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Comic Book / Spider-Man: Chapter One

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In 1998, the Spider-Man franchise was suffering from the fallout of the overly-long The Clone Saga, and many of the stories afterwards hadn't helped. Marvel Comics decided to reboot The Amazing Spider-Man and Peter Parker: Spider-Man and get John Byrne, still riding high after reinventing Superman with The Man of Steel, to draw Amazing and retell the origin to make it more contemporary. Thus was born Spider-Man: Chapter One, an attempt to retelling the early Stan Lee and Steve Ditko stories with more modern sensibilities.

Chapter One was an attempt to condense the original Lee-Ditko run, and adopted the format of overlapping two-part issues. For instance Spider-Man battles the Chameleon for two issues but the same issue where Chameleon loses also sets up the next villain and so on. It ran for 13 issues, with a follow-up Chapter Two announced but shelved when John Byrne declined to continue it. In either case, the idea that Chapter One serve as a proper replacement to the Lee-Ditko originals didn't sit well with either fans, or creators and even some of Marvel's editors, so even before the series was over, Marvel had stricken it from continuity and restored the original stories.


In either case, the series did serve as a reintroduction to the classic stories from the Lee-Ditko era to new readers who didn't read the back-issues and some of its ideas such as a redesign of Electro with a bluer less ostentatious costume did eventually find its way in Spider-Man: The New Animated Series and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 as did the wider Myth Arc of Peter's early Rogues Gallery formed by The Man Behind the Man which came in The Spectacular Spider-Man.


Spider-Man: Chapter One provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Adaptation Distillation: Serves as this for the Lee-Ditko original run. It condensed some 17 issues in 12 issues by the time it was canceled. For instance, Goblin is always shown on his glider, rather than the Broomstick he used in his very first appearance.
  • Adaptation Origin Connection:
    • Spidey's origin is tied to the same accident that created Doctor Octopus as the same demonstration Peter went to here was a test that was conducted by Octavius that went very awry.
    • The series also made Norman Osborn a Greater-Scope Villain for its events.
  • Adapted Out: The Sinister Six does not appear at all in the story likely due to Sandman not showing up until much later, while in the original comics Spidey's fight with them occurred before his second battle with the Green Goblin. The Living Brain, the Big Man, the Enforcers, and Bennett Brant are all removed from the story as well.
  • Adaptational Late Appearance: Sandman doesn't appear to the public until after Spidey is considered a coward due to running out on his second battle with the Green Goblin, while in the original stories he was one of Spider-Man's earliest foes, appearing long before the Green Goblin first showed up.
  • Armed with Canon: Byrne decided to disregard Untold Tales of Spider-Man when he did Chapter One in his attempt to update the original stories. As mentioned elsewhere, Marvel didn't even wait for the series to end before declaring it not-canon—and not only that, Untold was back in canon as events like Sally Avril's death would be mentioned and characters like Scorcher would reappear after this.
  • Canon Discontinuity: And Marvel didn't wait before it was even finished! When Paul Jenkins asked which version of the backstory to go with for the "The Show Must Go On" (the story where the Chameleon seemingly commits suicide after confessing to loving Peter) for the anthology series Webspinners: Tales of Spider-Man, he was told to go with the classic version. Officially, The Official Handbook to the Marvel Universe classified the story as happening on Earth-98121.
  • Death by Origin Story: As usual, Peter getting caught up in his own fame caused him to allow Uncle Ben's future killer to escape.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Norman Osborn is established as a major behind-the-scenes player and backer of some of Spider-Man's Rogues Gallery and the comic dials down the mystery of the Goblin's identity, which by The '90s had long been established and widely known.
  • Hereditary Hairstyle: Byrne noticed that Sandman sporting a similar hairdo to Norman Osborn and tried to retcon that they were cousins.
  • Mythology Gag: For the first two issues, the spider symbol on the back of Peter's costume is blue instead of red, but he later changes it to the familiar red color. This is a nod to how in the original version of Amazing Fantasy #15 the spider on the back of the costume was blue, before it was changed to red once The Amazing Spider-Man first came out, and most reprints of the original story editing it to red as well.
  • Related in the Adaptation: Sandman and Norman Osborn were cousins, apparently based on the fact that both of them had very similar hair-styles in the original Lee-Ditko era.
  • Ultimate Universe: Attempted to be this a few years before the real thing. Some of the ideas here actually got expanded in the more successful Ultimate version.

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