Spider-Man’s Greatest Villains

Spider-Man's Greatest Villains
Spider-Man's Greatest Villains

By various (Marvel)
ISBN13: 978-0-7851-0136-9

Despite this feeling in many ways like a cash-in-quick book this little package does offer a lot of value to the newcomer as a primer into the exotic rogue’s gallery that has be-devilled the web-slinger over the decades. Compiled in 1995, it shows not just the vast variety of the many talented artists who have worked on the character, but also some of the gifted writers who built on Stan and Steve’s masterpiece.

Open and closing the book are two tales by Messrs Lee and Ditko. Firstly the premiere performance of a criminal Special Effects genius who used subterfuge and psychology to wage war as ‘The Menace of… Mysterio!’ (from Amazing Spider-Man #13 1964), nicely book-ends our hero scoring one of his most decisive victories when he was ‘Unmasked by Dr Octopus!’ in issue #12.

Although I’m a little perturbed that it’s the concluding half of a two-parter, the story can be happily read on its own and the art is just so darned good! From Ditko and Mysterio we proceed to the psychopathic Spidey analogue Venom. Taken from issue #316 (1988) ‘Dead Meat’ by David Michelinie and Todd McFarlane is a spectacular action extravaganza, whilst Roger Stern, John Romita and Pablo Marcos’s ‘Let Fly these Aged Wings!’ (issue #224, 1982) is a tense and emotive thriller featuring the Vulture.

The Senior Romita and the desperately under appreciated Jim Mooney worked their magic on Lee’s ‘Mission: Crush the Kingpin!’ (Amazing Spider-Man #69 (1969), a bombastic battle that will leave you hungry for more – and not just because it’s the first part of an extended storyline that’s not included…

The Hobgoblin, usurper and heir of the fearsome Green Goblin (inexplicably not included in this collection) features in a tale of the black-costumed wall-crawler from Web of Spider-Man #38 (1988), by Fabian Nicieza, Alex Saviuk, Kieth Williams and Mike Esposito, which is followed by a pulse-pounding reprise from Lee, Romita Sr. and Mooney entitled ‘And then came Electro!’ originally published in Amazing Spider-Man #82 (1970).

The penultimate tale in this book is ‘The Mortal Past’ by Michelinie, Steven Butler and Bud LaRosa, another chaotic, blood-soaked outing for the mass-murdering shape-changing Carnage, which also delves into his traumatic childhood, taken from Amazing Spider-Man Annual #28 (1994).

This is one of those rare collections that will appeal more to a browser than a fan and thus, despite it’s rather choppy nature, one worth buying for a friend you’re trying to convert rather than a keeper for your own bookshelf.

A UK edition was published by Boxtree (ISBN: 0-7522-0123-9) and may also be available.
©1964-1994, 1995 Marvel Characters, Inc. All Rights Reserved.