Growing up, I loved "The Amazing Spider-Man" comic books. And this collection comes from the era when I started reading all about Spider-Man and got m...moreGrowing up, I loved "The Amazing Spider-Man" comic books. And this collection comes from the era when I started reading all about Spider-Man and got my hands on any issues my parents or grandparents would buy for me.
Yes, I had a lot of gaps in the collection, but I still have fond memories of enjoying the stories.
I probably should have left them as fond memories because, quite frankly, the stories in here haven't aged well. Outside of one arc with a third incarnation of the Green Goblin, most of Spidey's battles are largely forgettable. Peter Parker does graduate college but even that's not really enough to sustain things for the entire run collected in this volume.
An interesting collection of Spider-Man stories featuring Mary-Jane Watson (Parker).
Pivotal moments in the history of Mary Jane and her back-story ar...moreAn interesting collection of Spider-Man stories featuring Mary-Jane Watson (Parker).
Pivotal moments in the history of Mary Jane and her back-story are revealed here. Not exactly a definitive collection, but still enough to annoy me that Marvel ret-conned the Peter and MJ marriage. (less)
I've been reading Spider-Man off and on since I discovered the character on the Electric Company. It's a lot easier (and more affordable) these days t...moreI've been reading Spider-Man off and on since I discovered the character on the Electric Company. It's a lot easier (and more affordable) these days to just keep up with the character by checking these collections of various story arcs out of the library.
But as with classic "Doctor Who" serials I have to consistently remind myself that these stories weren't meant to be read in one big gulp, but instead were meant to be read with a bit of time to allow the stories to breath in between.
The current storyline finds a host of Spidey's famous foes coming back to haunt him, just as his life as Peter Parker is going to hell in a handbasket. This one features the return of two of what I'd call the second-tier of Spidey villians, the Rhino and Mysterio. Of the two storylines, the Rhino story is the far more affecting and interesting. The Myesterio one seems like it's working too hard to set some things up for the longer story arc with various mobsters plotting to take over the underworld of New York and fighting for territory.
And while the storylines themselves are good, the artwork is frustrating at times. It changes so much from issue to issue. Again, I grew up on reprints of the early days of the comic and during a time when the art work went for a more realistic tone and look. The current look of many Spidey comics leaves me cold and this collection has a couple of exceptions. I know artists want to put their mark on things, but it'd still be nice of characters are consistently drawn from issue to issue. (less)
Clearly I've missed a few issues in the grand scheme of the Spider-Man universe. At what point to the Vulture go from being an old guy who could fly t...moreClearly I've missed a few issues in the grand scheme of the Spider-Man universe. At what point to the Vulture go from being an old guy who could fly to some kind of new acid-spewing guy? It seems like this was done just for the gross-out factor. But maybe I'm not the target audience for these stories.
Continuing the storyline of "The Gauntlet", Spidey faces the new look (and spewing) Vulture and his old foe Morbius. Neither story is exactly that impressive and I can't imagine the old team of Lee and Ditko coming up with something like this.
What does work is Peter Parker's latest personal turmoil. He's dating Black Cat as Spidey and apparently alienating a lot of the women in his life. It's interesting to see how Pete's having to run off to be Spidey is perceived by various women in his life (one realizes he's just using her..and while Pete is fairly aware of this, he doesn't realize how deep the hurt goes). And then, Pete makes a mistake to help his boss, J. Jonah Jameson and it ends up costing him his job with the city and possibly his professional reputation. Given how Pete's burned some bridges professionally, this could be an interesting development in future installments.
But my main issue with this series is the wildly inconsistent artwork. Take me back to Ditko or John Romita's glory days please! (less)
In the introduction to this six-issue collection, one of the writers admits that one of the valid criticisms leveled at the entire debacle that was Th...moreIn the introduction to this six-issue collection, one of the writers admits that one of the valid criticisms leveled at the entire debacle that was The Clone Saga was that it went on too long. So, here we have a six-issue mini-series that condenses events and streamlines a lot of the revelations that were a part of the infamous storyline.
And, for the most part, it actually works. It doesn't redeem the clone saga, but not having to endure the "no, you're the clone," "no, you're REALLY the clone" twist every few months is a nice thing. And seeing the story compressed a bit, you can see there were some interesting ideas in there, they were just really diluted.
The art work in this run is superb and it shows how the Clone Saga might have worked. (less)
Just as the decision for Peter Parker to marry Mary Jane Watson was a pivotal one in the Spider-Man universe, so was the decision to permanently separ...moreJust as the decision for Peter Parker to marry Mary Jane Watson was a pivotal one in the Spider-Man universe, so was the decision to permanently separate the couple in the "One More Day" storyline. And while the decision has been polarizing, it's no where nearly as despised as the whole Clone saga in the mid-90's.
The along comes "One Moment in Time" that examines the impact breaking up Peter and Mary Jane had on them both as characters. It tells the story of how they ended up not together anymore in the rebooted Spidey universe--and it seems to say that the likelihood of their getting back together is slim. (Well, at least until sales warrant otherwise).
Surprisingly, I found this arc to be a moving, compelling one. It gives the decision an emotional impact and shows how the storyline developed in this new rebooted world Spidey lives in. It may still stink that Peter and MJ didn't get the happy ending they deserved, but at least we got to see why they aren't together instead of just simply hitting the rest button. And we got to see that the decision had an emotional impact on the couple that continues to echo through the series today. (less)
Just as it's odd to see movies I originally saw in theaters cropping up on AMC and Turner Classic Movies, it's equally strange to find large collected...moreJust as it's odd to see movies I originally saw in theaters cropping up on AMC and Turner Classic Movies, it's equally strange to find large collected editions of comic books I read and collected as a kid turning up on the shelves of my library or book store.
Case in point--"Web of Spider-Man," a comic that I not only purchased issue number one many, many moons ago but one I had to scour the shelves of my local store to find.
The issue is a pretty pivotal one in recent Spidey-lore, featuring the return of the black costume and Spidey's eventual defeat of it using the sound waves from the bell tower. What most of the adaptations since that time omit is a rather pedestrian subplot and battle with the Vulturions, a group of criminals who have stolen the Vulture's flying tech and are now terrorizing New York City. While the black costume disappears after issue one (at least the alien symbiote version does), the Vulterions hang around for an issue or two. This collection of the first eighteen issues of the comic plus one cross-over issue of "Amazing Spider-Man" and two extended annuals also features such classic Spidey adversaries as Doc Ock, the Vulture and the Kingpin as well as a few newly invented friends and foes, many of whom are largely forgettable once you've jumped to the next issue.
Taking the chance to re-read this early run of "Web" reminds me that sometimes we shouldn't revisit the things we loved in our younger days. They may not hold up to the memories we have of them. That's the case with "Web of Spider-Man." Part of the blame could be a revolving door at writer and artist, leading to an inconsistent feel to this twenty or so issue run. And part of it could be that it was at a time when there was a glut of Spider-Man comics on the market and creatively Marvel didn't have the juice to sustain them all.
That doesn't mean there aren't a few gems in here. As I said before the first issue is fairly pivotal and the last issue collected here gives us some hints of things to come. The best stories are one-offs written by all-around great writer Peter David, one of which involves the Hulk and Spidey's subconscious. However, there were a lot of stories I found myself skimming through as this "essential" collection moved along. This is especially the case in the two "Secret Wars 2" stories included here about the Beyonder turning a building to gold and Spidey having to rescue those inside. This reminded me of why I began to weary of comics at this point in my reading and collecting career--too many tie-ins that weren't creatively justified and seemed more like a cash grab than something being done for story telling reasons.
This collection left me yearning to revisit some of the early days of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko when the stories were all relatively self-contained. I may have to dust off those collections and give them a try. (less)
For many fans the whole Clone Saga is a turning point in the history of Spider-Man.
For a long-running storyline (the collected editions run five volu...moreFor many fans the whole Clone Saga is a turning point in the history of Spider-Man.
For a long-running storyline (the collected editions run five volumes!) that was so universally reviled, it's easy to forget that the whole clone debacle began a decade before as the run-up to and celebration of Amazing Spider-Man #150.
Those dozen or so issues are collected in the first half of Spider-Man: The Original Clone saga and reading them again, I'm taken back to a time when I first found Spider-Man on the Electric Company. While I didn't read any of these issues when they were first published, the style of art and storytelling contained here reminded me the issues my parents and grandparents purchased for me during my formative years. (It also reminded me of the Power record entries "Mark of the Man-Wolf" and "Spider-Man and the Dragon Men," both of which I listened to relentlessly as a child).
At a dozen or so issues, the entire Clone storyline works well enough and writer Gerry Conway keeps pulling out one surprise twist after another in the life of Peter Parker. Gwen comes back, the identity of the Jackal is revealed and Spidey must face off against a clone version of himself. It's all so absurdly, brilliantly over the top fun that you can't help but just enjoy the ride for what it's worth.
Unfortunately, the second half of the storyline included is an indicator of where things would begin to go so horribly, horribly wrong in the mid to late 90's. Collecting a storyline from Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man that involves Carrion, a genetic weapon developed by the Jackal, is far less interesting and entertaining. The 70's Spidey stories had a sense of fun and humor to them, even with some fairly dark events unfolding on the page. These stories have less of that sense of fun to them and drag down the entire collection. (less)