The second of five current volumes of The
Essential Spider-Man
is reviewed below.

General Information

Title: Essential Spider-Man Volume 2
Author: Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, etc.
Illustrator(s): Steve Ditko, John Romita, etc.
Original Publication Date: 2001 reprint of
material originally published from 1965-1967
ISBN: 0-7851-0299-x
Cover Price: $14.95 US, $21.95 Can

The Issues

This contains Amazing Spider-Man #21-43, and the
original portions of
Amazing Spider-Man Annual #2 and 3.

Premise

Peter Parker is living a double life as
Spider-Man. People try to
break the law and/or kill him, and he does what
he can to stop them.

High Point

The story from Amazing Spider-Man Annual #3. It
shows him as a hero
and a nice guy, and yet also shows how his
imperfections tend to screw
things up for him in general.

Low Point

Some of the 1960s attitudes are a bit irritating.
The vocabulary is
fine, but the general attitude toward women from
men may have matched
the 1960s attitudes (I’m a couple decades too
young and a chromosome
off to know), but I can’t believe that the
attitudes women have about
themselves are typical of women of the time.

The Scores

In terms of originality, this one
seemed a bit off. We
didn’t get the advantage of the origin story this
time. Instead, it’s
more of the same sort of thing we saw in volume
one. I give it 2 out
of 6.

The artwork was actually pretty
impressive. I don’t know
if the artists improved, or if the printing
presses allowed the
artists to do more with what they had, but they
art seems to be more
detailed than in volume one. Perhaps the switch
from nine panels to
six for most of the pages just gave the artists
enough room to work
with that they were allowed to do more of what
they wanted to do. For
whatever reason, things have improved. This
isn’t an Archie comic,
where the only physical difference between the
women in Parker’s life
is the hair. Each person’s face is distinct. I
give it 4 out of 6.

The story is, again, a collection of
stories. This time,
though, Parker’s personal life seems to be more
continuous. The
enemies aren’t just one issue wonders, but they
will appear a few
issues before they take action, or they’ll stick
around for a couple
of issues before really taking off. I give it 4
out of 6.

The characterization is still somewhat
flat. The
personalities are clear, but simple, and they
don’t develop much over
the time allotted. I give it 3 out of 6.

The emotional response was, well,
minimal. The outcomes of
the trials were never really in doubt for me.
Part of that is
probably the knowledge that these are reprints,
so I know that most
characters will be around for a few hundred more
issues. I give it 2
out of 6.

Flow is, once again, one of the biggest
problems. Although
it’s not quite as pronounced as in volume one,
Spidey’s taunts are
still written to take more time to say than there
seems to be between
panels. I give it 2 out of 6.

Overall, this is a worthwhile read for
comic book fans, or
Spider-Man fans. There will probably be a few
people out there who
haven’t read the comics, but will consider doing
so after seeing the
movie adaptation. The Essential books are a great
place to start,
especially volume one. Volume two, however, is
the one that
introduces a few of the characters that will be
prominent in the
movie. The final storyline of the movie is most
similar to a story
that has not been reprinted in an Essential book,
but should be in
Volume six, should they make one. (They’re up to
volume five right
now. Volume six should have the introduction of
the Punisher, too.)
I give this 4 out of 6 overall.

In total, The Essential Spider-Man Volume
2
earned 21 out of 42.