It’s not often that I’m super-impressed by single issues of a book, especially when it’s one I don’t pick up regularly (working on the admittedly-faulty premise that I’m already picking up anything that’s worth reading), but I was really surprised by Amazing Spider-Man #600. I’ve been picking it up from time to time when the story appeals to me, most recently with “New Ways to Die,” but the thrice-monthly publishing schedule puts me off of buying it more regularly.
There’s a lot to love in this issue, though. It hit a lot of my criteria for a good comic and a good anniversary issue. I always see anniversary issues as a good place to jump in and catch up with titles I don’t read regularly, just to see what’s going on. I figure for something that the publisher makes such a big deal over, they’re going to put out their absolute best work to showcase. However, after picking up Ultimate Spider-Man #100 a while back and finding myself in part 4 of a storyline where I had no idea what was going on, I thought Marvel had forgotten how to put together an anniversary issue.
What went so right with it? Right off the bat we got a strong, 60+ page self-contained story that I was actually able to follow even though the Jonah as mayor and Jay Jameson plot threads were new to me. One solid creative team for the whole story helped, too. That probably would have been enough, but the backups teased some interesting stories coming up, and the pinups were goofy but fun. That, my friends, is how you turn an impulse buyer into a regular reader.
At some point, I will inevitably post my arguments against why I refuse to pay $4 for a 22-page comic, but $5 for 104 pages of new material is a bargain. If Marvel wants to start charging more for monthly issues, I highly advise them to follow the model they put in place here and give us more content for that extra cover price. (8-page previews, don’t count, DC!) Heck, even if we’re just getting reprint material in the back, that seems like a fair exchange. It worked in the 70’s!
Good work, Marvel. I’m proud of you.