SPIDER-MAN: THE GATHERING OF FIVE (Marvel, 2013; Softcover)
Collects Amazing Spider-Man Nos. 440, 441, Sensational Spider-Man Nos. 32, 33, Spectacular Spider-Man Nos. 262, 263, and (Peter Parker,) Spider-Man Nos. 96-98 (cover dates October- November, 1998)
Writers: John Byrne, Howard Mackie, and Todd Dezago
Artists: Pencilers- Luke Ross, Rafael Kanayan, John Romita, Jr., Norman Felchle, and Joe Bennett; Inkers- Scott Hanna, Bud LaRosa, Jimmy Palmiotti, Rodney Ramos, Al Milgrom, and Ralph Cabrera.
Colorists: Gregory Wright, Mark Bernardo, Mike Rockwitz, John Kalisz, and Tom Smith
The gist- Norman Osborn, a/k/a the Green Goblin, goes on a quest to find five willing participants to help him perform a ceremony called the Coming Together (or Gathering) of the Five. There are four arcane stone pieces and a center spindle which all must be placed together. Once completed, there are five gifts which will be dispersed among the participants: Power, Knowledge, Immortality, Death, and Madness. Along the way we see the return of the Molten Man,who is duped much like everyone else by Norman Osborn. The whole Norman-Osborn-has-been-pulling-the-strings-all-along bit was hard to swallow at times, but I was more than able to buy it, especially when you consider some of the crap that they try to pass off on us nowadays.
I can see why lots of long time readers became disenfranchised with the title during this time even if I do not share that sentiment. Yes, making Osborn a part of some Goblin cult (the Scriers) seems a bit a of a stretch and yes, the Aunt May thing was a cop out, but it is still better than the last few issues of Amazing Spider-Man leading up to the ill-advised #700. I'll take a baby stealing goblin cult and kidnapped Aunt May over the so-called Superior Spider-Man.
By this time, the newer artists were all moving away from their Image-influenced roots and finding their own voice. Luke Ross has shown improvements by leaps and bounds just a couple of years after he started drawing the character. Rafael Kanayan is an artist who doesn't seem to be in the comic book business anymore but whose work I enjoy. Of course John Romita, Jr.'s artwork is incredible. His work has more aggressive styling during this era which I like.
|Artwork by John Romita, Jr. Lots of Green Goblin goodness in this book.|
Boy that Marvel sure is sneaky. While some of their collected editions of '90s material seem to be piecemeal, random arcs thrown out there in a trade paperback for no reason, those of us who watch closely begin to see a pattern of large runs collected across several books. This remains a great time to be a collected editions fan. When I started buying these books eleven or so years ago I could scarcely dream that we would ever get this far, or how this hobby would force me into a life of male prostitution to help pay for my habit. If loving this
hobby lifestyle is wrong, then I don't want to be
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4.25 out of 5.
The OCD zone- The TLC that Marvel's collected editions department puts into their books makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. While none of the extras listed below make the story read any better they certainly add a completist feeling to the proceedings. Think of it like a Blu-Ray. You might not always watch that disc of extras, but it is wonderful to know that every piece of bric-a-brac was stuffed in there for when you do.
For instance, six pages of story from Amazing Spider-Man #434 and 435 are collected before the issues in this book as a sort of recap. While I read those issues in the books leading up to this one, it would be helpful to someone who has only picked up this book.
DVD-style Extras included in this book: All are one page each unless otherwise noted:
(Peter Parker,) Spider-Man #98 inner cover, which was bound underneath the regular cover.
Marvel Comics Catalog #3 article Spider-Man: The Final Chapter?!? (3 pages)
Letter page farewells from Editor Ralph Macchio and Luke Ross from Spectacular Spider-Man #263 and Todd Dezago from Sensational Spider-Man #33.
(Peter Parker,) Spider-Man #98 Page 1 art by John Romita, Jr. and Scott Hanna.
Wizard Magazine #84 cover by Mike Wieringo and Liquid.
Wizard Spider-Man Special Edition cover by John Romita, Jr. and Liquid.
Marvel Creators Collection '98 trading cart art by John Romita, Jr., Rey Lago, Alex Saviuk, and Mike Wieringo. All four cards presented at actual size on one page.
Linework and Color restoration rating: 4.75 out of 5. Everything looks great except for Spectacular Spider-Man #262, which was scanned from the original comic. They are good scans, but it is apparent that they are scanned from floppies. You probably can't even tell the difference, but I tend to skew uber-anal.
Paper rating: 4.5 out of 5. The paper is a thinner coated stock with a slight sheen. I quite like it. It works very well for this material.
Binding rating: 4 out of 5. Perfect bound trade paperback
Cardstock cover coating rating: 4.5 out of 5. As we rush headlong into our brave new world of digital publishing, companies are continually looking for ways to cut costs. Ways like making the cardstock cover marginally thinner than they used to. The waxlike lamination is still as nice as ever and I have little concern in terms of durability. On the plus side, the thinner cardstock cover is more malleable and makes the books feel more like a giant periodical. This may seem appealing to some people. While I like the improved flexibility that the new, thinner cardstock provides, my OCD flares up like a pack of hemorrhoids when I perceive something done as a cost save.