50 Greatest Spider-Man Stories: #40-36

In honor of the fiftieth anniversary of Spider-Man, we're doing four straight months of polls having to do with Spider-Man, culminating with the release of the Amazing Spider-Man film in July. We've done Spider-Man covers, Spider-Man characters, Spider-Man creators and now, finally, Spider-Man stories!

You all voted, now here are the results of what you chose as the 50 Greatest Spider-Man Stories! We continue with #40-36. Click here for a master list of all the stories revealed so far!


40. "I'm With Stupid," Spider-Man/Human Torch #1-5

Written by Dan Slott and drawn by Ty Templeton and four inkers (Nelson, Tom Palmer, Drew Geraci and Greg Adams), this pleasant mini-series tells the story of Spider-Man and Human Torch's relationship from their first meeting until the present (well, the present as of when the mini-series came out, which was 2004 - a whole lot of things have changed since then).

Templeton's artwork is great and I loved the way that Slott worked in the various eras in with the story, as Slott sure knows his continuity. The series ends with Johnny Storm learning Peter Parker's identity as Spider-Man and the two get even closer. This is probably not the BEST scene in the series (especially as you need the next page to REALLY get the full effect, but I just love the "Parker luck" line so much)...

Come on, that's hilarious!

The whole series was basically filled with great character moments. I'm really pleased that Slott and Templeton got back together for the tribute issue of Amazing Spider-Man when Johnny "died."

39. "Return of the Burglar," Amazing Spider-Man #198-200

Written by Marv Wolfman and drawn by Sal Bucema (#198-199), Keith Pollard (#200) and Jim Mooney, issue #200 is really the issue people voted for, but the storyline is really #198-200 for the full deal. In any event, the Burglar returns, teaming up with Mysterio to gain access to the Parker home because that is where some old gangster buried his treasure. The Burglar and Mysterio faked Aunt May's death so that they could dig in silence.

So, well, Peter obviously has some real anger towards the Burglar that killed his uncle...

Talk about dramatic! The issue is filled with stuff like that. Really powerful character-driven stuff.

38. "Return of the Sinister Six," Amazing Spider-Man #334-339

Written by David Michelinie and drawn by Erik Larsen (with inks by Mike Machlan, Terry Austin, Randy Emberlin, Keith Williams and John Romita), this storyline does a great job bringing the Sinister Six back together. Michelinie reasonably understands that Spider-Man fighting six powerful supervillains at once for six issues would be hard to write, so he builds suspense really well for the first four issues, as Spider-Man deals with villains one at a time while Doctor Octopus is building his master plan behind the scenes.

Then, in the penultimate issue, Spider-Man is forced to take on the villains (with a nice dramatic acknowledgement of the severity of the situation)...

Larsen does a great job on this storyline, especially the dramatic full-page attacks between Spider-Man and the various villains (amazing spotlight pages for Electro, Hobgoblin, etc.). The best is probably the climactic fight between Spidey and Doc Ock in the final part (there is this amazing sequence with Ock's arms wrapped around Spidey).

37. "To Have and to Hold," Sensational Spider-Man Annual #1

Written by Matt Fraction and drawn by Salvador Larocca (with digital colors by Paco Roca), this story is a bit of a love letter to the marriage between Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson. Set during the time when Peter was a fugitive from the law after revealing his identity to the world, Mary Jane is cornered by a former bodyguard she knew in Los Angeles where they almost had a moment (during a period she and Peter were sort of separated). He is now working for SHIELD and he wants her to turn herself and Peter in. She relates her history with Peter to explain why that won't be happening (Peter, meanwhile, is talking to a police detective he is friendly with trying to work out a deal where he gives himself up to protect Mary Jane and Aunt May, Gift of the Magi-style)...

One of the best bits in the issue is when Fraction shows us Mary Jane's thoughts in a particular moment and then returns to that moment later to show us Peter's thoughts, and almost always they are both thinking that they are screwing things up and wondering what the other one sees in them. It is really great.

Larocca does a nice job on evoking each of the eras the flashbacks are set in. This is a really adorable comic book. Beautiful work all around.

36. "The Commuter Cometh!" Amazing Spider-Man #267

Written by Peter David and drawn by Bob McLeod, this is a hilariously offbeat tale where Spider-Man tracks a crook to Scarsdale, a suburb of New York City.

David milks a lot of great humor from Spider-Man's "fish out of water" deal in the suburbs...

Just a hilarious approach to a novel idea. McLeod's art is great, as always.

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