Comics : Coca-Cola: Origin Of The Amazing Spider-Man

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This story is part of a Lookback Series: A Word From Our Sponsor

This review was first published on: Mar 2012.

Background...

This "Promo" is actually a poster, but since it clearly is a licensed, mass-produced product which contains a sequential art "story" featuring Spider-Man, we really have no choice but to include it in our collection!

In Detail...

Coca-Cola: Origin Of The Amazing Spider-Man
Year 1980 : SM Title
Summary: Poster (22" x 28") with Spider-Man origin and powers.
Sponsor:  The Coca Cola Company, Ltd.
Editor:  Jim Salicrup
Script:  Roger Stern
Pencils:  Alex Saviuk
Inker:  Dave Hunt
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Review

This single-sided glossy poster is 22" x 28", and it is part of "The Origins of Marvel Heroes, a poster series from The Coca Cola Company," copyright 1980 by Marvel Comics Group.

The story of Spider-Man's origin is told in seven panels.

(1) A radioactive Spider bites high school student Peter Parker.

(2) Peter discovers he has acquired spider-like powers, such as the ability to stick to walls.

(3) He also discovers he has great strength, which he puts to use under the costumed identity of Spider-Man.

(4) He is very nimble and can leap great heights.

(5) He also has a spider-sense which warns him of danger.

(6) As a brilliant science student, he was able to create his mechanical web-shooters.

(7) With his webbing, he can swing across the city in minutes, truly there is no hero like him.

In General...

You know, when I think of "The Origin of Spider-Man", there are two vital parts. Yes, there's the spider-bite. That's important for sure, it's a sina qua non component of the Spider-Man motif, I'll grant ya that.

But there's also the whole "pride comes before a fall", "letting the burglar escape", "responsible for the death of his Uncle" thing. Without all that, Spider-Man is just another hero in brightly-coloured spandex. That old "power and responsibility" angle is pretty damn fundamental to any attempt to understand our favourite red-and-blue, web-headed hero.

This poster manages to cover "The Powers of the Amazing Spider-Man" in thorough detail indeed. But in terms of "The Origin of the Amazing Spider-Man", well frankly they've done only half the job.

I can understand why they might have been so inclined to omit the Burglar/Uncle Ben side of the origin story. Presumably the marketing boys were worried that the difficult details (i.e. murder, guilt and revenge) might chime dissonant with the delicate family-friendly image they were attempting to portray.

Unfortunately, in stripping out that critical element, they've Bowdlerized the guts out of this tale and left it with nothing but a bland, generic super-hero.

I think Spider-Man deserves better. Tell the whole story, or nothing at all.

Overall Rating...

This poster is super-cool by 1980's standards. It provides a great mix of splash image, along with underlying details. Thirty-something years later, it's also a super-neat collectible.

I would have happily given it four or five webs on those terms alone. But unfortunately, I can't overlook the fact that it offers only a watered-down, lowest-common-denominator, stripped-of-its-soul take on Spider-Man's origin, and omits the absolutely critical element which lifted Spider-Man above the ordinary, up to greatness.

Torn between love and hate, I'm gonna split this down the middle and give it three-webs. But really, it's one plus five divided by two.

Footnote...

Note that Alex Saviuk is mistakenly credited as Alex Saviak.