Comics : Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) Annual 1996

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This review was first published on: 2004.

Background...

This book takes the clone continuity, tears it into little pieces, and flushes it down the toilet. Ben Reilly shows up in six pages of this sixty-four page extravaganza. In the spirit of Untold Tales, one story features Spidey waaaay back, before "clone" became a naughty word in the Spider-verse. The other features Spidey - in the black costume - shortly after Pete n' MJ's wedding. You want spoilers? You got 'em!

In Detail...

"Heart & Soul!"
Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) Annual 1996 (Story 1)
Year 1996 : SMURF 087.700 : SM Title
Summary: Untold Kraven Story
Editor:  Tom Brevoort
Co-Plot/Pencils:  Ron Frenz
Writer:  Tom DeFalco
Inker:  John Romita, Sr.
Cover Art:  Ron Frenz
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Articles: Aunt May Parker, Ben Reilly, George Stacy (FB), Green Goblin I (Norman Osborn) (FB), Jameson, J. Jonah, Mary Jane Watson-Parker, Robertson, Joe "Robbie"

In the first story, named "Heart and Soul", Pete and Gwen Stacy are still going out, as are MJ and Harry Osborn. Captain Stacy and Joe Robertson have joined forces to try to discover Spider-Man's secret identity. Somewhere between Peter and Gwen attempting to tell her father about them and Spidey battling Kraven the Hunter and three thugs, George Stacy figures out young Peter's secret, but vows to keep in until the day he dies.

In the second, unnamed, story, a newly married Spidey must stop a soviet assasin from killing him, Aunt May and Mary Jane. Turns out the Deadmaker, as he is called, has lead a hard life after Peter's parents - agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. who died on assignment - arrested his father as a Hydra operative. As a traitor to his country, the Deadmaker's father died in a Siberian prison, and young DM wants revenge.

Both of these stories (especially the first) are exceptionally well written and very well drawn. The first was written and pencilled by none other than Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz, and inked by John Romita Sr. The second tale was written by Fabian Nicieza, pencilled by Steve Lightle, and inked by Al Williamson.

In General...

This is what happens when writers see what fun Kurt Busiek is having with Untold Tales of Spider-Man. Without having to deal with clones, dead aunts, etc., they add a chapter to the story of Peter Parker's life. It's a history lesson to fanboys. It's a nostalgia trip for veterans. For one and all, it's a great book with great art and terrific stories. I try not to do this at the risk of seeming an easy marker, but I'm going to have to give this book five webs.

Overall Rating...

Five Webs.