The recent Batman v Superman movie gets a divided reaction. Some people loved the action and the dark and gritty Batman. Others felt that it wasn’t the characters that they grew up with.
Spider-Man fans are no different. Often, when talking about a particular comic book that was disliked, we hear, “That’s not how Spider-Man acts,” or “That’s not my Spider-Man.” But with a character that has existed over several decades, you start to notice that there are several interpretations of the character. These interpretations are given to us most by writers who have had a considerable run on a Spider-Man title.
When you listen to the podcast *and if you don’t, get to it!), you will hear BD or one of the panelists talk about Peter David’s run on Spider-Man or Howard Mackie’s run or David Michelinie’s run or somebody else. If you are a completist, then you are probably familiar with what they are talking about. However, you may not be able to pull up images in your head for all of these references. If you grew up in the 90s, you may be less familiar with Wolfman’s run or O’Neil’s run. Are you familiar with Kavenaugh’s run? How about DeZago’s? On top of that, several of these writers had several runs on different titles – and often would write differently as they aged.
So what’s a fanboy (or fangirl – not trying to be sexist here) to do? Well, no fear true believers! Compiled below is a list of Spider-Man writers and notable events in their run on the hero.
Already a Marvel zombie? Fill us in on what you feel was left off the list, or not emphasized enough. I envision this as being a fluid resource that we will add to as readers contribute.
‘Nuff said (actually, ‘nuff is not said – you have to click READ MORE)!
Originally, this post was to cover Amazing Spider-Man, Spectacular Spider-Man, and Web of Spider-Man. This turned out to be a much larger project than anticipated. So with that in mind, I am switching the focus. This list is of ASM only – for now. As you look through the list, if you find some vitally important aspect to a writer’s run that was not listed, add it in the comments section. I will take some of those comments and add them to the post. If you guys think that this is a worthwhile undertaking, we will revisit this resource in a few months and add in PPTSM, then later WoSM and adjectiveless. Then we can later even add in mini-series that had huge impacts for good or ill. Put in the comments your opinion of whether or not this should be continued months down the road.
(Also originally the title of the post was ‘Writers Runs’, but as that sounds like an intestinal problem, I changed it.)
O.K., so ground rules for this list. A “run” was defined of at least ten issues in close consecutive order. A “writer” means someone who is listed as writer – not an artist co-plotter.
First we will list who is writing in each decade and then list more information about each writer and his run in alphabetical order by the writer’s last name. An *next to the issue numbers for the run indicates that it was broken by other writers, but most of the issues in the range are by that writer.
1960s – Stan Lee
1970s – Stan Lee, Conway, Wein, Wolfman
1980s – Wolfman, O’Neil, Stern, DeFalco, Michelinie
1990s – Michelinie, DeMatteis, DeFalco, Mackie
2000s – Mackie, Straczynski, Guggenheim, Slott
2010s – Slott
Conway is probably most remembered for killing Gwen Stacy (even Stan Lee jokes about how heartless he is). However, he continued to develop the character in a manner that Stan Lee approved of. He was only 17 years old when he got started in the business and is still writing today (currently on the Carnage series and recently on a point one run on the main title. Conway’s Peter is a hot head, often having angry outbursts and Spidey is definitely street-level.
Villains that first appeared under his pen are Hammerhead, Man-Wolf, the Jackal, the Punisher, the Tarantula, Harry Osborne as the Green Goblin, Mindworm, and the Grizzly (hey, they can’t all be winners).
The supporting cast was developed a bit with the addition of Glory Grant and the relationship between Peter and MJ (they first kiss in issue #143). The original clone saga is in here as well in issues #149 and 150.
We also get the almost wedding of Doc Ock and Aunt May and Spider-Mobile under Conway, but the car may have been by Lee decree.
Conway is listed as #3 on Comics Cube’s top five most important Spider-Man writers list.
CBR lists Conway #3 on their Spider-Man’s top ten writers of all time.
Conway is listed as #6 on Chasing Amazing’s 10 Greatest Spider-Man Writers not Named Lee or Ditko.
Conway is listed as #5 in CBR’s 50 Greatest Spider-Man Creators.
This run is best remembered for the black alien suit. This run is rich in Spider-Man action and Peter Parker development.
Notable events during this run are the first appearances of The Rose, Black Fox, Puma, Spider-Kid, Normie Osborn, Silver Sable, and Slyde. Also during this run we get the Amazing Bag-Man, Mary Jane’s revelation that she knows Peter’s secret, Spider-Man’s epic battle with Firelord, and the office building turned to gold.
Spider-Man, during DeFalco’s run, is tired, constantly fighting the good fight. Peter Parker’s life is pretty much in shambles because he spends so much time as Spider-Man. This is one of the reasons that many people feel the marriage was rushed, but it is also this run that develops Mary Jane into a complex character whose misfit past fits very well with Peter’s misfit present. DeFalco’s Spider-Man s very street focused, dealing with crime lords more than cosmic or global threats.
DeFalco comes back to ASM almost a decade after he left to finish out the clone saga by writing Ben Reilly as the true Spider-Man. By focusing on Ben Reilly as the real Spider-Man, Spider-Man stories try to recapture the Conway days with Spider-Man working in a coffee shop trying to make ends meet and establishing a life outside of the mask that is constantly interrupted by being Spider-Man. Eventually Peter reclaims the mantle. Mary Jane is pregnant, but the baby ends up being still-born (bur really abducted by Norman Osborn). Doc Ock returns from the dead during this run and it ends with the end of Vol. 1. All in all, the first run is a better take, but DeFalco’s taking over ASM in the 90s gives the core title some much needed stability after Michelinie’s departure.
DEMATTEIS, J. M. – Amazing Spider-Man 1994-1995 #389-406
DeMatteis had an earlier run that spread through all titles with his “Kraven’s Last Hunt” story. It was a dark look at the wall crawler that often ends up on Spider-Man’s top stories lists. That was seven years before his run on the main title. DeMatteis wrote several dark and serious Spider-Man stories, exploring areas there that often did not get explored (Peter David paved the way for this on his PPTSSM run).
DeMatteis run on ASM brings us Stunner and several part arcs, many of which are multi-title crossovers. The run is during the beginning of the clone saga. However, it is remembered for an awesome #400 with the death of Aunt May. It was an amazing death with Aunt May revealing in her last words that she know Peter’s secret identity. It is also a touching moment for Ben Reilly who loves her just as much, but is unable to be with her in her final moments due to being a clone. The issue lost a lot of potency when it was retconned later.
Comics Cube lists DeMatteis as #5 in their top five most important Spider-Man writers list.
CBR lists DeMatteis as #4 on their Spider-Man’s top ten writers of all time.
DeMatteis is listed as #2 on Chasing Amazing’s 10 Greatest Spider-Man Writers not Named Lee or Ditko.
DeMatteis is listed as #4 in CBR’s 50 Greatest Spider-Man Creators.
GUGGENHEIM, MARC – Amazing Spider-Man 2008 – 2009 Various issues in the 500s
Guggenheim’s run is in small spurts following the events of One More Day. As a result, it is hard to characterize his take on Spidey since he did not have long to establish the character before other writers were brought in for small stints. During his run, Slott, Kelly, Gale, Waid, Stern, Quesada, and Wells all take turns on the title. The attempt during this time is to re-establish Peter Parker as a single bachelor – another attempt to return to the Gerry Conway days.
Guggenheim does bring in stories dealing with Menace, Jackpot, and an exploration of Ben Reilly.
LEE, STAN – Amazing Spider-Man 1963 – 1972 #1-110*
Lee’s run is marked by the artists he co-plotted with. First, you have the pairing with Steve Ditko in which Peter Parker and Spider-Man are generally disliked by those around him. Peter is often angry at the situation he is in and uses Spider-Man as his escape from reality. As Peter, he broods, but as Spider-Man, he quips. Spider-man faces down to earth (if not outlandishly dressed) bad guys and crooks. He’s not protecting the world for the most part, but he is protecting his part of the city. Lee/Ditko’s Spider-Man is definitely is NOT a team player.
In this run (the first 38 issues), we get most of Spider-Man’s supporting cast, such as Aunt May, Betty Brant, JJJ, Flash Thompson, Harry Osborn, Norman Osborn, Liz Allan, and even (although faceless) Mary Jane. We also get the first appearance of many of the villains that Spidey will have to face for years to come: the Chameleon, Vulture, Tinkerer, Doctor Octopus, Sandman, Lizard, Living Brain, Electro, the Enforcers, Mysterio, Green Goblin, Kraven the Hunter, Scorpion, the Spider-Slayer, Molten Man, and the Looter. For a large portion of this run, Peter Parker is in high school, but near the end of the Lee/Ditko pairing, he attends college.
Defining issues in this run would be #33 “The Final Chapter” where Spider-Man is trapped under heavy machinery and must push himself past his limits in order to save himself and his Aunt May. It shows the sheer strength of will this hero has in the face of overwhelming odds. This is the run that defines the character.
The second part (and much longer) part of his run would be marked by his pairing with John Romita Sr. In this part of the run Spider-Man and Peter Parker are much happier (along with all those around him!). In order to truly appreciate the difference between the feel of the comic book between #38 and #39, you really must treat yourself to a listening of Amazing Spider-Man Classics podcast episode 27. More new villains during this run are the Kingpin, Rhino, Shocker, Prowler, and the Gibbon (who could forget this delightful guy?).
New supporting cast members would be Mary Jane (fully developed) and Joe Robertson. While the Lee/Ditko pairing defined the character, it is the Lee/Romita Sr. pairing that developed the character into the standard that most other runs are compared to.
Notable issues during this run are #42 (just the last page with the first full picture of Mary Jane), #50 “Spider-Man No More”, the death of Captain Stacy in #90, the famous code-less drug issues of #96, 97, and 98, and the six armed Spidey (not drawn by Romita).
Stan Lee is listed as #1 on Comics Cube’s top five most important Spider-Man writers.
CBR lists Lee as #1 on their Spider-Man’s top ten writers of all time.
Lee is listed as #2 and #1 (when paired with Ditko) in CBR’s 50 Greatest Spider-Man Creators.
MACKIE, HOWARD – Amazing Spider-Man 1999-2001 #442-470 (also numbered as Vol. 2 #1-29)
Mackie teamed up with John Byrne to try to “fix” Spider-Man. The Clone Saga failed to bring Spider-Man back to a young swinging single, so this run attempts to force it by having MJ constantly gone and then blown up in a plane. Peter is constantly being either hit on by Jill Stacy or being set up by his supporting cast. Peter is completely broke and struggles to find places to live. There is a lot of Peter Parker in this run, but many felt that all the character development over the past decades had been lost and the attempt to recapture Conway fell short.
The stories in Mackie’s run gave us the evil Spider-Woman, Mattie Franklin, Captain Power, and some strange mystical cat that was never finished. The stories largely fell short with fans because of three reasons: 1. the death of Mary Jane and the rush to get Peter dating again, 2. many readers did not like the Gathering of Five, which this run elongates by focusing on the fallout from it, and 3. many readers did not like Byrne’s retelling of Spider-Man’s origin in the Chapter One miniseries, which this run attempts to set into cannon with the Captain Power stories. The run ends with undoing the death of MJ.
Mackie is listed as #22 in CBR’s 50 Greatest Spider-Man Creators.
MICHELINIE, DAVID – Amazing Spider-Man 1987 – 1994 #291-388*
Fortunately and unfortunately for Michelinie, his run is accompanied by three uber-famous artists: McFarlane, Larson, and Bagley. Fortunately for him, because during the ‘90s especially, art was a driving force behind sales. Unfortunately because people often refer to stories in his run by the artist. Michelinie had a good relationship with McFarlane, a rocky relationship with Larsen, and a meh relationship with Bagley, according to interviews.
Early in his ASM run, Michelinie had much control over the stories he wrote. This gave us stories like Venom, the return of the Sinister Six, and Carnage. There were many events as well, including Assassination, Round Robin, Cosmic Spider-Man, and Trial by Jury. Later in his ASM run, he had a more invasive editorial control, which led to stories like Maximum Carnage, the return of Peter’s parents, and Venom: Lethal Warrior.
While Venom dominates Michelinie’s contribution to the Spider-Man mythos, of equal impact is the marriage of Peter and MJ. Michelinie was given control on how to portray their marriage and he decided to give them a happy marriage. Well, as happy as one can be when one spouse is off risking his life every night. There is a lot of character development with the two. Peter also returns to school in this run.
CBR lists Michelinie as #7 on their Spider-Man’s top ten writers of all time.
Michelinie is listed as #10 in CBR’s 50 Greatest Spider-Man Creators.
O’NEIL, DENNY – Amazing Spider-Man 1980 – 1981 #208-223*
O’Neil gave us Calisto, Madame Web, and Hydro-Man. Not only did he give us Hydro-Man, but he then had him fight Sandman and have them turn into Mudman. That’s issue #218 and if you’ve never read it, you need to just so you can laugh at how awful it is and at all those chumps in 1981 that spent their hard earned money on it. What O’Neil did do well is bringing in new material for readers by having Spidey fight foes he normally did not fight like the Frightful Four and the Super Apes.
O’Neil is listed as #25 in CBR’s 50 Greatest Spider-Man Creators.
SLOTT, DAN – Amazing Spider-Man 2011-Present #648 through present*
While Slott participated in the broken run on the late 2000s, he really starts his run in 2011 with Big Time and has led the title ever since. Slott’s run is met with either extreme like or extreme dislike. This is because his run focuses on two things.
The first is major events. During Slott’s run we get several major Spider-related events such as Big Time, Spider-Island, Spider-Verse, and Ends of the Earth. These events lead readers through much hype and either results in both more sales and excitement or reader “event fatigue”.
The second is taking Peter out of typical Peter situations and putting him into unexplored territory. This results in both new and unusual stories and stories that do not always feel like Peter Parker. There is no comparing Slott’s run to Lee, Conway, Stern, or any other – it stands on its own as his take on the character. Slott has such a long run that this take on the character is becoming what being portrayed in other media. This run has seen Peter Parker moving from not making the most of his scientific background, to using it to its full potential. He also has moved from physics and chemistry as his science of choice to making tech. This Spider-Man employs several types of suits, webbing, and vehicles. Slott has also played around with the importance of the powers. Under Slott, the spider-sense has been removed and then heightened then dulled. This character has a strong connection to continuity with several mentions to Spider-Man’s past. Spider-Man’s comic relief changed in this run from Spider-Man making the jokes to Spider-Man being the joke.
What this run will be most remembered for, most likely, is Superior Spider-Man, where Doc Ock took over Peters body and tried to be the better hero.
CBR lists Slott as #5 on their Spider-Man’s top ten writers of all time.
Slott is listed as #3 on Chasing Amazing’s 10 Greatest Spider-Man Writers not Named Lee or Ditko.
Slott is listed as #6 in CBR’s 50 Greatest Spider-Man Creators.
STERN, ROGER – Amazing Spider-Man 1982-1984 #224-252*
One of my personal favorites. Roger Stern’s run upped the standard for what it means to write Spider-Man. His run boasts stories that often appear in lists of all-time greatest Spider-Man stories. “Nothing Can Stop the Juggernaut” and “The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man” both appear in his run, but he is probably best known for creating the Hobgoblin, which is best remembered by the fact that at the time, the identity was concealed from the reader and people kept writing in with their guesses. Spider-Man here jokes, but is not the butt of the joke. He often made mistakes, but he was not characterized as a loser. Peter was often down on his luck, usually because of something he missed out on while being Spider-Man. He is super idealistic, never backed down, often sarcastic, and very funny. He doesn’t always rely on his science intellect, but he doesn’t display ignorance. Many readers who look at Stern’s run as “their Spider-Man” are often disappointed with the Drake Bell cartoon version and the recent run in the books. This Spidey is a kick butt first and then figure out what was going on. Stern ends his run when Spider-Man returns from Secret Wars.
Comics Cube lists Stern as #2 on their top five most important Spider-Man writers list.
CBR lists Stern as #2 on their Spider-Man’s top ten writers of all time.
Stern is listed as #1 on Chasing Amazing’s 10 Greatest Spider-Man Writers not Named Lee or Ditko.
Stern is listed as #3 in CBR’s 50 Greatest Spider-Man Creators.
STRACZYNSKI, J. MICHAEL – Amazing Spider-Man 2001-2008 #471-545*
Following the Mackie/Byrne run, JMS set out to pretty much ignore all that went on before and tell his own Spider-Man. Fans typically have mixed views on this run. On the one hand, it is very strong in characterization. Aunt May is never written better than by JMS and her story where she finds out Peter’s secret and deals with it is very realistic (for a word in which superheroes live) and stirring. Peter and MJ rebuild their relationship from the ground up, making them even stronger than they were during the Michelinie run. Peter also follows a new course by becoming a science teacher, a way to keep him mature, yet bring him back to the high school setting. All in all, it is very hard to beat JMS’s ability to develop character. JMS also writes the famous 9/11 issue during this time, which does a good job of capturing the mood of the nation without overplaying the emotion.
On the other hand, for all of JMS’s spot on Peter Parker moments, the Spider-Man moments went skewing off in a mystical arena with the introduction of the totem aspect of Spider-Man’s powers. This led to new characters like Morlun, Ezekial, and the Spider-Wasp. Plus he is the one behind Sins Past, which introduced the idea of Gwen getting pregnant with Norman Osborn’s children.
Spider-Man also became a team player by joining the Avengers, just before they split up during Civil War. JMS’s Back in Black arc to end his run remains one of the most brutal Spider-man fights in history as Spider-Man breaks into prison to mercilessly beat up the Kingpin for shooting Aunt May.
All of JMS’s Peter/MJ marriage development is undone when Quesada steps in to write his “One More Day” story.
JMS is listed as #7 on Chasing Amazing’s 10 Greatest Spider-Man Writers not Named Lee or Ditko.
JMS is listed as #9 in CBR’s 50 Greatest Spider-Man Creators.
WEIN, LEN – Amazing Spider-Man 1975-1978 #157-180
Wein’s Spider-Man, in character, is much like Conway’s (they were roommates, after all); however, in story telling, his adventures are a bit more lack luster (probably due to the page count being dropped to 17 pages an issue during his run). We do get the first appearance of some lower quality villains like Mirage, Will-O’-the-Wisp, Dr. Barton Hamilton (as Green Gobin), and Rocket Racer. New York was a character during this run (and others) since Wein had Spider-Man depicted in actual places found in the city and this firmly grounded Spider-Man as not just a street level hero, but as a New York City street level hero.
For some strange reason, Wein thought it was important to bring back the Spider-Mobile after Conway got rid of it. We do get a Green Goblin vs Green Goblin battle as Harry Osborn takes on Hamilton at the end of his run (spoiler alert – Hamilton dies). During his run Harry and Liz get engaged. Jonah falls in love with Marla. And Berryman falls in love with Stegron.
Wein is the last to have the character to himself. Spidey’s popularity begins grow so much that from this point on, there is usually another Spider-Man title on the market.
Wein is listed as #17 in CBR’s 50 Greatest Spider-Man Creators.
WOLFMAN, MARV – Amazing Spider-Man 1978-1980 #182-204
Wolfman pretty much keeps the status quo of who Spider-Man is as developed by Conway and Wein. By that I mean that as Spider-Man. Peter Parker, however, has all sorts of story lines. Peter proposes marriage to MJ, only to be turned down (but as JR said in a podcast once, the fact that he hasn’t even told her his secret shows he isn’t really ready for marriage yet). He shows up for college graduation, only to find out he is a credit short (which he would have known if he had been home to answer his phone and not out web slinging all evening). This run also explores what it would be like for Spidey to be accepted by the public and not hunted by the police, especially issue 184.
Betty Brant leaves Ned Leeds during Wolfman’s run and we get mediocre villains like White Dragon and Big Wheel. The biggest contribution to the Spider-Man mythos, however, cannot be overlooked. It is Wolfman who creates the Black Cat. While each issue may not have meant something hue to impact the world, it always seemed to impact Spidey’s personal world.
Wolfman is listed as #15 in CBR’s 50 Greatest Spider-Man Creators.
Buxton, Marc. “Spider-Man’s Top 10 Writers of All Time Wield Power and Responsibility.” CBR. n.p., 17 Dec. 2013. Web. 17 Apr. 2016. <http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=49660>.
Cronin, Brian. “50 Greatest Spider-Man Creators Masterlist.” CBR. n.p., 21 May 2012. WEB. 17 Apr. 2016. <http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2012/05/21/50-greatest-spider-man-creators-master-list/>.
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Gionnochio, Mark. “10 Greatest Spider-Man Writers not Named Lee or Ditko.” What Culture. n.p., 26 May 2014. Web. 17 Apr. 2016. <http://whatculture.com/superheroes/10-greatest-spider-man-writers-named-stan-lee-steve-ditko?page=1>.
“List of the Amazing Spider-Man Issues.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia, 24 Mar. 2016. Web. 14 Apr. 2016. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_The_Amazing_Spider-Man_issues>.
Sjoerdsma, Al, and Stuart Vandal. The Amazing Spider-Man: Official Index to the Marvel Universe. New York: Marvel Worldwide, 2010. Print.
“Top Five Most Important Spider-Man Writers of All Time.” Comics Cube. Blogger, 2 July 2010. Web. 17 Apr. 2016. <http://www.comicscube.com/2010/07/top-five-most-important-spider-man.html>.