Saturday, 26 November 2011

When did Spider-Man's Classic era end?

Amazing Spider-Man #185, Spider-Man looms large over proceedings as Peter Parker graduates, watched by his regular cast
Fate is a magnificent thing. Just as I was wondering what I should write about tonight, R.W. Watkins has come to my rescue by suggesting I throw out a question.

That question is; when did Spider-Man's "Classic" era end and the adventures of everyone's favourite web-spinner become just another comic strip?

Of course, it could be that Spider-Man was never special for you.

Alternatively, it might be that Spideyness is the gift that keeps on giving and, for you, it's never stopped being 20 pages of Purest Awesome every month since it first started.

For myself, it's an easy question to answer.

For me, Spider-Man's Classic era ended with Amazing Spider-Man #185, when Peter Parker graduated from university. I'm sure there were plenty of perfectly good Spider stories after that date but somehow it doesn't feel like real Spider-Man to me if Peter Parker's not a student.

Of course, this is only my ten pence worth and you may well be tearing your hair out at such ludicrous opinions - knowing, as you do, that Peter Parker graduation was only the start of the strip's goldenest ever Golden Age.

Or perhaps you think it lost its pizazz somewhere halfway through issue #2.

Or perhaps a little part of you died when the Clone Saga finally ended and you had to live with the knowledge that never more would clones be traipsing through your favourite mag.

If so, here's where you can get it all off your chest. It's practically psycho-therapy but, unlike a visit to Dr Bart Hamilton, it won't charge you a fortune and won't turn into the Green Goblin and try to kill you when you've finished.


Kid said...

Okay, let's go with #185.

Rip Jagger said...

I'd pretty much have to agree with the issue you've chosen. I was a bit late to the Spidey festival, as I missed the original Ditko buzz. And I can see a really good argument that the magic stifled when Sturdy Steve left. But I loved the work of Ross Andru on Spidey, and for me personally it was just about the time Andru left the book that it became just another comic.

Rip Off

Pat said...

I vote for the ending to the original Clone stories in ASM #150. I didn't particularly care for the way that story wrapped up, and then Len Wein came along starting with #151 and tried to write Spiderman as Batman. There's one story in there (#155) that's a whodunit (that's even the title), where it turns out to be a computer responsible for the murder. Evil computers weren't exactly a novel idea and so it wasn't just a whodunit but a lousy whodunit.

I stuck around for a couple more issues, but that was the beginning of the end.

Boston Bill said...

I'm with Pat. I started following Spider-man during the Jackal storyline and it was great, right up to, and including the climax in 149. Then 150 was a big disappointment. Robot duplicates of good Spider-man villains (I remember the Kingpin) go against him to 'tire him out' before the real villain shows up, the extremely boring Dr Smythe and yet another Spider-Slayer. Then he destroys the results of his clone tests because he's so confident that he's the original (he could have peeked and spared us all the clone saga).

After that, the book never seemed to bounce back.

R. W. Watkins said...

I think we're more or less all on the same page. It was sometime in the mid to late '70s that Spider-Man stopped mattering.

I must admit, I don't own No 185. Maybe it's for the best: the idea of a fellow taking about thirteen and a half years to finish uni reminds me too much of my own sad academic career--and I was supposed to be one of the bright boys.

I never purchased a copy of a Spider-Man comic from (I think) No 212 (Hydroman? Sub-Mariner?) in '80 or '81 to No 316 in '88--during my first semester of uni. It was Todd McFarlane that brought me back. It's the same story for many of us from Generation X. But then McFarlane got his own title, and decided to run it into the ground with 'topical' stories about child abduction and paedophilia. Was it the influence of Oprah Winfrey and other American chat-show hosts? (I've long felt that Oprah and her kind have done far more harm to subsequent generations than any of such television personalities could ever have dreamed of.) I think the 'Perceptions' story arc (Nos 8 through 12) worked pretty well, however.

The post-McFarlane years are all about clones and symbiotes, of course. Leave it to Marvel to run a good idea into the soil.

Some people think that the closest link there is today to the classic Spidey comics of old is Stan and Larry's newspaper strip. I can see their point. I think Stan gave up giving a damn about the Marvel titles somewhere around 1973.

I wish I could write more about this subject; but right now I'm suffering like crazy in my neck and back--and alcohol is not helping. (Another myth shattered.)

Anonymous said...

I would have to use thee old chestnut of it ended when you grew out of Spidey - for me ASM under Ross Andru ( I go by artists) was poor (even although he is a great artist) but Rip and others loved it - I hated the clone sage and the Jackel series - so for me it ended after the Johnny Romita/Gil Kane regular are around 130 ish - McScotty

david_b said...

Yes, I agree with Richard here.., actually around the 140s, Spidey lost steam for me..

I had just come in a few issues after 121-122 (but managed to pick up a copy of 122 in those '3 for 49cents' bags a few months after it came out). The Jackel sure seemed interesting, but I too got tired of Andru's art (all the jaws looked silly..), and missed Romita too much.

But I'd agree, the graduation would be a great place to end the 'Classic Era'..

david_b said...

Ah, yes, when Gwen came back, it was too much of a contrivance, and really cheapened her death and the mark it left on Peter's life.

At that point, it didn't seem that Marvel's Bullpen cared enough about his loss.

R. W. Watkins said...

One other thing I forgot to mention: Reading the aforementioned Nos 8 through 12 ('Perceptions') of McFarlane's Spider-Man in order as they were published was the last time I felt any of the childlike excitement one traditionally associated with awaiting the next issue in a story arc from a 'mainstream' comic title.

Harry said...

For someone younger, such as me, perhaps once the Stern and DeFalco runs had ended on ASM, but that still leaves some classic stories such as "Kraven's Last Hunt" in Spectacular, so I can't give an exact point...some time before the end of the 80s, anyway.

cease ill said...

Now, I wasn't yet born when the Classic era ended for a lot of you, and while for me the mid 80's Spider-Man's indispensable, what do you think of the theory that #99 set up a great ending for the saga? Imagine: if Peter's formula had worked instead of providing him four extra arms, that would've been a fine way to go out, with Stan Lee, Gil Kane, and John Romita at the helm.

The world of comics, however, was yet to be set on its head by the Death of Gwen Stacy!

Cease said... are my thoughts on that theory, anywho. How I wish I could recall where I found it! Spider-Man Reviewed, maybe?

I guess I never felt the same about Spidey after Kraven's Last Hunt. But I had such fun reading the title in college with me bird, the Clone Saga was hardly a total loss for me. We used to go to the local comic shop in the mall and pick up the latest and have lunch together, reading it! Too bad Jurgens left.

Jack Alberti said...

Totally agree with 185! Andru's departure coupled with graduation. I remember seeing the cover of 186 and feeling horrible. I knew it was over. But I can see the argument for 149/150. Though I must note - the Stern/Romita Jr run in the early 80s was solid.

Jack Alberti said...

Totally agree with 185! Andru's departure coupled with graduation. I remember seeing the cover of 186 and feeling horrible. I knew it was over. But I can see the argument for 149/150. Though I must note - the Stern/Romita Jr run in the early 80s was solid.

The Artistic Actuary said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Artistic Actuary said...

Five years after the post and I was wandering past and feel the need to comment.

The end of classic Spide-Man didn’t happen all at once. But it didn’t happen gradually either.

Causes of the end could be changes in writer, changes in artist, death of characters, or maybe even introduction of MTU or PPSSM.

For me there was a dropoff after 99 with the Morbius stuff, the spider-slayer and the horrible Kane/Giacoia art combo.. I suspect Stan's stepping away from writing had something to do with the drop in quality. While never a great Andru fan, I don't think the end of the era can be pinned to his introduction, mainly thanks to some great Conway writing. But there’s a big drop off from the early 140s that means wer're out of the classic era before 160 and well before 185.

I need to make a decision, as they say. OK. Classic era ended at 99. The semi-classic afterglow ended at 149.