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Amazing Spider-Man Masterworks Vol. 4
Regular Edition Cover

Vol. 16: Amazing Spider-Man Masterworks
Variant Edition Cover

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Original 27

  • First print: 8/91


    Barnes & Noble Softcover

  • First print: 4/04

  • Same trade dress as 2002 Silver/Black design

    Marvel Masterworks: Amazing Spider-Man Volume 4

    Reprints: Amazing Spider-Man #31-40

    (Vol. 16 in the Marvel Masterworks Library)

    Current In-Print Edition: 2nd Edition, First Print
    Original Release Date: 12/10/03

    REGULAR EDITION ISBN: 0-7851-1189-1 • List Price: $49.99
    VARIANT EDITION ISBN: 0-7851-1288-X • List Price: $54.99

    216 Pages

    Scripted by Stan Lee
    Pencilled and Co-Plotted by Steve Ditko and John Romita, Sr.
    Foreword by Stan Lee


    • Unused Ditko cover for Amazing Spider-Man #35, first printed in Italian reprint comic L'Uomo Ragno #29


    Everything changes.

    Of all the ideas Stan Lee brought to the new Marvel Universe, the most important would be that he hated the status quo. Whereas many Silver Age books may have felt to the reader like they hit a "reset" button at the end of every tale, taking it back to square one with the next story, Marvel's characters would grow and change as the stories progressed. Nowhere is this more evident than in this volume. After these ten issues, Peter Parker would not be the same character. And the series would never be the same again - in far more ways than one.

    The stories in this volume are the most elaborate that Ditko ever drew. The volume opens with the saga of the Master Planner. Clocking in at three issues in length, it was the longest continuous storyline in the series to that date. Ditko paced the story through these three issues as if he was an old pro, taking Peter Parker and his costumed alter ego through every torturous twist and agonizing turn imagineable, reaching the final crescendo in the first five pages of issue ASM #33, arguably Spider-Man's all-time defining moment. I won't ruin it for you now, but it features as true a test of Peter's character as had ever been conceived, a test which puts the demands of his responsibility on him with tremendously crushing force. It also includes some of Steve Ditko's most stirringly-rendered pages of his career.

    Peter’s private life changes in the first issue with his enrollment at college. During these issues, he's as popular at Empire State University as he was at Midtown High, but things would soon change. Gwen Stacy arrives in ASM #31 (although their first meeting is far from ideal) and Mary Jane is still waiting in the wings (sorry, one more volume before you'll actually see more of Miss Watson than her sexy frame hidden behind a potted plant!) Another new addition to the cavalcade of college classmates is Harry Osborn. Both Harry and his father Norman would have a profound effect on Peter's life, especially in the last two issues reprinted here (not to mention what they do to him in the future!) And Flash Thompson has followed Pete to ESU on a football scholarship, so he’s continuing to make Pete miserable.

    Peter's days at the Bugle are rockier than before. His relationship with Betty Brant has hit the skids, and Ned Leeds creates stiff competition for Peter's affections for his girlfriend. J. Jonah Jameson, on the other hand, is still cheap, loud and fussbudgety fun on every page in which he appears!

    But the most striking change would happen not to the character, but to its creator. Steve Ditko leaves with ASM #38 over circumstances that still remain a mystery. One thing comic historians have noted is the intrigue surrounding the identity of the Green Goblin: Steve and Stan could never agree on who he should be when he finally pulled off the green mask and revealed his true identity. Stan favored Norman Osborn, while Steve wanted an anonymous foe. By the time the smoke cleared, it was John Romita, not the Goblin's creator, who would show us that dramatic scene.

    "Jazzy John" was the perfect replacement for Ditko. Taking some of the quirky, bizarre ideas Ditko had brought to character design, Romita added a romantic touch thanks to his experience doing romance comics through the '50s and '60s, mainly with DC Comics. Taking nothing away from Steve Ditko (who, though having a reputation for not rendering attractive women, actually delivered a knockout in Gwen Stacy), John Romita's first panel drawings of Betty Brant are a revelation! Va-va-voom! This Masterworks volume doesn't show much of Romita's take on Gwen Stacy, but he would be the artist who would draw much of her defining appearances in later issues of Amazing Spider-Man. Upon reading some of the later tales, don't be surprised if you find yourself rushing through the slugfests to get to the romantic subplots!

    Well, you might find yourself rushing through this introduction to get to the issues - which is just fine with us! irst, Startlin' Steve sets the tempo, but then get ready for a little Jazzy John!

    Let’s start swinging!

    -- by Jonathan Clarke, aka doesitmatter, and Gormuu

    Issues Reprinted
    Amazing Spider-Man #31-40

    Click on cover image to learn more about each issue.


    ASM #31

    ASM #32

    ASM #33

    ASM #34

    ASM #35

    ASM #36

    ASM #37

    ASM #38

    ASM #39

    ASM #40


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