Staff : Neil McClean
A librarian by profession, I spend most of my free time writing - be it stories, games or the first chapters of numerous novels, I'm happiest behind the keyboard. Combine this with an abiding love of Spider-Man comics, and I jumped at the chance to write for Spiderfan. I didn't even care what I reviewed, which was just as well as I was saddled with Araña before moving onto Friendly Neighbourhood Spider-Man. I am currently one third of the team that reviews the thrice-monthly Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1).
Every comic set in the mainstream Marvel Universe: even the dross. I love the interconnected nature of the MU, and like to think that by reading everything I get a broader picture of what's going on. I also pick up a few select titles by other publishers that tickle my fancy, and I still have a soft spot for Transformers comics as they were my #1 read when I was ten (and you can't beat nostalgia).
Spidey was the first super-hero comic I ever read, and that sort of thing leaves a big impression. When I was seven years old the only comics I read were Pippin and TV Comic, a little googling may be in order for those not quite as long in the tooth as me, but suffice to say they weren't overly thrilling. Then in Christmas 1981 my granddad bought me my first Spider- Man annual! I know now that it was a reprint of Amazing Spider-Man #48- 49, but I didn't care about the source material. It was Spider-Man and his bad head cold versus the new Vulture and Kraven the Hunter! It was witty, it was exciting and it didn't talk down to its audience. I was hooked.
Marvel UK wasn't producing a regular Spider-Man comic at this time (well, not one that reprinted the stories I wanted to read), so I contented myself with the odd special and continued to get the annuals each Christmas. And what stories they told! The death of Gwen Stacey! Spidey, the New Mutants and Cloak & Dagger! The return of the Black Cat! Then finally in 1987 Marvel UK did get its act together and produced the weekly Spider-Man and Zoids which reprinted the post-Secret Wars stories, as well as Secret Wars/Secret Wars II that truly kindled my love of the MU as a whole.
When those comics dried up, and I couldn't get my super-hero fix any more, I decided it was time to bite the bullet and go straight for the source material. I dabbled at first, picking up Peter David's Death of Jean DeWolff. How could I not be impressed by that? In April 1989 I went into my local newsagent and bought every US Marvel import title they had. My first regular Spider-Man comic was Amazing Spider-Man #314. I haven't looked back.
For shear emotional impact and shock value it has to be the Death of Gwen Stacey. I was eleven when I read it, and it's left a lasting impression: sometimes the good guys don't win. Masterful. Beyond that, anything by J.M. Dematteis was consistently superior to anything else around at the time; the Death of Jean DeWolff goes without saying; and then there's that fight with Firelord...
For me Amazing Spider-Man #269-270 encapsulates everything that Spidey is about. He is just simply the most driven, tenacious and noble hero in the genre. His great sense of responsibility makes him practically unstoppable. Knock him down, he'll get up twice as quickly with a quip to boot. Read those issues and you'll believe Spidey can take down a herald of Galactus. I did.