In an attempt to modernize characters for the current times, the comic book industry has gone to great lengths to include real world events, such as the war in Afghanistan and Iraq, into their monthly stories. The results are usually met with indifference as most of the stories seem very forced, but sometimes an issue comes out that brings the tragedy of modern war into the pages of the funny books with astonishing results.

Written by Marc Guggenheim, Amazing Spider-Man #574 is about how Flash Thompson, the former high school bully of Peter Parker, wound up in the army because of how much he idolized the heroism of Spider-Man. It shows Spidey not only as a costumed vigilante but also as a source of hope and inspiration for the citizens of the world. It's a beautiful story with a devastating ending. 

Guggenheim goes to great lengths to illustrate how Spider-Man has made Thompson a better person, turning him from a reckless bully into an American hero. Spidey's impact is felt throughout the story, despite only being shown in flashbacks.