Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Amazing Spider-Maps

Over the past forty-six years (46! Gosh, Pete's old), the world of Spider-Man has been chronicled in the pages of The Amazing Spider-Man, Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man, Marvel Team-Up, Web of Spider-Man, Everybody Loves Spider-Man, Spider-Man Episode II: Attack of the Clones, Gossip Gwen, and many other fine Marvel Comics publications. But even for a visual medium, it's sometimes hard to picture the setting of Spidey's many amazing (spectacular, webbish) adventures in and around Manhattan, New York, the place so nice they named it...Manhattan.

Once in a great while, however, Stan, Steve, JR and the gang o' Bullpen Buddies at Marvel flesh out the New York City of Pete Parker and his pleasant pals and Spider-Friends by providing us, the gentle readers, with maps or views of where ol' Pete lives, works, hangs out, or watches the love of his life plummet from a bridge. Hop on the F train of Earth-616 and journey with us now to the Manhattan of Spider-Man:

"Where It's At!" (Map of Spider-Man's Manhattan and environs), from Amazing Spider-Man Annual #5
Click on any image to Man-Mountain Marko-size 'em
Don't use this map of Manhattan island from Amazing Spider-Man Annual #5 to get around town...not only is the print really, really small and the streets not marked, you also risk driving right into the giant Gwen Stacy head somewhere in the East River. (Although, running into Gwen Stacy...say, I don't see the downside of that!)

"Peter Parker's House," from Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1
Peter Parker grew up with his Aunt May and his Uncle Dead Ben in the Queens suburb of Forest Hills, right down the street from Burt Bacharach, Carol Channing, Michael Landon, Ray Romano, Art Buchwald, and a guy by the name of Stan Lee, whose house Li'l Petey once egged. He also lived near Paul Simon, who was so impressed with the young whippersnapper that he later wrote a song called "Me and Pete Parker Down By the Schoolyard," although he was later convinced to change the title by his good pal Julio Iglesias. Here's where Pete lived with Aunt May in Forest Hills, where every morning the home was filled with the delicious scent of fresh-made wheatcakes, which went a long way to cover up the lingering smell of gunfire cordite.

"A Visit to Petey's Pad" from Amazing Spider-Man Annual #4
Every Spider-Boy must become a Spider-Man, and later on when Peter moved into Manhattan his with pal Harry Osborn, the squarest-lookin' teen in the world, they shacked up together shared this swingin' bachelor pad from Amazing Spider-Man Annual #4. Chez Osborn/Parker was full of hot and cold running chicks and microscopes and an impressive amount of closet space for Peter to hide his Spider-Jammies and Harry to keep his Green Goblin suit. Oh, the fun those two had on laundry day when their outfits would get mixed up! They laffed and laffed and laffed. Later on, Harry died, but then Peter sold his wife to the devil and Harry came back, so that's okay.

"Peter Parker's Pad" (incorrect version), from Amazing Spider-Man Annual #13
Here's Pete's solo apartment from Amazing Spider-Man Annual #13, which the caption tells us is located at "410 Chelsea St....right off 8th Ave." Well, Google map detectives, there ain't no Chelsea Street in Manhattan (there's one in Staten Island, but that's a heckuva commute for a guy who seldom rides the Staten Island ferry). Let's assume the Merry Marvel Marching Society really meant that PP lives in Chelsea off 8th Ave., and since 23rd Street's smack-dab in the middle of Chelsea, let's guess that Pete hunkered down on 23rd Street. No. 410 W 23rd Street would put him closer to Ninth than Eighth Avenue, but what the heck—slapping Casa Parker on Twenty-Third means that during the seventies, he's on the same block at the famous Chelsea Hotel, and you know what that means: Marvel Team-Up featuring Spider-Man, Sid Vicious, and Nancy Spungen!

"The Daily Bugle and The Daily Globe," from Amazing Spider-Man #13
Also in ASM Annual #13, here's a look at the offices of everybody's favorite fish-wrapper, The Daily Bugle, where the paper's motto is "A 'Spider-Man: Threat or Menace' story in every issue, or the next one's free!" (Also: "You may have already won a million dollars in the Bugle's Triple-J Lottery!") During this time, however, May Parker's little boy Petey had smartened up a bit and gone to work for the Bugle's leading competitor, a great metropolitan newspaper whose editor-in-chief can't seem to notice that his bespectacled star reporter is actually...wait a minute, I got confused. The Globe is the muckracking tabloid that busted wide the story that blind attorney Matt Murdock is actually the superhero Daredevil, and also that Lindsay Lohan is a Skrull advance scout intent on conquering and devouring the entire human species. One of these stories was later proven to be false.

"Empire State University," from Amazing Spider-Man Annual #13
ASM Annual #13 also peeks in on Pete's college alma mater, Empire State University, home of the Fightin' Clones. Pete's college woes were lightened by dating the vivacious and sultry Deborah Whitman, a firebrand of a foxy lady who had a reputation as a wildcat and a hellraiser. Well, that's the way Peter tells it, and if he doesn't want to admit he actually got those clawmarks on his back during a fight with a supervillain guy named Puma, let's let him have his little fantasies.

"Peter Parker's Apartment", from Amazing Spider-Man Annual #15
Remember how we found out, through the cunning use of maps, that the Parker apartment in Annual #13 wasn't all that it was cracked up to be? Well, with lightning speed and the swiftness of Pietro Maximoff, two years later Marvel Comics admitted their error and published the real Parker-Pad in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #15. Just as the Batcave had its giant penny, big dinosaur, and stuffed Jason Todd, Pete's secret hideout (never discovered by the female sex in all the years he lived there), contained the traditional cigar store indian, Burma Shave slogan sign, and the very first prototype of Big Mouth Billy Bass, the electronic talking toy that Peter created during an aimless weekend and later sold the rights to Wham-O for the sum of sixteen million dollars. Sadly, he blew his fortune that very evening when Aunt May sent Pete down to Gristede's to pick up a quart of milk but instead returned with a handful of magic beans. I've said it before about Peter Parker and I'll say it again: the boy ain't right.

Can't get enough Super Sugar Crisp maps of Marvel's Manhattan? Check out these non-Bully but still pretty cool webpages on the Official Map of NYC's Spider-Man Week, Wizard magazine's Guide to Marvel's Manhattan, or this clever juxtaposition of the buildings of Manhattan on Earth-616 and Earth-1218 (look it up, fanboys).

Just remember, whichever one you use, choose wisely: everybody needs a map sometimes.


FoldedSoup said...

Ah.. the ol' 1st Apartment Spool Table.

S'a rite of passage!

Randi Mason said...

That is *so* not what the houses in Forest Hills look like, even in ritzy Forest Hills Gardens.

Just saying.

Richard said...

23rd Street is really the northern border of Chelsea, not the middle of it...and the street doesn't look like that. But if you move it just a bit south, somewhere like 18th or 20th Street, bingo!

I'm pretty sure the Coffee Bean must be near the corner of Bleecker and MacDougal Streets...which means it's very close to the sanctum sanctorum of Stephen Strange.

Bully said...

I think you're right, Rab! I just wanted to make a Sid Vicious joke!