Marvel Masterworks PDF

by Gerry Conway Some absolute classics in this volume, notably involving Ms. Gwen Stacy, but there are also a range of issues demonstrating how the series has shifted toward autopilot at this late date.

The Gwen issues still pack a punch today, and I can only imagine how they must have been received at the time of publication. The associated violence—and the pure malevolence of the Green Goblin—are delivered so quickly that Spider-man and the reader barely have time to react. That's effective, and it doesn't quite feel rushed, especially since Spidey spends the rest of the volume dealing, as well as he can, with the aftermath.

The other stories, while done well enough, don't show too much inspiration. There's J. Jonah Jameson's son turning into some space werewolf, a situation that's resolved too easily. The return of the Vulture is pretty much an old creature-feature story. Spidey and the Human Torch team up to build a street buggy for some reason (I imagine projected toy sales were involved). And things get pretty ridiculous in the last arc, where it turns out Aunt May inherited a uranium mine and breeder reaction on an island in Canada (!) that Dr. Octopus and Hammerhead fight over. Spider-man doesn't even need to be part of that story, and it doesn't give him much to do aside from hanging onto a plane for hours at a time.

On the non-superhero side of things, Peter Parker isn't the most pleasant person. He's dealing with what happened to Gwen, sure, but throughout the series he's always dealt with anger issues and a lack of impulse control, and that's present here as well. Mary Jane rightfully calls him out. By all rights he should be bottoming out in his personal life, but he just seems to be hanging on, which is a little unrealistic as well. We'll see how long that lasts.

Ultimately, these comics are decent, but the creative team has developed a formula, and they seem to be struggling a bit with how to move outside it. If these comics came out today, there'd be a lot of eye-rolling.

Read digital issues—except ASM 129, which isn't online for some reason.

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