Spider-Man is on the trail of the Human Fly, which leads them back to the museum where things began. The Fly makes an attempt to steal some artifacts and Spider-Man intends on stopping him and bringing him in. While this is going on, Spider-Man believes there was a chance Jameson unmasked him while he was unconscious, and he's wondering what's on Jameson's mind if he really did. -summary
This is one TPB I had been waiting for Marvel to get around to for a very long time. I had a feeling they were going to bring the goods with some noteworthy back issues and they delivered. Written by Marv Wolfman and Stan Lee, Spider-Man: Return of the Burglar reprints this Marvel Milestone in the Spider-Man mythos, that features the return of the man who shot and killed Uncle Ben. Marvel wanted to make Spider-Man #200 an extravaganza back then and they succeeded with this, by bringing Spider-Man face to face with the man who made him truly understand, "With Great Power... Comes Great Responsibility". This TPB collects Amazing Spider-Man 193 - 200.
The book kicks things off as Spider-Man takes on the Fly in an interesting encounter. The Fly is just as strong as Spider-Man, and his 360 degree vision seems to be a match for Spider-Man's "spider-sense", since Spidey can't get the drop on him. The story doesn't have the kind of ending Spider-Man fans would like to see, because it's meant to add to his overall stresses taking place in his normal life. Later on, he meets the Black Cat for the first time, and a feud goes on between them. Now, this story actually takes two issues from the Spider-Man vs. Black Cat TPB, thus, to a certain degree lowering the value of that book a little. Some people will have a problem with this double dipping, but seriously, those stories had to be added because there are important plot points that take place, which play into later parts of the story.
The battle against the Black Cat is fun overall, watching her match all of Spider-Man's powers with her acrobatics and more specifically her flirting. However, it's the next two battles that take this book up a notch, as Spider-Man is forced to face the Kingpin with one of his arms broken, which puts this battle completely in Kingpin's favor. For those who may not know, Kingpin is not an overly fat guy, in fact, his entire body is made up of solid muscle that nearly broke Daredevils hands hitting him, and his fighting skill and speed are on a level to where he battled Captain America to a draw, plus defeated Punisher and the Red Skull. The next awesome fight is against the Master of Illusion Mysterio and his tricks. I found this to be among their best encounters since it builds off of their previous ones. The toughest part about fighting Mysterio is being fooled by what's real and what's not. Despite Spider-Man knowing this, it doesn't make this encounter any less difficult. The confrontation with the burglar effects Spider-Man on an emotional level, and in combination with all the other story elements coming together, this story is just too good. Character development is present as usual, with Spider-Man's personal life coming into play, and he has to deal with Aunt May's health threatening condition, and you learn even more how important she is to him.
I really enjoy the artwork; the facial expressions are done well especially when Peter Parker finally gets his hands on the burglar. You can feel the emotions flying between the two. The action panels are also really fun to watch, with an exchange of big blows between Spider-Man and Kingpin. The Black Cat is drawn pretty nice as to be expected. Outside of the dated feel everything looks good.
In regards to complaints; I can see the double dipping being an issue for some. Marvel probably could have summarized the Black Cat story and only noted what was of importance. Personally, it doesn't bother me much because it's only two stories taken from there out of six. Therefore, that book is still very readable and recommended. This is also highly recommended as well, since it has a good deal of action, strong stories, and doesn't require plenty of knowledge to get into. If you enjoy superheroes at all, then give this a look.
Pros: -Solid stories and one Marvel Milestone
Cons: - Double dipping may annoy some people
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