I’ve been reading quite a few Spider Man collections so it’ll be nice to check out one from the classic 90’s era of Spider Man. This came during a time where Osborn had set the Wall Crawler up and a huge bounty was placed on his head. This was a pretty fun way to change the status quo and some of the authors had a lot of fun with it. That resulted in a pretty fun batch of comics for this collection!
The stories are taken from The Amazing Spider Man as well as the Sensational Spider Man series so the collection does a lot of jumping around. One issue may end with a cliffhanger, but then it it paused so that we can take a look at the other series. It’s an interesting dynamic and one that is used quite frequently nowadays, but it probably would have worked better if timed a different way. One comic ends with Spider Man fighting two villains and the next one has him in a completely different situation. That was the one time where I found it to be way too obvious a switch. Nevertheless, this exposure to other series was good for the plot since it gave the writers more time to show off Spider Man’s 4 new costumes. Until he could clear Spider Man’s name, Peter Parker would have to assume new titles. Not all of his new forms played the role of the hero so this allowed Spider Man to get intel from various sources. It all ends up paying off although some of the plots are fairly interesting and you’ll be looking forward to seeing the costumes and choosing your favorite.
One of the plots involves a team up with Paste Pot Pete while Spiderman is acting as “Dusk.” The team up goes pretty well and there is even a chance to ice Osborn once and for all, but Spiderman naturally makes the hero call here. His gimmick as Dusk involves Spiderman always sticking to the shadows as he fights. It is pretty fun and this was an entertaining plot. I’m not sure how practical this would be for daytime missions, but I guess Spidey would find a way to make it work. I would rank Dusk as the second best alias.
The Superman guise was certainly my favorite costume of the bunch. In this guise, Spiderman was known as Prodigy. He had to act super naive to make it work and it was fun to watch. He used a suit that could simulate flying and with Spidey’s natural strength, it made for a convincing demonstration. His adventures were more straightforward as Spidey went around beating up on the villains. I think he probably shattered his cover when he decided to prove Spidey innocent, but it is worth it to get the main suit back. The plot was easily the most entertaining as well as the most action packed so it was a win-win situation. Too bad it didn’t get more screen time.
Ricochet was probably Spiderman’s most basic costume. He could throw things, but he mainly relied on his agility and acrobatics to win him the day. In this guise, Spiderman got to join up with some villains to take on some others. His teammates thought that they were simply using Ricochet when it was actually the other way around. Spidey’s partner seemed decently tough, but the matchup was against her as she fought someone who could KO you with a touch. This one comes in 3rd for me. It is interesting to see Spidey with more of a punk personality.
Finally, we have my least favorite guise….The Hornet. As this Vigilante, Spidey wasn’t totally on the law’s side or with the villains. He just did his own thing and tried to dig up some intel. I feel like the writers had started to run out of ideas by this point as there really isn’t a whole lot to say about this plot. It was more episodic and while the costume looked cool, he really had no personality. Luckily, it didn’t seem to eat up a whole lot of screen time, which is always a good thing. It wasn’t a bad guise, it just wasn’t very good.
As for Peter Parker, he was a pretty good character here. Once in a while, he would randomly make a choice that would make you scratch your head like when he decided to talk to the cops while in his Spiderman get up. It was unnecessarily risky when he could have done something a little safer. Still, by and large, Peter acts like the seasoned veteran that he should be. He’s been at this game for quite a while so he should know how it works. He has a lot of fun messing with Osborn while in his various get ups and it’s pretty fun to watch. He’s not perfect though and a big part of this is when he tries to hang out with a friend. I have no idea who this guy is and I’m guessing that he was phased out of the comics pretty quickly, but Peter doesn’t do a good job of handling this situation.
Peter is constantly blowing him off so the guy decides that they shouldn’t be friends. I really can’t blame him since Peter apparently left him hanging about 4-5 times in a row. You have to know when something’s not going to work and Peter should be careful about making a commitment considering his position. That was really the only point where we got to see this side of Peter and that’s certainly a good thing. (Unless you count certain college scenes, but that’s almost a running gag at this point and a little more understandable. There’s no way you can pass if you never actually study)
Norman Osborn probably looks better than I’ve ever seen him in this collection. He’s out to get Peter Parker so he constantly rants about destroying Spiderman while endorsing every other hero in the country. He is mostly using mind games instead of brute force and Spiderman counters each move. It’s a really good dynamic and Osborn acts a lot like Luthor here. He’s a compelling villain and the writer did a good job with that. Poor Norman is getting crushed in this battle of wills so far, but he’s certainly not down for the count yet.
It’s also cool to see the reactions of other heroes to Spiderman’s new alter egos. The Fantastic Four are pretty confident that they could take them out if necessary so they aren’t worried. At one point, Spiderman makes the mistake of hinting that he offed Spiderman while he was in his Hornet costume, which almost led to a fight with the Human Torch. It’s good to see that the Torch still fights for his friends and the direct threats were a nice change of pace. In a fight, the Human Torch can definitely hold his own so that would have been fun to see.
Mary Jane is also pretty reasonable here. Towards the end, it started to get a little dicey as she explained that she couldn’t put up with the situation anymore, but luckily it was not in a very serious way. She calmed down by the next day and she did support Peter through this situation. After all, she created the four costumes for Peter to wear and making realistic ones would have been very difficult for Peter otherwise. Having someone who knows his secret is certainly helpful.
There’s not much to say about the other vilains, besides Osborn. Jack O Lantern makes a quick appearance along with one of his associates, but they’re hardly a threat. They’re like Mysterio in that they use illusion abilities and those get old really fast. We have Paste Pot Pete of course and the guy doesn’t seem bad. To an extent, he seems to wish that he had not turned over to the dark side and he gets a lot of character development. There’s still hope for him. Meanwhile, a gang war is going on in the background and I’m sure that it will play more of a role in the future.
So, this collection was mostly just about fun and adventures as different heroes than about plot. The actual plot is that Spiderman needs to prove his innocence of course and he does that in the process, but seeing how Spiderman interacts with the world as a different persona in each issue is where the fun is really at. Adding this one to the collection of 80’s and 90’s Spiderman comics that I’ve read, it continues to make me believe that these were his golden years. They are simply packed with a lot of excitement and fun along with good writing. It’s very hard to top such a potent combo.
The art screams 90’s look as you read through this adventure. It is a distinct look that I am definitely a fan of. Everyone is bigger and bolder. It is hard to describe the effect in a more specific way. The panels are larger than usual and the characters look very imposing. This is definitely good for the fight scenes as you really feel the power behind the hits. This was also a pretty good era for power levels, even if the energy attacks of the era were hard to gauge.
Overall, This is a really fun adventure and it certainly reminds you of Spiderman when he was in his prime. Peter definitely isn’t perfect, but he is not going to hit on everyone that he meets. Spiderman is also taken seriously, something that simply isn’t done very often in the current comics. This was a very good comic so choosing between a 7 and an 8 was difficult. That being said, it is larger than the average collection so the fact that it could keep the quality up through all of the issues ended up earning it the extra star. I definitely recommend this title and if you find Spiderman to be an unlikable character, check this title out and see if you still feel that way.