Tangled Webs: The Covers of John Romita Sr.

It’s hard to come up with any comic book run where the covers are as consistently amazing as John Romita Sr’s Amazing Spider-Man. Maybe Frank Miller’s Daredevil, although that was much briefer.

We’ll start with one of the most iconic covers ever, as Romita depicts one of the worst situations a superhero has ever been in. Spider-Man’s captured by the Green Goblin, while still wearing his civilian clothes, a hint that the Goblin knew exactly what he was doing and caught the hero unawares. That’s exactly what a reader of the story will discover.


Next up is an even more iconic cover, as Peter Parker turns his back on Spider-Man. This isn’t the first time this has happened, nor the last, but the image is quite powerful.


This is arguably the best comic book cover, and it has been riffed often. The 1990s showed the reverse situation with Mark Bagley illustrating.


A Simpsons riff was also pretty solid.


There’s so much other good stuff from Romita. I like how this cover obscured the Vulture’s face, so it’s a bit of a surprise when the Vulture’s weapons are in the hands of Blackie Drago, a younger hoodlum who poisons Adrian Toomes.amazing-spider-man-48

The original Vulture gets better, leading to this detailed cityscape.


Romita would sometimes put Spider-Man’s supporting cast in danger. I like Jonah’s panicked face here. That helps sell the death-trap, as does Spider-Man’s body language.

Here’s a nice image of Mary Jane dancing while oblivious to the danger around her.


One interesting aspect of these covers is that several of the best don’t have any supervillains. Ordinary people were capable of posing a challenge to Spider-Man, especially when he was out of his element.


There have been plenty of Spider-Man stories where he gets framed, but you get the sense from this cover that it remains a dangerous situation, as he gets cornered by armed police officers.


Romita Sr had quite a few striking images in his run.


This one’s been riffed on elsewhere. I saw the homage years before I saw the original.


Romita would contribute covers for the next few decades, even when he no longer did the interiors. So a good chunk of the best Spider-Man covers from other runs that came from him. Amazing Spider-Man #151 is an impressive example, showing the hero’s determination.


This was riffed for a decent Nighthawk cover.


Two of his best covers coincided with some major first appearances. He inked this one over penciler Gil Kane’s work, showcasing the impressive character design for the Punisher, and the challenge for Spider-Man in dealing with a sniper.


Here’s one of the better homages. It’s such a famous cover that there have been many.


The first appearance of the Hobgoblin shows the new villain making a memorable introduction destroying a Spider-Man mask. While the Hobgoblin mask isn’t bad, the hooded visual hasn’t been topped. John Romita Sr. inked over his John Romita Jr.


A final cover showcased the women of Spider-Man, and the other comics he’s known for. It’s a rare opportunity for a self-portrait.


On a list of the 50 best Spider-Man covers as chosen by CBR readers, John Romita Sr illustrated a total of 15, and inked five more, so there was plenty more stuff I could have chosen.

So, what do you guys think? Are there any covers that I left out? Does anyone remember particular reactions to any of these covers? 

(5) Comments

  1. smitheric928494

    I had a lot of Spider-Man comic book and I still have them I gave a way all me other comic books back in the day but now I got more Spider-Man comic book and I might get more comic books soon

  2. Al

    ASM Annual #21's variant covers are pretty good albeit undramatic. ASM #100 is a classic I don't recall a specific reaction to any of them because they are so ingrained into Spider-Man that you kind of just take them as read

  3. Iron Patriot

    I respect Ditko, and have come to love his stuff, but Romita Sr. propelled Spidey to the fame he's had since. I dunno if Ditko's would have worked quite as well on merchandise. #70 is my favorite, to the point where I bought the book just for the cover. #65 is solid too, I'd like maybe a shirt of that.

  4. herbiepopnecker

    WAIT a minnit!! Are you telling me there really IS a Romita? In fact, TWO?? Oh.....I *love* my life! Excellent article!

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