When John Romita (Sr.) took over the artistic duties for "The Amazing Spider-Man" from Steve Ditko he certainly started off with a bang as his first two issues (#39-40) was when the Green Goblin learned Spider-Man's secret identity. As we get to "Marvel Masterworks: Amazing Spider-Man, Volume 5," we get to see what Romita and Stan Lee came up with after that high point in the series. This hardback volume collects issues #41-50 of "The Amazing Spider-Man," along with Annual #3 (okay, the original story, "...To Become an Avenger," where Spider-Man has to bring in the Hulk as his initiation to the group of superheroes but lets the Hulk go when he learns he is really Doctor Bruce Banner, and not the reprints of the second and third appearance of Doctor Octopus in issues #11 and #12, which are reprinted in Volume 2 of this series).
The cover shot is of "Spider-Man" #50, "Spider-Man No More," the story that was at the core of the successful "Spider-Man 2" film from last summer. Then there is the equally memorably splash page on page 8 that was used in the movie as well. Besides, any story that has J. Jonah Jameson talking to Johnny Carson while Ed McMahon shows Spider-Man's costume has its moments. But Spider-Man's premature retirement is not the only memorable moment in this collection, because at the end of #42 Peter Parker finally meets Mary Jane Watson, after one of the longest build ups of all time. She actually stopped by to visit Aunt May back in #25, but we did not get to see her face (Liz Allen and Betty Brant did and they thought she looked like a movie star). Talk about being worth the wait. If there is one thing John Romita could do it was draw good looking women and MJ's entrance line, "Face it, Tiger...you just hit the jackpot!" is perfect. So there is one great story here and another great moment, while the rest is simply a solid collection of Spider-Man stories from Lee and Romita.
So, yes, Spider-Man does more than quit and meet girls (actually the other way around) in these stories. Spider-Man battles the Rhino (#41 & #43), John Jameson (#42), a rematch with the Lizard (#44-45), the Shocker (#46), Kraven the Hunter (#47), the "new" Vulture (#48), and then Kraven the Hunter and the "new" Vulture (#49). In fact, Spider-Man fights a couple of these villains with one arm strapped to his side. Still, it is hard not to keep noticing that Peter Parker's social life is improving now that he is off to college and is sharing his own place (Peter Parker's pad, of course) with Harry Osborn, and in retrospect the key thing here is appreciating what it being set up down the road. Despite the arrival of Mary Jane, who is the one who Peter finally ends up marrying, it is Gwen who is going to become the love of Peter's life. It is impossible for long time fans to read these stories again and not think about what will happen to Gwen, Harry, and Mary Jane in the years to come.