It’s time to look at another volume which shows Spider Man how he was in the classic days of Spiderman. The Alien Costume Saga is certainly long as it spans two rather large collections. This volume was about 500 pages so it was like reading an essential collection. This is mainly due to the fact that Spider Man was regularly appearing in Marvel Team Up as well as the Peter Parker series so his costume got to appear quite a lot back in those days. He handles himself pretty well for the most part, but the comic is slightly hurt by his relationship with Black Cat in this collection.
The series constantly intermingle so the plot is all over the place. Let’s start with one series at a time as that will make things easier. Marvel Team Up tends to be fairly stand aloneish so let’s lead off with those issues. The first Team Up issue dealt with a case that Daredevil and Spiderman had worked on a while back before Spiderman vanished. Spiderman came back and decided to help, but found out that Daredevil struck a deal with the Kingpin. It’s an intriguing one and it allows the villains to escape so Spiderman questions Daredevil’s heroics. The hero will likely have to deal with that in his own comics. There wasn’t a lot of action in this story, but the guest stars were fun and Black Widow even had a minor role.
Spider Man then met up with Captain Marvel for a two part adventure as he got to go to another world to fight for her freedom along with Star Fox. I definitely still don’t care for that guy, but the space adventure was fun. Spider Man also got to team up with Moon Knight and Iron Man in other issues. Each comic was interesting and I’ve always liked the Marvel Team Up comics. It was a good way for heroes to meet up back in the day before there were guest stars in just about every issue.
The issues in The Spectacular Spider Man mainly dealt with the Black Cat plot. She made a deal with the Kingpin that she doesn’t think Spiderman would approve of so she has kept her new powers a secret from everyone. She can manipulate luck so that’s a very easy power to keep hidden as no one can simply find it out without some kind of complex plan. The drama continues as the heroes fight opponents like the Blob. (The Blob’s ending is actually quite tragic and even Spider Man couldn’t save his friend this time) Black Cat’s power saves Spider Man more than once so the abilities have come in handy.
That being said, Kingpin certainly has an angle here. He sends The Answer to test the heroes and the guy actually manages to get the upper hand on Spiderman and Black Cat. Granted, Spiderman was exhausted and Black Cat hadn’t mastered her abilities yet. Still, I’m really liking The Answer at the moment and he’s definitely an underrated Spiderman villain. I’m looking forward to seeing more of him in volume 2. They just don’t make villains like this one very often. He always talks tough and fights strategically since he’s basically just an average joe. There’s also a two part issue where Spiderman helps Cloak and Dagger out, but that wasn’t the most thrilling adventure.
Finally, we have the stories in the main series. Spider Man fought a whole lot of villains in these stories. The Puma was sent by the Rose to take down Spider Man and it made for a pretty even fight. That guy is definitely no pushover and that’s why they say that he’s never failed a mission yet. Luckily, the guy is honorable so he decides not to finish the Wall Crawler off yet since Spider Man was so weakened. He seems like a good villain and definitely a likable opponent for Spiderman. (I keep alternating between Spider Man and Spiderman, but that’s because both spellings work for me and it’s also tough to just choose one at times)
Due to how Spiderman is constantly fighting, he’s almost always tired, which is too bad. Not to mention that the symbiote also likes to take him for a spin every night so Peter Parker can’t enjoy his sleep. The Rose plots in the background, but he hasn’t really done anything yet. Jack O Lantern and the Red Ghost also make appearances, but they are seriously outmatched against Spiderman in his new attire.
In the final comic, Spiderman finally realizes how deadly the Venom costume is and the Fantastic Four help him get rid of it. Spiderman had to use the old Paper Bag costume to leave, but at least he could be himself again. After all, while the Spiderman part of the plot may have sounded simple, the Parker Luck ensured that there was still a lot of human drama to deal with. For the most part, it’s always handled well in these issues and is typically why Spiderman’s comics were always so interesting. There were always so many plots present and things were always happening.
Peter finally found out that Mary Jane already knew that he was Spiderman. This definitely came as a shock to him since he thought that he had done such a great job of keeping that under wraps. I’m sure that this is a plot which will be more prevalent in future issues. Aunt May is also very upset with Peter at the moment since our daring hero decided to drop out of college. It was definitely a dicey move, but it makes sense since Peter would be late to every class anyway. Of course, explaining that without revealing his identity proved to be very difficult and Aunt May isn’t even on speaking terms with him anymore. In that plot, things continue to go from bad to worse. Robbie is also letting his new position as Editor get to him. Power corrupts after all and he’s slowly drifting away from Peter. Of course, you can’t blame him completely since Peter apparently doesn’t know how to shoot pictures very well. With no formal training, Black Cat is already better than him in that area.
The only plot that I wasn’t a big fan of was the Black Cat one. It’s good that she is actually trying to turn over a new leaf and you will feel bad for her since she went to all the trouble of getting some powers to help Spiderman out, but they also got her into a sticky situation with the Kingpin. I wouldn’t mind this plot at all if it wasn’t for the whole romance between the characters. Black Cat still won’t acknowledge Peter as Spiderman’s alter ego and Peter can’t really take a hint as he keeps on bringing up his human life to her. Naturally, this means that the two of them are constantly disagreeing about this and it gets old fast. Also, Spiderman’s not quite as reserved as you would expect as he and Black Cat are constantly acting like a couple on various rooftops instead of trying to get past the other issues. If this were a modern comic, I’m sure that it would be 100x worse. On the bright side, Peter isn’t cheating on anyone since he’s not together with Mary Jane at the moment, but I still don’t approve of this relationship at the moment since it really doesn’t seem to be working. There’s also a subplot where Spiderman keeps brushing off Harry, but that’s basically the norm between them and I’m sure that this will make Harry turn into the Green Goblin pretty soon!
As you would expect, the art is quite good. It’s very consistent and The Amazing Spider Man has had good art from day one. The art style has naturally switched a little since then and likewise with the other series like Marvel Team Up, but all of the issues look good. This helps for the action scenes as well as the regular dialogue ones. Coupled with the consistently good writing that the series has at its disposal, this is a very solid Spiderman comic. There really aren’t any unlikable characters because they are all written well. Even Black Cat who I am typically not a fan of to say the least isn’t bad here. She feels more like a real character who isn’t one dimensional and can actually be sympathetic as she is trying to solve her problems on her own. She does nearly give away Spiderman’s secret identity on more than one occasion, but she was in danger from The Answer so you can’t blame her for panicking a little. It certainly captures your attention from start to finish and I still miss this series. I think it could be a very long time before I read Book 2, but it’ll be fun to see this saga continued.
I take a lot of shots at Dan Slott’s writing, but reading a comic like this one just helps to fuel that. The Amazing Spider Man was a legendary series that did well for decades and decades. It’s the main reason as to why I like Spider Man so much and it was consistently one of the best comics on the shelf despite not having as many big names or guest stars as other series. That’s because the world around Peter Parker is always interesting and he has such a good supporting group. I’m not sure when the comics started to go downhill, but they were evidently still really good here. It’s too bad that Spiderman isn’t always portrayed like the seasoned veteran that he is in these issues. If he was, I think more people would take him seriously. After all, he traded blows with guys like Thor, Hulk, Juggernaut, and Thanos back in the day. I don’t really see that happening quite as much nowadays although he did really well in Ends of The Earth. I’m hoping that Spiderman will return to his former glory someday, but we may just have to wait a while.
Overall, The Alien Book Saga is a fun restart to the Spiderman series as it takes place immediately after Secret Wars. We even see him leave the portal and save someone right after the cosmic adventure. (Twice thanks to the spinoff series) There are dozens of plots going on for both Peter Parker and Spiderman so the writer really knew what he was going. Some plots can go on for dozens of issues, which definitely makes the readers have to be patient to see where they go. I’m most interested in what The Answer will do from here as he has really been an awesome villain. Spiderman is portrayed well for the most part and the supporting characters are good. With good writing and nice looking art throughout the volume, it’s definitely hard to get much better than this. I definitely recommend the volume to all Spider Man fans and while the main plot of the symbiote suit hasn’t actually gone anywhere yet, there are a lot of other plots going on so it’s fun to see them all converge eventually. The series is never done and I shall be reviewing another Spiderman comic very soon!