First Published: July 1998
Contents: First Edition: Amazing Spider-Man #44 (January 1967) to #68 (January 1969); Second Edition: Amazing Spider-Man #44 (January 1967) to #65 (October 1968), and Amazing Spider-Man Annual #4 (1967)
Key Creator Credits: Stan Lee, John Romita Sr.
Key First Appearances: Shocker, Wilson Fisk/Kingpin, Joe ‘Robbie’ Robertson, Captain George Stacy, Randy Robertson
Story Continues From: Essential Spider-Man Vol. 2
Story Continues In: Essential Spider-Man Vol. 4
Overview: This Essential volume shows a change in tone with the Amazing Spider-Man. Story lines were stretched over multiple issues. The daily adventures of Peter Parker were just as interesting as the daily adventures of Spider-Man.
Peter Parker tries hard to balance his crazy life – attending classes at Empire State University; working as a freelance photographer for the Daily Bugle; allocating time for his girlfriend Gwen Stacy, his friends, and his Aunt May; and using his abilities to protect others as Spider-Man. Ongoing story arcs showcased villains, like the Green Goblin or the Kingpin, manipulating people from the shadows, testing the limits of Spider-Man.
What makes this Essential?: This is an interesting volume. During the Stan Lee-Steve Ditko years featured in Volumes 1 and 2, most were one-and-done stories featuring the villain-of-the-month. In this volume, you see Lee start to fully develop all of the characters, making them real people versus just a way to advance a story. Peter is not the only character to have life problems. New characters such as Joe Robertson and Captain Stacy provides Peter with new father figures that he can talk to and seek out for advice.
Footnotes: Please note that there are different content listings between the first edition and the second edition of this Essential. Volume #5 will also have different content listings between the first and second editions, due to the placement of Amazing Spider-Man Annual #4.
The cover to Amazing Spider-Man #50, used as the cover art for the second edition, is one of the most iconic covers of all time. It has been homaged dozen of times with other comics, and used in the Spider-Man 3 motion picture.
If you like this volume, try: Marvel Visionaries: John Romita Sr. While he is most closely associated with Spider-Man, Jazzy John Romita managed to work on most every Marvel title at some point. In the 1970s, Romita became the Art Director for Marvel, providing direction of how Marvel books should look. This volume collects the two-part Daredevil story featuring Spider-Man (which served as an unofficial tryout before taking over Amazing Spider-Man from Ditko); Fantastic Four issues he did following the Kirby run; and assorted stories featuring the Hulk and Captain America. Also included are some romance and sci-fi stories that he did for Timely Comics, before it was rebranded as Marvel Comics.
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I’ve really been enjoying your reviews here, Jerry. I have a number of Essentials, but they’ve mostly been supplanted in my collection by color editions of the same material.
Earlier this month, though, I started reading Essential Punisher Vol. 1, since it’s one of the few Essentials I have that contains material not otherwise collected in color. Between that book and your reviews, my affection for seeing classic material in black & white has simply skyrocketed. I’m now looking into stocking up more of these books, especially the Showcases (of which I only have one — Batman Vol. 1 — at the moment).
Thanks, Marc! You are my first commenter on the site — good to know someone has discovered this blog!
If you are a fan of Batman, try Showcase Batman Volumes 4 & 5. Some amazing art from Neal Adams in those volumes. I’m a big fan of the Jim Aparo Batman, which can be found in the Brave and the Bold Showcases, as well as the Batman and the Outsiders Showcase.
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