With great power comes great responsibility — and celebration. In honor of the legendary webhead turning 60 this year, Marvel Comics released the ultimate Spider-Man anthology titled “Amazing Fantasy #100”, as a nod to Spider-Man’s first comic book appearance back in 1962’s “Amazing Fantasy #15.”
“Amazing Fantasy #1000″ is comprised of nine different stories written by literary icons such as Neil Gaiman, Rainbow Rowell, Ho Che Anderson, and comic book regulars Dan Slott and Michael Cho, just to name a few. The stories are centered around various moments in the web slinger’s life ranging from the not-so-distant past to the far-off future and everything in between.
In lieu of major spoilers, I’ll try to briefly highlight some of my favorite stories in the bunch.
Anderson’s “In the Flesh”, Johnathan Hickman’s “You Get It” and “Just Some Guy” co-written by Cho and Anthony Falcone dig deep into the heart of the tireless hero Spider-Man, and peer deep into the soul of the tortured Peter Parker who has to bare the brunt of his great power and responsibility at the end of the day. In Cho and Falcone’s tale, a lowly criminal is baffled as to why Spider-Man continues to fight petty street crimes instead of joining the larger world threats handled by the Avengers. Hickman’s meta-story—with super cool artwork done by Marco Checchetto — features Spider-Man seeking validation from his multidimensional selves while battling both an existential crisis and a moment of insecurity in regard to his effectiveness as a thankless superhero. Anderson’s tale doesn’t center around Spider-Man much at all, but rather a tortured woman who believes spiders are living in her skin. It’s a story that showcases how even the most discarded by society are still worthy of being saved.
Thankfully, there are lighter, slightly romantic stories too. Rainbow Rowell’s “The Kid’s Got a Good Eye” is a cute — and criminally too brief—story centered around Peter’s photography skills as he tries to garner some extra cash from J. Jonah Jameson so he can take Betty Brandt out on a proper date. The vivid artwork by Oliver Coipel and Matt Wilson brings out the wholesome nature of the story perfectly.
The story with the most laughs comes from Slott’s “Spider-Man vs. His Sinister 60th”, which follows Mary-Jane and Peter on the day of his 60th birthday as he fights off members of the Sinister Six. When he ends up hospitalized from his injuries, Peter, donned in a hospital gown, can’t help but be compelled to fight a crime happening just outside his hospital window. It leads to quite the bashing from the worried Mary Jane.
My only gripe with the anthology comes as a double-edged sword. The input from this group of award-winning writers and artists across different genres lends itself to incredibly unique and fascinating stories for both Spider-Man and Peter Parker. But due to its mere 72-pages, some of the most interesting stories like “Spider-Man vs. His Sinister 60th” or “In the Flesh” can leave the reader wanting to know more.
Overall, it’s both a nostalgic tribute to the humility of Marvel’s classic everyman Peter Parker and a touching testament to the enduring strength of Spider-Man.