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Amazing Spider-Man Epic Collection: Round Robin Paperback – April 7, 2015
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My only complaint with this collection is, given all the added material, they included Fear Itself instead of the three issue Carnage story that would have been after the Cardiac one.
Collected from the cover dated years of 1991 and 1992 we get three connected Annuals, ten issues of Amazing Spider-Man and a stand alone graphic novel.
The volume starts with three connected Annuals, Amazing Spider-Man Annual #25, Spectacular Spider-Man Annual #11 and Web of Spider-Man Annual #7. During this time Marvel had decided to make the Annuals 64 pages long so you get over 50 pages of new content. Each had a lead story of around 25 pages then a bunch of smaller stories featuring Spider-Man related characters. These are also included.
The lead connected storyline is written by David Michelinie and spins out of characters and concepts from his then current Iron Man run. The art is by Guang Yap for the first and last part and Marvel Legend Marie Severin for the middle section. The story is about Roxxon Industries creation of a synthetic Vibranium . Spider-Man teams with Iron Man and the Black Panther to take on Sunturian, The Ghost, The Kingpin and Ultron.
The backups are a good idea in concept , but turn out to be mostly a waste of space. We get four different three page "the origin of...." stories with Spider-Man, Green Goblin, Hobgoblin and Venom. Venom gets another story "The Truck Stop Of Doom " which is just as good as the title suggests. Fred Hembeck does a story of young Peter Parker story which is fun.
My favorite is The Outlaws three part story. The Outlaws are a bunch of quasi heroes and reformed villains from the pages of Spider-Man. They are Silver Sable, The Prowler, Will-o-wisp , Sand Man and Rocket Racer. Rocket Racer also gets his own solo story battling Speed Demon. Steve Ditko does a Chance story. And even The Rhino gets his own story which is really just a Spider-Man story, since Spider-Man appears on page two defeats Rhino and it over.
When Erik Larsen left Amazing Spider-Man it was decided to bring Mark Bagley over to the book following his 25 issue run on New Warriors. Amazing Spider-Man#351 and #352 starts Bagley's run as regular artist for the book with Michelinie as writer. In the story Nova teams up with Spider-Man to battle a three headed Sentinel.
Nova returns for guest writer All Milgrom's six part "Round Robin" story (Amazing Spider-Man #353 to #358 )which ran all summer as the book came out every two weeks. This story featured a bloated All Action adventure against The Secret Empire and Midnight who died in the pages of Moon Knight and is brought back here as an evil cyborg.
Also guest starring are a bunch more of the 90's Who's Who with Nova, The Punisher, Darkhawk and the hero who's name sounds like a Porno Movie title Night Thrasher.
At this point Mark Bagley had now done eight issues in five months so Chris Marrinan comes in for Amazing Spider-Man #359 and #360 . This two part story welcomes back David Michelinie and Cardiac. My favorite part of this story was the use of Peter Parker's supporting cast of friends and Daily Bugle work mates. Up until this story only Mary Jane and Aunt May had been used.
Finally we close with the strange graphic novel "Fear Itself " which should not be confused with the recent 100 part Mega Event. The story is plotted by Gerry Conway and scripted by Conway and Stan Lee. If anyone knows the back story of Stan's involvement, I would love to hear it. I can't imagine in 1992 Conway got behind and Stan just came in to help out. Anyways the plot reads like something out of an Alistair MacLean adventure novel. Spider-Man and Silver Sable explore an old castle in Germany and battle Nazi's and Ninjas. The art by Bronze Age Spider-Man legend Ross Andru is some of his best and the last time he would draw Spider-Man before dying in 1993.
One of the problems that all these stories share is a carefree and happy Peter Parker. This is not the character I know and love. I think his biggest worry is Aunt May's new infatuation with Pro Wrestling.
For supplemental material you get information and samples of Mark Bagley's try out book entry, covers done for collected editions and Spider-Man related trading cards.
Recommend for fans of Mark Bagley or "Die Hard " Epic Collection collectors.
The collection opens with the three Spider-Man annuals from these years - The Vibranium Vendetta. The story is a bit weak, and seems mostly like an excuse to pull in a variety of guest stars. Each of these annuals has supplemental features. Short stories with a variety of Spider-Man affiliated characters. These stories aren't great, but I love having them. I love getting a more complete version of these comics.
Then we get a two-part team-up with Nova. It's an enjoyable story, mostly for the undercurrent of Nova needing to learn to be a better hero.
Then there's the meat of this book. The Round Robin storyline. Lots of guest stars. It's kind of pleasant, since the characters all figure into the stories for more than just a panel or two. There are some nice little interactions between Night Thrasher and Punisher, which helps to establish his pull between being more or less violent. Darkhawk gets a similar treatment as Nova, needing to learn more about being a responsible hero.
The one complaint I have about this story is that it ties heavily into some issues of Moon Knight which have never been collected in trade, so I've always been curious to know exactly how this storyline started.
Then there are two issues with Cardiac. This is part of the early 90s phase in which Marvel tried to be a little more proactive in a corporate responsibility messaging. They had been doing it for awhile already, but this felt a little more heavy-handed.
The collection closes out with Fear Itself, a Spider-Man graphic novel. I had never read it before. It uses Silver Sable, a white ninja, and Baron Zemo. A strange story. The artwork is nicely done, but the story is underwhelming. Still, it's nice to finally read it.
For nostalgia purposes, I love this collection, and I'll probably re-read it plenty of times. But for anyone who didn't grow up with these comics, the writing is a bit clunky, there's a lot of time spent having characters summarize what happened before, and The Secret Empire isn't an especially menacing villain. Neither is Midnight.
But man... I love that Marvel is putting these collections out. They're so much more comprehensive than the Essentials volumes, and I find myself buying more volumes than I normally would.