Comfort Food Comics: Spider-Man

Now this is one of my favorite binds Ive ever done.  All of my favorite Spidey stories ever in one mammoth tome. (Although Im already thinking of making a volume 2!)  My first rule with these was no huge, long seminal stories like Kraven’s Last Hunt.  For the big always collected iconic stories for a character, Id just take the official hardcovers if I enjoyed them.  And so, Kraven’s Last Hunt was chopped.  Its one of my faves but its a huge story.  It’s not the Comfort Food Fave.  Another set of stories I omitted was Roger Stern’s original Hobgoblin arc. I made my own separate bind of those with extras to stand alone on the essentials shelf with this book. I also kept out major Mary-Jane stories as I in tandem with this book, made a CFC Mary Jane bind as well

For the cover of this collection I reached out to the incredible artist @dimaiv-nov to help me make a vision of Pete enjoying his comfort food, Aunt May’s wheatcakes.  He went above and beyond with the amazing artwork here.  On the spine I put the “You’ll get no mercy from Spider-Man” scene by Sal Buscema from Maximum Carnage because dating back to when I was like 5 reading that for the first time its always been a fun, great and humorous page that me and my older brother have always remembered as one of Spidey’s most iconic images.  And for the back cover I went with an obscure piece of art by Jeff Butler that was used as some Gamer’s Handbook guide in 89 or so.  I love this piece so much.

So! On to the contents, and my personal reasons:

-Amazing Fantasy #15: The origin! We all know this one.  But even though you’ve read it a million times, its still so pitch perfect. It’s an origin story that’s actually fun to read.  Ditko and Lee creating a mythic figure for our times.  It had to go in first.

-Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1: Spidey vs. The Sinister Six in their debut.  Another landmark classic by Ditko and Lee.  All the best villains, all those splash pages.  This is an iconic moment in comics history. All that AND its such a good story.

-Amazing Spider-Man #31-33: If This Be My Destiny/The Final Chapter. The best Marvel comic storyline ever.  The one where Spider-Man symbolically beats the odds and hoists them off his back.  To this day, its a moving, brilliant piece of art that is often homaged but hasnt been topped. I cant even express how much I love this story. It’s what Comfort Food Comics is built on.

-Amazing Spider-Man #50: Spider-Man No More. One of the first “hero quits” stories.  Its one of the best issues of Spidey because it displays everything you need to know about him as a character. It’s also a fantastic gallery of John Romita’s best work.

-Amazing Spider-Man #121-122: The Day Gwen Stacy Died. Had to be here.  One of those “important” stories that stand the test of time. I used Marvel Tales 192 for this one.  Both issues in one package with that brilliant cover that I really like.

-Amazing Spider-Man #100-102: The Spider or The Man. Right up there with If This Be My Destiny as one of my absolute favorite Spidey stories ever. Morbius! The Lizard! Six Armed Spider-Man! Gil Kane! This one has it all. Had to use the Marvel Tales reprints as #253 has that awesome Moebius cover.

-Amazing Spider-Man Annuals # 14-15: Two great Denny O’Neil/Frank Miller joints. The beautiful art and fun stories in these ones have always left an impact on me.  14 is just fun, silly and so pretty to look at with Miller’s early art. 15 is that real good, filling Comfort Food with Doc Ock and Punisher all rendered by a Miller/Klaus Janson art team  The incredibly high points of Denny’s lackluster run on Amazing.

-Amazing Spider-Man #229-230: Ahhh now here we are in Roger Stern’s run.  To me he is arguably up there with Stan/Ditko and JM DeMatteis as the best Spidey writer.  Nothing Can Stop the Juggernaut.  Stern’s fun version of his own Amazing #33, where Spidey must face insurmountable odds.  It is almost as good as that classic.

-Marvel Team-Up #131: DeMatteis at his best!! Spider-Man and Frog-Man vs The White Rabbit in her debut.  This one is hilarious & exciting. Its everything a Spidey comic should be. DeMatteis excels at creating Comfort Food Comics.

-Amazing Spider-Man #267: When Cometh The Commuter! Another silly story thats just a riot.  One of the alltime best single issue stories. The usual Peter David wit here in this classic of what happens when Spidey leaves the city & has to combat criminals in….the suburbs?!

-Spectacular Spider-Man #115: OOOH! Now this is one of my all time Comfort Food faves. Another Peter David story.  His run on Spectacular in the 80′s is what Spider-Man comics should be.  But the real highlight here is Mr. Mark Beachum.  One of my favorite artists ever.  His small little handful of Spidey issues in the 80’s are some of my most beloved comics.  Black Cat, Pete, hell, all the random background characters, no one looks better or prettier than they do in a Beachum drawn comic.  This one is a great little Spidey/Black Cat story that Ive treasured for years. 

-Amazing Spider-Man #300:  Whoooo Venom!! Whether you love him or hate him and no matter how you feel about Todd McFarlane, this shit is fantastic!! 300 is such a good comic book. The Michelinie/McFarlane run is one of the best runs and this is the best representation of that whole period. This is the peak of Todd’s artwork and you can see why Venom went on to be such a big deal.

-Marvel Action Universe #1: Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends! I love this silly, corny ass 80s cartoon.  A few years back my brother was home for Easter and they ran a marathon of this cartoon when we were drinking pretty hard.  Its unintentional humor really got to us.  Since then me, my bro and my friends usually drink beers and watch a marathon of it.  Anytime Amazing Friends is referenced, I eat it up. I had to include this silly adaptation of The Triumph Of The Green Goblin episode. Pure fun.

-Amazing Spider-Man #328: Oh baby! What else could you ask for in a comic.  Acts of Vengeance! Cosmic Spider-Man! Mr. Fixit! Todd McFarlane!  This remains one of my true comic loves to this day.  Cosmic Spidey punching Mr. Fixit into space.  God!  Few comics match this excitement.

-What If? Volume 2 #20-21: What if Spidey had not married Mary Jane and What If Spidey Had Married the Black Cat?  I love What If?  Its such a good idea for a series.  I wish Marvel never stopped publishing it monthly.  As much of a sucker that I am for Pete/MJ, I love this wild ride of a 2 parter where Pete ends up with Black Cat instead.  Shenanigans ensue involving MJ, Felicia, the Vulture, and the Wild Pack; and we conclude in a universe where Spidey ends up with Silver Sable.  And brother, if you dont love that romantic pairing, then I dont know what to think.

-Spider-Man #15: Erik Larsen!!! Now this was a hard choice.  Larsen is one of my comic Gods.  I have all of Savage Dragon and any comic even a sliver of canon in that universe all bound in proper reading order.  Larsen is one of those once in a lifetime artists.  His Spidey run with David Michelinie is right at the top.  Then his quick writer/artist turn on regular ol adjectiveless is a wonderful peek into what we could have had if Larsen stayed on Spidey as a one man team.  It was hard to narrow an issue or story to represent Larsen’s work, but I went with this one.  A fun, well written Beast teaming up with Spidey to fight and discuss if Pete can start a family. This was the single issue joint I had to put in.

-Spectacular Spider-Man 200:  Depending which day of the week it is, if you ask me who my favorite Spidey writer is, Im very likely to answer JM DeMatteis.  I have his Spec run with Sal Buscema bound in a separate volume and I think its one of the best runs on a series ever.  200 is the culmination of all of it.  Poignant writing, moving artwork.  Its a landmark issue that doesnt disappoint.  I hate that Marvel brought Harry back so stupidly for Brand New Day.

-Amazing Spider-Man #397: Part 1 of a Clone Saga 90′s story?  Not many fans I imagine would place this on their best of lists, but I genuinely love this story.  I was 6 when this one came out, and it was one of my first comics.  Not my older brothers I could read, but mine all mine!  I remember reading this thing constantly.  Its a flipbook style issue with a preview for the book Ultimate Spider-Man with an excerpt of the Lizard prose story on one side.  That was what initially made me get it as a boy.  But boy I could not care less about it as soon as I read this wild Doc Ock tale.  Who was this gorgeous Stunner about to kill Spidey on the cover?  Spider-Man’s going to die?  The last Doc Ock story? This Mark Bagley artwork!  As a 6 year old this was next level stuff.  I ate it up.  I love this story, and confess to loving most of the Clone Saga.  Stunner by Mark Bagley is just perfection guys.  This issue again is pure meat and potatoes.  I buy it every time I see it in the wild.

-Spider-Man: The Parker Years Oneshot: Guys.  Guyyyyys.  This.  Thing.  Rules!!  This is another book I randomly came across in a Waldenbooks if Im not mistaken while at the mall with my family as a young boy.  I remember being blown away by the Joe St. Pierre artwork. It’s his best work. That gorgeous Romita Jr. cover.  We are fully into the Clone Saga now and Peter is the clone and hanging it up? What!?  At least Mary Jane is here to talk about Pete’s whole career from OG clone saga till current.  I remember taking this into Applebee’s after getting it at the mall and just not eating, I had to read!!  This thing was my bible for a few years.  It gave me so much info and artwork.  Showed me glimpses into all Spidey’s long and varied history.  This one is just perfect in every way.

-Peter, Parker: Spider-Man #75: Revelations Part 4 of 4.  Norman Osborn is back!  I confess as much as I loved the Clone Saga as a kid, its length and my getting older burnt me out of comics for years.  When I finally did come back and read the entire Saga, I loved it.  This conclusion is a real highlight, wrapping it all up and getting rid of Ben Reilly in a beautifully drawn tale by JR jr.   Ben’s death hits hard and Norman really comes back swinging.  This is one not to miss, even if you hate any Spidey clones.

-Untold Tales of Spider-Man 1996 Annual: A lovely series by Kurt Busiek that doesnt get enough attention.  This annual features Spidey going out on a date with Sue Storm and is the best issue of the whole run.  Mike Allred draws and its insanely fun.  I really enjoy the Spidey Sue chemistry and this issue sends me into full shipping territory.

-Spider-Man’s Tangled Web #13: Double Shots: Ron Zimmerman and Sean Phillips give us Spidey foes comparing their villain stories and how bad they are while hanging at a bar. Eventually a mystery figure tells his story. The reveal ending is just brutal, chilling stuff. It’s a wonderful examination of supervillains as a whole

-Amazing Spider-Man #500: If Straczynski had left when Jr. jr left, I feel this run would be unanimously heralded as one of Spidey’s greatest.  I love JMS and Jr. jr’s collaboration on Spidey. Everything else by JMS…ehhhhh.  But, 500 is an amazing tale that features Spidey’s entire history, him overcoming everything, the amazing Last Stand future scenario and suit, and Pete being able to talk to Uncle Ben in an ending drawn by Romita Senior.  This is what comic books should be.  This was a book I read after Spider-Man 2 came out and it ultimately, along with Ultimate Spider-Man brought me full force back into comics for good as a late teen.

-The Spectacular Spider-Man Volume 2 #27:  I have a very love/hate opinion of Paul Jenkins.  Sometime he writes such good comics.  Most of the time his output ranges from bland to awful.  His issues on Spectacular with artist Mark Buckingham however tend to be some real gems.  This is his final issue where Buckingham leans in hard making Uncle Ben and a young Pete basically into Calvin and Hobbes.  Its uniquely illustrated and very sweet.  I really enjoyed this one.

-Ultimate Spider-Man Annual #1 – Peter and Kitty Pryde kiss!!!  I bought this one when I was 17 or 18 and in my first year of college in my first high school sweetheart relationship.  It really hit me right where I wanted at the time.  Im 30 now and I still dig this one.  I love quiet, character focused comics and a cute date between Ultimate Spidey and Ultimate Kitty still remains the best issue of Ultimate Spider-Man ever.  One of my go to comfort food comics for many years.

-Marvel Team-Up Volume 3 #14: In 1962, Stan & Steve debuted THE teen hero Spider-Man. In 2003, Robert Kirkman & Cory Walker introduced a new teen hero for our time with Invincible. Spider-Man and Invincible!  It was only natural for the two of them to team up! I never hear anyone talk about this. I honestly think few people even know it happened.  I remember finding out about this and just losing it.  It slides into Invincible continuity perfectly and offers up a really fun tale.  Its right in that era of Bendis’ New Avengers and seeing Invincible’s reaction to that team is priceless.  This is an awesome team up of two of comics alltime best characters.

-Spider-Man Unlimited Volume 3 #14: An understated perfect slice of Comfort Food. Spidey/Black Cat vs a Doombot by C.B Cebulski and David Finch.  Just a fun little story with some great Felicia, Pete and MJ moments.  Finch’s artwork is really great here.  Always been a quiet favorite of mine.

-Amazing Spider-Man #637: Grim Hunt Conclusion. Sure, Grim Hunt never had to happen but that whole run of comics The Gauntlet and Grim Hunt are some of my favorite Spidey comics ever published. Joe Kelly is a really underrated Spidey scribe & I dream of a world he was handed the keys to the franchise instead of Dan Slott.  This end issue is fantastic with a much darker Spidey, the entire Kraven family and even Kaine.  Its such a personal favorite issue.  I remember losing it just about every page when this came out. Michael Lark’s art throughout the story is some of the finest sequential art you’ll ever see. You also get Marco Checchetto doing some great work too.

-Amazing Spider-Man 672: Spider Island Part 6 of 6: Dan Slott’s last truly great Spidey story. This is where his long run on Spidey peaked. Nothing comes close after this story.  This event was so much fun and seemed to be the time Slott understood the dynamics of the entire characters & their relationships best.  This final issue has everything youd ever want in a Spider-Man comic: True blue Spidey heroics, the Marvel U fully involved, Kaine’s push, sweet endearing MJ moments.  I just love this one issue so much.

-Edge of Spider-Verse 5: SP//dr  – Ok so Spider-Gwen is the best costume in Spider-Verse but a costume does not a good character make.  SP//dr to me was the best comic to come out of Spider-Verse.  I looooved it.  Evangelion meets Spider-Man.  Thats like a dream filled gift from God to me.  Jake Wyatt, one of my all time fave artists gets to cut loose here and it does not disappoint.  In a perfect world we’d have Gerard Way and Wyatt doing a SP//dr series for years instead of the Gwen series we did get.  Happy to see her show up again recently though!

And thats that folks!  All the personal Comfort Food Comics I could pack into my must have Spidey Bible.  Already I regret not including The Lost Years, a Hobgoblin issue, Capt. Stacy’s death, Richard Case’s Sensational Akasha story, Spider-Carnage, Amazing #1 by Spencer….the list goes on and on and a volume 2 may have to be made somewhere down the line.  But for right now this is everything you could ever want for some amazing, spectacular, sensational, web of, adjectiveless Spidey Comfort Food!  Hope you enjoyed it.

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