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. Future volumes 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.
The full review can be found at EssentialShowcase.com.
To find the original issues, or reprints, of these Spider-Man comics, check with your local comic book. In the Midwest, I strongly recommend Clint’s Comics in midtown Kansas City. Clint’s has been in business for nearly 50 years at the intersection of Main St. and Westport Rd. The back-issue selection is incredible, and what you see in the store is just a small fraction of their total inventory. In addition to the back issues, Clint’s stocks current issues, trade paperbacks, toys, T-shirts, and more. Check out Clint’s Comics to build your own essential collection!