Friday, August 23, 2013

Essential The Amazing Spider-Man, Volume 11

 As far as I'm concerned, the second-best run in Spider-Man history kicks into high gear with ESSENTIAL THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, VOLUME 11. Stan Lee and Steve Ditko will always be #1, but Roger Stern comes pretty damned close.

 Stern's AMAZING SPIDER-MAN run started in Spidey's last ESSENTIAL volume, but it really begins to click here. Volume 11 reprints 20 issues of AMAZING (Issues 231-248, and Annuals 16-17), all of which were written by Roger Stern. (Well MOST of which were written by Stern...He's credited as plotter on issue 237 & Annual #17, with Bill Mantlo doing the actual scripting.)

 The book starts off strong, with a two-part Cobra/Mr. Hyde story that's a nice follow-up to a previous Stern CAPTAIN AMERICA story. From there. we dive headlong into a multi-part arc that finds Spidey investigating the sinister Brand Corporation. We're also treated to the first appearance of the Monica Rambeau iteration of Captain Marvel, a multi-part Vulture story, The Mad Thinker, terrorists, Thunderball, and the beginning of the mystery of The Hobgoblin. The crowning achievement, however, is a quiet, heartfelt story called "The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man", which is, in my humble opinion, one of the best Spider-Man stories ever written.Thirty years have passed since I first read it, and it hasn't lost any of it's power.

 This is really, REALLY good stuff.....The early '80's Marvels are what I grew up reading, so I'm probably a bit prejudiced and overly nostalgic when I say that I consider those years to be Marvel's finest hour, but I think these stories do hold up remarkably well, and will be enjoyable to today's fans.  Highly, highly recommended.