The latest installment of my Gimmick or Good? column at the Comics Should Be Good blog returns me to my Spider-Man roots and is yet another instance where I revisit the “Clone Saga” despite my initial hatred for the arc. In this post, I examine the lenticular-covered Sensational Spider-Man #0, which brought aboard long-time Superman vet Dan Jurgens on story and art (with Klaus Janson on inks) for Ben Reilly’s first official solo story after Peter hangs up the webs for good (a story I profiled as part of the Super Blog Team-Up in November). Did I think Sensational #0 was a gimmick or was it good?
For a full archive of my Gimmick or Good? columns, click here.
Christmas of 1995, I had awaken from my winter’s slumber walked downstairs, around the 6 1/2 foot wide 17 1/2 feet tall to see the much awaited haul from Santa Claus. Besides the usual video game, clothes and toys, I usually had a christmas comic in my stocking. Starting in 1993 with X-Men 25 (You know the classic issue where Wolverine has his adamantium ripped off his bones by a vengeful Magneto and was mindwiped by an even more vengeful Xavier sparking the creation of Onslaught in the process. Ahh the 90’s.) and every year until I was about 18 or so there was always a comic or 10 in my stocking. That year the comic chosen was Sensational Spider-Man #0.
First off I loved the cover, the lenticular image gimmick was always a favorite of mine as a child and I remember gazing at the cover for hours moving it from side to side. The inside story however felt odd to me. You see being a lad about 8 or so I had become accustomed not to just Peter Parker in the comics but also Spider-Man the Animated Series on saturday mornings. Now Marvel has told me that Ben is the new… no scratch that the TRUE Spider-Man. Okaaaaay???! Confusion aside I still found myself enjoying it. It quickly became my favorite Spider-Man comic aside from ASM 375. Maybe it was that cover, or perhaps that costume which I still adore to this day. Maybe it was that for the first time this comic felt like a fresh beginning that I could totally get into. Or maybe it was a combination of the three. Whatever it was that kept me engaged it helped me limp through that dark period of Marvel comics.
I can still remember bringing this comic to school one day and during indoor recess, my elementary school crush Brittany asked to read it. I was protective at first I mean this was the equivilent to Spider-Man 1 for me. However my best bud at the time Adam convinced me to let her. So I did. We played with Star Wars action figures or something and I got a poke on the shoulder. I turned around and it was Brittany’s friend handing me the comic. She said “Brittany’s so sorry right now, she ruined your comic.” With the utmost fear, I took the comic back and thumbed through it. Each page I carefully examined for flaws and everything seemed ok. No rips, no tears, no missing pages. That is until I reached the very center of the comic. That delightful center page that revealed the new look Spidey had now been removed from the staples and was just sandwhiched inbetween. I was upset. I mean this was MY Spider-Man no. 1 and it was ruined. Naturally I went to confront her, but once I saw her face and how scared she was, that anger melted away. I didnt care anymore. I looked at her and said “It’s okay, it’s just a comic my dad can always buy me a new one.” She smiled, I smiled and that was my opening…. until the teacher signaled the end of recess and we were back at our desks. Typical Parker luck.
I did learn a valuable lesson that day, no comic is worth risking the end of a friendship. Comics are just pieces of colored paper, a friendship has true value. Who would have thought that a Spider-Man comic would have inspired this?