Sunday, November 10, 2013



Collects Amazing Spider-Man Nos. 238, 239, 244, 245, 249-251, and Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man Nos. 43, 47, 48, 85 (cover dates June, 1980- April, 1984)

Writers: Roger Stern (also plotter/co-plotter on issues scripted by others), Bill Mantlo (Script- Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #85), and Tom DeFalco (Script- Amazing Spider-Man #251)

Artists: John Romita, Jr., (Penciler unless otherwise noted), Klaus Janson (Inker- Amazing Spider-Man #244, 245, 250, 251), John Romita, Sr. (Inker- Amazing Spider-Man #238), Al Milgrom (Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #85), Ron Frenz (Amazing Spider-Man #251), Mike Zeck (Penciler- Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #43), Jim Mooney (Inker- Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #43, 85), Marie Severin (Penciler- Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #47, 48), Bruce Patterson (Inker- Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #47, 48), Frank Giacoia (Inker- Amazing Spider-Man #239), Dan Green (Amazing Spider-Man #249)

This run, this creative team, and this villain, the Hobgoblin, are about as near and dear to my heart as it gets. While I was buying comics (or having them bought for me by my Mom as the case may be) as far back as 1977, I did not officially consider myself to be a comic collector until Sunday, January 9, 1983. That is the day that I bought one of those sealed 3-packs of comics at the long defunct regional supermarket chain Farmer Jack which contained the following comic books: The Mighty Thor #330, Ghost Rider #79, and The Amazing Spider-Man #239. The latter is what did it for my then 9.5 year old self. The bug bit me, and it be me hard, and I was off to the races. You can read more of my pointless nostalgic ramblings in this review for ESSENTIAL SPIDER-MAN VOL. 11 TP

This book is fantastic. While it starts off slow, the introduction of Roderick Kingsley is a crucial element of the Hobgoblin saga. Marie Severin's artwork in those issues have a decidedly Ditko-esque slant to them which I found appealing. Roger Stern was still finding his voice in the first 3 issues in this book (Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #43, 47, 48), but once we get to the godlike Amazing Spider-Man #238 the gloves are off. Stern and the Romitas (Jr. and Sr.!) ushered in an era of excitement, introducing a new sinister arch-nemesis for Spider-Man in the form of the Hobgoblin. I came on board for #239, and that issue remains a high point not just for comic books, but for all of western civilization. You can keep those pyramids or Stonehenge; I'll stick with Roger Stern and John Romita, Jr.'s run on this title.

I thrilled at every twist and turn, and at how insane this new Hobgoblin was. He was a step ahead of everyone the entire time, and these issues burst with excitement. It's hard to believe that I got to live through the era that such genius was spawned in. I now know how people who lived in Shakespeare's heyday must have felt. 

Issue 239, quite possibly the greatest comic book ever made...ever.

John Romita, Jr.s artwork was getting better with each passing month. I also recall how bold the cover to issue 245 was, with the first new Marvel cover redesign in my lifetime. Little did I realize that it was merely a refined and modernized version of the 1960s trade dress. All that I new was that it looked fresh and exciting. Romita's artwork suffered when he was first paired with Klaus Janson for an inker. The two worked together on and off over the years until they became attached at the hip, playing off of each other's strengths and weaknesses. That greatness that they have since achieved is not so apparent in issue 250.

I remember buying issue 250 off of the spinner rack at 7-11 on December 31, 1983. I read it several times waiting to watch the ball drop on television. New Year's Eve was always a big deal to Mom, not so much for me. I just have fond memories of each new issue of this title being unleashed on an unsuspecting world.

Aspiring artists take note. THIS is how you draw dynamic action sequences. Romita's artwork "moves".
The book is capped off with issue 251, oddly titled Endings!. It is in truth the beginning of the Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz era of the title. While it is built off of Stern's plot and features Klaus Janson doing the finished art, it has a slightly different vibe. DeFalco writes in a more hyperbolic Stan Lee fashion, while Ron Frenz demonstrates how he has studied at the altar of Steve Ditko. For my money, the teams of DeFalco and Frenz and Stern and Romita, Jr., are the heirs to the artistic throne of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko for this title. Accept no substitutes.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 5 out of 5.

The OCD zone- Upgrade-itis affects hundreds of collected editions obsessives every year. It is a condition that I (and my wallet...and my wife) feel should be a recognized illness. I've bought the floppies...the original 1993 Spider-Man: Origin Of The Hobgoblin trade paperback...the same material again in Essential Spider-Man Vol. 11 (most of it, anyways) in this release...and I will buy it again in the forthcoming Spider-Man By Roger Stern Omnibus Vol. 1 in 2014. Upgrade-itis is a serious affliction, and those who suffer from it deserve compassion...and probably medication.

In all seriousness, I welcome this upgrade, as I will be giving this book to my son. He turns 7 this month, and I can only imagine the sheer joy that this book will bring him.
There are printing defects on pages 172 and 173. I cannot say if these affect the entire run or if I just got lucky with my copy.

DVD-style Extras included in this book: The Hobgoblin entry from The Official Handbook Of The Marvel Universe Deluxe Edition #5. (3 pages)
Spider-Man: Emergence Of Evil- Jackal & Hobgoblin cover by Steve Segovia and Chris Sotomayer.
The front and back cover to the original 1993 Spider-Man: Origin Of The Hobgoblin trade paperback by Derek Fridolphs.
The covers to issues 238 and 249 done with modern recoloring as seen on the front and back covers of the book, minus the trade dress.

Linework and Color restoration rating: 4.5 out of 5. While the work done on this book is mostly excellent, my uber-anal retentive OCD for this run demands that this material be treated like the Dead Sea Scrolls and handled with the utmost care. 

Thus, I charge Marvel with the crime of negligence for the following errors:
Page 244 panel 2 has incorrect coloring. Page 244 panel 4 has a scratch on the word balloon. I am hoping that these blemishes on the Mona Lisa of comics will be rectified in the forthcoming Omnibus. The flesh shadings on the Kingpin in issue 250 are too heavy handed, similar to the ones found on Puck in Alpha Flight Classic Vol. 3 TP.

Paper rating: 5 out of 5. Nice dull matte finish coated stock, the same found in Classic lines and the softcover Marvel Masterworks.

Binding rating: 4 out of 5. Perfect bound trade paperback.

Cardstock cover coating rating: 5 out of 5. The usual high quality waxlike lamination found on all Marvel trade paperback releases.


  1. Yup. Brilliant stuff. I bought 238 off the stand and it hooked me badly. 239 was great, too. 249-251 rocked hard. I'm disappointed the defalco stuff isn't collected yet. - steve

  2. I couldn't enjoy reading your thoughts on this era of Spider-Man any more. Your passion for Stern's work is obviously more than a fan's nostalgic devotion. It's articulate, studied, well thought out -- it's love. I can't wait to read this entire run in full for the first time when the Omnibus releases.

    1. Thank you for the kind words. Yes, this run is more than mere nostalgia. I would say that I am still passionate about this run. I hope that I haven't raised your expectation so high that the book cannot deliver. I am fairly confident that you will love it, as the Stern/JRJR run is one of the high points of the title. Only Lee/Ditko, Lee/JRSR/Kane-era Spider-Man ranks higher, although this run can go toe to toe with it.

  3. just thinking about this some more. This was a run back before they called them a run. in an era of 6 issue storylines and reLaunches and the like, it's great to look back and see how it really should be done. Stern didn't need to restart everything and throw away all that had come before. He simply told good stories with a very capable artist. - steve