Pick of the Week

October 22, 2003 – The Amazing Spider-Man #500

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Story by J. Michael Straczynski
Art by John Romita Jr. & John Romita Sr.
Inks by Scott Hanna
Colors by Avalon
Letters by Randy Gentile

Published by Marvel Comics | $3.50

Marvel’s have a lot of milestone issues recently, but I think the most important is this issue of The Amazing Spider-Man, the 500th issue of what’s basically the flagship title for Marvel. Now these “special” issues can usually go in various directions, such as “groundbreaking!” or “the issue you cannot miss!” or they can take the direction this issue took- sentimentality.

I’m a sucker for sentimental stories. It’s a Wonderful Life is one of my top 10 movies for a whole host of reasons. But the one thing that always sticks out at me is the story and the meaning that is drawn from it. I can only think of It’s a Wonderful Life when reading this issue as it’s an obvious influence in where Straczynski was taking this issue.

The story, in a nutshell, places Peter Parker stuck in his own lifetime’s time stream, stuck at the beginning (when he is bit by the spider) and the end (where Spider-Man falls). Unsure of what to do – stop the spider and change his life forever, or to step in and save his older self. Essentially the decisions are made for him as Spider-Man travels forward through the seminal moments in his career until he makes his way to the present to team up with other notable heroes to save New York City.

The issue ends with a touching reunion of sorts, that I won’t spoil here, but it really was the epilogue that puts this issue over the top. The emotion that is pulled from these 3 or 4 pages really hits home as to what The Amazing Spider-Man is all about.

The best thing about this issue, and the last few pages is that regular penciller John Romita Jr. shares the pencilling duties with his father and former The Amazing Spider-Man artist, John Romita Sr. Maybe it’s the sentiment again, but I really enjoy it when these amazing artists who defined the look of Marvel comics in 60’s come back and remind us of what was great in comics 30 years ago.

Finally, this issue doesn’t have a chromium cover, or any sort of gimmick. Just quality art and writing and the character that everyone who reads comics has read at least a few times and has a small place in their comics heart for.

Here’s to 500 issues!

Ron Richards
Every time a bell rings…

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