Comixology Sale Picks: Amazing Spider-Man / Big Time
Posted by James Hunt at 11:17 on 02 May 2014
The "Big Time" Arc
Big Time saw Peter Parker finally taking control of his life. Rather than treating his civilian life like an afterthought and living like a college dropout, he gets a job with a research facility and finally tries to make something of himself, creating gadgets "for Spider-Man" which he then translates into inventions for Horizon Labs. The status quo is set up in the oversized Amazing Spider-Man #648, which is worth reading purely because it's such a good price for that much comic, and continues all the way until the end of the volume.
There are two major storylines in the Big Time arc. The first is Spider-Island, which runs from Issue #666-673. If you like big crossovers with loads of heroes and everything at stake, this is genuinely one of the best Marvel has ever done. There are loads of tie-ins, but they're all very much off to the side in narrative terms with the exception of two issues of Venom. They're not in this particular sale, but if you're reading this arc it's worth getting Venom Vol. 2 #6-8 as well.
The second major storyline is "Ends of the Earth", which runs from #682-#687. It isn't as good a story on its own terms, but it's the only major Doctor Octopus appearance between #600 and #698. If you're interested in Superior Spider-Man, definitely read these issues.
Slott's run contains a whole bunch of smaller arcs, most of which are great, but there's at least one which qualifies as a modern classic. Amazing Spider-Man #655-656 comprises a 2-parter called "No-One Dies", in which - following the recent death of a supporting character - Spider-Man decides that from now on he's not going to let anyone else die. It's got some top-class Marcos Martin artwork, and it's probably one of Slott's best Spider-Man stories full stop. If you only buy two issues, make it these.
And how could we forget Amazing Spider-Man #698-700, in which Doctor Octopus takes his final revenge on Spider-Man? This is the arc that ends Big Time and leads directly into Superior Spider-Man. Remember not to buy #699.1 (for reasons we'll discuss later).
There are plenty of other stories worth reading in this run, but since the defining quality of Slott's run is that virtually everything he does with the character is great, you have to cut things off somewhere. We've recommended the best of the best, but really you can pick almost anything else in this sale and it's got a good chance of impressing you. Don't be afraid to poke around.
Crossovers & Tie-ins
Well, we did say almost anything. There was a fair amount of crossing over done during Slott's Big Time run, so be careful you don't unexpectedly put your hand in a big pile of diversion. These issues either lead into or spin out of other books, and many are written by someone other than Slott. If you're trying to read Big Time without buying superfluous issues, most of these can be skipped, and if you're dipping in and out, avoid these.
For example, although they're advertised as stand-along jumping-on points, two of the series' three Point One issues - Amazing Spider-Man #654.1 and Amazing Spider-Man #699.1 - are best ignored if you're saving cash. The former is a Flash Thompson story designed to get readers interested in the (then-new) Venom series. The latter is a Morbius story that led into his short-lived solo series. Neither is particularly bad, but while they look like stand-alone Spider-Man stories, they're anything but.
Similarly, Amazing Spider-Man #657 is a wake for Johnny Storm, who "died" over in the pages of Fantastic Four. Although it has a great cover and some Marcos Martin interiors, it's also a jam issue that's mainly about Peter's reaction to a story in a different title. There's a major beat at the end of the issue, but if you've seen the covers for those that follow you can probably guess what that might be.
Amazing Spider-Man #661-662 is a two-parter guest-starring the Avengers Academy kids, written by Christos Gage (who wrote Avengers Academy) rather than Dan Slott. While I like that series (and these issues) they give a lot of time to the guest characters and can be safely missed out if you're just following the Big Time story.
Finally, Amazing Spider-Man #677 is a crossover with Mark Waid's Daredevil run, and leads directly into Daredevil Vol. 3 #8. Waid also writes the Spider-Man issue, which has art by the fantastic Emma Rios, but don't buy it expecting a complete story. If you ARE reading the full Big Time run, though, you need to read both it and the Daredevil issue, if only to find out where the Black Cat disappears to.
Panel Beats Approved List:
Amazing Spider-Man #648
Amazing Spider-Man #655-656
Amazing Spider-Man #666-673 (plus Venom Vol. 2 #6-8, not in sale)
Amazing Spider-Man #682-687
Amazing Spider-Man #698-700 (except #699.1!)
Total Cost: $25.77 / £18.27