Friday, November 13, 2015

The Amazing Spider-Man Epic Collection, Volume 15: Ghosts of the Past

 And so we close the books on my nearly year-long chronological re-read  of THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN.....
 First off, a chunk of this book is a double-dip with the recently released THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: THE COMPLETE ALIEN COSTUME SAGA, BOOK 2. (This volume collects THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #'s 259-272, THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN ANNUAL #'s 18-19, and WEB OF SPIDER-MAN #'s 1 & 6.) AMAZING was under the creative guidance of Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz during the era this book presents (1984-1986), but there are a LOT of fill-in issues collected here. Luckily, they're mostly worthwhile, featuring work by Bob Layton, Peter David, and Bob McLeod. The two Annuals feature throwaway stories, for the most part, although ANNUAL #18 does present the wedding of J. Jonah Jameson. There's a two-part crossover between WEB OF SPIDER-MAN and THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (Which also serves as a SECRET WARS II crossover...), which is not nearly as cool as I remember it being when I was 13. The rest of the book is DeFalco/Frenz (Mainly DeFalco, as Frenz has a few fill-in artists along the way.), and their work holds up remarkably well. The sheer number of fill-in issues is disruptive to continuity, but DeFalco makes up for it with his sharp, fast-paced scripts, and Frenz seems to get better and better with each issue. The throwdown with Firelord is one of Spidey's most oddball, epic battles, and ranks right up there with his first encounter with The Juggernaut.

 I had a lot of fun with this book, and I really like Marvel's  "Epic Collection" format. You get a lot of bang for your buck, on nice paper and in full-color, and you get some cool extras that the late, lamented "Essential"  books didn't contain, such as this volume's MARVEL AGE article on WEB OF SPIDER-MAN, an original art gallery, and the covers to the issues of MARVEL TALES that reprinted this volume's issues. This is strong Spidey work, and probably one of the more enjoyable collections I've read this year, my "Year of The Spider".