Just in time for the new movie and the wall-crawler's 50th Anniversary, here is the first part of Zechs' list of his top twenty-six Spider-Man stories of all time. Why 26? Because he can go one better!
Unlike other sites' usual predictable hoopla, I, Zechs, will bring you a top list never seen before. I shall go one better than other sites because I'm choosing as my personal favorites. So those looking to bitch me out: go ahead. Yes, I overlooked a few Spider-Man tales, probably some in fact because I haven't read them all. If there is something not listed, I've probably never read it. No really I'm being a dick and I did this on purpose so you could be pissed off as hell. HA HA HA!
This is my personal list of Spider-Man stories. It's truly hard just thinking of twenty five because there are so many fantastic issues of Spider-Man. That's a testament to the creative staff who've worked on the character. So for those looking to compare my list, it is a whole lot different than the usual fare. These are the stories that to me, have the best Spider-Man in it. The one that either shows the character at his best or the rich depth of his surrounding cast, because that's what defines Spider-Man for me. Not just the stories, but the characters themselves resonate with people and are why fans just keep flinging out money to Marvel for more Spider-Man.
So with that out of the way enjoy and if you don't well...
26. The Choice and the Challenge/Unmasked! (Amazing Spider-Man #275-276) –
Writer: Tom DeFalco, Stan Lee Pencils: Ron Frenz, Steve Ditko
This simple two arc story has remarkable importance for me. Why you ask? It includes the first comic I ever read, Amazing Spider-Man #275. It's a comic that still resonates well with me because it has so much going for it. This story presents the return of the Hobgoblin, who aches for a rematch with Spider-Man. However, Pete is kind of in a crossroads at the moment. MJ had just revealed she knew he was Spider-Man and the effects of the Death of Jean DeWolff are still fresh in his mind. Pete needs guidance and who gives it to him? Mary Jane. Even with my young mind, I could see that MJ was the rock for Peter; the one who be there always for him thick and thin. We're also treated with this conversation they have with Pete flashing back to his beginnings and thus we get a reprint of Amazing Fantasy #15. It's a nice way to tie in the past with the present instead of just going the easy way out and putting said reprint at the end. For new readers who haven't ever read it, this is way to fully get into the mind of how Peter Parker became Spider-Man.
Then it all comes full circle with the Hobgoblin who decides to randomly pick a poor New Yorker and take them hostage. That poor New Yorker just so happens to be Sha Shan (Flash Thompson's girlfriend at the time). Of course the act makes Peter think back to another impactful moment in his life: the Death of Gwen Stacy. However, he beats the ghosts of his past to win the day and expose the Hobgoblin for who he is: Flash Thompson?! Of course this is but a trick from old Hobby given Flash berated him on live television for attacking his girlfriend and this was the perfect payback from the hellfiend.
25.) Doomed Affairs (Amazing Spider-Man vol. 2 #50) --
Writer: J. Michael Starczynski, Pencils: John Romita, Jr.
I swear this will be the only story involving Doctor Doom that will appear on this list. In fact Doom is like the third reason I enjoy this tale. For me JMS's run on Amazing Spider-Man at the beginning was full of many hits and at the end so many misses. However, one tale that was quite impactful for me during his run was this one.
Pete is trying to reunite with his estranged wife Mary Jane, and they just so happen to run into each other after both we're trying to see the other and that Parker luck made the meeting happen at an airport. Of course this happens just when Dr. Doom is being escorted and is exiting the building when terrorists targeting the good doctor attack him. Put into a situation he cannot overlook, Pete springs into action in a surprise team-up with Captain America.
This story has it all the right doses of action, humor and drama. It showcases how Pete looks up to Captain America and the core of the one woman who understands Pete the most: Mary Jane Watson. It's stories like these that make other stories like One More Day and O.M.I.T. sting so much more.
24.) New Ways to Die (Amazing Spider-Man #568-573) --
Writer: Dan Slott, Pencils: John Romita, Jr.
THERE SLOTT!! I'm giving you your piece of meat!! HAPPY? HUH ARE YOU?! GO AHEAD AND BRAG ABOUT IT!! YOU!! You... YOU... ARGH!! CURSE YOUR WALL AND POKER FACE! CURSE IT!! I WANT TO KNOW!! IS THE HOBGOBLIN STILL ALIVE?!
(Sorry I had to get that out of my system.)
For those who want to see the current Amazing Spider-Man writer at his finest and what turned the corner on the book that had been lulling about, look here. On the eve of his Dark Reign, Norman Osborn uses his Thunderbolt team to target Spider-Man. It's Spidey vs. Venom, Bullseye, the Green Goblin, and an unwilling Songbird/Radioactive Man. If that wasn't enough, new Spidey villains, Menace and Mr. Negative make their presence known as well. In Mr. Negative's case, he accidentally creates an all-new foe for Spider-Man and Venom: Anti-Venom!!
The concept itself is absurd and yet Slott somehow makes it awesome. There's a lot of great action and moments throughout this arc as well with the Spider-Man vs. Bullseye fight and the final time (for who knows how long) Pete fights Norman in the Green Goblin gear. Everything about this story is comic book fun. From the fights, to Peter/Eddie's banter toward each other, and the icing on top of the cake Norman sipping a World's Greatest Dad coffee mug while in his Green Goblin outfit and talking to his son Harry. Now that's just utterly priceless.
23.) An Obituary for Octopus (Spider-Man Unlimited vol. 1 #3) --
Writer: Tom DeFalco, Pencils: Ron Lim
Everyone considers Norman Osborn to be the end all arch foe of Spider-Man. For me that's all bull. Doctor Octopus is who I truly feel is Peter's foe that he must bring his A-game for every confrontation they have. But what truly motivates the tentacled one?
In this story by Tom DeFalco we find out the events that helped form Ock's shattered psyche and find out the accident was only part of the problem. Meanwhile, in the present Spider-Man and Ock are up to their usual dance. You do really feel for the guy throughout the issue even though he's the villain. You can't help but be as broken hearted as he is once the true nature of his "evil" scheme is revealed and thwarted at the issue's end. It's a real fascinating look behind one of Spider-Man's greatest foes.
22.) Spider-Man: Legacy of Evil #1 --
Writer: Kurt Busiek, Pencils: Mark Texeira
The Green Goblin, one of the most impactful fiends in all of Spider-Man's life. This is an outsider's story of their epic rivalry from the perspective of Ben Urich (long time Daredevil/Spider-Man cast member and uncle to Phil, the current Hobgoblin dupe). Someone has kidnapped Norman Osborn Jr., the son of the second Green Goblin Harry Osborn. Ben and Spidey are on the case looking into the past for clues about who the culprit could be. After all, during this time period both Norman and Harry were considered dead. So who could want little Normie Osborn?!
The interesting perspective and how Ben slowly begins to put together the pieces on how the Green Goblin started off a crime lord and de-evolved into this foe obsessed with crushing Spider-Man. Of course when he makes the natural conclusion, it's an interesting point. Likewise, the so called "legacy" of being the Green Goblin is the one key thing I really enjoyed about this one shot. It really dug deep into not just the Green Goblin's back-story but it also showcased the eventual rivalry Ben Urich would have for Norman Osborn.
21.) Learning Curve (Ultimate Spider-Man #8-13) --
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis, Pencils: Mark Bagley
There's a lot to love of Brian Michael Bendis/Mark Bagley's run on Ultimate Spider-Man. For me the one arc that always resounds well for me is the second act they have on the book, which features the young Spider-Man deciding to take-down the biggest criminal in all of New York, the Kingpin. Here you have Peter Parker thinking he's unconquerable and ready to take on the evil of the world. Well, the evil of the world might be a little harder to beat than Peter thinks. Fisk owns him really badly with help from his super-powered right hand, Electro. After the beat down, Peter is hungrier to defeat the Kingpin. Though how do you defeat a guy who's considered nigh untouchable?
There's a lot of the usual Bendis work here and the dialogue is what's so crisp about this story. I really do enjoy this version of the Kingpin and to see the continuing arc that ran all through Ultimate Peter's life was so darn fascinating. Yes he learned that with great power comes great responsibility in the first arc. Here, he learns how to be a super hero. There's just a nice balance of drama and humor throughout this story and really has my favorite moment of all time in Ultimate Spider-Man with the confrontation he has at story's end with Kingpin. I guarantee you will not be able to keep a straight face when reading it. Again, this was a fantastic opening salvo for what came to be for me the best darn ongoing plot within Ultimate Spider-Man.
20.) Severance Package (Tangled Web #4) --
Writer: Greg Rucka, Pencils: Eduardo Risso
Spider-Man thwarts a lot of street crime and its effect is always felt within the operations of the Kingpin of crime. So instead of telling the usual story from Peter's perspective, we get it through one of Fisk's operatives named Tom. Tom's plan is simple and of course all goes to hell once Spider-Man arrives to stop it. Given that this is the seedy underbelly, there is only one course of action the Kingpin will take for this failure. Instead of running, Tom goes about his day like nothing is happening yet we see the world around him. This mook's life is fully committed to the Kingpin, and it is all paid via the Kingpin. The Kingpin owns Tom and there's nothing he can do about that. Even after his wife pleads with him to surrender himself to law officials and take a plea bargain, Tom doesn't yield as he's picked up by his fellow partner Richie.
The next few events will leave the reader rooting for Tom to escape this life of crime. Alas though, if this was someone say like Tombstone, Jigsaw, or the Hood you probably get this sort of ending, but this is the Kingpin. His presence is felt in every nook and corner of the entire story until he's literally covering the pages with his imposing presence (done nicely by Eduardo Risso). There's only one sort of end for Tom in all of this and he gingerly accepts this fate. Fans of Greg Rucka's current Punisher run might want to check this story out. It's just ripe full of the grittiness and crime ridden world that Rucka does so well.
19.) Double Shots (Tangled Web #13) --
Writer: Ron Zimmerman, Pencils: Sean Phillips
One of the things that I most enjoy about Spider-Man is the wealth and depth of his villains. In fact like a certain Caped Crusader, he has so many you could list the certain tiers each villain ranks. Such ranks are ever so clear as in this story, a mosaic of several "almost got him" stories told between some of Spidey's rogues as they hang out at a super villain's bar and talk about that insidious arachnid.
Each foe brings their unique personality to the forefront. Al Kraven is an arrogant, smug piece of work who tries to show off yet is annoyed by the wall-crawler, but deep down isn't as hot. Vulture, the seasoned pro who hungers for the fire the younger villain has plus is more miserable over the continued existence of Spider-Man. Then there's the mysterious third man, whose identity is concealed by the trench coat and fedora he wears to hide his head. He leaves a breadcrumb trial of clues to his fellow crooks and readers of his relationship with their mutually hated foe. You'll be in shock when his identity is revealed because it's a whopper!
Stay tuned for part 2 of my Top 26 Spider-Man stories of all time as I jump into 18-7!!!
Written or Contributed by: Zechs
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About the Author - Zechs
Zechs is the lord and master of The Toy Shed, Character Spotlight, and Cartoon Reviews. He's also an aspiring comic book writer trying to get some of his works published on the Outhouse. If there's any greater quality to Zechs, it's that he's an avid fan of comic book characters and would defend them to the bitter end against the companies that use them wrongly. Zechs walks the lonely path in Chicagoland area.
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