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Book review: Essential Spider-Man Vol. 1 by Stan Lee

Essential Spider-Man Vol. 1Essential Spider-Man Vol. 1 by Stan Lee

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The original story of Spider-Man and several of his most popular opponents. As a Spider-Man fan, I’m ashamed to admit it took me this long to read these comics. They’re definitely products of their time, as evidenced by the slang, dress, and cultural references. It was also funny how the cover of every comic claimed to be the best ever. This book’s a must-read for any Spider-Man fan.

Spider-Man has been my favorite superhero for as long as I can remember. It’s probably because I can identify with Peter Parker; he’s a smart, geeky, unpopular, and socially awkward bookworm. I always enjoyed his trademark joking and taunting of his enemies during fights.

Spider-Man was one of the first non-traditional heroes. He’s plagued by self-doubt and constant financial and social troubles. This contrasts starkly with most other heroes of the period, such as the successful and well-liked Fantastic 4. In this book, Spider-Man and the Human Torch cross paths several times, and it’s clear that the popular and socially adept Torch is a very different type of hero than Spider-Man.

The book features many villians, and tells the stories of many of their origins. Included are The Chamelion, The Vulture, Doctor Octopus, Sandman, Dr. Doom, The Lizard, Mysterio, The Green Goblin, Kraven, and The Scorpion. Several other Marvel heroes make appearances, including The Fantastic 4, The Hulk, and Daredevil.

Of course, J. Jonah Jameson plays a major role in most of the comics. In a rare moment of weakness, he admits that he tears Spider-Man down because he’s jealous of his bravery, power, and selflessness.

These comics cover Spider-Man’s early career, so Mary Jane is absent, Instead, Peter pines for Betty Brant, Jameson’s secretary. She falls for him on and off too, at times competing with Liz Allen for his attention. The bully Flash Thompson is so annoying that I wish Peter would’ve smashed his face in, but fortunately he does take several beatings from others throughout the book.

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