Stan Lee always wrote his comics as if each issue was someone’s first entry into the universe of that particular hero or team of heroes. So there are times reading any collected edition of his works that you may feel like the story is repeating itself a great deal or going back to reflect on the origin of whatever hero or team he’s chronicling.
And while that happens a bit in this collection of The Amazing Spider-Man, it’s hard to find a few gems from a creative team that was firmly in a grove at this point. Collecting issues 88 to 99 of the original run, Spidey does battles some classic and not-so-classic foes all while Peter Parker’s life is upended by his decision to continue being Spider-Man. The collection includes a couple of pivotal events in the life of Spider-Man from the death of Captain Stacy to the infamous drug addiction storyline that Marvel had the courage to print without the endorsement of the comic code authority. Re-reading this story now, it seems a bit light-weight and a bit like something you’d see on a daytime drama. But looked at through the prism of when it was published, it’s downright revolutionary and hard-hitting.
The three-issue run that concludes this collection finds Harry Osborne becoming addicted to pills (what exactly he’s addicted to isn’t quite specified) in his attempts to keep up in college, Mary Jane Watson and the expectations of his father. Throw into the mix that Norman isn’t feeling too well and his about one step from transforming back into the Green Goblin and you’ve got a classic mix of Peter Parker real-world angst coupled with a superpower dilemma for Spider-Man.
Sure there are a few less than stellar stories in here, but the good stuff more than outweighs the forgettable stuff. It’s not quite as high on my list of Spidey favorites as the classic run of Lee and Steve Ditko, but it’s still awfully good and well worth enjoying again.