A while ago, I wrote about a two-issue story in which the Avengers visited Pittsburgh, and of Thor's quick stopover in the Steel City. Both were fun, even if they mostly only featured generic references to the city. When I saw that 1987's Amazing Spider-Man #292 had Pittsburgh as its backdrop, I had to grab it and take some pictures. Let's see what awaits our hero!
Unlike the Avengers and Thor issues, this Spider-Man story is chock full of mostly accurate Pittsburgh references. and we start out with downtown Pittsburgh, the Allegheny River, and Three Rivers Stadium! The stadium would have had to be about ten times its size to look like this from downtown, but I'll allow it. And we also start off strong with references to both the Pirates and the Steelers, longtime tenants of the all-purpose stadium.
Spider-Man then somehow swings past the University of Pittsburgh's Cathedral of Learning, which is miles away and is not surrounded by any buildings he could really swing from, but, well, okay. Spidey is following after Mary Jane Watson, to whom he has recently proposed, but apparently MJ needs time to think it over by talking with her sister, who lives in Pittsburgh. This is the first time I learned that MJ even had a sister! Who is this mysterious sibling who for some reason lives in Pittsburgh? Why didn't she live with their Aunt Anna in New York City? Questions abound.
This issue is basically just one Pittsburgh reference after another. I love 'em, of course, but I wonder why writer David Michelinie and artist Alex Saviuk decided to make this issue one big travelogue. Here we see stately Mellon Square...
...and now we're at Point State Park. Wait, this is basically where Spidey was on page one, across the river from Three Rivers Stadium. Why did he swing to Oakland just to turn around and go all the way back to...you know what? Never mind. I'll just enjoy this for what it is. It looks like Saviuk drew the fountain at Point State Park, but the water got colored green like a tree. I'll admit that I do not know if the fountain was running in '87. I guess there could have been a tree there back then.
What's this? The Gateway Clipper over MJ's shoulder? Why yes, it is!
Peter and Mary Jane discuss her sister's plight as they take a stroll through the park, where MJ mentions the nearby Duquesne University.
Meanwhile, there's some shady business going down at a nearby industrial park. This might actually be the industrial park off of the 31st Street Bridge, which has since been retrofitted into the 31st Street Studios television soundstage.
But the main story takes us back to Duquesne University. I think this is supposed to be the Old Main administrative building?
Both the Avengers story and this one pay special attention to the Liberty Bridge, which is right off of campus, as opposed to the Ft. Pitt Bridge, which I think is more visually appealing. It seems that the Spider-Slayer is also in the 'burgh, which is tough news for Peter. I guess using the Liberty Bridge makes sense when you want to bring in that ultimate Pittsburgh visual reference...
...the Duquesne Incline! I suppose it is pretty iconic. But I think that those not from Pittsburgh might be overthinking how much it's actually used anymore.
At the top of the Incline is, of course, scenic Mt. Washington, which is also name dropped in this issue. They made sure to name pretty much every location in this book.
"We didn't get the opportunity to see the Incline car well enough on the last page. Put it in again."
Wait, "the trolley"?! I take back everything good I've said so far.
So Mary Jane has a sister, and also two young nephews?! And one of them is, I guess, a die-hard Pirates fan, even wearing the '70s-style pillbox hat? Do we ever see these people again?
Our last scene for the book takes place at the Pittsburgh International Airport. Mysteries solved and villains defeated, Peter and MJ head back to New York.
But not before Mary Jane accepts Peter's marriage proposal! Wait, what? What I thought was a throwaway issue is actually one of some spider-historical importance! It's actually the issue that leads directly into Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21 - the wedding issue!
The back cover confirms it! I had no idea.
This whole issue was a pretty wild ride and I'm glad that I picked it up. It managed to squeeze in over a dozen Pittsburgh references in just over 20 pages. I'd love to find and share Pittsburgh in other comics, too, so if anyone has any suggestions, send 'em over!