Books, that is, Digest Spidey books. I went in Borders today, not really expecting to walk out with much, if anything at all. To my surprise, I saw that they had the Marvel Adventures Spider-Man digest books vols. 1-9 in stock. See, I'm not much of an online shopper. Whenever I've got money in my checking account, its usually only kept in there to pay bills. Picking up the earlier stories from MASM has been pretty tough for me. My comic shop doesn't have the issues and even the trades have been very hard to come by. So seeing so many of the digests on the shelf was the best thing I'd seen all day (it was a pretty "meh" day for eying hot babes). I bought vols. 1-5 and I'm pumped for some teenage, light hearted done-in-one-issue Spidey goodness.
I've read vols. 6 and 8 of this series and I've started collected the single issues from #36 onward. This really is in my opinion, one of the best Spider-Man books out there, one I've pimped here in my blog every month. Fellow Spiderfan.org writer Robert J. Sodaro takes the review duties of this title and I think this is a book that is worthy of being reviewed on the site. I should have been reading this book sooner but it wasn't until Marvel screwed up the flagship title that I'd sought out other ways to get my Spidey fix.
MASM rocks for a number of reasons. As I mentioned before, the stories in this title usually begin and end in the first issue, the exception being the Sinister Six story in vol. 1. I'm a big fan of of stories in comics that can be told in one issue. This type of story telling is almost extinct because comic companies and writers feel the overbearing need to make our heads spin with mind blowing events and convoluted stories. Now I'm not saying I don't dig these kinds of stories. Some are actually pretty good, but some of these stories that are meant for shock value or to change the status quo end up doing more harm to the characters and the books.
You know I hate the fact that MASM sales numbers don't even come close to that of Amazing Spider-Man. Probably because MASM isn't the core Spidey book. If the core book was called Marvel Adventures Spider-Man, then the numbers would probably be pretty high. But then, if it were the main book, it would be on suck mode right now, which brings me to reason number two why this book is made of win. You see, I'm in the mind that Joe Q's involvement in ASM right now is pretty far reaching. In MASM, as far as I know, we just see his name on the credits page as EiC so he isn't mucking up the stories or getting int he way of the writer's wishes. Basically, the writers on MASM are free to do what they want.
Yes, I know MASM is a book that is targeted at children. Hey, I'm a guy who has a collection of over 430 video games, action figures and gets all giddy at the thought of collecting a cool toy in a kids meal. And really, do you know how many kids are actually buying comic books? Comic books stopped being a hobby that was most dominated by kids a long time ago. Despite being a book that has children as the target audience, I think adults will like MASM as well. The current stories in ASM are an attempt to emulate the stories from a Spidey era of decades gone by but, to put it mildly, these stories are freaking pitiful. MASM gets it right. With a teenage Spidey, I expect him to make the kind of mistakes an inexperienced person would make because he's a kid. Even so, the Spider-Man in MASM acts with more brain power and maturity than the editorial mandated version that is in ASM.
There's been a lot of top talent on board for this book. Sean McKeever, who wrote the highly touted Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane series wrote a few issues. Peter David, well known for his run on Spectacular Spider-Man in the '80s also wrote some stories for MASM, and I hope he comes back to the title some day. Fred Van Lente, like Peter David has had two runs on this title, and one of my favorite stories pits the Green Goblin against the Hobgoblin. Lente wrote another solid tale that involved Harry Osborn (dressed in Goblin gear) trying to free his father from prison, only to realize that it just wasn't worth it. This was one of the more touching and semi-serious stories for MASM, but not so much that it went into grim, dark territory. Marc Sumerak, who always cracks me up with this Franklin Richards books has contributed some really creative stories, the most recent in MASM #40, where Spidey battles the gods of Asgard.
Heck, even some writers I've never heard of like Kitty Ross, Erica David do a bang up job of making this book good, clean fun.
One look at the pages of MASM and one may think that the art is too simple and not as edgy as what you'd seen in Batman or Superman comics. I'd love to see Mark Bagley, John Romita Jr., or Lee Weeks do the art for this book, but I'm pretty happy with that I've seen. Pop Mhan, David Nakayama, Mike Norton, and Patrick Scherberger all do a terrific job and make the MASM just as enjoyable to look at as it is to read. Bright, colorful art that's easy on the eyes as it should be.
If you are a Spider-Man fan, you should be reading Marvel Adventures Spider-Man. The book succeeds at capturing the feel of the older Spidey stories where the current title, Amazing Spider-Man, fails. Will Peter ever leave high school in this series? Probably not. Does he still behave like he's got some growth despite his age? You bet he does. Just don't come in expecting earth shattering events. That's not what this title is for. What you will get are easy-to-read, charming stories but known and unknown folks in the comic industry. You can also expect to see a ton of familiar faces like Doc Ock, Chameleon, Scorpion, Dr. Doom, the Gray Gargoyle and other heroes and villains from the Marvel universe. Best of all, no screwed up continuity to follow or rack your brain trying to understand. You can jump in at any time. So stop reading this blog entry and go read yourself some Marvel Adventures Spider-Man.
(Yes, I wanted to pimp this series and slam Brand New Day at the same time. Wanna make somethin' of it?)