Marvel Masterworks (4 stars)

Stan Lee & Steve Ditko

Marvel Masterworks: Amazing Spider-Man 1964 (Marvel/Panini)


Spider-Man is Marvel’s mascot, one of the most recognisable superheroes of all time. With the latest huge blockbuster on the horizon there’s bound to be a lot of interest in everyone’s favourite webslinger. Created back in 1962 by comics legends Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, it was a fiendishly simple concept - ‘teenagers read comics, lets create a teenage superhero’. We all know the story: young Peter Parker is bitten by a radioactive spider that gives him super strength, spider senses and the ability to walk up walls. Add to that his webshooters and we have your friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man.

More importantly Parker embodies all the usual teenage flaws: wishing to fit in at school and get a girlfriend. These every-kid qualities made the character a massive hit. A 1965 Esquire poll of college campuses found that Spider-Man ranked alongside Bob Dylan and Che Guevara as their favourite revolutionary icons.

Here we have another huge anthology from Marvel, collecting the wall crawler’s 1964 adventures from his break out title, The Amazing Spider-Man. We get the first ever appearance of the likes of arch-enemies Green Goblin, Kraven the Hunter and Electro (as well as the return of Sandman and Dr Octopus). This is way before the first appearances of Mary-Jane or Gwen Stacey (Betty Bryant was the apple of his eye in ‘64), the alien Symbiote (that would later become Venom), his recent unmasking and many of the other iconic elements associated with Spider-Man today. There’s a wonderful innocence to the writing by the immortal Lee, and the phrasing used (especially the ever flamboyant intros to each issue) is so evocative of the 60s. Of course it’s dated, but that’s half the fun.

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