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Amazing Spider-Man Masterworks Vol. 2
Regular Edition Cover

Vol. 5: Amazing Spider-Man Masterworks
Variant Edition Cover

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Original 27

  • First print: 10/88
  • Second print: 6/89
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    2002 Silver/Black

  • Third print: 7/17/02
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    Barnes & Noble Softcover

  • First print: ?
  • Second print: 4/04
  • Third print: 6/04

  • Same cover as 2002 hardcover

    Marvel Masterworks: Amazing Spider-Man Volume 2

    Reprints: Amazing Spider-Man #11-19, Annual #1

    (Vol. 5 in the Marvel Masterworks Library)

    Current In-Print Edition: 2nd Edition, First Print
    Original Release Date: 8/27/03

    REGULAR EDITION ISBN: 0-7851-1264-2 • List Price: $49.99
    VARIANT EDITION ISBN: 0-7851-1278-2 • List Price: $54.99

    288 Pages

    Scripted by Stan Lee

    Pencilled by Steve Ditko

    Foreword by Stan Lee


    "Turning Point" is right.

    That's the title of Amazing Spider-Man #11, a story wherein Spider-Man is pitted against Doctor Octopus for the second time in the web-slinger's short career as a crime fighter. It could have been just another rote rematch, but the genius of Ditko and Lee, and the raison d'etre of Silver Age Marvel Comics, overrode that possibility. How? Because the day-to-day battles with super-villains come and go, but the inner turmoil of life as a human being never stops - and that is the primary asset of a Marvel Comic!

    It's not a tiny brush stroke on the comics canvas when Stan Lee cast Betty Brant as the nexus of this rematch between Spidey and Doc Ock. The comics reading public was probably figuring that Ms. Brant was simply another supporting role for the title, fodder for Peter's romantic trials and tribulations. Nope...As implied in ASM #10, Ms. Brant had a secret life sketched out with layered dimension all her own. More than just a foil for Peter's flirtation, more than just a cute girl in a skirt to fetch coffee for J. Jonah Jameson, she was emblematic of what was really going on in these Marvel comics, and these issues reprinted in Spider-Man Masterworks Vol. 2 are where we start to see these subtexts start gaining prominence.

    Perhaps more important than Spider-Man's rogues gallery, the supporting cast of Amazing Spider-Man helps bring the high drama of Marvel Comics into bright relief. As mentioned, Betty is shy and inarticulate - much like Peter - because she, too, hides a tragic secret. In hock to the mob, owing money to dark and sinister denizens of the back alley, and with an attorney brother who litigates on behalf of hardened gangsters (and owes formidable gambling debts of his own), Betty Brant cuts just as tragic a figure as Peter Parker in these issues.

    Flash Thompson, the numbskull who always gives Peter a hard time in public, is cast by Lee and Ditko to have more than just that one dimension. It seems that Flash Thompson is an implacable supporter of his hero, Spider-Man, which creates a delicious irony wherein the BMOC presides over a Spider-Man Fan Club where he is the most outspokenly loyal fan of Peter Parker's alter ego. You know Peter Parker? The guy Flash can't help but harass on an hourly basis?

    J. Jonah Jameson has already been well-established in previous issues as a miserly curmudgeon who manages the Daily Bugle's contribution to the fourth estate by the seat of his pants - and sometimes that "seat of his pants" is webbed up by ol' Spidey! In this second volume of Spider-Man Masterworks we see his character get even more fleshed out, as he goes to greater and greater lengths to get his digs in on Spider-Man.

    Two other ladies in the comic that get more and more character development are Liz Allan and Aunt May. In the first batch of Spider-Man issues, Liz Allan played the go-along-with-the-crowd vamp who taunted Peter Parker as much as the next kid. But Stan and Steve weren't content to let their character's personas maintain a bland equilibrium, and sure enough, Liz would respond to Peter's character and deeds and build up a genuine attraction for him, much to the chagrin of Flash Thompson! And Aunt May, while still serving as both Peter's rock-solid mother-figure and Spidey-stumbling block in this run of issues, also brought to the story her mortality. Aunt May is obviously no young person, and it certainly helped define the virtues that Peter Parker would cling to as Spider-Man to have to continually be concerned about her welfare.

    Of course, there was one other "debut" of a major character in Peter Parker's life in these issues! None other than Mary Jane Watson was introduced in these pages. No, she never appeared physically, but her name was bandied about here and there, always as the unseen and unimagined "girl next door", the niece of Mrs. Anna Watson. Aunt May would constantly hector Peter about spending some time with the young lady named Mary Jane, and skittish Peter, figuring he had his hands full with Betty and Liz, would run screaming! Little did he know....But that story, hinted at here, is saved for later.

    Beyond the supporting cast of Peter's family and friends is a fresh new batch of villains! Legendary ones, too: Mysterio bows in ASM #13, the Green Goblin appears first in ASM #14, and Kraven the Hunter takes on Spidey for the first time in ASM #15. What a trifecta! For those who haven't read the first appearances of Mysterio and Kraven, they are truly classics in the "origin story" genre, but the first appearance of Green Goblin is probably not what you'd expect! (Read the issue to see what I mean!) Spider-Man gets a more conventional battle with Green Goblin in his rematch in ASM #17, and besides the aforementioned Dr. Octopus two-parter, there are rematches with the Chameleon and the Sandman. And what would a Masterworks volume be without a trip to the circus? Yes, Spider-Man takes on the Ringmaster and his Circus of Crime in ASM #16, with the help of his buddy Daredevil!

    But perhaps the crown jewel of this Masterworks volume is the reprinting of the complete, 72-page Annual #1 from 1964. Besides an epic 41-page battle royale against the Sinister Six (the combined forces of Doc Ock, Kraven, Electro, the Vulture, Mysterio and Sandman), there are 31 pages of backup features, pin-ups and short stories, many of which have never been reprinted before this Masterworks volume! The main story itself is replete with classic, full-page, battle splashes showing Spider-Man duking it out with the villainous menaces of the Sinister Six. And the "Stan and Steve Create Spider-Man" strip is one of the first Marvel Universe inside jokes - a message direct from the Bullpen to the young readers of fandom.

    It's my gentle opinion that each Lee and Ditko Spider-Man comic is essential. To that end, this Masterworks shows the continuing upward trajectory of their great experiment in comics fiction. They continue all the best things they began in the first ten issues, while deepening the inside drama of the complex life of Peter Parker and his supporting cast. This Masterworks volume represents the "turning point" for Amazing Spider-Man. Surely, after the initial rush of excitement wore off, the Spider-Man comic could have turned stale and rote and lost as many fans as it had gained. This Masterworks volume shows the clear evidence that that did not happen!

    -- by Gormuu

    Issues Reprinted
    Amazing Spider-Man #11-19, Annual #1

    Click on cover image to learn more about each issue.


    ASM #11

    ASM #12

    ASM #13

    ASM #14

    ASM #15

    Ann #1

    ASM #16

    ASM #17

    ASM #18

    ASM #19


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