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The Amazing Spider-Man vol. 2

| 3.1.04
Marvel Masterworks: The Amazing Spider-Man, (vol 2), by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko

Last June I reviewed volume 1 of this, what appears to be an on-going compilation of all the early Spider-Man comic books. In that review I mostly compared and contrasted with Superman, DC, and Smallville. While I'd still love it if DC put out a similar compendium of all the early Superman comics, I'm actually starting to enjoy Spidey more than Superman now that I've steeped myself in so much of the early story.

Volume 1 of this collection contains "Amazing Fantasy" (number 15), where Spider-Man is first introduced, along with "The Amazing Spider-Man" issues 1-10. Volume 2 contains "The Amazing Spider-Man" issues 11-19, along with "The Amazing Spider-Man" Annual number 1. These works were all originally published between August 1962 and December 1964. Reading historic comics like these more than 40 years after they were originally published is for me more entertaining than reading something contemporary because of all the interesting differences between that culture and ours today. Not only do the characters dress differently and have different hairstyles than would be fashionable today, but their attitudes towards dating, the sexes, computers, doctors, and technology is far more divergent from our own mores than one might first expect.

When I was a kid spending my meager allowance on comic books, I used to hate it when the story would refer me back to earlier issues I had not previously read. This series does that in abundance, but ironically I find it adds to the stories, giving them more depth. Especially when read back to back, this compilation doesn't seem nearly as episodic as volume 1, but almost reads like one continuing on-going story. Sure, Spidey fights all kinds of evil villains, but there are also more complex plot-lines exploring his relationships with the women in his life --Betty Brandt, Aunt May, and Liz Allen-- as well as how he interacts with rival schoolmate Flash Thompson and rival superhero The Torch.

Those whose primary exposure to Spider-Man may be the movie and not the comic books, you'll be interested to find that Mary Jane Watson gets hinted at near the middle of volume 2, although Peter and MJ have yet to even meet or go out on a date. Betty Brandt seems to be fading from the picture as Peter's love interest, although there is still plenty of room for developments here. Liz Allen, who Peter liked in volume 1, now seems to like Peter. So the classic love triangle that is present in Superman and Archie is also a part of the Spider-Man story. Finally, the Green Goblin is introduced in volume 2, although we do not yet know the Goblin's true identity.

Keep 'em coming, Marvel Masterworks! Re-printing these classic comics exposes them to a whole new pool of readers!

PUBLISHER: Marvel Comics, New York. ISBN: 0-7607-4957-4. Copyright 2003.

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