Marvel’s rerelease of major story events usually means you get a thicker book for a better bargain. Take for instance Spider-Man: Brand New Day – The Complete Collection Vol. 3, which comes out this week. It covers a major chunk of the “Brand New Day” storyline with just over 500 pages covering a couple of story arcs and a few one-shots, and it’s all going for around 25 bucks on Amazon right now. Care to take a time portal to 2008/2009 Spider-Man comics?
Writers: Mark Waid, Dan Slott, Roger Stern, Matt Fraction, Zeb Wells, Stuart Moore, Marc Guggenheim, Joe Kelly, Phil Jimenez, Fred Van Lente
Artists: Marcos Martin, Lee Weeks, Mike McKone, Barry Kitson, Todd Nauck, Andy MacDonald, Joe Suitor, Chris Bachalo, Paolo Rivera, John Romita Jr., Febrizio Fiorentino, Dale Eaglesham, Phil Jimenez, Paulo Siqueira
Publisher: Marvel Comics
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
An earthquake traps Spidey and a subway car full of New Yorkers underground…but what does it have to do with the trial of a high-powered mob boss — or Peter’s old boss, J. Jonah Jameson? Learn how Harry Osborn came back from the dead, and who’s been terrorizing people as Menace! Meet the new mayor of New York City! Discover how an adventure from Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four’s past will have a profound effect on their future! And fear the macabre Man-Thing! Plus: Spider-Man teams up with President Obama!
Why does this book matter?
Love or hate the “Brand New Day” storyline (in which Mephisto retcons Peter and Mary Jane’s marriage), it certainly brought Spidey back to basics. That means a lot more girl trouble and much more of a loner status. This book collects Amazing Spider-Man #578-#591, Amazing Spider-Man: Extra! #1-#3, Spider-Man: Fear Itself One-Shot and the famous Obama issue which houses the “Spidey Meets the President” story. It catalogues about five months of Spider-Man stories back in 2008/2009 in the Marvel Universe and runs over 500 pages.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Marcos Martin and Mark Waid’s two parter is worth the price of admission!
This isn’t so much one long story arc–probably an impossibility given how often the creators change–but many smatterings of good stories and surprises. The writers featured during this span of Spider-Man storytelling are all well known (Mark Waid, Dan Slott, Roger Stern, Matt Fraction, Zeb Wells, Stuart Moore, Marc Guggenheim, Joe Kelly, Phil Jimenez, Fred Van Lente) although at the time some may not have been as illustrious as they are today. That said, it’s tough to open this book and not find a fun and well written Spider-Man story. It’s easy these days to forget how simple Peter’s life was not too long ago due to the “Brand New Day” reset and it’s nice to read a story and not have to have Peter worry about his corporation or wife. That allows Peter to banter on and worry about what’s in front of him or how he’s going to pay his bills.
Highlights in this collection include Mark Waid and Marcos Martin’s two-parter which has Spider-Man and a bunch of civilians gets trapped in a subway car. To make matters worse, they’re under the river, and the water is rising. It has those classic Spider-Man tropes working at full tilt–like Spider-Man lifting the world to save others–and there’s excellent art throughout. It’s fun to see Martin at an earlier time in his career because his lines were just as dynamic and kinetic and yet he’s gotten even better since then.
There’s also a fantastic one-shot written by Zeb Wells with art by Paolo Rivera that’s just perfect. Picture Spider-Man freezing his butt off following Wolverine around to find a good dive bar to have a drink and chat. The dialogue is great, there are a few twists in there, and it ends with a great sentimental message.
Fred Van Lente wrote a great issue too, with Paulo Siqueira drawing what looks like some Todd McFarlane inspired art, that utilizes the spot in a great way. Even back in 2008, Van Lente was writing excellent and natural dialogue.
If you were to track a longer running arc throughout this book it involves Harry Osborn and his girlfriend Lily. Dan Slott and Marc Guggenheim get to write much of this story and it tastefully integrates classic villains like Molten Man and the Green Goblin into its story. It has the DNA of classic tales, but it’s told in a fresh and entertaining way. Slott finishes the collection off with a great Fantastic Four team-up as they and Spidey must go to the micro-verse and crazy s--t happens. Given Slott’s great run on the recent Silver Surfer it’s clear way back in 2008 he had a knack for writing wild and imaginative science fiction stories. This tale weaves into major changes in the Spidey-verse which allows this collection to conclude with a bunch of new developments to explore and make you want the next volume.
There’s great art throughout this volume.
It can’t be perfect can it?
As is custom in thick volumes like this, chapters can be missing, or not all the details are evident so that you’ll feel a bit lost. It’s not quite as bad as in other Spider-Man collections I’ve read recently, but it’s obvious when say Kraven’s daughter shows up, or the “Fear Itself” issue pops into the book. It’s not a deal breaker by any means, but it does make reading these chapters harder to enjoy.
Later in the book, there’s one story arc I just didn’t care for–maybe it’s the courtroom drama angle–but it drags on for too long. Its filler-like pace is made even more obvious when Matt Murdock tells Spider-Man to read up on something, only to tell him again a few issues later. The situation has Spider-Man being framed for the killing of random folks who had spider-tracers on them. On top of that, a lawyer wants his mask taken off so he can be tried correctly. As he’s sitting in jail chained, Murdock does his best to get him off, a prison fight breaks out, and Spider-Man even breaks out of prison. It wraps up in a clunky way (how Spider-Man can get off when he destroyed a prison wall at one point is beyond me) and doesn’t feel like it ever resolves completely. Call it a story that had to end so more could be told.
Is It Good?
Overall this is a good collection with a smattering of great stories. Mark Waid, Zeb Wells, and Dan Slott all wrote highlight stories here and the artists with them keep the quality very high. It’s no wonder this is the primo hero in the Marvel universe, and this collection proves even if you grab a random collection you’re bound to find great stories.
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