Back in June, Marvel Comics released Amazing Spider-Man Epic Collection: The Goblin Lives which I wrote all about. It was a great collection of rematches as Spider-Man took on villains for the second time. It also contained the impressive Stan Lee and John Romita Sr. series Spectacular Spider-Man from 1968. The two-issue series is now collected in a much slimmer package of its own, along with some interesting extras. This two-issue, extra-sized magazine was an interesting experiment as the House of Ideas attempted to stretch the Spidey sales with a brand new series. For the most part it worked, but mostly it serves as a great time capsule to a period when Spider-Man was still growing in popularity.
The first issue stands out from the second in part because it’s in all black and white. The style was certainly going for a noir feel and the pencils from John Romita Sr. are wickedly good. This is a great collection whether you want to show off his art to others or just enjoy it for yourself. The story has all the trappings of classic Peter Parker complete with Mary Jane and Gwen Stacy love triangle goodness.
The second issue changes it up with a full-color Green Goblin story. This is some impressive work from Romita Sr. well worth reading. We’re talking amazing double-page spreads of Green Goblin gassing Spider-Man. The level of detail in facial expressions is incredible while the musculature of Spider-Man is on point. You could easily slip this into a younger reader’s stack and they’d think it’s from a modern era, save for possibly the color aging it a bit.
The use of color stands out and is artistic on a whole other level. Splashes of yellow instead of shadow, blue backgrounds framing Spider-Man perfectly, and great color details in the cityscape behind Spider-Man make this stand out. It’s a pop-art style in some respects and it’s fabulous stuff. This is certainly one of the best Green Goblin stories ever due to the art and crazy twists in the story.
Extras include various covers done for the book as well as a nice essay on what happened with the third issue originally intended for print in the ’80s. This was originally published in the Marvel Vision #29 article from 1988. it’s a nice reminder that even back in the heyday comics had their scheduling problems. It’s too bad the story never got finished, especially since Stan Lee had cooked up quite a cliffhanger.
It’s somewhat bittersweet reading this since it’s too bad they never continued it. It was an ambitious idea at the time to print more than one Spider-Man book and it’s fun to see how they attempted to make it feel different from an average book. That’s a big reason why it stands the test of time thanks to the excellent art and attention to detail that make each of the two issues riveting panel to panel. This is also a great gift for anyone who has it all when it comes to Spider-Man since it’s the first reprinting of just this story.