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~Ephesians 5:16

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Retro Review: Amazing Spider-Man #300

My gosh, I've probably read this issue a thousand times. #300 is a classic for many reasons, but the main reason is the debut of Spider-Man's greatest villain, (sorry Green Goblin) Venom. This is where it all began with this guy. Little did Marvel know just how popular this monster would become, he went on to be the most used character in the 90's, sporting a bunch of mini-series and popping up frequently in the Spidey books. Indeed, Venom is by far Spidey's most popular villain, and one of Marvel's greatest. This issue marks his first showdown with the Web-slinging hero, one of hundreds that would come in later issues. Before I get on to the retro review, a little backstory on how I got this issue.

I remember when I was maybe ten I walked into the comic book store in hopes of finding #300. I was always a big Venom fan, loved the "evil Spider-Man" persona when I was younger, mainly due to the 90's show. I didn't have that many Spidey vs. Venom issues, so I was in search of them. Heh, I went in there and asked one of the workers if they had #300. I'm sure he laughed a little inside, then went searching. Yes, I didn't know too much of how valuable that issue was at the time, so I was just assuming they had it in the back-issue bins. Eventually he said that they have the trade paperback with the issue collected within, and pulled it out for me. It was the Todd Mcfarlane Spider-Man Visionaries, Volume 2. I was in awe, considering it was the first trade paperback I had seen. I ended up sacrificing a Christmas gift to get it at that moment, but it was worth it. I consider those stories to be in the definitive Spidey era. Now, I want to talk about the most important issue in the trade: #300.

What I like about this particular retro review, is that I can also compare how this era of Spidey comics is superior to the current Brand New Day/Big Time era. Peter's married, and things are definitely more "simple." First of all, I like how Spidey's more serious but wise-cracking at the same time, there's no juvenile in his character at all, which is exactly why I don't like his characterization in the current era. He's evolved as a character from his high school teen years in the 60's, to the married life in the 80's. It was perfect until it was destroyed in 2008. Anyways, reading this Spidey is always a treat, the definitive version. The scene where he tries to act like a fashion photographer is still to this day priceless.

Venom's debut is definitely a subject within itself. I have always considered myself a *huge* fan of the character. Usually when I go searching for back issues, I look for him the cover. He has gone through many phases over the years, from evil Spider-Man, to lethal protector, to "I want to eat your brains!" to gaining new hosts altogether. So looking back at his very first encounter with Spider-Man is truly interesting. His character has pretty much remained the same over the years. In this issue, Eddie Brock appears to be in complete control over the Symbiote. I like how over the years that control slowly deteriorates if you look closely. He didn't have his signature tongue yet, just a very creepy grin. I mean, look at that image on top, it's good stuff. You can see that this is no ordinary character. Regarding Eddie Brock, this is definitely the definitive version, he's pretty tough even without the Symbiote. I saw a hint of that portrayal in Spider-Man 3, but that version was lacking everything that made this issue's Venom the character that we know.

Reading this issue made me realize that Peter and MJ are, correction, were, the best comic book couple. They just fit so well together, there's no other girl that could match MJ for Peter, it just wouldn't work. I love reading how they function as a couple, it makes Spidey more of a evolved character, as opposed to being downgraded many years later. These two have matured as characters over the years, while the current era seems to want to be back in the 60's.

Overall, this is definitely one of the greatest Spidey comics, or heck, all comics. It features the debut of Venom, who would go on to be one of the most popular characters in the franchise. We see the end of the black suit days for a while when Spidey dons the red and blue again at the final page. (Excellent artwork on that page.) In fact, this artwork currently clobbers a lot of Marvel's current artwork, it's truly something else. There was no street comedy undertone in this era of Marvel, it was just simply telling good stories with the lead character. How I miss that in the current Spidey book.

A legendary 10/10.


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