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Amazing Spider-Man Masterworks Vol. 3
Regular Edition Cover

Vol. 10: Amazing Spider-Man Masterworks
Variant Edition Cover

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SPIDER-MAN: The '67 Collection
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Original 27

  • First print: 10/89


    Barnes & Noble Softcover

  • First print: 3/04
  • Second print: 4/04

  • Same trade dress as 2002 Silver/Black design

    Marvel Masterworks: Amazing Spider-Man Volume 3

    Reprints: Amazing Spider-Man #20-30, Annual #2

    (Vol. 10 in the Marvel Masterworks Library)

    Current In-Print Edition: 2nd Edition, First Print
    Original Release Date: 10/15/03

    REGULAR EDITION ISBN: 0-7851-1188-3 • List Price: $49.99
    VARIANT EDITION ISBN: 0-7851-1283-9 • List Price: $54.99

    272 Pages

    Scripted by Stan Lee
    Pencilled and Co-Plotted by Steve Ditko
    Foreword by Stan Lee


    Stan and Steve turn the corner.

    The trajectory of early Silver Age Spider-Man can be traced pretty easily by taking a close look at the increments reprinted in the Masterworks series. The first volume revealed the wide-eyed wonder that was part of Marvel's risky proposition when they turned a teenager into a spider and then injected a heavy dose of mundane problems and day-to-day misery into the hero's narrative. The second volume reprinted a wave of stories where much more attention was paid to the network of the hero's considerable supporting cast, as well as the effect their private lives, wants, needs and passions had on his life. And in this third volume, which reprints Amazing Spider-Man #20-30 and Annual #2, we see all the above concerns refined and polished under the tender loving care of Lee and Ditko, while a more concerted effort to create off-beat stories comes to the fore. This volume proves that Lee and Ditko were not content to waste their efforts churning out a comic that toiled comfortable in the status quo. Spidey had already gained staying power with Marvel fans and could have easily coasted on that, but Stan and Steve were pushing themselves to create bona fide art!

    What do I mean by "off-beat"? Well, let's see...issue #21 features a kooky super-villain in the Beetle, as well as (another) boffo team-up with Spidey's teenage peer, the Human Torch. The familiar team-up and nutty new villain proudly displayed on the cover surely drew the kids in, but when they finally read the story, they would have found that it was less about Spider-Man defeating a villain with the help of his fiery, sometimes friend, and more about the awkward positions young Parker found himself in when caught between the romantic sparring of the Human Torch and his girlfriend Doris Roberts! That was where the real stakes of the narrative were to be found! The Beetle was simply there to provide a chin for Spidey to punch!

    Consider Amazing Spider-Man #24, where the villain Mysterio shows up to once again wreak havoc on the life of Spider-Man....but Mysterio never even appears in costume! No, he tries his second attack on Spidey in the anonymous and seemingly innocent guise of a psychiatrist trying to help Spider-Man, not hurt him! There's hardly any battle action in that particular comic, but there's plenty of psycho-drama and suspense, not to mention a classic Ditko-rendered hallucination scene, where Spider-Man enters Mysterio's mind-bending trap.

    Next up for evidence of the off-beat is ASM #25, where resident boor J. Jonah Jameson suits up inside a surprisingly powerful robot to take the fight directly to Spider-Man. This first incarnation of the Spider-Slayer, goofy as it was, was surely the first time a supporting cast-member went out of their way to become a super-villain! And further, the two-parter of ASM #25-26 is a densely layered crime drama, with Spidey playing his role in a three-way power-play between himself and two competing super-villains, the Green Goblin and the Crime-Master. By this time, Steve Ditko was heavily entrenched as a co-plotter (finally getting a credit on the title page), and he really wanted to orchestrate far more depth to the action than had even previously been attempted.

    It's even more off-beat to see an action thriller like Amazing Spider-Man #30, in which Spidey squares off against a non-powered cat burglar! Here, Ditko took the opportunity to explore the menace that lurks in the hearts of "normal" people powered only by their lust for money and power. He also got to pit his combatants in a thrilling noir sequence at the end of the book, involving a chase across the rooftops, a crashing water-tower, and villains hiding from a police dragnet by crawling down a chimney! These are nice touches, with Ditko going out of his way to show Spidey doing all the dirty work, while an efficient police force closes the deal. (If only J. Jonah Jameson would lay off of ol' Spidey, everyone would love him!)

    And those covers! The crime noir of the Circus of Crime cover is one of my personal favorites, with Spidey's shadow and his spider-signal doing all the talking to the surprised big-top burglars. The cover to ASM #24 shows a mentally-anguished Spidey in an Escherian nightmare-scape, being assaulted by ghostly images of the Vulture and Sandman. And ASM #27, with Spidey bound in chains and at risk of being pummeled to death by a legion of angry gangsters while the Goblin hovers menacingly overhead, cackling in glee over the claustrophic tableau! And ASM #28! With the Molten Man charging our hero in pitch black, with Spider-Man's costume set almost glowing as if in black light...ahhh....a comics cover classic!

    I could go on and on about the glories of the stories reprinted in this book (I haven't even mentioned the Annual team-up with Dr. Strange, in which Ditko gets to insert our favorite web-head into the gloriously loopy world of the Master of the Mystic Arts)! But instead of continuing to write, I think I'll take a brief break and go back and re-read some of these classics. Wanna join me?

    -- by Gormuu

    Issues Reprinted
    Amazing Spider-Man #20-30, Annual #2

    Click on cover image to learn more about each issue.


    ASM #20

    ASM #21

    ASM #22

    ASM #23

    ASM #24

    ASM #25

    ASM #26

    ASM #27

    ASM #28

    Ann #2

    ASM #29

    ASM #30


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