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I've been collecting Spider-Man comic books on and off since 1984. It was usually a terrible story-arc that chased me away. After several months to several years of staying away I'd walk by a comics rack and see a villain I like on a Spidey cover. I'd pick it up, see that things were getting better in the Spidey-verse, start collecting again and often buy the issues I missed. So, here's my list of Spidey stories that were so bad I quit (or in some cases almost quit) collecting. For awhile, anyway.
- The Infinity Crusade. I want to read about Spider-Man doing Spider-Man things in Spider-Man stories. Three months of this crap was more than I could take. I was already sick of these "Major Crossover Storylines" hi-jacking Spider-Man every other year for a QUARTER OF A YEAR each time. Infiniti Crusade was the last straw.
- Atlantis Attacks. The Evolutionary War was an interesting novelty, linking all the annuals into one huge story. When Marvel did it again the very next year, there was that hi-jacking sensation. No more annuals with Spider-Man doing Spider-Man things in a great one-part story? Just big stupid crossover storylines? If you're going to do that at least make the story interesting! The Evolutionary War was interesting. Atlantis Attacks is simply one of the worst crossovers ever.
- Maximum Carnage. So now Spidey finally gets a major crossover event all to himself. And it absolutely sucks. This was beyond bad. I thought the Spider-Man titles could not POSSIBLY get any worse than this. I was wrong.
- The Clone Saga. Maximum Carnage chased me away. This appallingly misguided storyline kept me away. Every time I walked by a comic stand and saw the Scarlet Spider or Ben Reilly in his pathetic "Spidey for the Nineties" costume I would break out in a cold sweat and thank God I got out when I did.
- The Name Of The Rose. Howard Mackie's not-so-glorious Spidey career was off to an abysmal start with this stink-fest. Trashing the memory of one of my favorite Spidey eras wasn't enough, they also had the gall to call this the start of the greatest era ever for Web of Spider-Man. After Gerry Conway's brilliant run? Don't make me puke. The series actually got WORSE after this, for the most part. Mackie got a LOT better after the Clone Saga finally died, much to my surprise. His resuscitation of the Shocker as a major Spidey villain was much appreciated.
- Ned Leeds is the Hobgoblin. This revelation was handled so poorly I quit until issue 300. All that build-up over the last five years and this is what we get? Here's the Hobgoblin and now he's dead. Thanks a lot. Oh, yeah, and the guy who used to be Jack O'Lantern is the Hobgoblin, now. I liked him the way he was, thank you very much.
- David Michelinie's Entire Run On Amazing. Ok, Venom is a great villain. But that is very nearly the only remotely interesting thing he did on his entire excruciatingly long run. The only thing that kept me buying Spidey during this Dark Age of Amazing was the almost always excellent Spectacular Spider-Man title.
- Terry Kavanaugh's Entire Run On Web of Spider-Man. If we thought Mackie's run was bad... Two words: Spider-Armor. And that's not even the low-point.
- Inferno. The Spidey titles get hi-jacked again. Can you tell I hate these super-duper crossovers? Plus, they turned Jason Macendale into a demon-thingy. First of all, I loved him as Jack O'Lantern, he had a great rivalry going with the Hobgoblin. Then they make him the new Hobgoblin and make a bad situation even worse by turning him into a demon-thingy. Weep for the lost opportunities.
- The Lethal Foes of Spider-Man. The Deadly Foes of Spider-Man was pretty good. The Lethal Foes of Spider-Man is about as bad as Spidey stories come, and as you can see, they can come pretty stinking BAD sometimes.
- Torment. Todd McFarlane may have been good at drawing spider webs but he was one awful storyteller. This would have been a boring, pointless story if it was only TWO issues long. Stretching it out to five elevates it to one of the worst pieces of crap to ever be foisted upon the Spidey loving audience.
Now, to get the memory of all these awful Spidey tales out of your head, go read through your copies of Peter David's Death of Jean DeWolf saga or J.M. Dematteis' Kraven's Last Hunt as a reminder of why we're all here in the first place. Or, better yet, read the current issues. Spidey is back on top. It's been a long time coming.