Covering Secret Wars and Convergence really put me behind on the Spider-Man chronology. And I’ve made several promises that once those two crossovers were behind me, I’d be pouring most of my efforts into Spidey. I could use the excuse that Secret Wars is technically not quite over yet, but actually I’ve been working really hard on an update. Unfortunately, it’s not ready yet.
After the break I’ll get into a bit of the “why” and also look at three books that you may be wondering if I missed: Untold Tales of Spider-Man Annual 1997, Webspinners: Tales of Spider-Man #1-3 and the first story in Tangled Web #14.
Jimmy, where’s the freakin’ update?
Like I said, I’ve been working hard on it. Really hard. But it hasn’t been cooperating. Everything was going smoothly until disco came along (I’m probably not the first to utter that sentence) and then Spidey teamed up with the cast of Saturday Night Live. After that, everything went to hell. First Marvel Team-Up was all over the place. One issue it was winter, the next it was summer and then winter again. Then I found out that a 1978 feature length novel was IN CONTINUITY! WTF? Really? (More on that at a later date.) Then Amazing and Spectacular stopped playing nice with each other.
A lot of the problems have been around Peter’s graduation from college, or lack thereof as he needs to make up one credit in gym…which in some stories he is hitting the books to study for; when Peter starts grad school; the weather, which I’m trying my best to downplay but it can become very strange to deal with at times when it is the middle of winter one second and the middle of summer the next; Aunt May’s move from the hospital to the nursing home; Peter’s firing from the Bugle and new job at the Daily Globe.
Because of these issues I kept reading more and more to try and place everything correctly. And each issue usually lead to more continuity problems or questions and I felt I had to keep reading to place things and to try to minimize rework after I posted it. So I’m still reading and working my way through what will end up being a pretty substantial update.
On the downside, at some point I will have to bite the bullet and just say “this can never make sense”. I’ve juggled stuff around endlessly to where I think they could go; I’ve put them in the order other chronologies suggest; I tried splicing up issues so that you read part of one book and then a different one (which I don’t generally like doing), and nothing has made me happy with the order yet. Unfortunately, there are going to be times like these. I can’t imagine what is going to happen once I hit the 90’s and 00’s when Spidey is in about 40 books a month and in every team book.
Ok, makes sense. But where’s Untold Tales of Spider-Man Annual 1997?
I originally had that issue placed after Untold Tales of Spider-Man #23, as indicated by the handy continuity chart that Marvel published at the end of Untold Tales #25. The problem I had with it though, was that the story continued in Amazing Spider-Man Annual 1997. Yes, the story does make the jump into the future as the titles switch, but I just thought it was odd to read that Untold annual and then wait like a thousand or so issues and read part two. So I decided to place the two annuals next to each other similar to the way they were released, to treat Untold as the flashback it was and make the story flow more smoothly between the two. If you really want to read it chronologically though, it occurs after Untold #23 as I mentioned.
I can understand that…but don’t you do the exact opposite with the first three issues of Webspinners Tales of Spider-Man?
Well…kind of…yes. It really pained me to move Webspinners from it’s original slot after Amazing Spider-Man #38. The issues do a really good job of picking up the threads from the “Just A Guy Named Joe” story and continuing on with them. And I really didn’t want to have the same problem as above where I read a story and then wait over a thousand issues to read a follow up, which I’d probably have to refresh myself with Amazing #38 to get the most out of.
However, the biggest problem I had was that the story is told as a pure flashback…so much so that “modern” Peter Parker appears as the narrator. Which is not so bad until he starts dropping spoilers about Gwen (who hadn’t appeared yet), her death, etc. I just found it became too much if you were reading the list from the beginning chronologically. These continuity inserts can be fun, but if not treated like flashbacks and put at the time of publication, it becomes a matter of personal preference where they should go. So I decided to move this forward in time and treat it as a flashback, the way it was published. There are issues of Untold Tales where I do the opposite, so there is no hard and fast rule.
On a side note, there is a back up story in issue number one of Webspinners that focuses on Peter and Gwen’s relationship. It is another flashback that mainly takes place just before Amazing Spider-Man #119, but has several mentions of Gwen’s death and is framed in the future where Peter and MJ are together. It could likely be placed in the chronology in a lot of places, but I felt it most convenient to leave it intact with issue number one.
Phew…this is a long post with a lot of updates for something that is not an update. Ok, one final one. What about story one from Tangled Web #14. Shouldn’t that take place after Amazing Fantasy #15?
Technically it occurs in parallel to the events in Amazing Fantasy #15 (Spider-Man’s first appearance) and is the story of Crusher Hogan leading up to his wrestling a newly powered Peter Parker. So you could read it around there…but the way I looked at it was, ok, I’ve just sat down to start reading Spider-Man from the beginning…do I want the first thing I read to be about some wrestler I know nothing about? Or I’ve just read the first appearance of Spider-Man, do I now want to read Amazing Spider-Man #1…or more about some wrestler I don’t know and probably don’t care anything about? It’s a decent story written by our friend Brian Azzarello, but I moved it up to publication date and treated it like the flashback it is.
Well, this turned out to be longer than expected. Hopefully I will get a proper update posted “soon”. And you will always be able to find the Complete Chronology in it’s permanent home under Big Projects in the menu under the Gabbing Geek banner.
Noteworthy Issues: The Amazing Spider-Man #52 (September, 1967)
Noteworthy Issues: Batman/Superman: World’s Finest #8 (October, 2022)
Slightly Misplaced Comic Book Characters Case File #423: The Green Team