Connect with us
'Amazing Spider-Man Epic Collection: Lifetheft' TPB Review

Comic Books

‘Amazing Spider-Man Epic Collection: Lifetheft’ TPB Review

This is a collection well worth revisiting, especially if the ’90s left a bad taste in your mouth.

The ’90s were a unique time in the comics landscape. An emphasis on style over substance had seeped into many major works, and the speculator market was in full swing. For Spider-Man in particular, this era is mostly looked upon with distaste. The specter of the Clone Saga casts a shadow over this time period even though it largely encompassed the latter years of this decade. Amazing Spider-Man Epic Collection: Lifetheft” finds its place prior to this and serves as a precursor of what was to come.

This collection picks up immediately after the bombastic Maximum Carnage saga in which New York was under siege by a host of villains. One gets the sense that the title wanted to return to some more smaller-scale stories before ramping up towards the end of the collection. This leads to some brief standalone arcs such as Spider-Man and Doc Sampson teaming up against an out-of-control Hulk, Spider-Man being put on trial for Venom’s existence, and even another brief showdown with Carnage. These early stories each have their moments, but the lurking background plot surrounding Peter’s recently returned parents is what kicks the latter portion of this collection into gear.

Listen to the latest episode of our weekly comics podcast!

At this point in Peter’s life, his parents’ miraculous returns had been a recent event and the Parker family was still getting used to it. Though Peter is elated to have his parents back in his life, Aunt May has reservations about their true identities and motives. This causes a rift to form between May and Peter that only compounds his personal life’s struggles. Now with Peter having to juggle his seemingly addled aunt alongside his wife and crimefighting career, it begins to push him to his limits; but when Aunt May’s suspicions are confirmed by his Spider-sense, Peter’s whole life begins to crumble beneath him.

One of the strongest aspects of this collection is how each arc dovetails into the next. It creates this feeling of one big story unfolding and makes for an extremely compelling read. Eventually the subplot surrounding Peter’s parents becomes the main plot with horrifying ramifications. Without going too many into spoilers, this conspiracy plot and the revelations that ensue set Spider-Man on one of his darker journeys.

'Amazing Spider-Man Epic Collection: Lifetheft' TPB Review

Marvel Comics

The 5-part “Pursuit” arc marks a tonal shift for the collection. It comes in about halfway through and spans each Spider-Man title of the time. This arc leans into the gritty comics style of the times as we see Spider-Man tear across the city in search of the Chameleon. His rage knows no bounds as he barrels through any and all crime in his path. Besides being a tonal pivot, this arc changes up the artistic pace with different teams tackling the issues. There’s a great issue drawn by the legendary Sal Buscema, as well as some grittier styles from Alex Saviuk and Tom Lyle.

While the book does house many artists across the different series, Mark Bagley’s work comprises the bulk of the material here. His style is unparalled for the time and encapsulates the era. His range in particular has quite the showcase. He can go from pacing out extremely dramatic dialogue scenes to high-flying superheroics in a single issue. In particular, the moments where Spider-Man’s rage crescendos are incredibly compelling. Often without words or sound effects, the visuals convey Peter’s emotions and how his rage cannot even be contained by the panels themselves. it’s really compelling stuff that draws you further into the stories.

Amazing Spider-Man Epic Collection: Lifetheft

Marvel Comics

By far my favorite portion of the book is when J.M. DeMatteis takes over writing duties in Amazing #389. Tasked with closing out the “Pursuit” arc, he comes in to not only give a satisfying conclusion to this storyline but also pay off previous plot points from his earlier writings, specifically “Kraven’s Last Hunt.” He takes the same themes from that previous story and finds new ways to rhyme them with the ongoing plotline and it makes for an extremely rewarding experience for consistent readers. It’s emotional, compelling and tragic all at once and makes for some great comics.

Though there are some great highs in this collection, not every aspect excels. Some of the melodrama, particularly in the early issues, can be hokey. There’s a subplot around Mary Jane’s smoking habit and its overly exaggerated effects on those around her. Random bystanders’ thought bubbles criticize her smoking and her acting career even becomes endangered because of it. It’s easy to pinpoint the message the comic was trying to instill in younger readers, but reading it in a modern context it comes off as forced and wraps up in a laughable sequence of events.

At the end of the day, this is a well rounded collection. It’s a slow build of a story that reads extremely cohesively. Though there are some dated moments throughout, they never detract too much from the overall experience. The artistic talent here also knock it out of the park and provide a nice variety of styles. This is a collection well worth revisiting, especially for those who the ’90s left a bad taste in their mouth.

'Amazing Spider-Man Epic Collection: Lifetheft' TPB Review
‘Amazing Spider-Man Epic Collection: Lifetheft’ TPB Review
'Amazing Spider-Man Epic Collection: Lifetheft'
At the end of the day, this is a well rounded collection. It's a slow build of a story that reads extremely cohesively. Though there are some dated moments throughout, they never detract too much from the overall experience. The artistic talent here also knock it out of the park and provide a nice variety of styles. This is a collection well worth revisiting, especially for those who the '90s left a bad taste in their mouth.
Reader Rating0 Votes
0
Each arc dovetails into the next creating a compelling reading experience.
Bagely's art is in top form.
Latter arcs delve into the darker side of Spider-Man.
Early issues read a bit slower in pace an scale.
Some dated moments throughout.
7.5
Good

Like what we do here at AIPT? Consider supporting us and independent comics journalism by becoming a patron today! In addition to our sincere thanks, you can browse AIPT ad-free, gain access to our vibrant Discord community of patrons and staff members, get trade paperbacks sent to your house every month, and a lot more. Click the button below to get started!

Comments

In Case You Missed It

'Avengers' #50 is packed with entertainment 'Avengers' #50 is packed with entertainment

‘Avengers’ #50 is packed with entertainment

Comic Books

EXCLUSIVE Marvel First Look: Devil’s Reign: Villains for Hire #3 EXCLUSIVE Marvel First Look: Devil’s Reign: Villains for Hire #3

EXCLUSIVE Marvel First Look: Devil’s Reign: Villains for Hire #3

Comic Books

'Gotham': Did the creators of QAnon draw from the cult-hit show? 'Gotham': Did the creators of QAnon draw from the cult-hit show?

‘Gotham’: Did the creators of QAnon draw from the cult-hit show?

Television

Judging by the Cover – 12/01/21 new releases Judging by the Cover – 12/01/21 new releases

Judging by the Cover – 12/01/21 new releases

Comic Books

Connect
Newsletter Signup