Even though retail prices have come down from their 1990s peaks on Amazing Spider-man issues by David Michelinie and Todd McFarlane, collecting them all could still put a big dent in your wallet. Those readers on a sacred mission to collect every issue of Amazing Spider-man will overcome this challenge. The rest of us wouldn’t mind having them collected in three trade paperbacks.
Marvel complicated things by publishing the three paperbacks under two different banners. Readers searching in databases at retailers or libraries might find one, but not the other. Let us clear things up for you.
The first of the three is under the “Visionaries” banner. You can find many good stories from Marvel’s flagship characters in various Visionaries collections. The Todd MacFarlane one includes Amazing Spider-man #298-305, notable for taking Spidey’s black suit from the first Marvel Superheroes Secret Wars and bonding it to Eddie Brock to create Venom. Spider-man Visionaries Todd McFarlane #1 is listed at MyComicShop and Amazon.
Marvel then moved the series over to “Marvel Legends” banner. The first of the two Marvel Legends collects Amazing Spider-man #306-314, plus a story from Spectacular Spider-man Annual #10 with McFarlane art. This one may be our favorite of the series. We can’t find it at MyComicShop, but it is listed correctly on Amazon despite not having the right cover currently.
Marvel wraps it up with a second Legends collection that includes Amazing Spider-man #315-323, #325, and #328. Although the listing on Amazon doesn’t have the right cover at the time of this post, it is the right book.
As much as we love McFarlane’s rendering of Spidey’s world, these stories succeed in large part due to Michelinie’s writing. It’s a shame these collections dont say “Michelinie and McFarlane” on them. Marvel remedied that bit of rudeness in 2011 by printing the Amazing Spider-man Omnibus by David Micheline and Todd McFarlane. Last time we checked, you could get one for about $100.
The collections are an enjoyable romp through the Spider-man rogues’ gallery with drama, humor, and interesting developments in the lives of newlyweds Mary Jane Watson Parker and her wall-crawling hubby. Michelinie breaks with the “hard luck hero” tradition of Spidey. Peter Parker marries an incredibly fun, smart super-model. He gets famous for his Spider-man photos in the Daily Bugle and goes on a book-signing tour. Peter and Mary Jane move into a nice place. They have some money for a change, and even Aunt May has a cool boyfriend now. This was a fresh approach to the character at the time. It reminded us that even though Parker has lots of bad luck, he still totally kicks ass.
Despite our defense of Michelinie, Spidey just looks great zipping through these books in a mass of webs with a look McFarlane seems to have invented. They have since been copied, but we don’t recall ever seeing anyone draw Spidey’s webs like McFarlane before these books.
The creative team brings back one of our favorite Spidey supporting characters: the Prowler. In the Prowler’s claws, mask, and swirling cape, you might be witnessing McFarlane getting the ideas for his Spawn character worked out on the page in these Spidey stories.
The bonus “pin-up” was also printed as a postcard by Marvel, and we’ve always loved this image.
Venom’s gleeful sadism and obvious mental illness are good signs he might be a keeper as a Spidey villain.
Another nut job and total loser from Spidey’s gallery of bad guys shows up: the Scorpion. The Scorpion never looked so awesome as he did in this story. Spidey has to rescue J. Jonah Jameson from the guy in green armored tights with a fatal tail. It’s a hoot.
McFarlane made his mark on The Lizard, too. Just a hideous rage ball of claws and teeth. McFarlane would again draw our favorite evil reptile in a lab coat when he started his own Spider-man series.
Spidey looks pretty awesome crouching in the snow in a graveyard.
And that’s all the photos we had time to snap before selling these wonderful books on eBay. We read them not long after they first came out, in their original single issue form. It was fun to read through them again and enjoy them in these collections. It’s a good chunk of Spidey stories that deserves a place on even a casual Spidey collector’s shelf.