I've read a lot good Spider-Man comics over the years and I've read a lot of terrible Spider-Man comics over the years.
Dan Slott's "Spider-Verse" hasI've read a lot good Spider-Man comics over the years and I've read a lot of terrible Spider-Man comics over the years.
Dan Slott's "Spider-Verse" has to be among the worst of the worst -- and yes, I've read the entire, completely reviled clone saga from the mid-90's.
So, every iteration of Spider-Man that has ever been is brought together for this epic, cross-over saga. And while it might seem like fun to see the 60's animated Spidey share the page with the new animated Spidey, these fun moments are few and far between in this book. In between, we get a lot of convoluted moments with various iterations of our favorite web-head spouting off meta-physical malarkey. From what I could gather, every Spider-Man in every universe has been targeted by Morlun's family to....ummmm, well, I'm not really quite sure why, except to feed on them and to create a reason for this crossover.
As I read this saga, I alternated between frustrating and shaking my head. In the middle issues, it feels like every other panel is a trio or group of Spider-people all teaming up to go off on an adventure that will have an impact to the main storyline. But those storylines are apparently included in another collection and not here, leaving me feeling like I'm missing a large portion of the story. I suppose I could go and find the referenced issues, but I was honestly so irritated that I didn't want to bother. And part of it was I feared I'd only confuse myself more as to what was going on here.
Look, I get it. The idea of Peter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham showing up here is fun. But that fun wears off quickly and what we get is a convoluted mess that just keeps piling it on for six long issues.
I'm not sure where Spidey goes next. And I'm not sure I necessarily want to follow. ...more
As part of the last Spider-Man reboot, writer Dan Slott takes us back to the early days of Peter Parker's career as the web slinger and offers us thisAs part of the last Spider-Man reboot, writer Dan Slott takes us back to the early days of Peter Parker's career as the web slinger and offers us this series that takes place in between the fables stories by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.
Seems that our favorite web-slinger had an early fan -- and it wasn't just Flash Thompson. It's a fellow science-geek who doesn't have powers like Peter does but still wants some of the spotlight -- or at least to have Spider-Man notice him. To this end, he becomes a villain of sorts called Clash who uses sounds and sonics as his weapons.
There are a few nice moments in this one. Things like Peter having to go to the school counselor to work through his anger and guilt issues (or the perceived ones). The moments of personal exploration of Peter Parker in the early days of his being Spider-Man are well done. It's just too a shame the rest of the story doesn't live up to these flashes of fun.
I can see what Slott is trying to do here with Clash and setting up a parallel storyline to what Peter is going through. But a lot of this material falls a bit flat and it begins to lose its impact by the time we reach the end of the story. The title of this storyline is "Learning to Crawl" and, at times, it feels like that is exactly what the story is doing -- crawling.
Maybe I'm just not the right audience for Slott. Or maybe my nostalgia for my days of regularly reading Spidey are clouding my judgment. ...more
Being a big fan of Peter David and Spider-Man, you'd think I'd have read the entire original run of Spider-Man 2099. And despite glowing recommendatioBeing a big fan of Peter David and Spider-Man, you'd think I'd have read the entire original run of Spider-Man 2099. And despite glowing recommendation from friends that I should pick up the books, I never did.
But that doesn't mean I can't stop in now that David and Marvel are picking up the series mantel once again.
And I'll admit that while I may miss some of the nuances of this story, this collection of the first five issues of the new series never made me feel like I was being left behind. In fact, I'd argue that what David is doing here is every bit as enjoyable -- maybe even more enjoyable -- than what is being done with the flagship title for the Spider-Man universe.
Stuck out of time, our hero is trying to find his way home without messing up the time line too much. Along the way, he's having some interesting adventures that span not only New York City but also the entire globe. David has always been a writer who can find ways to tell unique, fun stories in a corner of a particular universe that stay true to the universe but also explore some interesting areas and do some nice character work. (I'm looking at you New Frontier.
While I wouldn't mistake the hero here for Peter Parker, there is enough of that sense of what makes Spidey so much fun to read (at least the way I remember it) that these issues flew by. The only negative is the final issue included which is forced to do some heavy lifting for what I can only assume will be an all-inclusive Spider-verse storyline that is coming up next. At this point, if I never see Morlun on the pages of a Spider-Man comic again, it will be too soon. Quite possibly the most overused or going back to the well one too many times the Spidey-verse has seen since Venom. ...more
While Doc Ock was inhabiting Spidey's body, Marvel decided to appease fans who wanted Peter Parker back with a couple of one-off stories with Peter PaWhile Doc Ock was inhabiting Spidey's body, Marvel decided to appease fans who wanted Peter Parker back with a couple of one-off stories with Peter Parker fully in control of things. The result is this collection of stories that feature Peter Parker front and center as the Amazing Spider-Man.
The first two stories in the collection are the highlight, including one in which Pete must resort to his secret identity and web across town to try and save Aunt May during a blizzard. Along the way, Peter encounters several others who need the help of his famous secret identity and is forced to weigh whether stopping to help them could mean that Aunt May will die because of his delay (a tree broke a window at her house and her power and furnace are out due to the weather). In many ways, this feels like the classic Peter Parker dilemma of who does he feel a "great responsibility" to the most. Combine a great story with some terrific art work (Spidey really stands out against the mostly white background of the blizzard) and you've got an intriguing little story that feels like the early days when Smilin' Stan Lee was writing Spidey stories.
The next story is just as good, looking at just how the various villains Spidey and company go up against get health care and patched up. A black market hospital specializing in the treatment of super villains has opened up and Spidey lands there following a battle in which he gets burns to over 80% of his body. It's one of those questions that seems so obvious -- once someone else has asked it, of course. The big problem I have with this one is that it's a two-part story and it feels a bit stretched thin by the time we get to the second installment. There's a lot of your typical Spider-Man trading of punches that help fill out the second installment and after a few pages it begins to wear a bit thin. But again, the art work is good and solid enough and the idea intriguing enough that I give them props for shining a light into an unexplored area of the Spidey universe.
The rest of the stories here aren't quite up to the standards of these two, though the last one about a young boy who asks himself "What Would Spider-Man Do?" is of particular note. I will warn you that it's a bit melancholy in tone and a downer to end the book.
But don't let that put you off this collection. It's a nice reminder of just what makes Spider-Man Spider-Man. ...more
Dropping by the local comic shop these days, it's easy to criticize the work currently being done as "not quite up to par with the good old days whenDropping by the local comic shop these days, it's easy to criticize the work currently being done as "not quite up to par with the good old days when I was reading."
That is, of course, until you get hold of a run of comics from your "good old days" and you realize that those comics weren't exactly setting the world on fire either.
That's pretty much the case with this collection of eight issues from the early '80's run of The Amazing Spider-Man. I had a few scattered issues from the various Spider-Man titles up to this point, but somehow it was these issues that I was able to collect and read in consecutive order. Looking back at the covers alone, I'm shocked my family a)purchased and b)let me read the issues collected here.
Many may complain the comics today are unduly violent or filled with graphic imagery. But I defy you to find a current cover that features Spider-Man taking on a giantnormous man-turned spider whose mouth is dripping with venom and the title of "Death Knell" in big bold letters across the cover.
Putting aside my fond memories of this run of comics and the fact that I read them umpteen times in my pre-teen and early teenage years (often imaging how the stories might be transformed into an animated version on my television screen), I've got to say that this run of stories isn't necessarily what you'd refer to as a classic run (that was yet to come in the next run of issues which introduced the Hobgoblin) but I'll still admit I enjoyed visiting them again all these years later. The main thread tying these issues together is the corrupt Brand corporation. The company is up to no good and the Daily Bugle is determined to bring their dark deeds and experiments to the light of day.
Of course, this brings in a bunch of what could be considered second or even third tier villains to do battle with Spidey. The first two-part arc features the Cobra and Mr. Hyde, who have the bad fortune of being tied to a Brand informant named Nose Norton. Spidey gets caught in the middle of trying to rescue Nose and keeping various Daily Bugle employees out of the line of fire. Meanwhile, Mr. Hyde has an axe to grind with the Cobra and Spidey is squarely in the way.
The storyline is probably most memorable for the cliffhanger to issue 231 with Hyde standing over Spidey, threatening him if he doesn't hand over the Cobra immediately. Back then I didn't know where and if I'd be able to find the next installment, but I did know I was determined to find it somehow.
The next arc features the title villain of this collection, the Tarantula. A third-tier villain who kicked off the run of Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man, the Tarantula is a South American mercenary for hire with spikes in his gloves and boots. It's when the Brand corporation offers him the chance to have powers equal to or greater than Spidey's that things begin to go a bit awry -- resulting in the Tarantula transforming into a big honkin' spider (as depicted on the cover above). If you were a long time Spider-Man fan, there was some precedent for this back when Spidey was battling Morbius and grew extra arms. But I don't ever recall our hero ever becoming a big honkin' spider (though to be fair this does happen in the 90's cartoon retelling..that may owe something to this storyline.) Add in fellow axe-to-grind-with-Brande villain the Wilo-the-Wisp and you've got three issues of mayhem, battles and changing allegiances. It's not great comic book writing, but damn if it didn't have my younger (and older) self turning the pages and eagerly looking for the next installment in the series.
It even ends on a rather dark note with the Tarantula committing suicide by cop rather than facing being a giant spider with a thirst for flesh for the rest of his life.
The next two installments in the collection aren't really anything to write home about and after the epic battles and chaos of the first several installments here, they seem a bit disappointing. One features Spidey battling a guy who wears metallic stilts (he wants to make a name for himself by killing Spidey) and the other is an annual with the origin of Ms. Marvel.
I'd re-read each of these issues a couple of years ago in an Essential Amazing Spider-Man collection. But that collection lacked something this one does -- namely being in color. The essential collections will give you a taste of the story but the arcs really come to life when they feature the full color as they were originally intended to be read. Drooling monsters aside, there are just some moments and panels that are far more striking and memorable when rendered in color. ...more
After ending the long run of Amazing Spider-Man, Marvel relaunches the character in a different way.
Doc Ock haAnd so dawns the new era of Spider-Man!
After ending the long run of Amazing Spider-Man, Marvel relaunches the character in a different way.
Doc Ock has swapped his dying body for that of Spider-Man. But what Ock didn't count on was Peter fighting back and part of his consciousness taking up residence inside. This includes all of Peter's memories and morals.
So, the new Spider-Man has Ock's intelligence with Spider-Man's moral center and code of conduct. It's The Odd Couple inside of one body!
And surprisingly enough, it works for this collected set of comics. Oh sure, this isn't the Spider-Man I grew up with and it's probably only a matter of time until we hit the reset button on all of this. But, for now, it's kind of amusing and there are some interesting avenues opened up.
And yet even in all of that Dan Slott is clearly sewing the seeds for someone close to Spidey to put two and two together about what's really going on sooner or later. ...more
So I've apparently missed a lot of issues leading up to the ones collected here in Dying Wish. But from what I can gather, in an arc before this one,So I've apparently missed a lot of issues leading up to the ones collected here in Dying Wish. But from what I can gather, in an arc before this one, Doc Ock and Spidey had yet another epic battle with Spidey narrowly defeating Ock.
Now, Ock is dying and his last wish is to somehow switch bodies with Peter Parker aka Spider-Man. Using some kind of mind-swapping technology (it's a comic book, so you'll just have to go with it), Ock does just that. Trapped in Ock's dying body, Peter must escape prison and try to find a way to reverse things before time runs out.
Reading this collected set of issues from The Amazing Spider-Man, I found myself wondering how the experience would be different if I'd read the story month to month instead of all in one sitting. I can't really say, but these are the things that cross my mind while reading collected comic book runs these days. It's probably less of an issue these days when there seems to be less recapping taking place within the action of the comic itself. As opposed to the old days when the first couple of pages of a comic were designed to bring new and old readers up to speed on what was happening in the life of our hero.
I also have to wonder while reading this just how long these new changes to Spider-Man will last. The Marvel universe has effectively eliminated Peter Parker in not only the main line but also the Ultimate line. Or at least Peter Parker as we knew him, since (SPOILER ALERT!) Doc Ock gets away with his plan to eliminate Parker, but there's a twist. Turns out Peter is still in there and Ock has not only his memories but also Peter's.
I fully expect that at some point in the narrative, the Peter half will fight for and assume control of his body again. The cynical part of me says that will probably happen sometime around when The Amazing Spider-Man 2 hits theaters. ...more
The problem with calling a collection "The Very Best of" something is that the definition of "best" can be so subjective. What I think is best may notThe problem with calling a collection "The Very Best of" something is that the definition of "best" can be so subjective. What I think is best may not necessarily mesh with what others think or believe.
So I admit I approached this collection of stories featuring my favorite super-hero with a bit of reluctance.
And having read the seven stories assembled here, I can say there are some fine examples of Spider-Man stories. But they're not really what I would classify as the best (or even the most memorable) stories featuring my favorite wall-crawler.
Part of it is that the book starts out with "Amazing Fantasy 15" and the origin of Spider-Man. I'll accept this is a classic and probably should lead off any collection that wants to be a "best of" for Spider-Man. It's once we get into the later issues that just about every single story in this collection refers back to "Amazing Fantasy 15."
I understand that Stan Lee had the attitude that every comic book should be treated as if it was someone's first comic book and I don't mind a bit of flashback or summing up the relevant back story points. But when a collection skips over pivotal stories like Spidey being unmasked by the Green Goblin and the revelation of who is behind the Green Goblin mask in favor of a story bringing back Crusher Hogan, I have to question whether the "best of" status and the editorial process for selected these stories. And don't get me started on the fact that Doc Ock is only referred to in one of the stories in this collection but never seen on the printed page. Instead, we get a Venom story, which maybe at the time it was published was considered a "best of" but I don't see it. Especially compared to various times in the Lee/Ditko era that Spidey took on Doc Ock.
I understand wanting to have a collection give us a taste of various eras, but this collection isn't necessarily a "best of" Spider-Man.
Thankfully, Marvel has since begun publishing collections of the full run of various Spider-Man comics, allowing readers to relive our own favorite eras and to discover again the strengths and weaknesses of them. ...more
The umpteenth and first re-telling of Spider-Man's origin, with a few tweaks and updates along the way.
This one is truer to the original story told byThe umpteenth and first re-telling of Spider-Man's origin, with a few tweaks and updates along the way.
This one is truer to the original story told by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko all those years ago and I give it a lot of credit for that. Reading it, I found myself wishing they'd adapted this into last year's Amazing Spider-Man instead of what we got.
I can see how comic book storytelling has changed and the younger audience this book is targeted at may not necessarily like or want to read the original Lee/Ditko continuity right out of the gate. As a retelling of Spidey getting his powers and learning that with great power comes great responsibility Season One works fairly well. And it's nice to see that the first supervillain Spidey faces is the Vulture -- again something that calls back to the early days.
The tweak of J. Jonah Jameson hiring a young reporter to start off the anti-Spidey stories is nicely done but a bit too quickly wrapped up. I feel like there was more potential to this that could be explored in future installments, assuming Marvel decides to renew the series for a second season. ...more
The latest collection from the long run of The Amazing Spider-Man is a trip down memory lane.
Long before I knew about the existence of stores exclusiThe latest collection from the long run of The Amazing Spider-Man is a trip down memory lane.
Long before I knew about the existence of stores exclusively devoted to comic books and in the years before I was given mail subscriptions to my favorite books, I was at the mercy of which issues of my favorite books were at the local grocery store or drug store when I got to visit with parents or grandparents. The fact that I managed to collect a solid run of many of the issues featured in this book is a testament to the patience of all those people, who put up with my looking through the racks for the latest issue or that one I'd miss so I could have a complete story.
This run of issues is helped by the fact that it has a consistent creative team churning out the stories. I'm not sure how the comic book community as a whole feels about Roger Stern's run at writing Spider-Man, but I've got to admit it holds up pretty well. Stern did a nice job with creating story arcs that lasted just long enough to sustain reader interest and tell a good story without feeling like he was extended things out to sell more issues (I'm looking at your modern comic books writers). Stern also clearly follows the model of Stan Lee, who said that you should treat every issue as if it's someone's first. Each issues offers a well integrated recap of what's going on in the story and Spidey's life without it necessarily feeling like an info-dump.
Of course, the big change to the Spidey universe in this collection comes from the introduction of the Hobgoblin. If there's a storyline that defined my time reading Spider-Man, the mystery of the Hobgoblin was it. (In fact, it was once we found out who the man behind the mask really was that I began to move away from regular reading of Spider-Man...at least for a while). But there are a lot of other memorable villains who show up here including a return visit by the Vulture and Spidey does battle with the Tarantula, the Cobra and Mr. Hyde.
Reading these stories again, I was impressed by the storytelling and the artwork. While it's not the cream of the crop when it comes to Spider-Man storytelling, it's still consistent enough to hook a young fan and to give this older fan a nice trip down memory lane. ...more
It's difficult for me to be objective about this collection of Spider-Man stories from the 80's simply because I remember reading some of them as a yoIt's difficult for me to be objective about this collection of Spider-Man stories from the 80's simply because I remember reading some of them as a young collector. It was in the days before comic book stores and direct sales when I'd beg my parents to take me into any 7/11, drugstore, grocery store or book store that might have a comic book rack filled with the latest issues of Spider-Man. Not knowing the release dates for various issues, my collection was more of less hit or miss, but those few I collected I read over and over again.
I actually had a couple of issues in this collection, detailing the rise of the original Hobgoblin in the Spider-Man universe. And I'm sure had I kept them in pristine condition, I could make a reasonable chunk of change selling them on E-Bay today. But I didn't keep them in great condition nor do I still have them today.
Which is why this collection was a nice trip down nostalgia lane. After multiple attempts to bring back the Green Goblin, Roger Stern decided it was time for Spidey to face a new Goblin. The result was the Hobgoblin, a villain whose identity was kept secret for a long time during the 80's, even if we had a multitude of potential subjects. Unlike the recent collection of Venom stories I read, I never felt like any of these issues was treading the same ground time and again. Yes, Hobby makes use of an alternate Hobgoblin to study Spider-Man, but the reader is made aware of this fact by the end of the issue and there's not really a story that says this is Spidey and the Hobgoblin's final battle--no really, we're not kidding this time.
And while it'd be easy to chalk up my good will toward these stories as nostalgia, I still think there's some solid storytelling being done here. Coupled with some consistent artwork and you've got a nice collection about one of Spidey's more influential villains from the 80's. ...more
What the hell has happened to comic book art these days?!?
You'd think Marvel's signature character could find an artist who actually gives us panels tWhat the hell has happened to comic book art these days?!?
You'd think Marvel's signature character could find an artist who actually gives us panels that don't look like they were thrown together by someone using finger paints!
Maybe I'm getting old here, but back in my day the art across all the Spider-Man books was consistent enough that you could look at a panel and figure out who was who. Yes, there was some minor differences based on the artist, but for the most part there was a consistent look to the Spider-Man universe.
Apparently that's no longer the case.
Origin of the Species brings together a who's who of the Spidey rogue's list, all battling over the newborn baby of Norman Osborn and Menace. Spidey is caught in the middle and hounded on all sides because the legitimate authorities think he's kidnapped the baby and the villains all want to beat the fire out of him and take the baby. It's no more or less absurd a plotline than we got back in the golden age of Spider-Man, but I can't help but think that somehow Stan Lee would have found a better way to sell the story to the reader. Or he would have made the twist that occurs halfway through a bit more interesting and a lot less out of left field feeling.
Of course back in Stan's day, we'd easily recognize Doc Ock by how he was drawn and not just as--hey, there's a guy who has glasses and metal arms...guess he must be Doc Ock.
If you're starting to get the idea that I didn't care for the artwork in this one....
Sub-par art and a half-baked story all add up to a less than enjoyable Spidey reading experience. If you'll excuse me, I think I'll dust off my old collections of the Lee/Ditko and Lee/Romita era.... ...more
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 voluFor 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. ...more
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 collectedJust 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. ...more
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 separJust 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. ...more