The problem with calling a collection “The Very Best of” something is that the definition of “best” can be so subjective. What I think is best may not necessarily mesh with what others think or believe.
So I admit I approached this collection of stories featuring my favorite super-hero with a bit of reluctance.
And having read the seven stories assembled here, I can say there are some fine examples of Spider-Man stories. But they’re not really what I would classify as the best (or even the most memorable) stories featuring my favorite wall-crawler.
Part of it is that the book starts out with “Amazing Fantasy 15” and the origin of Spider-Man. I’ll accept this is a classic and probably should lead off any collection that wants to be a “best of” for Spider-Man. It’s once we get into the later issues that just about every single story in this collection refers back to “Amazing Fantasy 15.”
I understand that Stan Lee had the attitude that every comic book should be treated as if it was someone’s first comic book and I don’t mind a bit of flashback or summing up the relevant back story points. But when a collection skips over pivotal stories like Spidey being unmasked by the Green Goblin and the revelation of who is behind the Green Goblin mask in favor of a story bringing back Crusher Hogan, I have to question whether the “best of” status and the editorial process for selected these stories. And don’t get me started on the fact that Doc Ock is only referred to in one of the stories in this collection but never seen on the printed page. Instead, we get a Venom story, which maybe at the time it was published was considered a “best of” but I don’t see it. Especially compared to various times in the Lee/Ditko era that Spidey took on Doc Ock.
I understand wanting to have a collection give us a taste of various eras, but this collection isn’t necessarily a “best of” Spider-Man.
Thankfully, Marvel has since begun publishing collections of the full run of various Spider-Man comics, allowing readers to relive our own favorite eras and to discover again the strengths and weaknesses of them.