Trading Spider-Man Comics

a Throwback Thursday post

During the epic comic trip earlier this summer, I finally bought something that I’ve been meaning to for over 30 years.

I’ve told the story before of how I got into comics. The issue of Spectacular Spider-Man that was my only reading material for a 3 hour flight. The advertising inside working and intriguing me to buy Daredevil and West Coast Avengers. That leading to a closet full of single issues, one bookshelf in the bedroom, and scattered other locations. However, at some point I had a comic that doesn’t fall into the usual time frame and all of it is a mystery.

This start of my comics love is from November 1987. Yet I have a vivid memory of reading an intense issue of Amazing Spider-Man. Spider-Man teams up with Silver Sable. They are overwhelmed by the new villain team, the Sinister Syndicate. Beetle, Hydro-Man, Rhino, Boomerang, Speed Demon. All shown as serious threats to both heroes. While some of these bad guys are seen as jokes now, this was life or death.

I can picture certain scenes. The fight took place throughout amusement park rides. I realized later this is Coney Island. Other people get involved in the story, because that was one of the things that made Marvel wonderful. When I discovered this issue in a cheap long box bin this summer I bought it immediately. Everything seemed familiar, but not quite the same. Which makes sense for a comic I read only a couple times as a kid. There was so much in the book that I forgot, so what was memorable must be a memory changed over time. I forgot the references to Secret Wars and Daredevil. The black costume was new. The sub plots and set ups for future issues are a good portion of the book, and intrigue me so much decades later I want to grab the rest of this run.

Turns out I have to buy at least one more issue. I didn’t see the panel of Spider-Man and Silver Sable tending to their wounds while hiding out in a roller coaster cart. I didn’t see the big twist with Hydro Man and another character. Something was different here.


Well, turns out the details faded over time. Specifically, the number details. This was part one of a two part story, and I had the next issue. Which I now need to discover in the next cheap bin. Hopefully it wont take me 30 more years to do so.

I know what you’re thinking, what happened to the original issue? I’m not sure how I ended up with this issue of Spider-Man. Because I also had Action Comics #557 where Superman fights some sort of cyborg cowboy with a flying horse. That came out in 1984 and the Spider-Man book was 1986. My best guess is my dad showed up with these comics thinking his young sons would enjoy them. He was active military at the time and there are numerous ways he could have stumbled upon two comics from different publishers put out years apart.

These comics were still around in fall of 1987 and early 1988 as my love of comics began. Somewhere next to Little Golden Books and Sesame Street teaches sign language. In my kid mind though these were “old” titles I guess. Or I had read them so many times already. Time for something new. I wanted more comics featuring Hawkeye and Dr Pym. I had yet to discover the local comic shop. What I did see though was a sign in a decrepit building that said Book Store with a smaller sign, “buy, sell, trade”.

Looking back, this was clearly a used book store without enough stock or customers to stick around. That’s not how my brother and I saw it. One day in the 1980’s when the rule was “be home by dark” we walked to this store previously only seen out the back seat window. We came in with these classic Spider-Man and Action Comics, asking to trade for something else. I think the guy running the store got a kick out of our naievete. Not like he was out much in the deal. He pointed us to two boxes of comics and said we could do a 1 for 1 trade. As fate would have it there were two issues of our new obsession, West Coast Avengers. We left our original two books behind, walked home with new stories of Mockingbird, Wonder Man, and the rest. Then never saw the store again. Either closed when we walked by over the next couple weeks then finally boarded up and gone for good.

I don’t have a clue what happened to the issues we traded. Maybe they were thrown out, left behind. There’s even a slight possibility the one I just bought is the same copy; bought and traded over the years.

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