Tuesday, April 15, 2014


SPIDER-MAN: THE NEXT CHAPTER VOL. 2 (Marvel, 2012; Softcover)

Collects Amazing Spider-Man Nos. 7-12, Peter Parker, Spider-Man Annual '99, and Peter Parker, Spider-Man Nos. 7-12 (cover dates July- December, 1999)

Writers: John Byrne, Howard Mackie, J.M. DeMatteis, and Tom Brevoort

Artists: Pencilers- John Byrne, John Romita, Jr., Al Rio, Liam Sharp, Sean Phillips, and Geof Isherwood; Inkers- Scott Hanna, Dan Schaeter, Liam Sharp, Ray Kryssing, John Byrne, John Beatty, Rodney Ramos, and Sean Phillips

Wow. This book serves as a textbook example why modern Spider-Man comics suck so bad. Real artwork. No bloated endless crossovers. The Sinister Six reassembled in one issue. I can imagine that one being done in even one trade nowadays. Then having the battle stretched out across a mini-series, one-shot, and an Annual.

Things start out slow. Amazing Spider-Man #7-8 are a Mysterio two-parter which feel more like a Silver Age DC comic than a Marvel one. At least they have John Byrne artwork. Byrne is one of my all-time favorite artists, and was my absolute favorite as a kid in the '80s. While this era is not his strongest, he still turned in good work when paired with a strong inker like Scott Hanna. 

Next up is Peter Parker, Spider-Man #7-8, which is another two-parter, this one about vampires and the mob. Blade The Vampire Hunter (not Slayer- he was called Hunter at this time,) tries to stop them from opening a chest. I'm going to spoil the shit out of this one, folks, because inside that chest was my beloved Morbius The Living Vampire! John Romita, Jr. rules, and here he really, really rules. His artwork is incredible, and his take on the character is easily as good as Gil Kane's or Paul Gulacy's. Why on Earth can't Marvel let him draw a Horror series? I guess that that point is moot since he has left for DC after 36 years of service. 

Peter Parker, Spider-Man Annual '99 is a middle of the road tale featuring a radically different, Alan Moore Swamp Thing-esque take on the Man-Thing and the Scriers. There was some Photoshop work in that issue that must have been impressive to the technologically oppressed neanderthals of 1999. My phone could probably do that stuff now, though.

Things begin building. Doctor Octopus and Venom return, even if Spider-Man doesn't directly deal with them...yet. Subplots begin piling on top of one another. Peter Parker's name appears on a list of survivors of the accident that made Doctor Octopus into, well, Doctor Octopus. In this tweaked and revised reboot era, it is that same accident which gave Spider-Man his powers via a spider bite. There are one or two continuity discrepancies, such as this and the fact that Spider-Man has claimed to never have seen a vampire before. Electro's redesigned costume is another part of this new, temporary alteration to the continuity. That said, pretty much everything else that occurs falls in line with what happened before. This gentle reboot pales in comparison to what would occur shortly after this over in Ultimate Spider-Man, but that is a different conversation altogether. 

John Romita, Jr. rules! Look kids, no Photoshop!

While this is building, things take a side trip into a, wait for it, crossover. The Eigth Day “only” runs across three other titles, though. I find crossovers to be insulting. Expecting, nay, demanding “kids” (I would like to think that kids still read comics, at least) to spend their allowance on other comics is a rub. I remember doing this for Secret Wars II in 1985, buying crap like Daredevil and Doctor Strange that I had no interest in at the time. Part 3 is collected in this book. There is a text recap page for parts 1 and 2 and another for part 4.

The book is capped off by a two issue double-sized extravaganza which runs across both titles. The return of The Sinister Six! This time with a twist, though, as they are going against Doctor Octopus. Joining the Sandman, Mysterio, the Vulture, Kraven The Hunter (II- Junior), Electro (in his horrid blue and white redesigned costume), and Venom. 

I found John Byrne's take on the Vulture to be different yet pleasing.

These comics were so much more enjoyable than modern Spider-Man. It is not nostalgia talking; indeed, I read the first 7 or 8 issues of each title when I found them at a garage sale several years ago. I am simply comparing them to what is going on nowadays. This is the beauty of collected editions and back issues. Even if something is crapped up beyond redemption you can always go back discover “new” things to take it's place.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4.25 out of 5.

The OCD zone- I really like these thick chunky trade paperbacks. Consider this a proto-Epic line book. Marvel had been playing around with it around this time and finally went all in.

The covers to the three crossover issues not collected here are provided along with the text recap pages.

DVD-style Extras included in this book: All 13 issues minus the trade dress. (3 pages)

Linework and Color restoration rating: 5 out of 5. Everything looks great.

Paper rating: 4.5 out of 5. Perfect bound trade paperback. Decent weight glossy coated stock, ideal for this type of computer-assisted colored material.

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

Cardstock cover coating rating: 5 out of 5. Thick waxlike lamination makes me sleep soundly at night.


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