What’s that, you say? Amazing Fantasy ended at #15, the debut of Spider-Man? You’re right, but in 1995 a three-issue miniseries, referred to as issues #16-18, bridged the gap between Amazing Fantasy #15 and Amazing Spider-Man #1, showing Peter’s transition from TV personality to superhero.
Amazing Fantasy #16
Marvel Comics (November, 1995)
“An Amazing World”
WRITER: Kurt Busiek
PAINTER: Paul Lee
Yep, painted. You longtime readers already know what’s coming.
SEPARATIONS MANAGER: Steve Alexandrov
MANUFACTURING COORDINATOR: Linda Gilmore
PUBLICATION DESIGN/LETTERING: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
EDITOR: Sarra Mossoff
It’s just after Uncle Ben was buried and Peter and Aunt May are wondering what to do now. May tries to hold things together, unaware that Peter blames himself for not stopping the burglar as Spider-Man before Ben was killed. At school only Liz shows him any compassion over what’s happened, but Peter feels even more isolated than ever. Meanwhile, his old manager is in desperate need of finding Spider-Man as the bill collectors are calling. Kind of like the one who shows up on the Parkers’ doorstep talking about a final gift Ben had planned for May as a surprise, which she wants to finish the payments for because it was his final gift. With no other way to deal with all that’s going on around him, Peter slips into the Spider-Man costume and goes web-slinging, clearing his head. Then he sees the same man making a similar claim to a widower and thinks something is up. Following him back to a warehouse he finds an criminal enterprise drowning in death. Other such schemes, fake insurance schemes, even an assassin group–all lead by “The Undertaker”. Spidey finds himself fighting all the goons, learning to use a power he calls “spider-sense” to evade bad guys and weapons. Maybe this is what he should do with his powers; fight crime and use his gifts responsibly. Meanwhile, someone else would rather use her powers to pull pranks like destroy mailboxes and put a bulldozer on top of a construction project.
What they got right: I love this transition between the two series. We get to see how Peter became Spider-Man, which he automatically is when we next see him after his debut in #15. We see the longer path Peter has to take to become the superhero we all know and love. The spider-sense is still new to him, as we only really saw it when he dodged the car, so it makes sense (no pun intended) that he still has to realize what it is he has and how it can be useful. We even see his early quipping as he fell into this new persona.
What they got wrong: As painted styles go, Lee is better than most I’ve reviewed, but it still doesn’t always showcase the emotion I think it wants to. I would have preferred a more retro-style, something akin to how Steve Ditko was drawing in the 1960s. It doesn’t ruin the story, but I think the retro look would have served better and I’m not a fan of the painted style in sequential art.
Recommendation: A good open to this miniseries, and a good pre-Spidey story. Pick this one up and give it a read.