I’ve always taken pride in my memory. I can think back to something that happened in my life 15 or 20 years ago and recount a number of mundane details, like the expressions on people’s faces, what I had for lunch that day, or what song was on the radio during the car ride. You know I’m not exaggerating, because at least one post every week is dedicated to my memory of these mundane details, and how it connects to my experience as a collector of Amazing Spider-Man comic books. Make no mistake – while I also write about new issues, industry news (and gimmicks) and my general experience reading comic books, the heart and soul of this blog (in my opinion) are my little Proustian madeleines – how thinking about a certain comic book triggers my involuntary memory and eventually a blog post that is about more than just Spider-Man.
Which brings me to Amazing Spider-Man #100. It’s a very famous issue for many reasons – another iconic John Romita Sr. cover, the first “double zero” issue in ASM history (they are almost always “special editions”) and the start of a fascinating story-arc where Peter Parker looks to give up his spider powers and instead takes a serum that turns him into a human spider with four additional arms. So that’s why it kills me every time I think of this issue.
I cannot for the life of me remember how I got this comic book.
You would think the acquisition of such a significant Silver Age issue would be a milestone event for my collection, but I couldn’t tell you a thing about it. Where I got it. How much I paid for it. How long I’ve owned it. If it was rainy or sunny that day. If my mom made a roast or ordered take-out that night for dinner. Nothing. Don’t ask me. My mind is blank.
Meanwhile, in terms of the other two issues that are part of this story-arc: I’ve already talked a little bit about how I acquired ASM #102, and ASM #101 is a funny story for another day. But don’t ask me if I got ASM #100 before or after I picked up these other two issues.
Sure, if I think long and hard about it, there are a couple of clues that provide me with some information about this comic. The first time I recall seeing it in my possession was post-college when I was just starting to get my collection rolling again after a few years off. My wife, then girlfriend, suggested that I put together a list of all the issues I owned to help keep me track of what I needed to buy to make a dent into owning the complete run of Amazing Spider-Man. Because I only owned a small handful of Silver Age issues, I had committed most of them to memory as I was making my list. But while cross-checking the list, I found ASM #100, bagged and boarded, and in pretty decent condition to boot.
What this information tells me is that I probably picked up this issue while I was collecting in high school. And considering the solid condition of the comic, I’m banking on the fact that I definitely purchased this from a professional – either a retailer at a comic book show, or at a comic book shop. I’m fairly confident that it was not an online purchase. By the time I was in college, I had only picked up a few issues via eBay, and because the whole online retail world was still new to me, I have a pretty distinct memory of the issues I grabbed via that outlet.
Which means, I probably bought this issue between 1993 and 1998. Of course the next question is, was it a gift, or did I buy it myself? I can’t imagine how much of my own money I might have spent. Considering one of the primary reasons I needed to stop buying Silver Age issues when I was in high school was because of the cost, you would think I’d remember dropping $50 or higher on a specific comic book. I can’t. So maybe it was a gift. But that doesn’t make sense either, because before any major holidays, I would usually check the stock of certain comic book stores and leave my parents with explicit instructions as to what to buy and where they could find it. Considering that amount of information I would have needed to gather to make such a request, you’d think I’d remember which store had ASM #100 and for which holiday I received it as a gift.
So instead, ASM #100 remains the biggest mystery of my collection. Sure, there are a few other issues that I don’t exactly remember ALL of the circumstances behind EVERY purchase, but ASM #100 is without a doubt the highest profile case of my comic book amnesia. So now, anytime I look at that great Romita cover or remember that great human-spider arc, I think of the one comic book that I can’t remember anything about.
All images from Amazing Spider-Man #100: Stan Lee, Gil Kane & Frank Giacoia