The Penguin Classics Marvel Collection presents the origin stories, seminal tales, and characters of the Marvel Universe to explore Marvel’s transformative and timeless influence on an entire genre of fantasy.
A Penguin Classics Marvel Collection Edition
Collects “Spider-Man!” from Amazing Fantasy #15 (1962); The Amazing Spider-Man #1-4, #9, #10, #13, #14, #17-19 (1963-1964); “Goodbye to Linda Brown” from Strange Tales #97 (1962); “How Stan Lee and Steve Ditko Create Spider-Man!” from The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1 (1964). It is impossible to imagine American popular culture without Marvel Comics. For decades, Marvel has published groundbreaking visual narratives that sustain attention on multiple levels: as metaphors for the experience of difference and otherness; as meditations on the fluid nature of identity; and as high-water marks in the artistic tradition of American cartooning, to name a few.
This anthology contains twelve key stories from the first two years of Spider-Man’s publication history (from 1962 to 1964). These influential adventures not only transformed the super hero fantasy into an allegory for the pain of adolescence but also brought a new ethical complexity to the genre—by insisting that with great power there must also come great responsibility.
A foreword by Jason Reynolds and scholarly introductions and apparatus by Ben Saunders offer further insight into the enduring significance of The Amazing Spider-Man and classic Marvel comics.
The Penguin Classics black spine paperback features full-color art throughout.
About the Author
Writer-editor Stan Lee (1922– 2018) and artist Jack Kirby made comic book history in 1961 with The Fantastic Four #1. The success of its new style inspired Lee and his many collaborators to develop a number of super heroes, including, with Jack Kirby, the Incredible Hulk and the X‑Men; with Steve Ditko, the Amazing Spider- Man and Doctor Strange; and with Bill Everett, Daredevil. Lee oversaw the adventures of these creations for more than a decade before handing over the editorial reins at Marvel to others and focusing on developing Marvel’s properties in other media. For the remainder of his long life, he continued to serve as a creative figurehead at Marvel and as an ambassador for the comics medium as a whole. In his final years, Lee’s signature cameo appearances in Marvel’s films established him as one of the world’s most famous faces.
Steve Ditko (1927– 2018) began his comics career in the anthologies of the 1950s, where his unique style quickly earned him recognition and respect. He was recruited in 1958 to join Stan Lee’s Atlas Comics, which was later transformed into Marvel, where his talent for expressionistic caricature contrasted well with Jack Kirby’s gift for widescreen- style spectacle. In 1962, in the pages of Amazing Fantasy, Ditko and Lee brought to life Peter Parker, the Amazing Spider- Man, changing the industry forever. During the same period, he also co‑created (with Lee) and plotted the first adventures of Doctor Strange. After leaving Marvel in 1966, Ditko drew the Blue Beetle and Captain Atom for Charlton Comics; the Creeper and Shade the Changing Man for DC Comics; and Mr. A., an independent creation whose black-and-white vision of morality reflected Ditko’s own political philosophy. Ditko returned to Marvel during the late 1970s and remained there for much of the 1980s, co‑creating Speedball, the Masked Marvel, the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, and other prominent characters.
Jason Reynolds is an award- winning and number one New York Times bestselling author. Reynolds’ many books include Miles Morales: Spider- Man; the Track series (Ghost, Patina, Sunny, and Lu); Long Way Down, which received a Newbery Honor, a Printz Honor, and a Coretta Scott King Honor; and Look Both Ways, which was a National Book Award Finalist. His latest book, Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, is a collaboration with Ibram X. Kendi. Reynolds is the 2020– 2021 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and has appeared on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, Late Night with Seth Meyers, and CBS This Morning. He is on the faculty of the MFA in Creative Writing Program at Lesley University and lives in Washington, DC. You can find his ramblings at jasonwritesbooks.com.
Ben Saunders is a professor of English at the University of Oregon. He is the author of Desiring Donne: Poetry, Sexuality, Interpretation and Do the Gods Wear Capes?: Spirituality, Fantasy, and Superheroes, as well as numerous critical essays on subjects ranging from the writings of Shakespeare to the recordings of Little Richard. He has also curated several museum exhibitions of comics art, including the record- breaking, multimedia touring show Marvel: Universe of Super Heroes— a retrospective exploring the artistic and cultural impact of Marvel Comics from 1939 to the present.
“A groundbreaking example of comics representation in literature.” —Publishers Weekly
“Penguin provides introductory essays; superb analyses by the series editor, Ben Saunders; and extensive bibliographies.” —Michael Dirda, The Washington Post
“Stories become classics when generations of readers sort through them, talk about them, imitate them, and recommend them. In this case, baby boomers read them when they débuted, Gen X-ers grew up with their sequels, and millennials encountered them through Marvel movies. Each generation of fans—initially fanboys, increasingly fangirls, and these days nonbinary fans, too—found new ways not just to read the comics but to use them. That’s how canons form. Amateurs and professionals, over decades, come to something like consensus about which books matter and why—or else they love to argue about it, and we get to follow the arguments. Canons rise and fall, gain works and lose others, when one generation of people with the power to publish, teach, and edit diverges from the one before ... A top-flight comic by Kirby—or his successor on “Captain America,” Jim Steranko—barely needed words. You could follow the story just by watching the characters act and react. Thankfully, Penguin volumes do justice to these images. They reproduce sixties comics in bright, flat, colorful inks on thick white paper—unlike the dot-based process used on old newsprint, but perhaps truer to their bold, thrill-chasing spirit.” —Stephanie Burt, The New Yorker