Here’s a little something to hold you over until theangrymob’s Enterprise review. Also, there’s a quick reader poll at the end that comic fans might want to take a look at.
Title: Essential Spider-Man Vol. 4
Credited to: Stan Lee, John Romita and Friends
Original Publication Date: 2002 printing of material originally
published from 1969-1971.
Cover Price: $14.95 US, $23.95 Can
Buy from: Amazon.com
The continuing adventures of the wall crawling hero.
This reprints Amazing Spider-Man 69-89 and Amazing
Spider-Man Annual 4 and 5. The issue-by-issue breakdown is as
Issues 69-70: Concluding Kingpin’s quest for an ancient tablet.
Issue 71: Quicksilver tries to restore his good name with the
Issue 72: The Shocker comes for the tablet.
Issues 73-75: Silvermane obtains the tablet.
Issues 76-77: The Lizard reappears, and Human Torch enters the
Annual 4: Spidey and the Human Torch are cast in a movie.
Issues 78-79: The introduction of The Prowler.
Issue 80: The Chameleon returns.
Issue 81: The Kangaroo is introduced.
Issue 82: The return of Electro.
Issues 83-85: The Schemer tries to take over the Kingpin’s mob.
Issue 86: The Black Widow tries to study Spider-Man in battle.
Issue 87: Pete believes he’s lost his powers, and reveals his secret
identity to his friends.
Issues 88-89: The return of Doc Ock.
Annual 5: Peter Parker goes to Algeria to learn the truth about the
death of his parents.
I enjoyed Annual 4 the most, primarily because the Spider-Man / Human
Torch interaction helped bring variety to the monthly villain bashing.
Once again, the Essential ended with a cliff-hanger. Is that really
necessary? There was only one more issue left in that story arc. It
could have been included instead of the second annual.
The originality is definitely waning. I saw nothing in this
that was significantly different from stories told in the first three
volumes. I give it 2 out of 6.
The artwork was up to its usual high quality. My only
complaint is that the very large panels made the stories move by a
little too quickly in most cases. I give it 4 out of 6.
The stories were well formed and plotted, if unoriginal. The
first half the book flowed from one plotline into another very
nicely. I give it 4 out of 6.
The characterization was nothing special. We’ve seen the
same cast of characters for four volumes now, and the Kingpin was the
only one with any added depth this time around. Nobody was out of
character, but they weren’t developed either. I give it 4 out of 6.
The emotional response this generated was mild at best.
There was no sense of danger or suspense for me. It was the same old
stuff again, with slightly different details. Up to this point, each
Essential has had some sort of significant change in Peter’s life.
This one has no such events. I give it 3 out of 6.
The flow had the same problems as most Spider-Man
comics I’ve read; there’s some great art, and some entertaining
dialogue, but the events depicted by the art wouldn’t take long enough
for the characters to speak that dialogue. I give it 3 out of 6.
Overall, it’s not significantly different from volume 3.
There’s some decent stuff, but nothing that really stands out as a
story that really needed to be told. I don’t regret buying it, but I
won’t be compelled to reread it any time soon. I give it 4 out of 6.
In total, Essential Spider-Man Vol. 4 receives 24 out of 42.
Additional Notes and Comments
Essential Spider-Man Vol. 5 is scheduled for reprint this
December. That should make it easy to track down, if you’ve been
Also, I now have five more Essentials to review. Which would you
rather see me review next, Essential Fantastic Four Vol. 1,
Essential Avengers Vol. 1, Essential Thor Vol. 1,
Essential Hulk Vol. 2, or Essential X-Men Vol. 3?