It’s not often I pick up a digest reprint intended for kiddos and I’m transported back to the fun and carefree comic style I enjoyed as a kid. Comics are so serious these days, a wink and nod from Spider-Man to the audience can fill a certain void. Spider-Man: Radioactive is just such a reprint out this week.
This collection is 168 pages featuring six-page adventures from a variety of creators originally printed in 1994 and 1995. Spider-Man Magazine ran nineteen issues featuring a Spidey story, a second story and fun additions like a poster in every issue, games, and facts. This collection only houses the Spider-Man stories but you get a bit of the color thanks to each cover accompanying each story.
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This is low stakes but high reward superhero storytelling. Surprisingly, there aren’t too many stories that repeat the same villains save for Mysterio and one or two others. Spider-Man must face the likes of Magneto, Scorpion, Lizard, and even Doctor Doom (after Peter snags a photo of his face and ruins his day). There’s a good deal of cheesy stuff in here but that makes it even more endearing. Spider-Man winking at the reader or delivering a dad-joke level of comedy to the reader is common. It’s easy to enjoy even if you don’t care for a story since it’s over in six pages anyway!
— David Brooke (@Nosocialize) November 27, 2019
Eight writers contribute to this book: includes Joey Cavalieri, Eric Fein, Mike Pellowski, Mike Kirschenbaum, Scott Proudfit, Dan Slott, and Roger Brown (with Mark Bernardo).
Some of my favorite stories include a tale by Cavalieri with art by Marie Severin involving Aunt May falling for a ploy by Mysterio, a Venom tale by Cavalieri with art by Kerry Gammill that turns into a team-up, and a Tinkerer tale by Scott Proudfit with art by Eric Doescher that anyone who has rushed to find a sold-out toy at Christmas will relate to.
Dan Slott writes two stories, one featuring Mesmero with art by Francis Mao and another featuring Mirage with art by Ed Lazellari. Both tales coincidentally involve Spidey figuring out the villain’s deception and show off Peter’s smarts. You can’t beat a final line like, “What’s the matter, Jonah? Afraid it’s only light news?” in a caper involving shadows. Hardy har har. The stories are enjoyable and deal with different aspects of Spidey’s life (other superheroes and Jameson being a real bother).
The art is quite good with various styles ranging from classic Ditko style to more detailed modern tales. Artists include John Romita Sr., Marie Severin, Jesse D. Orozco, Wayne Arthur Murray, Don Heck, Mary Wilshire, Kerry Gammill, Eric Doescher, Francis DeCarlo, Ed Lazellari, and Art Ruiz. Considering the six-page story format it’s impressive how much story each creator packs into the stories.
Often I find digest-sized books from Marvel decent reads for adults and great for children and teens. Here, I couldn’t believe the wealth of storytelling and art to be found here. This book will bring you back to your childhood and you won’t want to look back.
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