Thursday, June 07, 2007

Review - The Sensational Spider-Man Annual 1

By Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca
Colors by Paco Roca, Letters by VC’s Cory Petit
Published by Marvel Comics, $3.99

Spider-Man is hands down my very favorite comic book character. And while most of my weekday afternoons were spent watching G.I. JOE, and then playing G.I. JOE, I was usually pretending that the figures were really Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends.

But the thing is -- most Spidey comics aren’t so great. When the Ultimate line started I thought, at last, there would be a Spidey title I could pick up from time to time, whenever I wanted to read 20-odd pages of web-slinging and witty rejoinders. In practice, ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN is now 100+ issues into its own complicated continuity, with a lot of time spent crying around kitchen tables, I think. And that’s okay -- it’s a pretty good book, just not the ideal Spidey comic for me.

And this is the part of the review where I say: SENSATIONAL SPIDER-MAN ANNUAL is the ideal Spidey comic for me. I’m sure it will definitely be seen as a comic of its time, what with the main story involving Peter Parker, whose identity the world now knows, conspiring to turn himself over to the authorities to spare his family any more pain and hurt, just as his wife Mary Jane conspires not to be arrested (by a former flame at that -- that’s classic Spider-Man!) on account of being the wife of the outlaw Spider-Man. But the story’s real charm comes from the flashbacks, illustrated with a lovingly Romita-influenced charm by Salvador Larroca, where we see the old days -- when Peter and Harry were pals, and the boys were dating Gwen Stacy and Mary Jane, respectively.

I guess it’s telling of where the Spider-Man franchise is in 2007 that my ideal Spidey story is a sad one, looking back at the past through rose-colored glasses … but with all things considered, it’s still a story of hope, and of love, and of web-slinging and witty rejoinders. If Matt Fraction ever signs on to write a regular Spider-Man book, that might just be the one that makes it fun to read Spidey again.

Tell me more: Sensational Spider-Man, Matt Fraction

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