Friday, April 13, 2018

The Amazing Spider-man Epic Collection, Volume 22: Round Robin

 Not exactly Spidey's finest hours.....

 In their quest to collect everything relevant, chronologically, no less, Marvel is bound to hit upon the occasional clunker in the EPIC line. While not a complete dud, THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN EPIC COLLECTION, VOLUME 22: ROUND ROBIN is one of those doomed volumes.

 This 22nd volume collects THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #'s 351-360 and THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN ANNUAL #25, SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN ANNUAL #11, WEB OF SPIDER-MAN ANNUAL #7, and SPIDER-MAN: FEAR ITSELF. The book starts off with a whimper with "The Vibranium Vendetta" crossover from 1991's Spider-Man annuals, and it is everything that I can't stand about writer David Michelinie. The man was positively obsessed with evil corporations, and here the spotlight shines on one of his favorite corporate bugaboos: Roxxon Oil. This time out, Roxxon has created a synthetic Vibranium substitute that can not only destroy the economy of Wakanda, but also kill a ton of people, since it is terribly unstable. Spider-man joins up with The Black Panther and Iron Man to investigate the corporate intrigue, and they end up butting heads with The Kingpin, Ultron, and The Sunturion. These three MASSIVE issues are mainly a snore-fest. The back-up stories range from satisfactory to very good, and include stories about Silver Sable, Rocket Racer, The Sandman, Will-o-The-Wisp, Chance, Venom, The Rhino, Lil' Petey, The Green Goblin, and The Hobgoblin. I do appreciate Marvel going all-in and collecting the complete Annuals, though.

 From there, we have a two-part team-up with Nova against the resurrected Tri-Sentinel, with another Michelinie evil corporation, The Life Foundation. Next comes more Nova, in the abysmal six-part "Round Robin: The Sidekick's Revenge", also starring The Punisher, Night Thrasher, Moon Knight, and Darkhawk. Written by the usually dependable Al Milgrom, this is nothing but a huge six-issue fight scene against the most boring villains imaginable, The Secret Empire. This arc was a real chore to get through.

 Next comes more corporate shenanigans, as Spidey tries to stop Cardiac, who is actually fairly interesting here, from killing, you guessed it, people who work for evil corporations. Since six of the ten issues of AMAZING that are presented here are essentially glorified fill-in issues, there isn't much movement here with the supporting cast, aside from a few pages with the man who would soon become Carnage. I was a HUGE fan of Spider-man when these issues were first released, and this is right about where I started to feel that Michelinie had worn out his welcome on the book.

 The collection closes out with the graphic novel SPIDER-MAN: FEAR ITSELF, which I review here.

 Overall, not a stellar sampling of Spidey, as the book starts to descend into the pit of mediocrity we knew as the '90's. My love of the Epic format got me through, but it was tough going at times.

 THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN EPIC COLLECTION, VOLUME 22: ROUND ROBIN earns a meh seven out of ten Punisher skulls:

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