I’m concluding the birthday haul with a biggie – not that issues 12, 10, 7 and 5 aren’t biggies either. But we’re talking Amazing Spider-Man #2 here – the second-ever issue of my favorite comic book series of all-time, and only the third-ever appearance of Spider-Man (don’t forget about Amazing Fantasy #15).
All that’s running through my head right now is how ridiculously close I am to realizing this silly little fantasy that I first had as a teenage collector with about 40 or so issues of Amazing Spider-Man to my name – what if I could one day own every single issue of this series? How hard would it be to get those really early issues? Would I ever be able to get my hands on Amazing Spider-Man #1?
But these thoughts and questions were just daydreams at the time, and even a year or so ago, they still felt very much like wishful thinking. Obtaining my first single-digit issue of ASM earlier this year elevated the idea that I was now entering the nitty gritty of my chase, but getting ASM #2 brings a whole new level of reality to the mission behind Chasing Amazing. There’s honestly only one more issue left that’s bigger than this one, and that’s ASM #1 (yes, I’m ignoring the fact from a collectability standpoint, ASM #3 may be a bit more desirable since it’s the first appearance of one of Spidey’s most important villains, Doctor Octopus). Wiping that #2 off my remaining chase and seeing that gap between ASM #1 and #3 is such a surreal experience it’s almost unsettling. I’m almost … there.
Granted, I still have a very long road ahead of me. And while I’d love to be optimistic and say, based on the pace I’m going right now, by some point in 2012 maybe you’ll all be popping some champagne with me here and celebrating the end of my quest, I know that this pace is unsustainable. Issues #3, 4 and 6 are all tough to find in attractive yet cost efficient copies and I’m not even acknowledging the extreme cost and rarity of ASM #1. Regardless of my fanaticism, I’m still not in any position to just walk into a store or barter with someone online and just buy whatever I want, whenever I want it. I have to remain disciplined for various reasons.
Which brings me to who actually gave me ASM #2. I know I’ve described how supportive my wife has been during my quest, but I’m sure you all understand how shocked I was when I opened a rectangular package from her earlier this month and saw ASM #2 inside. I believe my first reaction was to gasp.
A few days later, I asked my wife outright, while she’s been supportive, at what point did she decide to just blindly accept this collection and my larger quest in all its glory? She seemed a little surprised by the question. She had been buying me comic books for random holidays and occasions for years, why was I now asking her about unconditional “acceptance?”
It goes back to what this specific issue represents. You can’t own Amazing Spider-Man #2, without one day planning on owning Amazing Spider-Man #1. This birthday present now marks the official “you can’t look back or give up” point of this quest. It’s there, sitting in its short box, waiting to be joined by the remaining 11 issues left in my chase.
But that’s why I also have to remain patient and disciplined. I think my wife gets what this all means (or most certainly will when she reads this post). The fact that she trusts me not to do anything wild or excessive now that I’m within fingernails of owning the entire run of Amazing Spider-Man, means I have to do everything in my power, fight every urge, use all constraint possible to honor that trust. Like Stan Lee said (which was later retconned to be Uncle Ben), “with great power comes great responsibility.”
And honestly, when you’re married to someone who would give you ASM #2 for your birthday, it makes making the responsible choice all the more easier. In the grand scheme of thing, this collection is a hobby, a fun little pastime that helps distance me from some of the more stressful, arduous aspects of life. There’s no shame in taking my time, enjoying the individual “gets” and “hauls” and getting to the finish line in responsible fashion.
All images from Amazing Spider-Man #2: Stan LEe & Steve Ditko