The comic book industry lost one of its most talented and iconic artists this month with the passing of the great John Romita Sr. While Romita would eventually become Marvel’s art director and had a hand in creating Wolverine, his lasting mark on comics will always be his contribution Spider-Man. Replacing Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko was an unenviable task, but Romita hit the ground running with 1966’s Amazing Spider-Man #39—a seminal issue in which we learn the identity of Spidey’s greatest foe, the Green Goblin. While Ditko’s Peter Parker was ganglier, nerdier, and more awkward, Romita used his impeccably crisp, bold linework to create characters with a greater sense of heroism and traditional beauty, and in the process cemented the look and feel of Spider-Man for over half a century. As one of the creators from Marvel’s groundbreaking Silver Age, Romita’s death is also a heartbreaking reminder of how few artists remain from one of the most innovative and influential eras of comic book history—an era that has produced characters and stories from which the film, television, and video game industries continue to draw inspiration to this day. While each of Romita’s comics is a textbook on energetic, crystal-clear visual storytelling, the selections below represent some of his more enduring works—and are some of our favorites!
For more great comics (of the John Romita variety or otherwise), check out our list of the best Spider-Man stories, along with the offerings of your local Library branch and the hoopla app.