Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $4.99 USD
Writer: Sean McKeever
Artists: Terrell Bobbett (p), Gary Martin (i)
Writer: Fred Van Lente
Artists: Federica Manfredi (p), Terry Pallot (i)
Writer: Yamanaka Akira
Artists: Yuko Fukami (p), Zeb Wells (i)
Assorted strips by Chris Eliopolous
Also reprinting Untold Tales of Spider-Man #3 (Kurt Busiek/Pat Oliffe/Al Vey & Pam Eklund), and Amazing Spider-Man #176 (Len Wein/Ross Andru/Tony DeZuniga)
Slices of Spidey history are in this new extra-large bi-monthly series. First, a tale of the black alien costume that Spider-Man slept through. The first battle between the Black Cat and Hellcat. And a chapter from Japan’s take on Spider-Man. Plus an early fight with Sandman from Untold Tales, and Harry Osborn’s transformation into the new Green Goblin from a 1977 issue of Amazing Spider-Man.
This is the kind of comic I’d be publishing if I ran Marvel. Hell, I’d print it on cheap newsprint like comics used to have, put in 80 pages of reprints, hire interns and young unknowns for try-out stories, and fill the rest with Spidey-related news and ads. It would be just like a Japanese manga magazine.
Speaking of which, “Spider-Man J” provides the biggest surprise with its unique twist on the Spider-Man premise. In this version, Peter Parker is a pre-teen kid who works with a police detective! Detective Lynn seems to act as both a mentor and sidekick to the young boy. It’s also someone for the bad guys to threaten. This re-imagining of Parker opens up new story possibilities while retaining the core of the character.
Although the cover says it’s part of the “Back in Black” event, the book is really capitalizing on the new Spider-Man 3 movie. Both the Untold reprint and the new story feature the movie’s villain Sandman. And Amazing #177 shows the comic book version of what we’ll see in the movie: Harry Osborn adopting the Green Goblin persona. That helps make this comic more appealing to a mass audience. Every story is self-contained and packed with action, drama, and old-fashioned superheroic fighting. Art styles vary wildly, from the modern original stories, to the Byrne-esque retro art of Pat Oliffe, to wild manga, to the downright funky work of Andru and DeZuniga. The colors jump of the page in this obviously retro yet elegant piece of 1970s comic artwork. It’s just beautiful to look at. This alone is worth the 5 bucks.
I swear, I’m going to buy every issue of this series just to see more great reprints, more funny strips from Eliopolous, and more light-hearted original stories. And I don’t even like Spider-Man that much! (Whiny little bitch. If he really understood responsibility, he would’ve told his Aunt and Uncle about his powers from the start.)
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