The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #42



SpiderManAnn42-minWhether it be due to the return of a “small team of career criminals” who “were among Spider-Man’s earliest foes”, Peter Parker joining forces with J. Jonah Jameson’s former secretary at the Daily Bugle, Betty Brant, or simply Dan Slott’s narrative for “Bury The Ledes” instigating the titular character’s return back to Empire State University, many of this comic’s 43,935 owners arguably must have felt a pang of nostalgia whilst reading this tale of “a mafia conspiracy that stretches back decades!” In fact, even the book’s simplistic story involving an investigation into just why “someone tried to fabricate a moment in history” by inventing the Battle of Blood Creek during the American Revolution is told by the Berkeley-born writer in a manner somewhat similar to the way Web-Head’s tales in the Sixties were told; “The good ol’ days. Where I met Gwen and Harry…”

Admittedly, that doesn’t sadly mean there aren’t a few artificial contrivances scattered throughout the plot with which to detract from its overall enjoyment, such as Ned Leeds’ contact, Prescott, supposedly being one of the few living people in New York to actually know about “a vast network of abandoned passageways running under the city”, or the sudden appearance of “the long-hidden leader of the shadow arm of the Maggia, the Undermob”, Ernesto Karnelli, who has apparently operated “completely off the grid” for decades. But such ‘conveniences’ are forgivable given some of the grandiose set-pieces they create within which Spider-Man is able to dutifully demonstrate his awesome athleticism and other arachnid-based super-powers.

Quite possibly less forgivable though is the inconsistent artwork of Cory Smith, which seemingly drifts between some superb panels depicting an astonishingly agile wall-crawler leaping over numerous fire-escapes during an agreeable chase-sequence, to pencilling a badly misshapen Parker fending off the angry protestations of a security guard who “invested my entire pension in your company! In Parker Industries! And you went and wrecked it!” This inability to competently sketch the Daily Bugle’s new science editor really grates upon the nerves, and only later resolves itself courtesy of Slott’s script placing the “Marvel Worldwide” “company mascot” in full costume for this publication’s dynamically-drawn conclusion.

Unhappily, this comic’s biggest disappointment however, has to be the “bonus story by Broadway playwright David Hein” which makes a complete mockery of “one of Spider-Man’s most unique and prominent powers.” Ordinarily ‘described’ as “a tingling feeling at the base of his brain”, the Canadian songwriter instead would disconcertingly have this annual’s audience believe Peter’s persistent spider-sense specifically tells him what the problem is, whether it be something as straightforward as “when my alarm clock is about to go off” or a “dust bunny”, through to “this guy is made of sand and wants to kill you!”

This article is the opinion of the author and does not represent the views of the site owner.


Reviewed by
For the past forty or so years I have been collecting American comics… To begin with they were predominantly black and white British reprints of “Marvel Comics Group” titles such as “Spider-Man Comics Weekly”, “The Mighty World of Marvel” and “Star Wars Weekly”; all six to ten pence editions I could store away under my bed in a large cardboard box. As a result though I was introduced to the teenage angst of Peter Parker, the discovery of a frozen Captain America by Earth's Mightiest Heroes, witnessed the dreadful rage of Doctor Bruce Banner, and even travelled to a galaxy far far away... Later I would be able to afford actual America colour comic books and supplemented my collection of “Marvel” titles such as “Conan the Barbarian”, “Howard the Duck” and “Captain America” with some “DC Comics” issues of “Batman”, “Green Lantern” and “Captain Carrot and his Amazing Zoo Crew”. There would even be time for Independent publications such as “Wildcats”, “Spawn” and “The Authority”. These days however I must admit to yearning back to the simpler times of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, back to when both artwork and storylines were straightforward, easy to follow and super-heroes were just starting out on their adventures. A time when no-one had yet to be resurrected from the dead for the fourth time. I've written over seven hundred comic book reviews on my blog over the past few years, with them usually following my latest purchases, all wrapped up in a large brown paper bag, as well as occasional ‘flashbacks’ to some of the classic "Golden Age" issues I already own…

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