Peter Parker aka Spider-Man, is searching for a new apartment and finally finds one, unfortunately it's a real dump. However, this is the very least of his problems. While paying a visit to the Daily Bugle, the place is attacked by a mountain of a man named the Grizzly, who's seeking revenge against J. Jonah Jameson. Spider-Man clashes with the man but soon realizes there's far more going on then he realizes. -summary
Here goes the story that started the madness, The Original Clone Saga. Beginning in 1974 and written by Gerry Conway, the Original Clone Saga which has went down in Spider-Man lore as a Marvel Milestone was the follow up and supposedly fall out of another milestone, The Death of Gwen Stacy. That storyline introduced another moment of tragedy in the life of Spider-Man, as he witnessed the death of his lover at the hands of the Green Goblin, which occurred when he remembered Spider-Man's secret identity and attacked in full force. This story begins when a villain calling himself the Jackal enters, and it's very unclear what his motives are besides terrorizing Spider-Man. The story had a major impact on the Spider-Man mythos which would be felt for over 20 years, beginning new storylines and debuting new characters, as well as re-introducing older ones thought long gone. Along with its overall effect, the story would prove to be quite entertaining with startling revelations that left many in awe as the story reached its climax. This trade paperback collects some of the best stories during one of Spider-Man's best runs; Amazing Spider-Man 139 - 150, Giant-Size Spider-Man 5, Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man 25 - 31, 149, 162 - 163, and Annual 8.
This batch of stories captures what comic book fun is all about; suspense, surprises, engrossing storyline, interesting and well developed characters. These are your basic Spider-Man stories that follows the wall-crawler through his very complicated life as he takes on one villain after the next, with small pieces of the story slowly introduced. The reader will get a glimpse of what the Jackal is all about periodically, as he uses other villains to battle Spider-Man. When he's not around, other villains will appear out of the wood work taking their chances at killing him for past transgressions. Later, things will become more complicated as Spider-Man will begin to question his own sanity, when he begins to see someone he thought to have been dead for two years, his ex girlfriend Gwen Stacy.
When I backtrack through very early Spider-Man stories, I always found the arcs with the Green Goblin to be the most interesting, simply because he knew who the man under the mask was. I thought it was brilliant for Marvel to go that route once again, because it adds another dimension to the storytelling when a hero's identity has been revealed, and the Jackal is used very well here. He's established as a serious threat simply because it's not hard to figure out that he knows who Spider-Man is. He encounters an enraged Scorpion, and sends him after Spider-Man's loved ones making it quite clear he means business. The feud with the Jackal is very well paced, and the danger steadily escalates until its thrilling conclusion. He also slowly becomes the show-stealer, because a reader who is completely unfamiliar with the outcome of this story will constantly wonder what he's after. Conway also shows how he can juggle different story elements, by also injecting a thrilling battle against the Master of Illusion Mysterio as well as a vicious fight against the Spider-Slayers. These breaks in the storyline would be distracting if they weren't so entertaining. The storyline involving the Jackal is wrapped up very well but it's only the beginning.
The second portion of the story takes place with yet another clone by the name of Carrion. He possesses all of the knowledge he could possibly need to battle Spider-Man including his secret identity, in which he goes straight to his apartment searching for him. He also attacks his friends, and in the battle between the two, he promises Spider-Man that everyone he knows is going to die after he kills him, and vows to begin with Aunt May. This undead clone with the appearance of a nearly rotted corpse is very dangerous. He possesses super strength, agility, and he's very durable. His vast powers consist of telepathy and telekinesis; he can also kill all organic beings with only a touch. Carrion gives Spider-Man the toughest battle ever by this point.
The story also features several guest stars, such as the Man-Thing, White Tiger, Daredevil, and The High Evolutionary. Spider-Man also battles with various deadly villains the likes of Hobgoblin and Carrion II. The storytelling really is magnificent since it doesn't follow a repetitive path and it's constantly evolving. The action as usual does take a backseat for Peter's personal issues, as he still has trouble dealing with Gwen's death, and just plain moving on with Mary-Jane Watson who makes it no secret that she wants to be with him. The sudden appearance of Gwen heavily disrupts things between them creating some interesting situations.
The artwork has a dated feel, but it's hard not to enjoy the flashy feel of things; from Spidey trying to outrun the cops in the hilariously cheesy "Spider-Mobile", to the look of horror on Aunt May's face as the Scorpion crawls into the window while she's in the hospital bed. The action panels have so many cool moments and fierce action, that you could actually ignore the dialog and just watch the trade offs between Spider-Man, Scorpion, Lizard, and Mysterio.
I really enjoyed this TPB, however, it could have been much better than this. Since the Jackal is one of the main villains, then I see no reason on how come his first appearance, Amazing Spider-Man 129 wasn't added. I would have preferred that over Giant Spider-Man 5. The book does have some filler, but it's fun filler that I never found boring.
Overall, this is among the best TPB's you can find. It has everything that makes a comic book great, and it's on the newbie friendly side. There are more than enough details going on to pull someone from the dark. I highly recommend this along with the Death of Gwen Stacy.
-Entertaining from beginning to end
-Dated artwork may distract some, some filler that some may not enjoy
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