ICv2 raises a simple question: Did Marvel Comics treat Spider-Man’s 30th birthday as a bigger deal than it did the character’s 50th?
Plans for the year were summarized in the December 1991 issue of Internal Correspondence, the precursor to ICv2, based on presentations at Marvel’s sales meeting for distributors. A Spidey event was planned for every month of 1992, including a traveling Spider-Man museum display, Spider-Man character appearances around the country, a nationwide Spidey-party in retail stores for which special kits were sent out. Editorial material included a special edition of Amazing Fantasy #15, the first Marvel Masterworks for Amazing Spider-Man, special editions, and bookshelf releases.
There was also an article in that issue of Internal Correspondence about a James Cameron Spider-Man movie planned for 1993, so not all the plans came to pass, but there was a lot of promotional activity and a substantial publishing program supporting the anniversary.
I could be wrong, but I feel as if the same has been true of all of the big Marvel birthday dates in recent memory; the 50th anniversaries of not only Spidey, but the Hulk, Thor and the Fantastic Four have all passed relatively without much hoopla from Marvel itself (Sure, there have been variant covers, but when aren’t there variant covers these days?). At least Amazing Spider-Man got an oversized birthday issue. Could it be that reminding fans and readers that these characters have been around for five decades isn’t something that’s seems particularly attractive these days…?
Next year, of course, sees the 50th anniversary of Marvel’s big cash cows: Iron Man, the Avengers, and the X-Men. It’ll be interesting to see what, if anything, happens to mark those birthdays…