Tales from the Longbox – The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #16 (1982)

Every other week, Jason Shayer will highlight an issue or a run of issues pulled from the horde of comic book long boxes that occupy more room in his house than his wife can tolerate. Each of these reviews will delve into what made that issue or run significant as well as discuss the creative personalities behind the work. “Long Box” refers to the lengthy, white cardboard boxes most comics find themselves stored within – bagged, alphabetized and numerically ordered.

Amazing Spider-Man Annual #16
“Who’s That Lady?”
Writer: Roger Stern
Penciler: John Romita Jr.
Inking: John Romita Sr.

This annual turned out to be more of a team-up story with co-star Captain Marvel stealing most of the spotlight. Captain Marvel’s 17-page origin was a textbook example of how to concisely craft and introduce a new superhero. Stern leveraged her point-of-view as a rookie superhero with access to almost unlimited powers, but was still trying to understand and control them.

In an interview for Back Issue magazine #54, Roger Stern admited: “With Captain Marvel, I did my best to create a character in the Lee/Kirby/Ditko tradition, a down-to-Earth person who suddenly acquired extraordinary power. And I wanted her to be a straightforward, likable superhero.”

The story is segwayed by the origin telling, but Stern gets the main storyline going again and has Captain Marvel stumble and blusters her way into the Avengers headquarters. This encounter of course sets up her relationship with the Avengers. Stern had the idea of her becoming an Avenger in mind from this beginning and this annual was the first step on that road.

The annual’s art is another amazing son-father team-up by the Romitas. Their work is classic Spidey with a modern flare owing to Romita Jr.’s influence.

Captain Marvel had one of the more interesting costume origins as she finds her way inside of a Mardi Gras costume warehouse! She next appeared in Mighty Avengers #227.

Best quote: [from Iron Man sitting on Monitor Duty] “That’s the F.F.’s priority signal. I wonder what they want? It better not be Galactus again! I warned them that –”

Jason Shayer’s been trying his best not to grow up for that last 30 years and comics books are one of the best ways to keep him young at heart. He’s also known as the Marvel 1980s guy and has probably forgotten more than you’d ever want to know about that wonderfully creative era. Check out his blog at: marvel1980s.blogspot.com.

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