides to try to recreate and use his father’s old Goblin serum to grant him super strength, the same insanity grips him that affected his father. Spider-Man faced a personal battle not just with an old friend, but one who knew the identity of the man under the mask. Their battle came to an end in Spectacular Spider-Man #200 (May 1993) when the new “improved” Goblin formula ended up killing Harry Osborn until it’s was revealed that Harry and Norman had survived and Norman had hidden Harry in Europe to recover for years.
I have enjoyed so many storylines from Spectacular Spider-Man’s long run, and I feel the current arc written by Chip Zdarsky is right up there with the classics. Zdarsky’s storyline reminds me of all the things I’ve loved but this character and comic over the years, the action, humor, and the “friendly neighborhood” feel Spider-Man has been missing for the last few years. The current storyline will become another classic and join the others on my must read list.
There are so many more storylines I could have included such as the Lobo Brothers gang war, the Child Within, the Identity Crisis crossover, and many more. What are some of YOUR favorites? Let me know and you might hear YOUR thoughts on my podcast!
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