I also read a bunch of Spider-Man comics in April.
Superior Spider-Man #7-8: The showdown with the Avengers is underwhelming, but Doc Ock learns a lesson, and there’s a nice set-up to a major clash.
Avenging Spider-Man #19: A team-up with Sleepwalker has some big moments I wouldn’t expect in a satellite title.
Alpha: The Big Time #3: Slight improvement. It’s fun to see Alpha as a well-meaning novice, but the enemy’s just not compelling enough. And the Ultimate Spider-Man style slow burn of building the characters before introducing the traditional supervillain menace only works when you have an artist on the level of Mark Bagley, and a really interesting lead.
Marvel Team-Up #27: It’s fun to see Chameleon trying to manipulate the Hulk. And it’s even better when it all goes hilariously wrong. Also an example of something the series can do well, as we get more insight into the human side of Spider-Man’s first enemy, even if it contradicts JM Dematteis’s later work on the character.
Marvel Team-Up #28: A tall tale with Spider-Man and Hercules. It’s okay, but it highlights the major problem with this series. Sometimes it just treats Spider-Man like a generic superhero.
Venom #33: More build-up to the fight we’ve been waiting for for a long time. But at least it starts on the final page. And the other bad guy is suitably creepy.
Venom #34: There we go. Clever enough, highly promoted battle between Flash Thompson, the current Venom, and Eddie Brock, the first villain. Good twists with the other bad guys. Strong moments with an injured Flash Thompson in the aftermath of the showdown.
Amazing Spider-Man #334-339: I can understand the popularity of the story, although it is a bit overrated. I like the nods to ASM Annual 1, and it’s generally quite satisfying. But Michelinie’s writing style drags down the story in my mind.
Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man #36-37:
The introduction of Swarm to the rogues gallery. He gets a rep as one of the least-impressive Spider-Man villains, but the story isn’t bad, as Peter’s friends at ESU screw up and risk their lives to fix their error. This story also introduces some cast members I’m familiar with from Stern’s Amazing Spider-Man.
Amazing Spider-Man Annual #13
Good John Byrne art. I like how Doctor Octopus spoils Peter’s plan to go undercover among criminals. And there’s an interesting subplot with a man who knows way too much about Spider-Man.
Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man Annual #1:
Really generic Spider-Man VS Doctor Octopus story, elevated by early hints of Ock’s psychological problems.
Kraven’s Last Hunt: Not sure if there’s anything to add on the subject that hasn’t been said before. Really good.
Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #22: A desperate fight with Venom leads to a major change in the series. Bendis’s interviews suggest he’s going somewhere interesting with this, but scenes we’ve seen before aren’t handled that impressively here.
Scarlet Spider #16: Just great. The main story is fantastic, with an embarrassed Kaine dealing with a rather funny plot. But it also provides great set-up to the next threat.
Morbius (Marvel Now) #4: This title has been many of the flaws of Alpha, as much time is devoted to what makes the main character tick, rather than a menace worthy of a TPB length storyline.
Spider-Man: Soul of the Hunter
I’m conflicted on this one-shot. It’s better than I remember with Peter dealing with the aftermath of the trauma of Kraven’s Last Hunt. Although I love Peter’s characterization, the main plot isn’t very interesting. And it doesn’t feel like Dematteis earned it when he equates real death with tragic fates of comic book characters.
Spider-Man: Dead Man’s Hand
Filler one-shot that serves mainly to answer post-Clone Saga questions about Carrion’s continuity.
Peter Parker Spider-Man #13
One of Mackie’s best post-relaunch issues. Good dramatic irony as Peter is unaware of horrible news, while he hunts an escaped Cletus Kassidy. And excellent artwork by Lee Weeks.
Amazing Spider-Man #574
Marvel sticks Flash Thompson into a modern war comics, and it works on a lot of levels. Good stuff.
Spectacular Spider-Man #178-183: There are some serious shortcomings. Vermin isn’t all that interesting as a villain, and the childhood trauma subtext may be too dark for a Spider-Man comic. The first few issues are padded. And I get the feeling that it took a while for JMD and Sal Buscema to be comfortable working with one another. But reading these stories, I do understand why some people consider JM Dematteis to be the best Spider-Man writer. The psychological depths of the character are unmatched in superhero comics, aside from perhaps Alan Moore’s Batman and Superman. It’s like the comic book version of a Dostoevsky novel, or a Daniel Day-Lewis performance.
Spectacular Spider-Man #184: Damn good epilogue, as Dematteis makes the logical decision to depict the aftermath of a traumatic storyline, something many comic book writers are loathe to do.
Spectacular Spider-Man #185: The guy who cowrote Justice League of America also brings the funny, although he does it primarily with a ridiculous situation, rather than with Spider-Man’s sense of humor.
Spectacular Spider-Man #186-188: Great take on the Vulture, as well as a Peter Parker who has already been pushed to the limit. Possibly Aunt May’s finest hour.
Spectacular Spider-Man #189: A pivotal battle with Harry Osborn. Fantastic moments all around.
Spectacular Spider-Man #190: Another great epilogue. I’m slightly conflicted on how easily Rhino is beaten, but there’s a great twist and Dematteis ties together various threads quite effectively.
There are two ways of looking at JM Dematteis’s run. It’s either one of the best Spider-Man stories ever, or several stories that belong in a Top 50.
Superior Spider-Man #9: The rematch between Peter Parker’s soul and Doctor Octopus. I’d love it if it only existed as an excuse for Ryan Stegman to draw Spider-Man’s best friends and greatest enemies.
Total So Far: 1276 Comics