the original spider-man comics: awesome (review)

I recently got these from the library.  I read some to my 3-year-old, but then I couldn’t wait.  A rollicking good time.

first-class entertainment

This collection of the original 22 magazine appearances of Spider-Man* is awesome. I’m not an experienced Spider-Man fan; I mostly know him from the recent Tobey Maguire films (good, better, bad). Spider-Man is a great character: trying to do the right thing and beat criminals while struggling to make financial ends meet (at one point he tries to convince a sports card manufacturer to make Spider-Man trading cards – to no avail), trying not to lose his temper with kids at school (remember he’s just a teenager), and seeking to maintain a relationship while constantly disappearing (to turn into Spider-Man). His adolescent arrogance often gets the better of him and his luck turns sour as often as sweet (except in a fight, in which it turns sour less often 🙂 ).

The dialogue in these comics is hilarious, often because of its clunky exposition. I’d say “unintentionally,” but Stan Lee – the writer – seems savvy enough to see the joke. Here are a couple of lines I loved:

Dr Doom, in a thought bubble: “When one is a master of science, as I am, there is nothing which cannot be accomplished!”

Mysterio, in the midst of a battle with Spider-man: “I might as well tell you the whole story – for I shall see to it that you never tell anyone else!” [followed by the whole story**]

The book is full of visits from other superheroes: the Fantastic Four appear most prominently, but we also see the Hulk, and have cameos from the X-Men, Giant-Men, the Wasp, Dr Strange, Iron Man, and many more. The villains are endless and creative: my favorite is the oh-so-dated leopard skin pants-wearing Kraven the Hunter. And there isn’t a period in the whole book: all exclamation points and question marks.

This is first-class entertainment.

* Includes Amazing Fantasy #15, The Amazing Spider-Man #1 – 20, and The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1.

** Reminiscent of that scene in The Great Muppet Caper when Miss Piggy asks her new employer why she just told her all about her personal life, to which the employer responds, Exposition!

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