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In 1992, Marvel Comics organized a big celebration of what was back then the 30th anniversary celebration of Spider-Man. Behind the scenes, the Spider-Man editorial team organized their creators to make something special worthy of the anniversary. Back then there were four monthly series of Spider-Man – Amazing Spider-Man, Spectacular Spider-Man, Web of Spider-Man and Spider-Man – and in keeping with the 30th anniversary bonanza, each of the monthly series would see one special issue with a hologram on the cover.
What I read recently was one of those 30th anniversary celebration special comic books – Spider-Man #26. This comic book had a green cover and a hologram of Spider-Man upside-down. Its cover price is $3.50.
Was this old comic book’s content really worth the high cover price and the hologram? Did the creative team at Marvel do their job on making something special in line with the 30th anniversary celebration? We can find out in this look back at Spider-Man #26, published in 1992 by Marvel Comics with the main story written by Tom DeFalco and drawn by Mark Bagley and Ron Frenz.
The story begins on the street of New York when a man wearing a device runs down the sidewalk distracting and unintentionally pushing a few people out of the way. He is glowing as he moves. Someone from behind him calls him Stewart.
Soon enough, Peter Parker/Spider-Man and Mary Jane cross paths with him. Peter immediately leaves Mary Jane behind and starts pursuing the glowing Stewart. In the middle of the street, Stewart sees a speeding motorcycle heading towards him. He dives for cover which incidentally shapes his glowing field into a makeshift ramp causing the motorcyclist go over him. Spider-Man sees the flying motorcycle and its driver, and struggles to decide which one to save…
Let me start with the main story. It sure is heavily worded almost all throughout but that is understandable because Tom DeFalco really pushed hard to emphasize the theme of responsibility as Spider-Man struggles to tackle criminals while trying to find quality time for his wife. There was even a scene in which Peter Parker recalls key events from his past (his becoming Spider-Man, letting a certain criminal get away, the death of his Uncle Ben, etc.) which, in terms of presentation, was a clear attempt by the creative team to bring readers back to the recorded history of Marvel’s icon. The main story is a genuine, heart-filled attempt to go beyond showing Spider-Man beating the bad guys to do local society good. There was also effort exerted to show that there are a few guys who do bad things not because they are inherently evil but rather they are desperate and/or misguided. The problem with the main story is that the other characters – Stewart, Bill, the gang leader Maxwell and others – are not so interesting at all. Of course, we cannot expect to see Spider-Man go head-to-head with another one of his major villains but this story was part of the 30th anniversary celebration.
The 2nd story, if you can all it that, is pretty much an exposition-filled exercise designed to give readers – both new and old – a review of Spider-Man’s powers and capabilities. To prevent it from becoming a total bore, some characters from the Marvel Comics universe were visually added.
When it comes to the quality of the artwork, Ron Frenz’s work here is serviceable at best. Mark Bagley’s art here improves the quality but that’s not saying much.
As a 30th anniversary celebration issue, Spider-Man #26 does not have much when it comes to being truly special. You love spectacle? You won’t find much in it. You wanted to see something groundbreaking in terms of character development? There’s none. Gripping storytelling? None! There was also no conflict with any prominent villain from the Marvel universe here. What you will get here is nostalgic stuff plus exposition about key elements that define Spider-Man. Truly the only thing special here is the hologram on the gimmick cover.
If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Spider-Man #26 (1992), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $27 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $90.
Overall, Spider-Man #26 (1992) is serviceable. If you really want to buy this old comic book, I recommend waiting for its price to fall below $5 and I’m referring to the near-mint copy.
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