This week I'll be looking at the second volume of the J. Michael Straczynski run of Amazing Spider-man which includes issues 36-39 of Amazing Spider-man, and issues 5 and 6 of Spider-man's Tangled Web (odd inclusion). You get John Romita Jr on pencils and Scott Hanna on inks for the Amazing issues, and Peter Milligan plot with Duncan Fegredo pencils for the Tangled Web issues. As with Volume 1, Amazon have it for between a couple dollars and about $60 US. Page count: 96.
Last time I merely pointed out that you could get the same content in the Ultimate Collection Volume 1 but didn't do much more than that. However I think this time there's a reason to list off a few details in the interest of full disclosure. Volume 3 of the older TPBs goes for about $5 to $22 US. Add that to Volume 1 and Volume 2 and you get somewhere between $10 and $110 US. Compare that to the Ultimate Collection going for about $25 US (all prices are on Amazon) and you get some idea of the difference. Keep in mind that the Tangled Web issues aren't in the Ultimate Collection, and that Volume 1 of Tangled Web will cost you about $5 US. Wait, what? Why is there a Tangled Web TPB from the earlier in the same year that has the same issues of Tangled Web that were printed in a volume which is clearly an Amazing Spider-man TPB? Cross promotion maybe? At the end of the day, it bothers me slightly but I won't complain because the story is a good one (if a blatant swipe).
In brief, we get the 9/11 issue, Peter (potentially) saving a student from a life of squalor, The Conversation between May and Peter about the fact he's Spider-man, the 'Nuff Said issue, and Flowers for Rhino in which Rhino becomes a genius and then even stupider.
What to make of this volume is not entirely clear: it has some key issues from the time, and if you wanted to read them you save a pretty penny (eBay has the 9/11 issue for upwards of $40 US, the 'Nuff Said issue goes for a few bucks as does The Conversation, and Flowers for Rhino shouldn't set you back more than a couple dollars), but over all it feels lacking and meaningless.
|Anyone else remember this?|
Following the 9/11 issue we get another "Peter helps students in real life" story, which became stale and vaguely ridiculous as JMS' run wen on. This case is not so bad, but not so great. The girl's brother is a drug fiend, and the live on the streets. Peter gets involved to save the brother and the girl, but doesn't really help them beyond that. I'm not sure what to take from this issue, other than that the title ("Interlude") was probably the best thing about the issue. Oh, and May sits on a bench for a while before calling Peter to say that they need to have The Conversation.
|Can you read this cover? No? |
Then forget everything that
happened inside it.
|Honey, when will you get plastic surgery|
so your face looks like pressed ham?
Finally we get to the two part Flowers for Rhino. Personally, this is the best part of the TPB. The plot is great, the pencils are great. The colouring leaves a bit to be desired (it seems like the pencils called for noir, and the colours didn't quite match). In any case this story is set (seemingly) entirely out of continuity, and is based upon the material presented in the SciFi short story (and then novel) Flowers for Algernon, with Rhino playing the part of Charlie, and some random monkey paying the part of the mouse Algernon. In essence Rhino gets a job rescuing a mob boss' daughter, Stella, which ends up with him in jail and ruing his terminal idiocy. After trying to have his suit removed, he opts instead for a surgical procedure to make him smarter. The second issue deals with the repercussions, and I think any fan who feels that the "evil genius" stereotype is flimsy will be happy with the outcome. This story is charming and personal, and includes details necessitated by the content of the story to stave of the finicky comments of fans without sacrificing the pacing of the story. In just two issues. Someone put this in front of Brian Michael Bendis. Now.
So where does that leave me in the wash-up of this issue? I mean, I panned two issues, gave solid a solid "meh" to two issues, and loved the loving gizzards out of the last two issues. I guess it depends on how you get hold of it. It's not value for money if you're paying more than $10 US. It's not collectable like the single issue versions are (though only the 9/11 issue seems to be worth money these days). It's not the most efficient means to fill your JMS run out if you don't have Volume 1 or Volume 3 of the same printed run. It's got Flowers for Rhino which breaks the JMS run up. Overall I'd give you this advice for buying it: get it if the cost of the book and shipping is under $12 US, and you have Volume 1 or Volume 3 in this run and aren't think of swapping to the Ultimate Collection editions. As far as reading it again goes, sure flip through it quickly if you're reading JMS' run through, otherwise skip to Flowers, and leave the rest in the mental bin it belongs in.
Well after thinking that I was on to a good thing last week, I'm really not sure what to go for next week. For a change of pace I'll go with something I've been meaning to get around to re-reading.
|I mean, the cover claims it's "Vikings finally done right", how could that go wrong?|
Tags: Straczynski, JMS, Revelations, Zpider-man, May, MJ, Mary Jane Watson, Milligan, Fegredo, Hanna, Romita, JRJr, 9/11, Nuff Said