Back in 2011, an illustration group named The Storybook Art Group created a beautiful set of illustrations depicting the origins of the major Marvel Super-Heroes. Foremost among those tales was The Amazing Spider-Man: An Origin Story, and with new text written by Jeff Clark and Rich Thomas the birth of our favourite wall-crawler was re-invented for a new generation of young adults.
In the four years since then, many other Spider-Man stories in the same visual and textual style have been added to the "Origin Story" universe, with many reprints and re-packagings of all those tales.
But in addition to simple "reprints", those stories have also been adapted many times with the original artwork zoomed cropped, and with the text freely expanded, trimmed, or completely re-written.
The text of this book is word-for-word verbatim of the original The Amazing Spider-Man: An Origin Story.
However, in order to reduce the total page count from 48 pages to 32 pages, some of the images have been removed, while others have been shrunk and combined onto a single page.
But the most notable feature of this book (and the only reason why it's getting a review at all, given that it's otherwise purely a reprint) is the enclosed CD featuring an 11min 20sec audio of Stan Lee narrating the entire store word-for-word.
Stan is an utter machine. He must have been over 90 when he recorded this. And yeah, you can hear how hard he has to work to keep up the energy levels in his voice. But sheesh, it's still impressive that he can still do this at all. If I can still muster a clear and strong voice at 90, I'll be pretty pleased with life.
I must admit, it feels odd, hearing Stan narrate somebody else's version of the Spider-Man origin story. But even if this isn't his original dialogue, the heart and soul of the story still belongs to Stan (and Ditko) through and through.
Is it a good narration? Well, the diction is good, and there's a lifetime of passion and showmanship behind it. But Stan's not a voice actor really, and there's plenty of people in the world who would have made the story more exciting and more interesting.
But hey, this is Stan! My kids probably won't appreciate it. But I do.
I give Stan a hard time for a lot of things. He's a hammy writer, and his rise to fame was not entirely due to his hard-working shameless self-promotion – there was also the frequently under-rewarded efforts of a dozen great artists (plus a massive dose of good luck).
But this book is a all about the nostalgia, and the gratitude.
Thanks Stan. Five webs for you.