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Amazing Spider-Man Masterworks Vol. 5
Regular Edition Cover

Vol. 22: Amazing Spider-Man Masterworks
Variant Edition Cover

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Original 27

  • First print: 12/92


  • Second Edition, First print: 2/18/04

    Marvel Masterworks: Amazing Spider-Man Volume 5

    Reprints: Amazing Spider-Man #41-50, Annual #3

    (Vol. 22 in the Marvel Masterworks Library)

    Current In-Print Edition: 2nd Edition, Second Print
    Original Release Date: 12/28/07

    REGULAR EDITION ISBN: 0-7851-1190-5 • List Price: $49.99
    VARIANT EDITION ISBN: 0-7851-1294-4 • List Price: $54.99

    240 Pages

    Scripted by Stan Lee

    Pencilled and Co-Plotted by John Romita, Sr.

    Foreword by Stan Lee


    "My little boy's growing up."

    Those are Aunt May's words in one of the later issues reprinted in this volume, and you'll probably have that same feeling as you read each of these eleven stories. Sure, in the last volume, Peter Parker may have graduated high school, and Steve Ditko had already handed the reins over to John Romita (or abandoned them, as it were), but this run is where Spider-Man really matures as a character - in both his identities as a super-hero and a civilian. This stretch of stories is also where Lee and Romita expand on the conceits developed in the first two issues of Jazzy John's run - ASM #39-40. For the first time, Peter moves away from his doting Aunt May to share an apartment with Harry Osborn, although we quickly find that hiding his secret identity from his roommate is an even tougher ordeal than he had with his aunt! Simultaneously, his Aunt May moves in with her friend Anna Watson, and the resulting distance between the two can't help but lead to some interesting new insights that Peter Parker must eventually reckon with.

    Perhaps the biggest event in this book is the introduction of Ms. Mary Jane Watson. Moved out from behind the potted plants, lamp shades and tree branches of the last few years worth of cameo appearances, she steps out in into the light for her close-up, and as she takes full form from the pen of John Romita, all one can say is...VA-VA-VOOM!!! Just as breathless as her beauty, though, is the speed at which she races through life! Faster than a locomotive, it's all our teenage web-slinger can do to keep the pace with her. She's revealed to be quite the chatterbox, too, and it's fun to see Stan stuff her mouth with as many dated colloquialisms as possible! (Well...they weren't dated back then!) In MJ's world, Peter is always referred to as "Dad," "Petey-O" or "Tiger" - and if a record is playing, look out! You can bet she's going to be cutting a rug - and how!

    The other woman in Petey-O's life is Gwen Stacy, and for the second volume in a row, she and Peter maintain a sort of holding pattern. Unlike the rambunctious MJ, Gwen prefers to play hard-to-get and keep her boys guessing while they're on a slow boil from the heat she generates. Peter finally gets it through his thick head that there may be an attraction between the two, and this volume showcases those slow but inevitable changes.

    There are only a few new villains introduced in this volume, and only two established as heavy hitters - one literally, the other definitively. The literal heavy-hitter, the Rhino, debuts in the first issue and becomes not only a permanent member of Spider-Man's rogues gallery, but also a regular pain in the Hulk's backside. The definitive heavy hitter is introduced in the final issue reprinted in this volume (ASM #50), and he is none other than the Kingpin, who has risen over the decades to become one of the Marvel Universe's most important villains. His first appearance is a humble one, but portends the ubiquitous and overarching menace that would menace the life of not only Spider-Man, but his fellow vanguard of New York City, Daredevil. ASM #50, titled "Spider-Man No More", is a great story with possibly the best Amazing Spider-Man cover of all time! Don't believe me? Go see the Spider-Man 2 movie and notice how much of their art design they pull from this landmark issue!

    The Shocker also debuts. He may come off like a grade "B" Electro (certainly he's written that way from time to time), but Romita and Lee had a much different idea in mind with his vibro-gloves and insulated suit. The Vulture is new and old at the same time. In this volume we'll meet Blackie Drago, the upstart new Vulture that is both younger and tougher than old Adrian Toomes. Also, Kraven the Hunter arrives in multiple issues to make things even more complicated for our hero!

    Aside from a few cameo appearances by the law firm of Nelson and Murdock, the rest of the Marvel Universe stays out of Peter's way in this block of classic Spidey stories, since his supporting cast and rogues gallery is, by this point, becoming very strong and needing continual attention. It takes a lot of editorial oversight to keep all these gears turning even today, and in fact, there are a few noticeable slip-ups printed in these very pages for which I'm sure more than a few No-Prizes were handed out, showing that keeping up with continuity was a concern even back then! But in the Amazing Spider-Man Annual #3, the pressure valve is released for a story that takes place largely out of the crazy times of the regular title. In Annual #3, creators Stan, John and Don Heck present Spider-Man's first attempt at joining the Avengers, complete with a bout against the Hulk! It's a light little tale with a bunch of great action panels. Don't miss it!

    By the time you slip into the first stories reprinted in Spider-Man Masterworks Vol. 5, you'll find that John Romita has already made the book his own. His soapy romance comic background has immediately steered the book away from Ditko's dark, grimy New York. Suddenly, the girls are prettier (and sexier!), the streets are cleaner, and everyone's a little happier. Maybe that's why Peter can so easily say goodbye to pouty Betty Brant and rebound enough to get caught between Gwen and Mary Jane - Stan Lee's version of "Betty and Veronica." This is the Spider-Man most of us know and love. And for further reading of this era, look no further than Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale's SPIDER-MAN: BLUE, a loving, six-issue mini-series from 2003 that explored the nooks and crannies in the life of Peter Parker, circa the times of ASM #39-49.

    So let's start the love fest!

    -- by Jonathan Clarke, aka doesitmatter, and Gormuu

    Issues Reprinted
    Amazing Spider-Man #41-50, Annual #3

    Click on cover image to learn more about each issue.


    ASM #41

    ASM #42

    ASM #43

    Ann. #3

    ASM #44

    ASM #45

    ASM #46

    ASM #47

    ASM #48

    ASM #49

    ASM #50


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