Introduction by Stan Lee: I've a confession to make!In order to write these seemingly endless introductions to our much-vaunted Marvel Masterworks series, I've had to re-read the stories that we're so
generously reprinting to refresh my memory so that I'll know what I'm writing about; which, for me, is the exception rather than the rule! But that's not the confession. What I'm confessing to is, every time I re-read one of these now-ancient tales, I'm amazed at how wonderful they are! Since I've completely forgotten them during the ensuing few decades, it's as though I'm discovering them for the first time, and let me be the first to admit it; I've become a bigger Steve Ditko fan with each new reading!While I wrote the dialogue and the captions and tried to inject whatever personality I could into the yarns, the basic story structure itself was, for the most part, fashioned by the dazzling talent of Mr. Ditko. As you read each and every now-classic adventure, you'll notice for yourself how every little subplot weaves in and out of each episode, embellishing the main theme and finally becoming a major part of the later story lines. The more you study the delicate fabric of each tale, the more you have to admire the subtle skill and meticulous planning that Steve brought to each and every installment.As for the stories themselves, you've really got some rare treats in store.
During this period in Spidey's career, our hero was deeply enmeshed in a romantic situation with the lovely Betty Brant, a relationship that seemed doomed from the start. As fate agonizingly draws them further and further apart, we'll meet a dramatic new love interest, a girl destined to play a major role in Peter's life, the stunning, star-crossed Gwen Stacy.You'll also be on hand when Peter enrolls in Empire State University where Harry Osborn will become a very important figure in our unfolding saga as we gradually learn more and more about the startling secret of Harry's father.
Aunt May, too, figures dramatically throughout the series, as does Jonah Jameson. After all, Spidey without Jonah would be like rock without roll!And just look at the roster of super-villains we've got lined up for you
For starters, our friendly neighborhood wall-crawler has to battle the Master Planner and his gang of masked killers! This is the episode, too, where ol' webhead first meets gorgeous Gwen. Next, we segue into everybody's favorite frenetic friend, the ever-deadly Doc Ock! We even have a great cameo performance by a certain Dr. Connors, whom you may know as the Lizard!brbrThen comes one of the most famous five-page sequences in the history of comicdom. This one alone is worth the price of the book; any book! It's where Spidey is pinned down by tons of fallen steel and, unless he frees himself, Aunt
May's a goner! We can promise you'll never forget our hero's epic struggle and the brilliant way it was depicted by Steve Ditko!
After that, Kraven the Hunter returns, more determined than ever to defeat his web-spinning foe. Then, before you can catch your breath, we follow up with the menace of the Molten Man, the Looter and rampaging Robot! While all that's going on, the mysterious Frederick Foswell figures more and more importantly in our strange and startling series. Identically, you'll also encounter one of my favorite bits of Parkerian dialogue when Peter, shunned as usual on campus, unhappily mutters, "Boy, if unpopularity ever became popular, I'd be top man around here!"brbr
For a change of pace, our next story is entitled "Just a Guy Named Joe" and I guarantee you won't read many tales like this one in comics, or anywhere else for that matter. While all the razzmatazz is going on, we learn that Harry Osborn's
father is plotting some sort of nameless evil. As for Peter, he almost has his first meeting with Mary Jane Watson; but notice I said "almost!"brbrHang on to your hats now, heroes, because it's time for the grim and gruesome Green Goblin to make the scene in an unforgettable two-issue epic in which we finally learn Gobby's true identity! And, of equal importance, our Goblin episodes herald the arrival of a terrific new talent upon the art scene. When, with thirtyeight issues of terrific creativity under his belt, Steve Ditko elected to give up the Spidey strip and seek new worlds to conquer, luck was with us in the person of the great John Romita who took over the illustrating chores and helped bring our
amazing arachnid to even greater heights of artistic glory! It's comic book history in the making, and you're there to see it!
Well, since I don't want to tire you out before you have a chance to get to the heavy stuff, this is as good a time as any to end my ponderous little precis and wish you good reading! You're really gonna enjoy the pages that lie ahead; I should know;I've been there!
Collects The Amazing Spider-Man #31-40, Annual #3