A Sleek, Well-Designed Must-Have For Spidey Fans
The Penguin Classics Marvel Collection are, quite simply, fantastic. They’re quintessential books for any comic book fans, and, more specifically, for fans of the heroes they showcase. The focus here though is on the web-head himself, Spider-Man. An incredibly popular hero, Spider-Man has become synonymous with Marvel Comics, ushering in a brand new type of superhero since his inception, one steeped in angst, drama and an impressively iconic rogue gallery that rivals that of Batman over at DC.
The Amazing Spider-Man is essentially an anthology that gathers twelve key stories from Spider-Man’s first two years of publication history, running between 1962 and 1964. The comics not only show the origin for Spider-Man himself, but also depict a whole catalogue of iconic villain origins including Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus and Mysterio.
However, what’s particularly interesting here is everything wrapped around these stories. A fantastic Foreword breaks down the key parts of Spider-Man’s character, including an essay-like structure that depicts the key themes and ideas behind each villain. These extend out to describing some of the less-enjoyable adventures in text rather that slogging through those comics, along with an explanation around the changing dynamic of Spider-Man’s story and a shift toward more long-form storytelling.
Seeing that evolution from simple “monster of the week” to the ongoing mystery around Green Goblin’s identity and J Jonah Jameson’s vehement desire to see Spidey taken down, are both on-running themes toward the end of this collection that will have you itching to check out more of the stories that follow. It also does a fantastic job of actually visually depicting this changing story style too.
Aesthetically, this hardback collection looks fantastic and is incredibly stylish, especially if you intend to display it up on your bookshelf. The red and gold on the front look very slick, while the gold foil edges and full-colour artwork throughout the pages only accentuate that feel. The pages themselves are crisp, beautifully presented and the comics are very easy to read.
If that wasn’t enough, the book also features some neat additions late on, including a useful “Further Reading” guide for other Spider-Man books to check out.
If there’s one gripe here though it comes from the omission of the first Sinister Six annual. It’s such an iconic storyline and the first (of many) Spidey adventures that see the web-head go up against a litany of villains at once. It almost feels a bit criminal (no pun intended) to reference it so much here, including in one of the issues, but not even bother to display said comic, especially in a collection like this.
Still, that’s a minor point in what’s otherwise an excellent book. As a huge Spider-Man fan myself and having collected a good number of these comics over the years, this Penguin Classic collection is a must-have for fans.
Verdict - 9/10