Step into my parlor said the friendly Spider-Guy
Yeah, I went there, you’ll live.
So I’m a big comic book junkie. Seriously. I have been ever since I was 8 years old and my dad bought me my first Silver Surfer comic. I remember taking it home and devouring it, then demanding to know more about this silver-skinned man who surfed the cosmos. Who was he? Why did he surf the stars in service to a giant purple space-colossus that ate planets? Who could come up with characters that insanely cool?
Then, sometime later, my older cousin followed this up and started me down the path that would eventually lead me here, talking to you: He gave me my very first Amazing Spider-Man comic.
I can remember that the comic was drawn, at the time, by Todd McFarlane. It had some of the most incredible action panels I had seen in comics at the time. Spidey’s movements were drawn in such a way that he was practically a contortionist whenever he was seen webslinging, a fist-full of webs in his hands that were a mass of beautiful geometrical stringed chaos.
Power and responsibility coupled with doing whatever a spider can: Hooked!
Over the years, there have been an incredible amount of story arcs that have been lauded as classic (ie. The Night Gwen Stacy Died) and other’s that have been given the stinkeye of absolute “shame on you, you horrible horrible thing” (Clone Saga, I’m looking at you. Shame!). Of these, there have been a few, recently, that I honestly don’t agree with other fans on. My friends and I have debated and shaken each other and earned our fair share of glares from normal folk, while in the midst of discussing the stories I defend so.
So I come here to you all, to share four of my favorite crazy, debate-worthy Spidey-tales spun from some of my favorite writers and given colorful life by some incredibly talented artists. Maybe they’ll spark some discussion between your friends, maybe you’ll give me, well, this article anyway, some strange looks when you’re done.
Either way, for your consideration (and possible teeth gnashing), here are my favorite crazy-pants Spider-Man stories.
Spider-man/Black Cat: The Evil that Men Do
Words by Kevin Smith and art by Rachel Dodson
I’ll start with this one, which got a lot of flack for a few different reasons, mostly for the fact that it took Kevin Smith so long to actually finish it after releasing the third issue (three and a half years, if I remember correctly).
So the story goes that Spidey winds up looking into the overdose (heroin) of one of his students (this was back when he started teaching while he and Mary Jane were split up…again…they do that a lot for some reason, you’d think they’d learn) and Peter’s ex, Felicia Hardy, aka the Black Cat, comes back into town while investigating the disappearance of a friend of hers when, what do you know, their paths intersect (more like collide and fall through a window) and they find that they are, in fact, following up on the same lead which leads them to some interesting places (no I’m not going to spoil it for you if you haven’t read it yet) and conclusions.
One of the reasons I love this story is the way Kevin Smith writes the reunion of Peter and Felicia (who I always thought was a much better choice for him than Mary Jane, but that’s just me). It begins as an irritated argument as they trade jibes over their failed relationship, but the chemistry between the two of them soon turns the heated argument into a playful and flirtatious romp through New York as they decide to team up and track down the person behind both of the incidents. Another reason is that while it starts out kind of lighthearted, it quickly goes to a pretty dark place that provides a bit of light into Felicia’s past from before she put on the skin tight black outfit that makes you connect with her and the villain a little bit (nope, not spoiling that either).
Now I do agree with some of the critics when they say that after the first half of the story you lose the great interaction and banter between Peter and Felicia. I wanted more flirting, more double entendres and more crazy sexual tension (let’s face it, those two crazy kids are just great together…I ship them, they are my OTP…okay, I’m going to stop emoting like a 14 year old now…maybe.). Does it kill the story for me? Not really, but I did notice.