SPIDER-MAN: IDENTITY CRISIS (Marvel, 2012; Softcover)
Collects Amazing Spider-Man Nos. 434, 435, Sensational Spider-Man Nos. 27, 28, Spectacular Spider-Man Nos. 257, 258, and (Peter Parker,) Spider-Man Nos. 91, 92 (cover dates May-June, 1998)
Writers: Todd Dezago, Tom DeFalco, Howard Mackie, J.M. DeMatteis, Glenn Greenberr, and with Mike Wieringo
Artists: Pencilers- John Romita, Jr., Luke Ross, Mike Wieringo, and Joe Bennett; Inkers- Richard Case, Dan Green, Bud LaRosa, Al Milgrom, and Scott Hanna
Picking up right where the Spider-Man: Spider-Hunt trade paperback ends, Identity Crisis finds Spider-Man adopting not one, but four new identities. Norman Osborn, the original Green Goblin, had hired the Trapster to frame Spider-Man by murdering a two-bit criminal. Osborn offers a five million dollar reward for anyone who can capture Spider-Man, essentially forcing him into hiding. Mary Jane convinces Peter Parker to adopt a new identity. Working with Hobie Brown, a/k/a The Prowler, helps him design the armored Hornet costume. Another new identity, Dusk, was a costume that Spider-Man brought back after his adventure to the Negative Zone where he fought Blastaar.
Ricochet is the weakest of the four new identities, coming off like an even lamer Speedball, if that is possible. Prodigy is lame, but at least it's intentional on Peter Parker's part. Things are decent with these identities with the exception of the fight with Roughouse and Bloodscream, where he finds time to change costumes repeatedly in order to confuse people so that they don't believe that they are the same guy...except that there is no one on the docks to witness this fight.
Osborn has not only made Spider-Man's life miserable, but that of the Trapster as well, taking out a contract on his life so as to not have any loose ends. Along the way we get treated to fights with the Shocker, the Vulture, and the climax featuring a new(?) Jack O'Lantern and a new villain by the name of Conundrum.
The artwork is a mixed back. Of course John Romita, Jr. is tops. Mike Wieringo is what I call a “bridge” artist in that he blends then-contemporary and Manga influences into a more classical Marvel house style. Joe Bennett...I don't get it. Some of his panels look great, others look godawful. Same with people's faces. It's weird. Luke Ross...let's just say that he gets good later on in his career.
This book is entertaining and fun without being dark, moody, or taking itself too seriously. There is a fine line between that and the contempt for “capes” shown by some modern writers. I will gladly take this over the so-called Superior Spider-Man any day.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4 out of 5.
The OCD zone- This was a double dip purchase. Unlike DC, when Marvel decides to go back to press on something they reexamine it and see if there are any improvements which can be made. The original trade paperback was from the '90s, and this is a frame up improvement.
DVD-style Extras included in this book: The Secret Of My Identity introduction by Ralph Macchio from the Spider-Man: Identity Crisis 1998 trade paperback. (1 page)
Sensational Spider-Man #27 variant cover by Mike Wieringo and Rich Case.
Amazing Spider-Man #434 variant cover by Mark Buckingham. (1 page)
(Peter Parker,) Spider-Man #91 variant cover by John Romita, Jr., Scott Hanna, and Atomic Paintbrush. (1 page)
Spectacular Spider-Man #257 ariant cover by John Romita, Sr. (1 page)
Spider-Man: Identity Crisis 1998 trade paperback cover by Mike Wieringo and Rich Case.
Hornet, Ricochet, Dusk, and Prodigy character sketch and explanation pages (four, one page each).
House ads for the crossover event (3 pages)
Linework and Color restoration rating: 5 out of 5. I usually list this for all books of pre-2000 material, but it is silly for this one because pretty much everything was digital by this point.
Paper rating: 4.5 out of 5. Good weight glossy stock which is perfect for this material.
Binding rating: 4 out of 5. Perfect bound (glued) trade paperback.
Cardstock cover coating rating: 5 out of 5. Nice thick waxlike lamination will provide years of enjoyment...until the Epic line, Marvel Masterworks line, or Omnibus comes along and forces me to re-buy this material again. Kill me.