Comics : Spider-Man Special

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This review was first published on: 2004.

Background...

Wizard magazine pays tribute to the re-start of the Spider-Man books by presenting a special issue all about the webhead. Also included in the package is The Legacy of Spider-Man, a portfolio honoring various key moments in Spidey's career, drawn by seventeen of today's hot young artists.

In Detail...

Spider-Man Special
Year 1998 : SM Article
Publisher:  Wizard
Staff Only
Issue
Review

Yes, that's right. A whole issue devoted to your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. The contents of the magazine, in order are:

An intro of ten "Spider-Facts" for the new reader. ("Who is Spider-Man?", "What are his powers?", that sort of thing.)

An interview with writer Howard Mackie concerning his plans for the web-slinger.

A talk with John Byrne about the reboot in Spider-Man: Chapter One.

"Spider-Man 101", a list of 101 odd facts about the wall-crawler. (For example: "Before they were married, Spidey and Mary Jane teamed up to beat Conan villain Kulan Gath into submission!" See Marvel Team-Up #79 for the full story on that one.)

An article introducing the new series, Webspinners.

An article introducing the new series, Slingers.

Eliot Brown's detailed look at Spidey's costume, belt, mask, web-shooters, spider-signal, and cameras.

"Spidey Takes Manhattan", an amusing fumetti (photo feature) in which Spider-Man (or least some guy in a Spidey suit) takes writer Jim McLauchlin on a tour of Marvel Universe landmarks in real-life Manhattan. He can't find any, of course. (My favorite moment: Jim asks Spidey how he manages to swing between buildings when they are so far apart and Spidey weasels out of answering the question.)

A "census" of villains and supporting characters, including a list of everyone who has ever been a Goblin.

A short piece on the unrealized Spider-Man movie by Jim Cameron.

A top ten list of the "Greatest Spider-Man stories ever told". This is perhaps the most disappointing feature in the magazine. With four of the ten stories being written by Roger Stern and only two by Stan Lee (and one of those is Amazing Fantasy #15), this list looks like it was written by someone whose first exposure to the character was when Roger was the writer, developing a soft spot in his heart for those stories as a result. Apologies to writer Andrew Kardon if I am being patronizing, but really, Andrew! I like all the listed stories... still, picking ASM #229-230 (Juggernaut) as #1 and ASM #231-232 (Mr. Hyde) as #3 without picking any Green Goblin or Kingpin stories (and only one Ock story) by Stan? I could put together a top ten list of nothing but Stan Lee stories that could arguably be the greatest Spidey stories told. He deserves at least half of any list of this sort, I would say.

Andrew Kardon fares much better with the next feature. "Spider-Man's top 10 most embarassing moments".

"Fashion-Sense", a presentation of the different costumes and looks Spider-Man has had over the years. This section includes the Scarlet Spider, Peter Porker the Spectacular Spider-Ham, Spider-Man 2099, Spider-Man: the Manga, and Spider-Girl as well.

Add to this, various odd little side-bars interspersed throughout the issue (such as a list of everyone who knows or knew Spidey's identity; plus asking a member of the Los Angeles Times if a photographer could actually survive in the big city on nothing but a free-lance salary) and the included The Legacy of Spider-Man, a very fun look at the pencils of different artists' favorite moments (such as Dan Jurgens illustrating the Green Goblin unmasking Spidey and Sean Chen drawing "Kraven's Last Hunt") and you end up with a very enjoyable package for practically any fan of Spider-Man.

In General...

This is the kind of thing that Wizard does best. It is informative, clever, funny, and it absolutely begs you to play along. A terrific job all the way around. Fun for new readers and old.

Overall Rating...

Four and a half webs. The only real gripe I have is the faulty Top Ten list, though, actually, some of the most fun is disagreeing with the writer's choices and coming up with your own.