A long time ago, I wrote that 1982’s “Amazing Spider-Man” #229 to 230 was the third-best comic book story of the 1980s. Those two issues, written by Roger Stern–the greatest Spidey writer in history (yes, even better than Stan Lee)—with art by Marvel’s greatest artist, John Romita Jr., was a simple battle that spanned two issues: Spider-Man versus The Juggernaut. Titled, “Nothing Can Stop The Juggernaut,” the two-issues quickly became collector’s items, and have never been reprinted (to my knowledge) in color form. Damn shame. What made the tale so fantastic was that the action sequences were so well plotted. Spidey has never been a super-powerful character. (If you read Bendis’ New Avengers, for example, you’ll see that Spider-Man never really does much of anything—he’s completely nonessential.) He’s always struggled to keep up with others who can leap (or smash) tall buildings, are invulnerable to bullets, mind-meld, etc. That vulnerability was part of his charm, which was a fact that Roger Stern understood better than just about anyone. In that Juggy story, Spider-Man had to outwit the invulnerable maniac as much as overpower him, which made the story as intelligent as it was exhilarating. Yet is was simple, too, which can be a key element to an exciting story: It was just Spider-Man trying to stop Juggernaut from moving forward, and Juggernaut plowing ahead, through any and all obstacles in his way. If you haven’t read it, get a hold of it. Even if you have to read the black and white “essential” reprint.
In case you can’t tell already, I think that whole Stern-Romita run deserves hardbound, oversized reprints. That’s when Hobgoblin was introduced, Spidey got his black costume, and we saw Peter’s relationship with MJ begin to deepen. It was a peak not just for Spider-books, but for serialized storytelling as a whole. Indicative of how great it was, the other Spidey books rose to keep up. In Peter Parker The Spectacular Spider-Man, we saw the Sin-Eater storyline (a.k.a. The Death of Jean DeWolff) and through Web/PPTSS/Amazing, we read about Kraven’s Last Hunt. It was a great time to be a kid reading the funnybooks.
Well, I’m happy to say that Roger Stern will be returning to the Juggernaut tale with a three-part arc: “Something Can Stop the Juggernaut,” beginning today, March 31, in Amazing Spider-Man #627. Based on the solicits, it looks like Spidey and Juggy may be more on the same side in this one, facing some kind of mind-powered villain. So it’s unlikely to be a simple, long battle. Sadly, the art will by Lee Weeks and not Romita, Jr., but Weeks is damn good, too. So mark your calendar: Even if you’re not a regular reader, starting today, there’ll be three issues you’ll need to buy.