Have you ever experienced a Perfect Storm comic book cover?
Okay...back up. Let's define our terms first. A "perfect storm" is a situation where, due to the confluence of different factors, what might have been a minor occurrence ends up being magnified to proportions that are out of control. In the case of a perfect storm comic book cover, the converging factors include (but aren't limited to):
1. A cover featuring a favorite character.
2. Drawn by a favorite artist.
3. "Stop you in your tracks" shelf presense (cover layout, logo, use of color, format, etc)
4. The age of the viewer (the younger and less jaded the better).
In my own experience, only a handful of covers qualify for that earth-shaking "perfect storm" status, and chief among those mindblowing covers has to be Marvel Treasury Edition #1 (1974), starring The Spectacular Spider-Man!
The Favorite Character factor? Listen, in 1974, Spider-Man was at the top of the heap. Granted, I was still fairly new to the bewildering world of comic book superheroes, but Spidey grabbed me right away....reinforced by the Spider-Man segments appearing on the PBS series "The Electric Company".
Favorite Artist? Come on...it's Jazzy John Romita, whose style has always blown my mind...even before I knew enough about cartooning myself to fully appreciate his skill. His dynamic choreography (or "posing"), perfect foreshadowing (trust me...it's hard!) and sublime inking give a real sense of volume, weight and "grounded mass" to his Spider-Man. This is very different from alot of the interpretations of Spider-Man I see from lesser artists, who tend to draw Spidey as either an emaciated waif or a manic contortionist. Under the watch of Romita, Spider-Man's presense had an elegance, and his movements a physical lyricism nobody's been able to match, much less surpass.
As for the Shelf Presense, the only thing more arresting than a bright red cover is when that bright red cover is also a whopping 10" x 14", towering over the nearby standard-size comics. Mix in the cool logo (with the snazzy Spidey-eyes nestled above it) and the Spidey-centric web-pattern, and you can't help but come to a full stop when this cover catches your eye....
...especially when you're eight years old! Yes, the final (and perhaps most important) factor is your age when viewing a potential Perfect Storm cover. Younger fans are obviously much more impressionable and receptive than their "Been There, Done That" older counterparts, and generally much more open a classic, front-and-center "money shot" of Spider-Man. As some have said, the true "Golden Age of Comics" isn't so much a fixed point in history as it is the age of the reader; the younger the fan, the more golden the experience. This period of time was absolutely my own personal "Golden Age of Comics", and seeing the cover of (and immediately buying) Marvel Treasury Edition#1 in the old Downtown Book in Duluth, Minnesota was certainly one of the highlights of that special time.