Sunday, June 7, 2015


I owned a T-shirt with this artwork in 1988 or 1989. Back then wearing a t-shirt with a comic book character made you a nerd, and I was viciously taunted for wearing it to school. I only wore it to school once.


Collects Amazing Spider-Man #296-329 and stories from The Spectacular Spider-Man Annual #10 and What The? #3 (cover dates January, 1988- February, 1990)

Writers: David Michelinie and Glenn Herdling (Spectacular Spider-Man Annual #10)

Artists: Todd McFarlane; Additional artists: Pencilers- Alex Saviuk (#296, 297), Erik Larsen (#324, 327, 329), and Colleen Duran (#326) and various additional Inkers

I was there. I bought all but one or two of the later issues in this book day of release from a comics specialty shop (Direct Market retailer for you kids out there), from when #296 hit the stands in September of 1987 to when I ditched the title around November of 1989, probably with issue 328. Cover dates were knocked down from five months ahead to two during this time with Early and Late month cover dates following the bi-weekly publication schedule during the summer; if you purchase these from a newsstand, #296 would have been out in October of 1987. I had two paper routes and new comics came out on Thursday night. Journey with me into this bizarre world of the past...a world where computers were for nerds, telephones were connected to wires in your house, the future was bright, and nuclear war seemed imminent.

Spider-Man was and remains my all-time favorite superhero. He was poor, and so was I. He had bad luck, which was the story of my life. He always had a hard time with the ladies, just like me...except that he had recently married Mary Jane Watson and we were dealing with a recently domesticated Spider-Man. Oh. All of a sudden Spider-Man wasn't very relatable to 14 year old me. Enter Todd McFarlane. His artwork was a breath of fresh air. No one had ever seen anything quite like it, and all of a sudden everyone jumped on the bandwagon.

McFarlane was the first artist to draw the webs that way, and everyone since has drawn them that way. His style is cartoony and I dislike the way that he draws faces, but at the time I really dug his stuff. Little did I know that this was the beginning of the end for me. He helped usher in a new breed of artist, the “Image” guys. Erik Larsen, Rob Liefeld...these were the guys who got me to quit comics. Much like you had a Nirvana and a Soundgarden and a million weaker bands, McFarlane paved the way for style over substance and became the symbol of everything wrong with comics, nearly destroying the entire industry in the 1990s.

Don't think that I didn't enjoy rereading these comics. Quite the opposite. David Michelinie is a solid writer who knew how to build on plotlines without being long-winded. He knew the beauty of the set-up while taking care of the business at hand. He would lay down the foundation of the next storyline in the middle of the current one without missing a beat. I especially enjoyed #311 (Mysterio), #312 (Green Goblin vs. the Hobgoblin), and #313 (the Lizard).

While I enjoyed Venom's first appearance (#299-300), his return (#316-317) left me cold at the time and soured me on the character. I was out of comics altogether when he rose to fame a few years later. I enjoyed those issues as an adult, however.

Comics became progressively darker in the aftermath of Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns. I disliked it at the time, and I honestly still do. The tone is fine for those titles, but I despised the impact that they had on every title under the sun. Even my light-hearted Spider-Man became darker as this run wore on. That, combined with endless crossovers (such as Acts Of Vengeance, the final issues that I bought before quitting comics) and lackluster artwork drove me away from comics. Music, cars, and girls seemed way more interesting to my then-now-16 year old self. I would be in my 30s before I returned to this hobby, but that is a story for another time...
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4 out of 5.

The 1989 Batman movie captured the hearts and minds of the world.

The OCD zone- How much do I hate my money? Let us count the ways. I bought the original issues when they were released, only to dump them along with my most of my collection in 1995 when my Mom died and I needed money fast, receiving pennies on the dollar for them from comic dealers. I wish that there was an eBay back then. Then when I returned to the hobby in the Aughts I bought all three Spider-Man Visionaries: Todd McFarlane trades, only to discover that those skipped #324 because Erik Larsen did the artwork, and right in the middle of an arc no less. That led me to the out of print but relatively inexpensive Spider-Man: The Assassin Nation Plot trade. Some of these issues have been collected in various other books (Spider-Man: The Birth Of Venom (which I dumped for this book), Acts Of Vengeance OmnibusSpider-Man: The Cosmic Adventures (which I dumped for the AoV Omni), and in the as-yet-unread Amazing Spider-Man Epic Collection Vol. 20: Cosmic Adventures.

Linework and Color restoration: These issues have been reprinted multiple times, so the film has been handled quite a bit. A few issues look downright beat. The colors are mostly faithful to the original publications but there are a few liberties taken. Needless to say, I will rebuy this material when the Marvel Masterworks get here.

Paper stock: Beautiful thick coated stock with a slight sheen. I loved the paper that Marvel used in their Omniboo during this era.

Binding: Smyth sewn binding, double fan adhesive bound, which allows this massive 800+ page book to lay completely flat from the first page to the last.

Dustjacket and Hardback cover notes: Thick lamination on the dustjacket, faux leather grain casewrap with dye foil stamping. 

1 comment:

  1. I bought this the week it came out and it's been in my backlog ever since. I took the plastic off, though, otherwise I might have just sold it at this point and used some of the money to buy the Epic Collections of this material whenever it comes out. I think I only bought one more Marvel Omnibus after this came out -- and with the production quality not being nearly as good today as it was in 2011, I doubt I'll be getting any more.