The pressures of Christmas shopping can be enough to ruin the holiday for anyone, but sometimes it’s an easy thing to spread a little joy around. It just takes a little engagement.
Earlier today my daughter and I visited one of the area comics shops to pick up volume six of Terry Moore’s “Rachel Rising” for her mother. While we were there, I got into a brief conversation with another customer, who had brought his son along to buy him a comic for his eighth birthday.
“Stick with the classics,” I said. (We had just been talking about “Sandman” and Alan Moore’s “Swamp Thing.”) “Get him a Spider-man comic.”
“Yeah, but where do you jump in? There’s so much of it.”
It’s true. When I started reading comic books in the 1980s, Spider-man appeared simultaneously in four monthly titles. The exact lineup has changed, but the bandwidth given to Marvel’s flagship hero hasn’t. Even if he weren’t in the Avengers never had a guest appearance in another Marvel title, Spider-man easily appears in 48 published issues each year.
In the 55 years since he first appeared in Amazing Fantasy 15, Spider-man has been a central character in thousands of stories told across thousands of different issues. There are defining runs, like what Tom DeFalco did in the 1980s and what J. Michael Strazcynski wrote in the early 2000s, on “Amazing Spider-Man,” but there was about 15 years’ worth of crap in-between, to say nothing of the “Superior Spider-Man” debacle that came after.
“Start out with ‘Ultimate Spider-Man,'” I said. “It’s mostly retreads of the original Lee/Ditko stories, but Bendis makes them work, and the continuity’s not nearly as convoluted. Better yet, start him out on Miles. Miles is much cooler than Peter, and he has a movie coming out next year.”
The guy liked my advice. He found a $40 volume of Miles’ first four trade paperback collections and bought it. He’s happy. His son is happy. And the guy who owns the comics shop?
Pretty sure he’s happy too, and I’ve become one of his favorite customers.