A post from my Marvel blog of long ago, part of a series discussing my early Marvel purchases which failed to make me a fan.
Continuing our exploration of Marvel books I sampled in the 70s but which failed to capture me as a reader.
Even though I was an avowed Marvel hater, so big an event was the publication of SUPERMAN VS THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN that I bought a copy nonetheless. I think it’s maybe difficult for the readership of today to understand just how radical and unexpected this book was, in a world where inter-company crossovers happen all the time. But back in 1976, if you’d asked anyone, including most of the people working at both companies, if such a thing might ever happen, they would have laughed out loud. And yet, it did. Marvel had, by this point, started to outsell DC’s books a few years earlier, but this was the first tacit acknowledgement on the competition’s part that these newfangled Marvel characters might have staying power, and indeed Spider-Man might be an iconic enough character to share cover-space with the Man of Steel.
I didn’t care about any of that, of course. I was just interested in a good story. And it was a good story, an excellent merging of the styles and worldviews of the two companies.
However, I didn’t like Spider-Man. In fact, I thought he was a jerk.
It’s so strange to think about this, given that Peter Parker was conceived and came to fame as the ultimate shnook, the ultimate loser, but in SUPERMAN VS. THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, he came across to me as maybe a little too hip, maybe a little too-good-for-the-room, both as Peter and as Spider-Man. I wasn’t used to the flippancy of the character, and writer Gerry Conway had been taking steps to make Peter a bit more modern and less of a patsy while writing the regular book. Nevertheless, it was my impression (and it’s one that’s really only changed with a greater understanding of the character and his history, and where he was in his evolution at that precise moment). So I didn’t care for him, certainly not enough to start picking up any of his regular books. I just enjoyed this big treasury edition, and went back to buying my DC’s.
At around this same time, my younger brother Ken, who dabbled in comic books on-and-off, but never developed the same fanaticism for them that I did, purchased AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #159–an issue that eventually found its way into my collection. And again, I found the character and the storytelling harsh, partly due to the artwork of Ross Andru (who’d also penciled SUPERMAN/AMAZING SPIDER-MAN). But at least this was the last chapter in a multi-part storyline, so it had a conclusion, and I knew Doc Ock from the aforementioned crossover, so it wasn’t especially confusing to me–just not engaging enough that it made me want to buy more.