Friday, April 13, 2018

The Amazing Spider-Man: The Graphic Novels

  A beautiful collection of four hard-to-find classics.

 THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: THE GRAPHIC NOVELS collects four standalone Spider-Man graphic novels that Marvel published between 1986 and 1992. Of the four, I've covered three so far in reviews of other collected editions. Those reviews can be found here:



 To be sure, this volume is the best way to read any of these four books. This is a gorgeous, oversized hardcover printed on glossy paper, which really shows off the painted artwork in HOOKY and SPIRITS OF THE EARTH. The book also has a sewn binding, which means that it lies flat when you're reading it, and there is no gutter loss on the two-page spreads, which is particularly good news as far as HOOKY goes, since Berni Wrightson has some truly amazing pages that would suffer greatly from gutter loss, were there any.

 And that brings us to this volume's only unreviewed book, SPIDER-MAN: FEAR ITSELF. Plotted by the great Gerry Conway, and scripted by Conway and Stan Lee, this espionage-oriented story finds Spider-Man recruited by Silver Sable to travel with her to Bavaria, where they must stop a madwoman named "The Baroness" from using a stolen chemical to bring the world to its knees. Of the four graphic novels collected in this volume, this is the one that would feel most at home in a regular issue or two of a Spider-Man monthly comic. Which is not necessarily a bad thing....The plot is far-reaching and has a real sense of urgency about it, and the main villain, whose story takes a major-league disturbing plot twist, could have had massive implications on the greater Marvel Universe. At heart, FEAR ITSELF is a rollicking espionage/adventure yarn, and the art suits it perfectly. Classic AMAZING SPIDER-MAN penciler Ross Andru does a great job, even though inker Mike Esposito doesn't seem to be at the top of his game. Overall, a fun story.

  THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: THE GRAPHIC NOVELS was a fun throwback to the glory days, when the graphic novel format was new and every story presented that way was special.
Eight out of ten spider-tracers!

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