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Amazing Spider-Man Epic Collection: Big Apple Battleground
Marvel Comics

Comic Books

‘Amazing Spider-Man Epic Collection: Big Apple Battleground’ is a perfectly preserved example of Lee’s illusion of change

Impetuousness was the defining characteristic of Spider-Man throughout the ’70s.

There are some exciting moments in Amazing Spider-Man Epic Collection: Big Apple Battleground: a dinosaur man fights a lizard man, an old journalist commissions a murder robot, Spidey is plagued by both a Goblin and a boy on a skateboard, and there is a man with a blowtorch mask.

Despite all this, roughly 40% of Peter Parker’s drama is the result of his being unable to keep appointments.

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These issues were released in 1977 and 1978, a time free of cell phones. There are no voice-to-text capabilities for Pete to utilize in the middle of a punch-up with the Molten Man. Mary Jane gets so fed up with his tardiness (and general disappearing acts) that she nearly dumps him. Later, his inability to stay in his apartment (and therefore near the phone) keeps Aunt May from receiving the medical care she so dearly needs.

Amazing Spider-Man Epic Collection: Big Apple Battleground

In a single panel, Peter Parker lets down both of the important women in his life.
Marvel Comics

It isn’t only keeping dates and missed connections that plague the Peter Parker of the late ’70s, but a whole slew of boys-in-their-twenties bungles. He fails to do all his coursework so he’s unable to graduate college with his classmates; there are several instances where he, Flash Thompson, and Harry Osborne might avoid drama (and at least one abduction) if they would only talk about their feelings. Frustrated by his unsteady life, Peter makes the same move that many emotionally insecure young men do: he proposes to a girlfriend who only just tolerates him.

Amazing Spider-Man Epic Collection: Big Apple Battleground

Congratulations, Pete. She. . . loves it
Marvel Comics

Peter Parker’s life is that era’s version of that Boy Room TikTok account.

This impetuousness might have been the defining characteristic of Spider-Man throughout the decade. The era is full of punch-first, talk-later miscommunications that inform nearly every relationship the character has with any hero, anti-hero, and villain in his life. His unwavering commitment to jump into danger, no matter the cost, strains relationships with his peers; in issue #183, his look-before-you-leap mentality leads him to storm into Aunt May’s hospital room as Spider-Man, which leads to one of the many heart attacks she suffers in this volume.

Amazing Spider-Man Epic Collection: Big Apple Battleground

Seriously, it happens *a lot*.
Marvel Comics

This almost dazzling pileup of goof-ups and melodrama makes Big Apple Battleground equal parts frustrating and delightful, just as writers Len Wein and Marv Wolfman intend them to be – following in the huckster footsteps of Stan “The Man” Lee, Amazing Spider-Man was a game of vamping for time by writing caption boxes promising fans action. . .  so long as they came back next month.

By sticking to the boiler-plate formula of 1970s Spider-Man – and by using primarily classic Spider-Man villains like the Lizard and Green Goblin – Big Apple Battleground feels emblematic of the character; nothing too jarring happens, no boundaries are crossed, and nothing industry-shaking occurs (aside from the American debut of John Romita, Jr, who pencils in a reasonable facsimile of his father in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #11). It’s a book that exemplifies Stan Lee’s ‘illusion of change’ edict, presenting twenty-two issues of bottled 1970s time.

Amazing Spider-Man Epic Collection: Big Apple Battleground
‘Amazing Spider-Man Epic Collection: Big Apple Battleground’ is a perfectly preserved example of Lee’s illusion of change
Amazing Spider-Man Epic Collection: Big Apple Battleground
Despite a lot of fun drama and classic villains, Big Apple Battleground fails to present any of Spider-Man's most memorable events.
Reader Rating1 Votes
8.5
Fun action and colorful drama.
Captures the entire Spider-Man vibe of the era.
Contains nothing terribly memorable.
7.5
Good
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