Thirty-odd years ago, Spidey debuted in the pages of the failing anthology comic "Amazing Fantasy" to overwhelming praise. The book was canceled after this very issue (#15, August, 1962) but Marvel Comics readers liked the character so much that the company started up "The Amazing Spider-Man" just months later in March of 1963. This series fills the gap between these two titanic issues, showing how a young Peter Parker adjusted to the changes life had dealt him, preparing him for the challenges to come in the aftermath of his learning of the dogma "With great power comes great responsibility".
By day Peter Parker goes to Midtown High, and by night he is Spider-Man, saving a boy and a firefighter from a burning building. He says he's not a superhero, just "a kid with something extra." After visiting home to see Aunt May, he decides to "bite the bullet" and see Maxie Shiffman, who sets him up with a show date on "It's Amazing." Flash Thompson has tickets of the show, on which John Jameson originally was to appear. At the studio, Spidey "meets" J. Jonah Jameson for the first time. Then Maxie introduces Spidey to Supercharger, who he booked onto the show before Spidey agreed. The two, he says, will be stars. Spidey barely notices his spider-sense going off around Supercharger.
That night, on "It's Amazing," Supercharger enters onto the stage and severely injures the co-host. He rants about his powers and tells his origin while threatening the audience with death. Spider-Man suddenly realizes he must do something, and during the villain's anti-superbeing speech, he tries calling the police, but the line is dead. He decides to head for the Baxter Building, but he hears a woman scream and rushes into action, realizing he cannot leave the people, that he and he alone must stop Supercharger.
After being nearly defeated, he hears the crowd's cries, and concocts a plan to subdue Supercharger by hooking him up to the generators and "broadcasting" the power out of him. The crowd cheers Spidey, and afterwards, Maxie confesses to the fact that he had some gambling debts and was desperate. Spidey tells him to give the profits from the show back. At the end, Jonah Jameson begins to hate the web-slinger because he "feels that he's better than normal people," and Spider-Man at last realizes what his dogma of power and responsibility means, and he knows at last that no matter what the circumstances, heroes find a way.
Busiek has created a very real, very exciting story with a wealth of characters, both old, new and those who had not yet appeared in the Spider-Man title as of the then-present chronology (such as the Kingpin). This series gave Busiek an edge over his work on UNTOLD TALES and sheds new light on Spidey history. If I weren't already reading it, I would give UTSM a try just due to the fresh new spin on the material here.
The story and art in this three-parter were without equal. Several times I was reminded of the original Lee / Ditko issues, and that's something. I'd be hard-pressed to turn down this title. The price tag might have been slightly prohibitive, but the other qualities more than make up for this slight inconvenience. Pick this book up, sit down with your AMAZING FANTASY #15 and AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #1-up and read through. Pure and simple, a great story. Five webs, no doubt about it!