The latest collection from the long run of The Amazing Spider-Man is a trip down memory lane.
Long before I knew about the existence of stores exclusively devoted to comic books and in the years before I was given mail subscriptions to my favorite books, I was at the mercy of which issues of my favorite books were at the local grocery store or drug store when I got to visit with parents or grandparents. The fact that I managed to collect a solid run of many of the issues featured in this book is a testament to the patience of all those people, who put up with my looking through the racks for the latest issue or that one I’d miss so I could have a complete story.
This run of issues is helped by the fact that it has a consistent creative team churning out the stories. I’m not sure how the comic book community as a whole feels about Roger Stern’s run at writing Spider-Man, but I’ve got to admit it holds up pretty well. Stern did a nice job with creating story arcs that lasted just long enough to sustain reader interest and tell a good story without feeling like he was extended things out to sell more issues (I’m looking at your modern comic books writers). Stern also clearly follows the model of Stan Lee, who said that you should treat every issue as if it’s someone’s first. Each issues offers a well integrated recap of what’s going on in the story and Spidey’s life without it necessarily feeling like an info-dump.
Of course, the big change to the Spidey universe in this collection comes from the introduction of the Hobgoblin. If there’s a storyline that defined my time reading Spider-Man, the mystery of the Hobgoblin was it. (In fact, it was once we found out who the man behind the mask really was that I began to move away from regular reading of Spider-Man…at least for a while). But there are a lot of other memorable villains who show up here including a return visit by the Vulture and Spidey does battle with the Tarantula, the Cobra and Mr. Hyde.
Reading these stories again, I was impressed by the storytelling and the artwork. While it’s not the cream of the crop when it comes to Spider-Man storytelling, it’s still consistent enough to hook a young fan and to give this older fan a nice trip down memory lane.