Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Spider-Man by Roger Stern Omnibus

 The second-greatest SPIDER-MAN run ever, collected in one massive hardcover? Yes, please.
 I was planning to only read the first portion of this collection (Everything before Stern's run on THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN beginning with issue #224)......I had read Stern's AMAZING run a little over two years ago (Reviews HERE and HERE), and had no interest in revisiting stories that were still so fresh in my mind. I was primarily interested in Stern's run on PETER PARKER, THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN, which I had only read bits and pieces of when the issues were originally released, thanks to the vagaries of newsstand distribution back in the '80's.

 First off, SPIDER-MAN BY ROGER STERN OMNIBUS collects a whopping 52 issues, including PETER PARKER, THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #'s 43-61 and 85, THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #'s 206, 224-252, and THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN ANNUAL #16. I eagerly dug into the SPECTACULAR issues, and found them to be a bit of a tough go....Stern was clearly still finding his footing on the character, and being relegated to a  second-tier book, where nothing of any real consequence was ever allowed to happen, didn't help matters much. He picks up some steam towards the end of the SPECTACULAR run, but never really enough to fully engage me. There's some nice art along the way, by legendary figures such as Marie Severin, John Byrne, and, of all people, Jim Shooter, so that made things a bit easier to get through. I was fully prepared to put the book down after that, but something made me keep going, and, sure enough, I was hooked all over again. Stern and artist John Romita, Jr., fully gel almost immediately, and the pair deliver some amazing (No pun intended...) work right out of the gate. Despite having read these issues of AMAZING two years ago, I fell back into them immediately and read them like it was the first time.

 I have very fond memories of comics from that era, and, as much of an old man thing as it is to say, I really do believe that the Jim Shooter regime at Marvel Comics produced some of the company's best work since the Lee/Kirby/Ditko days. To get 52 issues of comics from those days between two covers is just a staggering treat, especially when you consider that you're paying a little over a buck an issue, if you get a good deal online. The only way this book could have been better is if it included the mini-series where Stern finally revealed the identity of The Hobgoblin. As it stands, his original Hobgoblin arc holds up wonderfully, even without a resolution to the mystery.

 The collection includes all of the original covers, a new introduction by Roger Stern, and assorted related pin-ups and ephemera  by Stern, as well as some original pencil art by Byrne and JRJR, some black costume sketches by Rick Leonardi, and some MARVEL TALES and related covers.

 This is an awesome collection, and I had a blast reading it...for a few months, I was 12 again, and all was right with the world. I can't recommend this omnibus enough.