Everything was going along just fine until disco came along. I’m probably not the first person to write that sentence. For our purposes I refer to the fact that even with 3 monthly books and various guest appearances, the wall-crawlers adventures had been pretty straight forward to put in order. But then came a couple of issues where Peter went to the disco (and then teamed up with the cast of Saturday Night Live) where everything just went all to hell.
Much, much more on this after the break as I try to put this update to rest, not because I’m happy with it…but to save my sanity. I can’t imagine what this is going to be like when I get to the 90’s…
As usual, spoilers follow from here on out if you’ve missed out on the last 50 years of Spider-Man and are just getting started.
Let’s get a whole mess of housekeeping out of the way first. Mostly to do with answering the question of why this update took so long and why it ended up so complicated.
Since day one, I said this would be an impossible task. And I don’t mean an “Impossible task” in that I am doing it, but impossible from the standpoint of there are times, no matter what we do, these stories will never fit nicely together. With a variety or writers and more importantly editors on the Spider-books and anywhere he makes a guest appearance, it is no surprise that everything is not kept straight. Nor do they attempt to for the reasons that have driven me insane for the past month or two in trying to order them after the fact.
There is an interesting note from the editor in Spectacular Spider-Man #30 that tackles head on some of the continuity issues between Spectacular and Amazing. The most glaring of which at the time was that in Amazing, Peter needs a gym credit to graduate from college while over in Spectacular, Peter is hitting the books to study for that last credit he needs. It seemed the writers would only occasionally compare notes and all they knew was that Peter needed a credit and built the story they wanted from there. The editorial note reminds us that if the editors and writers got bogged down in trying to make sure all the books fit together perfectly like puzzle pieces they would never get their work done. Which is all fine for them to say! They’re not the ones trying to do it in retrospect in 2016!
I blamed disco above for our troubles because it was around the time of several conseutive issues involving disco and the SNL issue that I started to notice things were going off the rails. But the real cuplrit that started it all was one that has derailed many wonderful things…a marriage proposal. I kid, I kid, for all those that are happily married, but Peter’s first proposal to MJ was the first flake that turned into a giant snowball of events that has frustrated me for months. Here are some other things that complicated this era from 1978-1980:
Peter’s love life: Prior to Amazing Spider-Man 182 it was Peter and MJ and all was right with the world. Then Peter proposed to MJ…and MJ said no and dumped him. But she still had a thing for him and would show up and date him from time to time. Meanwhile, Betty Brant-Leeds came back into Peter’s life literally hours after MJ dumped him and wanted to hook back up with him because her marriage had fallen apart. Which they did…until her husband Ned Leeds came looking for her. Meanwhile, Chris Claremont who was the main writer on Marvel Team-Up at the time, decided that he didn’t want to step on any toes over on the main Spidey books, so he gave Peter a new love interest, Cissy Ironwood. You could count on one hand the number of appearances by Cissy, but her existence introduced all sorts of continuity complications. Peter would also start dating Debra Whitman, but that was at the tail end of this era when most of the craziness had been ironed out.
Peter’s academic pursuits: As alluded to above, early in this time period Peter is supposed to graduate from college…but he is one credit short. The infamous gym credit that he needs to study for. So it becomes a juggling act between Peter pre-“graduation”, post-“graduation” and needing that one credit, getting the credit, beginning work as a teaching assistant in graduate school and attending graduate school classes.
Mayhem in Manhattan: quite unexpectedly in the middle of Amazing Spider-Man 186 a reference is made to the full length novel Mayhem in Manhattan. It is incredibly odd for a non comic book source to be referenced as canon in a comic book, but given that the book was written by then current Spidey writers Len Wein and Marv Wolfman, I can see how it happened. The events in the book were subsequently ignored in future issues. More on this later when I finish reading the book…
Peter’s job: This was one of the more complicated ones. Everyone associates Peter with the Daily Bugle, but during this time Peter is actually fired from the Bugle and he gets an even better job at the Daily Globe. In real world time it is surprising how long he stays with the Globe. This complicated matters sometimes as issues had to be moved around to try to place them in the period either before or after he started at the Globe. The fact that he would stop by the Bugle offices to chat with friends every other issue didn’t help things.
The Bugle staff: speaking of the Bugle, Jonah is subjected to an experiment by Jonas Harrow and eventually goes nuts. During that time Robbie Robertson quits. When Jonah has his breakdown and ends up in hospital, Robbie is hired back to be the editor. When Harrow’s plot is eventually upended by Spidey, Jonah returns as Bugle editor and things are back to normal. The majority of this occurs while Peter is at the Globe. But not before Jonah fires Peter but Robbie doesn’t tell him…until Jonah eventually fires him again.
Peter’s Aunt May: during this period Aunt May is in hospital, in a nursing home, “dead”, in hospital again and in a different nursing home.
The weather: now, generally, I pay little or no attention to depictions of the weather in these books. It is just too unpredictable. Unfortunately I ran into two problems with that. One, it is very obvious that something is not right when one issue is at Christmas time and the very next issue is in the dead of summer. Secondly, in researching the chronology, the weather was pointed out to me as a bone of contention…and once that was done, I could never unsee it. Bending over backwards to incorporate the weather and Peter’s time at the Globe was one of the more frustrating aspects of this whole experience.
And after all that, we get to the annotated update. As I said, I’m still not happy with it and maybe in the future I will revisit it, but I have my doubts right now. But please do leave me a message to point out anything that gets clearly out of whack. I’ve moved these issues around in my long boxes so many times now I could have easily messed something up. With that said, there are sections of this that will never make sense. Or, more correctly, can never be put into a proper order that doesn’t have them overlapping each other and happening concurrently.
Other chronologies really bend over backwards to make certain things work, and I guess I do the same in my own way. The biggest anomaly with the way I ended up ordering them was the GD weather. I think I have a flow that makes sense. The seasons move from summer to fall to winter to spring to summer to fall to winter to spring…that all makes sense right? Except that there is no way the story that is told in that timeframe takes up an entire year. But that’s comics and compressed time for you I guess. I think it works and you don’t really notice it as the narrative is hopefully smooth.
Many more notes and me crying about how to place these things in the update itself. Which we’ll get to now. Finally. Eventually…
Ok…just a couple of other quick things. I mentioned Mayhem in Manhatten apperaing in and then out of continuity. Also note that Marvel Team-Up #97 has no Spider-Man appearance and Marvel Team-Up Annual #3 only has a Spidey cameo, so that is why they are not represented here. As well, Amazing Spider-Man Annual #12 reprints Amazing #119-120 with minor additions and edit.
At long last:
- The Defenders v1 061 – after Spectacular Spider-Man 20/before Amazing Spider-Man 182? Peter is still in college. A forgettable aside, but more than a cameo.
- Amazing Spider-Man 182 – Peter mentions Flash and Sha Shan are back together. Peter proposes to MJ.
- Amazing Spider-Man 183 – MJ says no and “let’s still be friends”. Ouch. Betty Brant returns.
- Amazing Spider-Man 184 – immediately after Amazing Spider-Man 183.
- Amazing Spider-Man 185 [Story 1] – immediately after Amazing Spider-Man 184.
- Spectacular Spider-Man 021 – direct reference to fight with Rocket Racer in Amazing Spider-Man 183. Direct reference to Peter proposing “last night” in Amazing Spider-Man 182. Is this issue after MJ has said no in Amazing Spider-Man 183? She says that she told Peter when he proposed that she’s not sure if she’s ready for marriage, which had to of happened off panel. But they still seem to be together and she asks him to give her time to think about it. It reads like it should occur prior to her returning the ring and saying “catch you on the flipside” and then Betty showing up immediately thereafter, but nowhere to fit it. Peter is still in college.
- Marvel Team-Up 072
- Spectacular Spider-Man 022 – direct reference to Marvel Team-Up 72, which happened earlier the same day. Peter is still in college. After Betty returns. Direct reference to Amazing Spider-Man 182. After MJ turns Peter down. Peter and Betty are “dating”.
- Spectacular Spider-Man 023 – immediately after Spectacular Spider-Man 22. MJ is dating someone else as well. Direct reference to Amazing Spider-Man 180 and 164.
- Amazing Spider-Man 185 [Story 2] – Peter “graduates” from college, though he technically still needs one gym credit.
- Amazing Spider-Man 186 – Peter’s graduation was “yesterday”. Betty begins work as Robbie’s secretary. In a very surprising move, the 1978 Spider-Man novel Mayhem In Manhattan is referenced to inform readers of the death of Doc Ock and supposedly canon.
- Spectacular Spider-Man 024 – direct reference to Amazing Spider-Man 186 (and 180), and graduation part of Amazing Spider-Man 185. Peter is rushing home to hit the books to make up that credit he needs to graduate…in gym. MJ references calling Peter “all last night” to go to the disco. Which happened in Spectacular Spider-Man 23, so should probably try to keep them as close together as possible. MJ sees Peter with Betty at the disco. Or does she…
- Marvel Team-Up 073
- Marvel Team-Up 074 – Saturday Night Live issue. Peter and MJ are broken up but trying the friend thing/still casually dating. She doesn’t seem too put off by the person in the next seats flirting.
- Marvel Team-Up 075 – after Peter and MJ have broken up, but seems like they are dating again. Neither of them react much when some guy kisses her. Not a direct reference but has to take place after the disco in Spectacular Spider-Man 24.
- Marvel Team-Up 076 – Peter says he won’t have much fun with MJ out of town.
- Marvel Team-Up 077 – immediately after Marvel Team-Up 76. A vision of Dr. Octopus appears, which doesn’t really mean anything, but there is no indication that he is dead.
- Marvel Team-Up 078
- Uncanny X-Men 123 [P1-8] – Peter on his way to a date with Cissy Ironwood, so has to be post MJ breakup…but what about Betty? Official Marvel Index says this is after Marvel Team-Up 80-81, but this issue states it is spring and those issues state they are summer.
- Marvel Team-Up 080 – Summer. Peter is on a date with Cissy, so definitely post MJ breakup.
- Marvel Team-Up 081 – Continues from Marvel Team-Up 80. Summer.
- Marvel Team-Up 090 – Editors note that story takes place before Marvel Team-Up Annual 2. Peter on a date with Cissy.
- Marvel Team-Up Annual 02 – July 4th. Peter is still dating Cissy.
- Marvel Team-Up 086 – mentions werewolf Dr Strange storyline (Marvel Team-Up 80-81), so has to be after that.
- Marvel Team-Up 087
- Amazing Spider-Man 187 – Peter is still at the Bugle. Doesn’t continue directly from, but a lot of talk about the events of Amazing Spider-Man 186 being “the other day”. This makes me want to move it closer 186, but I think you’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t. Many other chronologies also like to put numerous appearances between 186-187 for some reason. Peter also says Aunt May is in a nursing home, but she doesn’t move there from the hospital until Amazing Spider-Man 189.
- Amazing Spider-Man 188 – shortly after Amazing Spider-Man 187. MJ reacts like it is the first time she’s seen Betty back in town, but Betty was at the disco with Peter in Spectacular Spider-Man 24, unless MJ somehow missed her. After “almost” graduation but before grad school. People are going around in shorts and tank tops, so not winter. Late summer/early fall? This issue contains a fan letter from future scribe Kurt Busiek.
- Marvel Team-Up 089 – Indian Summer…so likely in the fall. Nightcrawler thinks back to the events in Uncanny X-Men 123 as being “months” before.
- Marvel Team-Up 091 – October.
- Spectacular Spider-Man 120 – Flashback issue that takes place before Spectacular Spider-Man 32 (Glory Grant moves out of Peter’s apartment) and Amazing Spider-Man 193 (when Peter was fired from the Bugle). Likely before Amazing Spider-Man 189-191. Jameson doesn’t appear but this also likely is before Jameson fires Peter and Robbie doesn’t tell him (Amazing Spider-Man 191). And probably before Man-Wolf storyline (Amazing Spider-Man 189-190).
***The Official Marvel Index says Marvel Team-Up 79 and 82-85 should occur between Marvel Team-Up 95 and 96, but Peter is still with the Bugle in these issues and in 95 he clearly works for the Globe. The Marvel Index likes to have Peter’s ties to the Bugle in these issues to be favors to Joe Robertson around this time period, but I don’t like that.***
- Marvel Team-Up 079 – Winter. Peter’s in Grad school and still working for the Bugle. Mentions spending time with Cissy, so much for it being a summer fling. (Cissy apparently moves to the West Coast after this non-appearance and is never heard from again.) Peter attends the Bugle Christmas party so still working there (you would think, though he hangs out at the Bugle an awful lot while working at the Globe. But Jonah is there and mentions a Christmas bonus, which would never happen if Peter was at the Globe)…and it looks like Clark Kent is there. MJ is also there and kisses Peter under the mistletoe. It doesn’t seem like they are together but WTF is she doing there?
- Marvel Team-Up 082 – winter, and Peter is still with Bugle. Newspaper headline and picture refer to Marvel Team-Up 79.
- Marvel Team-Up 083 – continues from Marvel Team-Up 82. Direct reference to Marvel Team-Up 74. Peter uses the Bugle’s library, which doesn’t necessarily mean he works there, but I would think so.
- Marvel Team-Up 084 – continues from Marvel Team-Up 83.
- Marvel Team-Up 085 – immediately after Marvel Team-Up 84.
***Other chronologies put Spectacular Spider-Man 25-31 between 186 and 187 of Amazing Spider-Man. Which makes sense from the Aunt May still in hospital in 25 standpoint. However, 32 pretty much occurs immediately after Peter wakes up from passing out in 31, so how could you squeeze in multiple other issues there? And we can’t move 32-34 before 187 as they continue into each other and Peter has started working with the Globe in 33. With no mention of Peter working at the Bugle in these issues, and two references to the Bugle declaring Spider-Man a murderer, putting them after at least Amazing 191 is not so bad. Peter getting his final credit to graduate is confusing as well. And also, sigh, at least 26-28 have to be before Amazing 193 when Ned Leeds returns. This is one of the more confusing sections that I just have to bite the bullet and let the continuity jump around a bit.***
- Spectacular Spider-Man 025 – Aunt May is in hospital. Direct reference to Spectacular Spider-Man 22-23 and Marvel Team-Up 72. First appearance of Carrion. After “almost graduation” and his heart is torn out by MJ and Betty is making her moves.
- Spectacular Spider-Man 026 – immediately after Spectacular Spider-Man 25. Sigh…has to be before Amazing 193 since Betty and Peter are “dating”, and MJ is not “super pissed” at Peter. After Spidey’s name is cleared with the police in Amazing 186. Peter not in grad school yet.
- Spectacular Spider-Man 027 – continues from Spectacular Spider-Man 26. Betty and MJ appear and discuss their mutual affection towards Peter.
- Spectacular Spider-Man 028 – immediately after Spectacular Spider-Man 27. Betty and MJ now BFFs. Reference to Daily Bugle saying Spider-Man is a murderer, which you could argue puts it after Amazing Spider-Man 191, but the Bugle has been saying similar for years so it can be easily dismissed.
- Spectacular Spider-Man 029 – immediately after Spectacular Spider-Man 28. January. Betty and MJ appear. Another mention of Spider-Man being branded a murderer referencing Amazing Spider-Man 191?
- Spectacular Spider-Man 030 – immediately after Spectacular Spider-Man 29. An interesting note from the editor on the letters page apologizes for screwing up Peter having to study to get his gym credit. 🙂
- Spectacular Spider-Man 031 – immediately after Spectacular Spider-Man 30.
- Spectacular Spider-Man 032 – Not immediately after last issue but pretty much continues from there. Peter claims he passed out after his fight with Carrion and is heading home. Glory Grant moves out of Pete’s apartment building. Peter’s first day of grad school. Peter somehow made up that gym credit he needed…guess they counted his time in the gym fighting Carrion. If you take the reference to getting the credit to being reflective instead of a declaration, it works ok. Especially since Amazing Spider-Man 191-192 made such a big deal about him getting the credit and needing to pick up his diploma. Flash buys a new car and takes a year off from college.
- Spectacular Spider-Man 033 – immediately after Spectacular Spider-Man 32. Peter is working at The Globe now. Oy.
- Spectacular Spider-Man 034 – immediately after Spectacular Spider-Man 33.
- Amazing Spider-Man 189 – Aunt May moves to nursing home. Likely fall given the way Jonah is dressed with heavy jacket, gloves and scarf.
- Amazing Spider-Man 190 – immediately after Amazing Spider-Man 189. Spidey’s cameo in Fantastic Four 204 overlaps this issue.
- Amazing Spider-Man 191 – day after the end of Amazing Spider-Man 190. Peter says he finished his last gym class and can pick up his diploma tomorrow. Peter and MJ arrange a date for tomorrow as well. Jonah fires Peter but Robbie doesn’t tell him.
- Amazing Spider-Man 192 – immediately after Amazing Spider-Man 191. Peter misses picking up diploma and his date with MJ.
- Amazing Spider-Man 193 – Day after Amazing Spider-Man 192. Winter. Peter is officially fired from the Bugle. Ned Leeds is back and he’s pissed that Peter is dating Betty. MJ is pissed Peter stood her up. It’s not a good day to be Peter Parker. Direct reference to check out Fantastic Four 207.
- Fantastic Four 207 – Day after Amazing Spider-Man 193. Peter starts working at the Daily Globe. Direct reference to Amazing Spider-Man 193. Peter says he has grad school “coming up”.
- Amazing Spider-Man 194 – Winter. Daily Globe headline covering the events of Fantastic Four 207. Flash is still going to college, but he said he was taking a year off in Spectacular Spider-Man 32.
- Amazing Spider-Man 195 – immediately after Amazing Spider-Man 194.
- Amazing Spider-Man 196 – continues from Amazing Spider-Man 195. Robbie quits at the Bugle. First appearance of Debra Whitman.
- Amazing Spider-Man 197 – immediately after Amazing Spider-Man 196.
- Amazing Spider-Man 198 – continues from Amazing Spider-Man 197.
- Amazing Spider-Man 199 – immediately after Amazing Spider-Man 198.
- Amazing Spider-Man 200 – continues from Amazing Spider-Man 199.
- Spectacular Spider-Man 035
- Spectacular Spider-Man 036 – Peter says he is working at the Globe. Direct reference to Amazing Spider-Man 184-185.
- Spectacular Spider-Man 037 – immediately after Spectacular Spider-Man 36
- Amazing Spider-Man Annual 1979 (#13) – Peter is working for The Globe. Doc Ock is back…no mention of a death or resurrection.
- Spectacular Spider-Man Annual 01 – story continues from Amazing Spider-Man Annual 13, which was “earlier this evening”. Direct reference to Spectacular Spider-Man 37. Peter makes reference to having bills for his Aunt’s funeral whom he believed dead from Amazing Spider-Man 195-200. Which makes this seem like it should overlap those issues.
- Spider-Woman 20 – end of July. Peter is in LA on assignment for The Globe. (The Official Marvel Index says the date given in the issue is wrong and it should be November in an attempt to condense the timeline.)
- Marvel Team-Up 093 – Peter still in LA. References Spider-Woman 20.
- Marvel Team-Up 094 – continues from Marvel Team-Up 93. Still in LA. Direct reference to Spider-Woman 20. Ends with Peter getting on flight back to NY.
- Marvel Team-Up 095 – Starts with Peter getting off flight in NY.
- Marvel Team-Up 088 – Peter is working at The Globe and it is clearly not winter. This story features a Yankees/Red Sox game, so has to be prior to October more than likely.
- Marvel Team-Up 092
- Spectacular Spider-Man 038 – Halloween. Direct reference to Amazing Spider-Man 200. Aunt May is in nursing home. After Spectacular Spider-Man Annual 1. First day of classes at grad school.
- Spectacular Spider-Man 039
- Spectacular Spider-Man 040 – There’s a weird couple of panels here with Jonah still at Bugle. Seems like it should be before he collapsed in Amazing Spider-Man 198 and in hospital until 201. After which point he escapes hospital but doesn’t return to work, though he spends some time hiding out in The Bugle. The Official Marvel Index says that this issue occurs after Jonah has returned to work at The Bugle in Amazing 207, but that seems to push this issue way too forward. I’m content with chalking it up as a continuity error.
- Amazing Spider-Man 201 – Peter says he hasn’t seen MJ in “months”, but he just saw her in Spectacular Spider-Man 38 where he hadn’t seen her in “awhile”. Whichever order you read them in it seems odd. Jonah escapes from the hospital.
- Amazing Spider-Man 202 – Robbie is hired back at The Bugle to replace JJJ while he is gone.
- Spectacular Spider-Man 041
- Amazing Spider-Man 203 – Peter is still at The Globe. Aunt May in still in a nursing home.
- Spectacular Spider-Man 042
- Fantastic Four 218 – continues from Spectacular Spider-Man 42.
- Amazing Spider-Man 204 – Peter gets set up on a blind date. Says he hasn’t had a “date date” since MJ, even mentioning his time with Cissy as being boring. This doesn’t play at all with the way the Cissy issues portrayed things. Not to mention the implications that during that time he and Betty were a LOT more than friends. IfyouknowwhatI’msaying? Jonas Harrow kidnaps Jonah.
- Amazing Spider-Man 205 – Continues from Amazing Spider-Man 204. Late winter. Peter still at The Globe.
- Spectacular Spider-Man 043 – 1st appearance of Roderick Kingsley.
- Amazing Spider-Man 206
- Spectacular Spider-Man 044 – winter. Direct reference to Amazing Spider-Man 197. It’s Chinese New Year and the Year of the Monkey which places this around mid February (1980). Peter is still at The Globe.
- Spectacular Spider-Man 045 – immediately after Spectacular Spider-Man 44. Direct reference to Marvel Team-Up 88. Peter is still at The Globe.
- Marvel Treasury Edition 025 – Mid February during the (1980) Winter Olympics which Peter is covering for The Globe.
- Amazing Spider-Man 207 – 1st date(?) with Debra Whitman. Still with the Globe. Jonah is back to work at The Bugle. Doesn’t look very winter-y outside.
- Spectacular Spider-Man 046 – not winter-y. Direct reference to and occurs the day after Amazing Spider-Man 207. Peter is still at the Globe. Peter says the events in Spectacular 43 and 44 were within the last few weeks. Since 44 is pinpointed as February this would have to be very early spring.
- Amazing Spider-Man 208 – Peter is still at The Globe and Aunt May is still in a nursing home. Spring? The pennant race is mentioned which would likely place it later in the summer…but let’s pretend we didn’t hear that.
- Marvel Team-Up 096 – Spring? Maybe the worst issue I’ve read so far.
***Prior to Spider-Woman 29, two little cameos to make note of:
- Spider-Woman v1 029 – Peter is still at the Globe and they pay his way to fly from NY to LA. Peter is referred to by the narrator as a teenager. Whoops. Not shown, but assumed Peter turns around and flies right back at the end of the issue.
- Spectacular Spider-Man 047 – Still with The Globe. Dating Debra. Definitely spring/summer. Spectacular Spider-Man 43 was “a week or so ago”. Direct reference to Amazing Spider-Man 200. Peter says he hasn’t visited Aunt May in weeks…which seems hard to believe.
- Spectacular Spider-Man 048 – immediately after Spectacular Spider-Man 47.
- Marvel Team-Up 098
- Amazing Spider-Man 209 – Peter is still at Globe. Not winter. Has to be after Spider-Man’s appearance in Spider-Woman 28-29.
- Marvel Team-Up 099
- Amazing Spider-Man Annual 1980 (#14)
- Marvel Team-Up 100 [Spider-Man story only] – direct reference to Marvel Team-Up 88.
- Marvel Team-Up 101 [Spider-Man story only] – Peter is still with The Globe.
- Amazing Spider-Man 210 – 1st appearance of Madame Web. Dating Debra. Peter is still at the Globe…until it goes out of business this issue.
Be on the lookout for further updates coming 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.