SPIDER-MAN: SPIDER-HUNT (Marvel, 2012; Softcover)
Collects Amazing Spider-Man Nos. 432, 433, Sensational Spider-Man Nos. 25, 26, The Spectacular Spider-Man Nos. 254-256, and (Peter Parker,) Spider-Man Nos. 88-90 (cover dates February- April, 1998)
Writers: Howard Mackie, J.M. DeMatteis, Tom DeFalco, and Todd Dezago.
Artists: Pencilers- John Romita, Jr., Luke Ross, Joe Bennett, Todd Nauck, and Tom Lyle; Inkers- Scott Hanna, Dan Green, Al Milgrom, Bud LaRosa, and Andrew Hennessy.
Norman Osborn, a.k.a the Green Goblin, was brought back from the dead, and with that development, the question becomes: How bad can he mess with life of Peter Parker/ Spider-Man. The answer is, apparently, a heck of a lot, because he bought a controlling interest in The Daily Bugle, using the paper as a starting point in his smear campaign against Spider-Man. While J. Jonah Jameson always ran anti-Spidey editorials, Osborn's edicts have turned the paper into an anti-Spider-Man machine. A small time crook is found dead, apparently having suffocated from what appears to be Spider-Man's webbing. Public opinion against Spider-Man has never been higher, and with Osborn offering a five million dollar reward for his capture, he has declared open season on our hero without lifting a finger. There is also a new Green Goblin lurking about who is not Norman Osborn. Osborn is obviously behind this new Goblin, but who or what he/it is is not revealed in this book.
This is the gist of Spider-Hunt. Spider-Man is being gunned at from all sides and at all times, leaving him without a minute to catch his breath or step back and try and think straight. From every redneck with a shotgun to upstarts like Override and Aura and Shotgun. We see Spider-Man get his ass handed to him by the Black Tarantula, a character who goes on to play a recurring role in the MC2 Universe title Spider-Girl. Even Hyrdo-Man tries to get in on the action, until Sandman and Silver Sable show up to lend Spider-Man a hand. Yes, this was the era where Sandman was making a concerted effort to be a good guy. I'm not a fan of this sort of thing, as it feels like WWF Wrestling, when a bad guy would get so popular that they had to make him into a good guy. This always annoyed me as a wrestling watching teenager. This being the '90s, of course The Punisher pops in for an issue or two.
I have a major problem with Amazing Spider-Man #433. In this issue, Joe Robertson is having his “retirement” party at the Hotel Roosevelt. While Peter Parker is there, a gentleman by the name of Dr. Calvin Zabo walks by him in the lobby, triggering his Spider-Sense. Once Peter figures out that he is Mister Hyde, a known villain and wanted felon, he searches him out by crawling around the outside of the building, peeping in windows like some weirdo. Mind you, Zabo had merely checked in to this hotel and was trying to lay low. Of course the sight of Peter in disguise (and not his Spider-Man costume, since he was also trying to lay low) incites Zabo, resulting in him becoming Hyde and running amok in the hotel, crashing the party and endangering everyone. Peter Parker created the situation which made Hyde going into action necessary, and it seemed like the story didn't really work because of it. The whys of Peter climbing around the building seem flimsy.
While there are some dated aspects to the storytelling, this holds up pretty well storywise. I for one miss the third-person narrative mode which is interspersed with the first-person view which is now the sole method of comic book storytelling. The biggest problem with the story comes from occasional overwriting, resulting in annoying smaller text in some of the word balloons in the same panel.
The artwork is a grab bag, from John Romita, Jr.'s amazing artwork to Luke Ross and Joe Bennett's Image influenced dreck. Todd Nauck is a hit or miss artist for me, and here he misses. Tom Lyle is another whose work essentially defecated on my eyes.
This story arc of course all leads up to the Spider-Man: Identity Crisis trade paperback, which I am currently reading. I have been sifting through my unread Spider-Man collected editions as of late because, quite frankly, I miss the character. Superior Spider-Man is not Spider-Man, it is Doctor Octopus in Peter Parker's mind and body, and I refuse to support this project in any capacity. Thankfully no one can ever make me read Superior Spider-Man, nor can they take books like this away from me.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4 out of 5.
The OCD zone- Marvel's trade paperback program is a completist fan's dream come true. No stone is left unturned when it comes to off the wall collections like this one. It's nice to have the variant covers included, especially since most people wouldn't even remember that these issues even had variant covers. I can guarantee that DC would not put this kind of effort into their products.
I also like how the original trade dress is included with each issue. It is standard practice for all publishers to present the covers without the trade dress, but I really enjoy seeing it.
DVD-style Extras included in this book: The following are all one full page.
Sensational Spider-Man #25 variant cover.
Amazing Spider-Man #432 variant cover.
(Peter Parker,) Spider-Man #89 variant cover.
The Spectacular Spider-Man #255 variant cover.
Linework and Color restoration rating: 5 out of 5. I don't know, maybe I shouldn't even include this category for this era of comics. These were all originally done digitally, correct? So then there is nothing to restore save a missing page or corrupted file, unless I am totally mistaken. Somebody enlighten me.
Paper rating: 4.5 out of 5. This book has a good weight glossy coated stock which is perfectly suited for the material.
Binding rating: 4 out of 5. Perfect bound (glued) trade paperback.
Cardstock cover coating rating: 5 out of 5. Nice thick waxlike lamination makes me happy.