Monday, December 1, 2014

Amazing Spider-Man 30th Anniversary Issues, 1992

Back in 1992, Marvel was printing issues by the millions to satisfy the glut of speculators buying comics in multiples, hoping to see an increase on their investment. But as Stan Lee poignantly remarked, what made Golden-Age comics worth so much was their rarity, and because of that I can find these Amazing Spider-Man 30th Anniversary issues in the dollar bins. Comics nearly didn't survive the speculative bubble created, with about two thirds of all the specialty shops closing their doors, and Marvel Comics declaring bankruptcy finally in 1997. 

Artist Mark Bagley's rendering of Venom in Amazing Spider-Man #375, originally a Spider-Man costume design conceived by an Illinois fan, used in the 1984 Secret Wars storyline. Later written into Marvel lore as Venom by David Michelinie and Todd McFarlane in 1988, the character has become one of Spider-Man's most popular enemies among readers.

But in 1992, Marvel was churning out these foil embossed and holographic covers to entice collectors, which have retained a fraction of their retail value. In all fairness, I was entertained by the multiple feature issues of The Amazing Spider-Man and Web of Spider-Man, the latter of which had a really fun gatefold poster of Spider-Man and his 2099 counterpart by artist Rick Leonardi, then a brand new character that seems to have enjoyed a nostalgic renaissance of sorts in recent years. 

Amazing Spider-Man #365 included a preview of this futuristic Spider-Man, and a Stan Lee penned/John Romita Sr. penciled story "I Remember Gwen", centered around Mary Jane's ruminations on the tragic circumstances surrounding Peter Parker's late girlfriend and her own relationship with the webslinger. Among other featurettes, including the return of the Lizard and Peter Parker's parents in "Fathers and Sins",  #365 also had it's own Carnage/Venom gatefold by artist Mark Bagley, who's style I admired in the day, along with along with that of fellow Spider-Man artist Erik Larsen.

Web of Spider-Man #90 had the best story, in which Mysterio tricks Spider-Man into believing his career is run by an agent who booked his first appearance as the masked webslinger all those years ago when trying his powers out as a wrestler. Illusions of the Green Goblin, Galactus, the X-Men, Venom, and even the dearly departed are used in attempt to bring our hero down! Spectacular Spider-Man #189 was my least favorite of these, Harry Osborn's return to his father's legacy as Green Goblin threatening Peter Parker's secret identity as well as his own family's safety. Sal Buscema delivers on the art, but the melodrama between Osborn and his estranged wife and child didn't interest me. Amazing Spider-Man #375 seemingly concluded Venom and Spider-Man's ongoing rivalry in "The Bride of Venom". Eddie Brock's ex-wife, the Wild Pack, and Peter Parker's fugitive parents also make appearances in this issue preceding Venom's first solo run in the six issue Venom: Lethal Protector.

Web of Spider-Man #90: the Venom symbiote takes over a movie prop Galactus in Mysterio's illusory assault on Spider-Man.
Pencils by Alex Saviuk.

I just love anniversary and "giant-sized" issues, old and new, even if all the content isn't that great. It may be my deep love of the medium at play here, but these kinds of books often entertain some "what if" elements and/or take a character to a different place. I bought very few comics during this era, a poor art student at the time, but had fun absorbing this slice of Spidey from the early '90s recently. Did you have any of these 30th Anniversary issues, or maybe buy two of each in hopes it would appreciate in value ...?
More Later- Make It FUN!


  1. I had all of these, and the 30th anniversary Spider-Man with the hologram cover like the other three. At the time, I thought it was pretty crazy that there were four Spidey titles. But these days, I think I'm reading at least that many with Batman in the title.

  2. Awesome post! Thanks for all the pics.

  3. I subscribed to Amazing Spider-Man for a couple years as a kid, and my very first issue to come in the mail had the hologram cover.

  4. I had most if no all of these too. I probably still do in fact!