Publisher: Marvel Comics
Date of Publication: February 1986
Cover Price: 75 Cents
Creative Team: Danny Fingeroth, Bill Mantlo, Bob McLeod, Jim Owsley
This book, from 1986, is almost as old as I am, and showcases Spider-Man still fairly early in his career. Taking place sometime in between Secret Wars and Secret Wars II, the book starts off with Spider-Man returning library books on ethics. Now, forgive me if I’m wrong, but I think Spider-Man has the whole right and wrong thing down. Probably has since his uncle got shot by a criminal he let get away. Just something about that setup seems kind of…ridiculous to me. I guess it’s a bit of a gray area, though. At this point in the comics, the Beyonder was around and the company was building towards the Secret Wars II story, so in an earlier issue Spider-Man was present when the Beyonder showed up at Power Man and Iron Fist’s office building and turned the whole thing, including the contents, to gold. While he was there, Spider-Man pocketed a solid gold notebook, and apparently needs guidance to figure out whether or not it’s wrong to sell a stolen notebook(the notebook would go on to become the Black Cat’s new shoulder pads, but that’s a different story). Anyway, that’s only the start of the story. The rest of the book features Peter Parker, largely out of costume, trying to deal with three neighborhood toughs who are giving him a hard time because he stopped them(as Peter Parker, no less) from robbing a laundromat and raping the attendant. How they avoid prison for that alone, I don’t know. Anyway, I’m not really sure what lesson is supposed to be taught in this issue, or if it’s all supposed to wrap up in the next few issues of the series, but it seems kind of…weird, even considering when it was published. Not Spidey’s best story, but still ok.
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Date of Publication: December 1994
Cover Price: $1.95
Creative Team: Howard Mackie, Tom Lyle, Scott Hanna, Danny Fingeroth
Alright, this isn’t technically Spider-Man, I guess, but hey, neither is 2099, and he’s in the game, so I figured this book was cool. Lots of people absolutely despise the Scarlet Spider, simply because he was a product of the Clone Saga. I get that, I really do. The Clone Saga was unbelievably convoluted, and featured a new twist just about every page, but it had potential, and the character of Ben Reilly was essentially Spider-Man with a clean slate, which is something similar to what editorial recently did with Brand New Day. This issue is one of the first ones I read with the Scarlet Spider. I was young, and the cover intrigued me. If you remember from the first installment of the Longbox, Venom was one of my favorite villains, and I distinctly remember the first two things I thought being “That’s not Spider-Man,” and “Holy crap, he beat up Venom!” So yeah, it was a big deal. I liked the Scarlet spider because he used his powers a little more inventively than Spider-Man usually did, and he seemed to be a genuinely interesting character, whether he was the clone or not. This issue featured Kaine, a Life Foundation symbiote(who Ben was trying to save from death at the hands of Venom), and the Grim Hunter too, so it was pretty interesting for a fairly new Spidey fan. It was a lot of fun, at least to me, it may not have been so much fun if you hated clones.
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Date of Publication: June 2005
Cover Price: $2.99
Creative Team: Tony Bedard, Manuel Garcia, Raul Fernandez, Warren Simons
As it says on the cover, this is taken pretty much directly from the events of the New Avengers, the first story arc, as a matter of fact. Honestly, I think Spider-Man’s name is only in the title to get approval for the story, or to help sell the book. The story focuses mostly around the U-Foes and a rival prison gang, and a few attempts made by either side to kill the other side(even though the U-Foes attempts are only mentioned in passing, I’m still counting it), and even the events that lead to the rivalry between the two supervillain groups. To be honest, it’s one of the most engaging stories about a misunderstanding I’ve ever read, and even if you don’t know who any of the characters are(I had no clue who the U-Foes, Mandrill, or Crossfire were going in. In fact, just about the only character I knew was Controller, and that’s because he had his own Heroclix at the time) you can have a lot of fun reading the 5 issues that comprise this story. It’s really interesting how you can find yourself rooting for completely reprehensible characters, as I did with the U-Foes throughout the book. And believe me when I say that Spider-Man is only loosely affiliated with the book: he shows up on 7 of the 23 pages. If you can find loose issues of this, as I seriously doubt it was collected, it’s well worth even full cover price.
And that’s it for Lewis’ Longbox for this week! Got suggestions for a theme I can dig through my boxes for? Leave me a note in the comments, and be sure to visit my blog here for more on comics! Until next week, keep reading!