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Fri, 24 Aug ’12

Spider-Man’s Silver Age Anniversary

Celebrate fifty years of wall-crawling with a swing through the decades

Since 1962, the world has been gaga over a New York photographer in red and blue spandex. Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s creation of Spider-Man ushered in a new kind of superhero – one who was more *gasp* human. In the ensuing five decades of comics, the character has been through ups and downs, both personally and professionally, and we’ve decided to take a look at some of his best adventures, ten years at a time.

COMICSSpider-Man No More! – When Spider-Man made his debut in issue 15 of Amazing Fantasy, a new breed of hero was born, but by issue 50 of The Amazing Spider-Man book, Peter Parker had decided that with great power comes great crappy personal life. Being the webslinger is negatively impacting his life, so Peter takes off the suit and chooses to go back to being normal. Only he isn’t normal, is he kids? Kingpin shows up, crime increases, bad stuff happens and Peter has to be Spider-Man again. How many superheroes question their superheroism? Before this, none.

COMICS The Night Gwen Stacy Died – If Spider-Man’s existence rang in the beginning of an era, then this arc in ’73 most certainly ended it. Spidey’s arch-nemesis, The Green Goblin, kidnaps Peter’s girlfriend, Gwen Stacy, and takes her to the top of the George Washington Bridge where he eventually throws her off. Spidey uses webbing to catch her, but she’s already dead, either from Goblin or from the whiplash from being caught. A little bit of innocence in comics died with Gwen Stacy.

COMICS Kraven’s Last Hunt – The 1980s were a banner decade for Spider-Man comics. We got the first appearance of Venom, the seminal Death of Jean DeWolff, and Peter Parker FINALLY tied the knot with Mary Jane Watson. Still, arguably the best arc of them all came in 1987 with Kraven’s Last Hunt. Lots of foes have gone up against our friendly neighborhood hero, but Kraven actually defeated him. This is an amazing introspection on the psyche of a villain and if an argument needed to be made for comic books transcending into “higher” literature, this is a pretty fantastic Exhibit A.

COMICS Spider-Man 2099 – If the ’80s were a heyday for Spider-Man (and comics in general), then the ’90s were the opposite of that. A fair amount of Spidey’s adventures during this period are now considered some of the worst of all time. The Clone Saga, Identity Crisis and other assorted messes were very common. Even with the Saturday morning cartoon gaining in popularity, the book continuity was all over the map. Spider-Man: 2099 spanned the bulk of the decade and featured Miguel O’Hara (the first Latino Spider-Man), becoming a new web-head in a cyberpunk dystopian future. Not groundbreaking, but quite good by the decade’s standards.

COMICSSpider-Man: Blue – Writer Jeph Loeb and artist Tim Sale did some amazing work together (Batman: The Long Halloween is all the proof you need) and here they retell some of the history of the character as he reflects on how much he still misses Gwen Stacy and take the readers, through the guise of Peter talking to a tape recorder, on a journey through how he and Gwen fell in love. The 2000s proved even after 50 years there’s still a lot to say about the world through Spider-Man’s eyes, and this is a prime example.