Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Classics - Spectacular Spider-Man #200

For today's "Classic" comic, we turn back to 1993 and a great example of the excess of the time - a foil-covered issue of Spectacular Spider-Man (a title that started, I believe, as Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man).

The scan doesn't really show the cover in its glory - the background behind the figures is actually silver with webbing on it. For that, and the larger page count, the issue cost a (then) staggering $2.95!

The story by J. M. DeMatteis features the final showdown between Spider-Man and the second Green Goblin, Harry Osborn.

The tale's rather uneven. It takes an unusual approach, in that Harry is obviously losing his mind, but he seems to be trying to stay true to his friendship with Peter and Mary Jane.

Despite that, the Goblin begins stalking Peter everywhere he goes, and his plans for revenge take shape despite his feelings.

For all its extra length, the story spends way too much time on characters wondering what to do about Harry and agonizing over it all. When we finally get to the big fight, it never really gets off the ground. The conclusion is a clever approach, but it took far too long to get there.

The real star of the issue is artist Sal Buscema. Brother to superstar artist John, Sal is one of the great unsung artists in Marvel's history. For year after year he provided terrific art for Captain America and The Avengers - but he did some of his best work on this title.

I saw him interviewed at a comics convention a few years ago, and he mentioned this issue as one of his favorites, and it's easy to see why. His art carries the conclusion, and the intensity of the characters throughout - from Harry's insanity to Peter's intense anger and Mary Jane's fear.

It's an important comic in the history of Spider-Man, even if more recent writers unraveled the story's key events - but it promised a turning point for that hero, and it held for about 15 years.

But I still don't understand the need for the foil cover. (I know, it was all about sales - but it adds nothing to the comic.)

Grade: B-


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