Adventures in Bookland: Amazing Spider-Man: Peter Parker – the One and Only
Comics, and specifically Marvel Comics, filled my life when I was young – or they did so far as I was able to get hold of them. This was the 1970s: pre-internet, pre distribution networks, pre globalised content providers. It was no easy task finding Marvel Comics in a north London suburb. There was the Marvel British imprint, which reprinted the American originals in a weekly black-and-white format and which was my first exposure to Marvel comics, but of the American colour monthlies, there was often no sign. From visiting the newspaper shops around me – there were a lot more them then, before the internet decimated print – I found one or two that occasionally stocked original Marvel comics. Some of these had been minimally rebranded for the British market – their price was in pence rather than cents (which should give you an idea of how much prices have increased) – but some were available in the exotic dollar format. These were the ones I prized, with their stamp-sized label affirming that they were:
I could never tell which comics would come in on any given month, which made my collection rather haphazard, but Spider-Man was one of the most regular and the adventures of Peter Parker – geeky, science obsessed, shy – became mine because I was also geeky, science obsessed and shy.
But, slowly, comics slipped into the past.
Only for me to find, many years later, that comics have come round again and those people who grew up with are busy rediscovering them, while children seeing the Marvel and DC films are absorbing the comic book universes without even, necessarily, reading any comics.
So, I thought I’d take a read backwards. Nowadays, the easiest way to do so is via the book size reissues of a collection of comics, but I’ve found those frustrating. For some reason, Marvel and DC both have a tendency to publish part of a multi-part story, only for the book to finish before the story does. Is this to make readers buy the next part? For my part, this reader finds the practice annoying and, rather than buying the continuation, it puts me off going anywhere near the story again. So it was good to find, in this collection of Spider-Man stories, a number of complete, self-contained stories that didn’t go anywhere, that didn’t want to do anything other than to tell a good story and finish it off. And they did. The issue by thriller writer David Morrell was particularly good.