Comic Book Friday: Marvel Masterworks: The Amazing Spider-Man, Volume 11

Marvel Masterworks: The Amazing Spider-Man, Vol. 11After penning a hundred issues, Stan Lee turns the reigns over to writer Roy Thomas (at least for a couple of issues) and there’s a perceptible change in the storytelling quality.

Seeking to cure himself of being Spider-Man in order to have a normal life, Peter Parker downs an untested serum, falls into a deep sleep (in which we are treated to a summary of Peter Parker/Spider-Man’s life up to now) and wakes up with six arms. Horrified by what he’s done, Peter scrambles to find a cure all while battling new threat Morbius the vampire and the return of the Lizard.

Another arc centers on Flash Thompson’s return from Vietnam and the fall-out from his attempting to do the right thing for a group of villagers. The arc starts well for Flash but quickly goes in an entirely less than politically correct direction for the remainder of its run.

Then Spidey and company are off to Antartica to find Ka-Zar’s forgotten world and deliver a photo feature that will save circulation at the Daily Bugle. (Interesting to see that newspapers were having issues with circulation back then and not just as we continue to explore the digital age). Gwen Stacey tags along as a model, which complicates things when Peter has to go all Spider-Man to battle Kraven the Hunter as well as various prehistoric beasts that inhabit the area.

Honestly, this storyline feels like an excuse for the artists to give us Gwen Stacey in a bikini, much to the delight of Peter and Jolly Jonah (who tags along to make sure his money is being well spent). At multiple points in this collection, I found myself wondering at the angles taken by artist Gil Kane for various characters. One memorable panel seems to want to give us a view of what it looks like up the nostrils of Robbie Robinson, the Bugle‘s long-suffering assistant editor.

It’s clear that the storylines here aren’t going to mined for adaptation for the silver screen (though we did get a re-telling of the Morbius story and the six-armed Spider-Man in the 90’s cartoon). It feels like this is Spider-Man on autopilot, complete with all the drama of how being Spider-Man is ruining Peter Parker’s life and relationships. Seriously, the guy can’t be happy for more than two consecutive panels. I knew as soon as we saw Gwen in the bikini that Pete’s life was about to take a turn for the worse.

Knowing what’s coming up in a few issues (20 or so at this point) makes this collection feel a bit less essential than others in the Masterworks series. It feels a lot like we’re treading water and waiting for the next big development for Spider-Man or possibly the introduction of a new, great villain or foe.

The eleventh edition is my least favorite of the collected Amazing Spider-Man series I’ve read so far.

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