So I'll be dropping Amazing Spider-Man tomorrow. It feels odd to be doing so, since it's one of those rare titles I've been reading throughout my comics-reading times. Late '80s with DeFalco/Frenz, '90s with Michelinie/Larsen/Bagley, even some of the Mackie/Byrne stuff. But, it's time to part ways, and Spider-Man dealing with Kingpin is a better place to do it than next issue, when it looks like someone dies.
But what I was really thinking about with this is how I've been reading the book for JMS' entire run, and just how long that is. It's been 71 issues now, almost six years worth (in 73 months). It should be more issues, but, well, Civil War delays.
It's been a weird run. Or maybe it's a typical run: starting well, so full of hope, only to stumble badly somewhere down the stretch. I didn't mind the possibility of mystical interference in Spidey's origin, because initially, it was just that: a possibility. Unconfirmed. And besides, Peter didn't care about the "whys" or "hows" of his getting spider-powers, because what matters is how you use those powers (power = responsibility, after all). And messing with magical foes could make a nice contrast for science-minded Peter Parker.
Yeah, Composite Gangster-Hulk was odd, but I still like the Loki story, and the issue with Dr. Doom in the airport, and the Doc Ock story, and some of the other small ones about Peter interacting with his students. I liked the idea of Peter being a science teacher, though I wish JMS hadn't felt it necessary to toss Peter's supporting cast out the window to do that. Jenkins and Mackie had used Glory Grant, Randy Robertson and Jill Stacy to good effect.
But things fell apart the way they often do. Maybe JMS stayed on longer than he should have. Maybe he'd finished the big character arc he wanted to tell, but Marvel showed him the cash and he stuck around, but without a clear idea where to go next. That's how you get the hammering of Spidey's powers being mystical, which removes ambiguity that let fans choose which origin they preferred. Then there's giant spiders devouring people, and the Parkers living in Avengers Tower, and The Other, and Gwen's kids. I know, JMS wanted them to be Peter's, not Norman's, but I'm not sure it was a good idea either way. If you want Pete to have kids, then bring back baby May Parker (except that would limit his stories even more, right Quesada? Already grown kids don't do that, they just provide some quick angst, right? Bugger).
The run helped me gain an appreciation for John Romita Jr.'s artwork, since I'd thought he previously drew Spider-Man too broad in the shoulders. I know, it's a little thing, but I thought it made Spidey look chunky. I wasn't as much of a fan of Deodato's artwork, but that might also have been the stories associated with it. I think Len noted, Deodato's work goes best with darker stories, so did they bring him on to match the tone of the stories, or did his art determine the tone? Ron Garney's done a good job the last year plus, especially given he had to draw Peter in that stupid Iron Spider costume for several issues. I think he could have been a good artist for some brighter, happier Spidey stories; maybe he'll get to draw some one day.
I'm not sure what aspects of the JMS Amazing run I'll remember most. Hopefully it'll be how awesome I thought the Morlun fight was, and how funny the hot dog scene with Loki was, as opposed to the whole The Other thing. I'm also curious as to what from his run is going to carry over and become part of Spider-Man's mythos. Is there something he introduced that won't just get brushed aside in a few years, something that has real staying power?