SPIDER-MAN: THE NEXT CHAPTER VOL. 3 (Marvel, 2012; Softcover)
Collects Amazing Spider-Man Nos. 13-19, Amazing Spider-Man Annual 2000, Peter Parker, Spider-Man Nos. 13-19, and Spider-Woman No. 9 (cover dates January- July, 2000)
Writers: John Byrne and Howard Mackie with Gregory Wright and A.A. Ward
Artists: Pencilers- John Byrne, Lee Weeks, Graham Nolan, John Romita, Jr., Klaus Janson, Erik Larsen, and Andy Kuhn; Inkers- Al Milgrom, Robert Campanella, Dan Green, Randy Elliot, Scott Hanna, Klaus Janson, John Romita, Sr., John Beatty, and Harry Candelario
Spider-Man is my all time favorite character when done right, like he is here in this book. This was from an era of legitimate character development for Peter Parker. He finally had his “real job”, he was married to Mary Jane, they had a place of their own...and then all of these things are undone in a spectacular fashion to restore the previous status quo. The main difference between the way that they did it then and the way that they do it now is that the new normal didn't disregard the old. They built layers on top of the old, whereas nowadays they seem to either jettison or outright disregard what happened before.
The once thought to be resolved subplot of Mary Jane's stalker/kidnapper is resurrected here, and in all honesty, it is not resolved by the end of this book. This would be fine if there were a volume 4 in this line, but as of this writing the only option that I have to find out what happens with that is A) Internet synopsis (boring) or B) hunting down back issues which are not cheap due to the low print runs during that era (undesirable).
|Artwork by John Byrne.|
The new Rocket Racer is a bore, ditto the new Spider-Woman and the new new Spider-Woman. There are some loose ends tied up from the tail end of the original series numbering (seen in Spider-Hunt and The Gathering Of Five collections) with Madame Web turning up again. We get to see yet another Spider-Man/ Hulk battle. Those never get old, and I say this without a whiff of irony or sarcasm. John Romita, Jr.'s art is a treat.
|Artwork by John Romita, Jr.|
We also see Spidey face Doctor Doom, Venom, Sandman, Electro, and the second Kraven the Hunter. The Doctor Doom story is a two-parter that finds Spider-Man going to Latveria pursuing a lead on the whereabouts of Mary Jane. The world at large believes her to be dead in an airplane explosion while Peter believes that she is alive. Venom is seeking revenge against the Sinister Six for embarrassing him by not admitting him into their ranks. John Romita, Jr.'s take on this Venom/Carnage hybrid is much creepier and far cooler than the Venom of the '90s.
Lee Weeks is an incredible artist. Why did he not earn the role as regular artist on this title? He could have been the artist to define the look of the character for the Millennials. He did several issues a few years ago but I want more more more!
Amazing Spider-Man Annual 2000 has a continuity gaffe. It is mentioned that Peter Parker and Harry Osborn were friends in high school, which is of course impossible since they did not meet until Peter started college.
|Artwork by Lee Weeks.|
Amazing Spider-Man #18 boasts the artwork team of John Byrne with inks by none other than the definitive Spider-Man artist, John Romita, Sr. While it is true that Ditko was the innovator who created the costume and set the stage, it was Romita who refined and spit shined the appearance of the character. I remember getting into an argument in a comic shop in the late '80s with some guy about Spider-Man artists. This is what we had to do in the stone ages, argue face to face with people we randomly encountered in comic shops. This oldster was proclaiming his love for Ditko, bashing every other artist who ever penciled the series. I leapt in, defending Romita Senior. I told him at that time that while Ditko pioneered the character's look and initial development it was John Romita, Sr. who defined the contemporary Spider-Man that we all know and love. On a completely unrelated note I could not get a date during this era. Girls were probably too intimidated by my knowledge of comics. Yeah, that's the ticket.
|Artwork by John Byrne AND John Romita, Sr...together! You put your chocolate in my peanut butter. No, you put your peanut butter in my chocolate. GENIUS.|
The next issue of ASM, #19, has horribly jarring artwork by fan favorite Erik Larsen. I say fan favorite because a lot of folks like his art. I am not one of those folks. Compare his artwork to Byrne or especially Romita and he looks like a bumbling amateur. It would be like having Weezer take the stage after Led Zeppelin.
This book was a blast to read and it has mostly excellent artwork. Lots of fun, lots of action, stuff happens in every issue. My only complaint is that there isn't a follow up volume for me to buy. I need to know what happens next without breaking the bank on back issues. Marvel should make two more chunky books, plugging the gap between this run and when their trade paperback program started in the early 2000s.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4.25 out of 5.
The OCD zone- I really, really like these chunky trade paperbacks.
The opening page of the book has a typo. It lists this as The Next Chapter Volume Two. Whoops. Still better than DC style goof ups, where they forget to include issues that were solicited to be included in the book.
DVD-style Extras included in this book: All sixteen covers minus trade dress. (4 pages)
Linework and Color restoration rating: 5 out of 5. Everything looks great.
Paper rating: 4.5 out of 5. Glossy coated stock paper. It is a little thin but is really nice.
Binding rating: 4 out of 5. Perfect bound trade paperback.
Cardstock cover coating rating: 5 out of 5. Thick waxlike lamination.