Vol. 2 of the Spider-Man Ultimate Newspaper Comics Collection hits the right notes …
We’re big fans of IDW and the Library of American Comics’ laudable endeavor to bring us comprehensive volumes of rare newspaper strips.
I’ve always been comic-book first and comic-strip second, but the great thing about reading these in book form is that the balky pacing of the daily strip is improved a great deal. So it is with the second volume of these Bronze Age Spider-Man strips, which cover the years 1979 to 1981.
You get complete stories in this volume, featuring villains like the Kingpin, the Prowler and Kraven the Hunter. It’s written by Stan Lee, but to me, this is all about John Romita’s art.
The book — which lists for $49.99 with 320 pages — features both black-and-white dailies and color Sunday strips, seamlessly woven together, and you can really lose yourself poring over the details.
Even without the benefit of splash pages and larger panels, the experience is indelibly Romita-esque: The action is crisp and the women are beautiful — Mary Jane is classically va-va-va-voom.
These are hefty hardcovers that IDW and Dean Mullaney’s LOAC have put together, with high-quality printing and introductory material that puts the strips into their proper historical context. And the strips themselves are like a time-capsule from the Disco Era, with pop-culture references to love cults gone awry, top TV shows and cameo appearances by celebs like Elton John, Geraldo Rivera, Abe Vigoda (!) and Redd Foxx.
The main thing is, with this rare Romita art, you get to experience Spidey’s Jazz Age in a completely different way.