A change is as good as a rest... which is maybe why Marvel don't seem to be willing to settle on a good "bonus" Spider-Man title. While the mainstream titles seem to be able to chug along anywhere between 50 and 500 issues under the same sort of format, the "extra for experts" title that doesn't take continuity too seriously has jumped from "Web-Spinners" to "Tangled Web" to the most recent incarnation - "Spider-Man Unlimited (Vol. 3)", which is a bi-monthly title featuring two separate stories each month by guest creators.
Actually, maybe I spoke too quickly on the "change is as good as a rest", since the title-pickers over there at Marvel HQ don't seem to be quite as good as making changes as I thought... they seem stuck on re-using the "Unlimited" badge, instead of giving it a rest. As well as being rather worn out, it's also confusingly similar to the Ultimate Spider-Man title.
So, we've got a bit of a hint that the marketing isn't too good. But what about the comic itself? Read on...
The first story is by Joseph Goodrich, with art by Takeshi Miyazawa. If you haven't seem Miyazawa in action, it's classic "kid's Japanese" style - rather insipid if you ask me, but perfectly servicable I guess. Either way, it's the plot that's supposed to be the highlight here.
Any serious Spidey fan remembers the "Kid who collects Spider-Man" backup story by Roger Stern, from Amazing Spider-Man #248. If you aren't fortunate enough to have read it, let me just say that it's a wonderful, touching story about a young kid named Tim Harrison who's a big Spider-Man fan, and who is bravely battling leukemia.
Goodrich seems to know this story, and reckons that heck, it's been twenty years, surely nobody will spot a little plagerism if he rips it off and churns it through the mill again, though with a bit less subtlety, because naturally today's readers aren't as clever as those from the 80's.
Well, wrong. Me and the other twenty guys I spoke to noticed. We didn't need to fork out $3 for a watered-down rehash.
Sure, the story bumbles along just fine. I guess it's perfectly readable, if you're not too fussy. But it really just doesn't have the zing of Stern's out-of-the-blue masterpiece, and I can't give it more than a couple of webs. Disappointing way to start a brand new title.
What a shame to start with such a weak story. I guess that's gonna happen with a title that gives us a pair of featurettes each month - there's gonna be some new talent, and a probably just as many "don't call us" offerings. It's just a shame that the Editor's couldn't do a better job of filtering out the rubbish before it hit my comic store!
Disappointing way to kick off a new title. Two webs.