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Amazing Spider-Man Masterworks Vol. 4 Hardcover – Dec 10 2003

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Marvel; 2nd edition (Dec 10 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0785111891
  • ISBN-13: 978-0785111894
  • Product Dimensions: 26.2 x 18.3 x 1.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 635 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #888,306 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 15 reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Corny, Brilliant: The Best of Spider-Man Jan. 13 2012
By lux - Published on
Format: Paperback
Someone who wants to buy one collection of early Spider-Man could do no better than this. This book is probably the single best Spider-Man trade available. It includes original artist Steve Ditko's last eight issues of the title, and fan-favorite John Romita's first two.

From a nerd's perspective, it's packed with 'key' events. The volume begins with Peter Parker's entry into college and his first encounters with Harry Osborne and Gwen Stacey; it ends with the incredible two-parter wherein Green Goblin and Spider-Man learn each other's secret identities, establishing the Goblin as Spidey's arch-nemesis. In between, there are classic battles with Doctor Octopus and Kraven the Hunter, the first mention of Mary Jane Watson, the first appearance of Norman Osborne, the famous "Just a Guy Named Joe" story and the much more famous sequence of Spidey struggling under rubble for five pages- truly a tour de force of comic art.

Which brings me to my critical perspective: scriptwriter Stan Lee was reveling in the popularity of the title at this point, maintaining his cheery cheesy breezy style while always ensuring (relative) depth to his characters and situations. Some of the writing is typically over the top (CAP: "But, once alone in his room, the complex, sensitive, anguished youth who is Peter Parker finds that he cannot study... he cannot concentrate on anything... EXCEPT..." PETER: "Am I really being a COWARD?") but it can be charming and even genuinely (deliberately) funny sometimes. The real force behind the work collected here was Steve Ditko, who was obsessively pouring all he had into the title at this time: plotting, penciling, and inking the work all himself (Lee doesn't even take credit for "co-plotting" here; it's all Ditko!). I think Ditko's art improved throughout his stint at Marvel, and then began to decline, making this his very best work. Although less 'clean' or consistent than in the early issues, he is much more bold in his panel arrangements, featuring more effective and varied 'camera' angles, and his figures have a growing dynamism which is actually aided by his own slightly sloppier inking style. Like the very best Golden Age comics, a white-hot frenetic energy radiates from the pages. Perhaps most impressively, the issues here form a complete story. Each issue tells its own story, but a well-crafted arc of subplot progresses almost invisibly throughout them until, by the last chapter, it has become the main story.

In the 1960s, mainstream superhero comics hadn't yet succumbed to the commercial model of the cigarette companies, which in our present stage of capitalism has been adopted by nearly every industry. What I mean is a comic book back then was made to SATISFY the reader; today, they are made specifically to leave one UNsatisfied, so the reader will want to buy more, forever. I guarantee that this 200-page book, or any other collection of stories from this era, will take about three times as long to read as the same amount of new comics. Part of this is a higher word-per-image ratio, but the stories are also structured and paced so that after reading one or two issues, one feels like they've had enough for awhile- a feeling of fullness that takes ten or twelve issues (if not more!) of modern comics. To the kids waiting a whole month between issues, a little went a long way- so do as they did, and savor these.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Ditko and Lee at the top; Romita introduced Dec 24 2005
By Reader from the North - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Spiderman was never so good as Ditko (sometimes getting plot credit) and Lee presented him here. The collaborators are in complete control of Spider-man and the great cast of bad guys--especially the Green Goblin and Doc Ock. The ironies of Peter Parker's life are poignant, and each issue seems to develop both Peter's life and the supporting cast. This volume includes the great "Man on a Rampage" trilogy and the switch to John Romita and his great two-part Goblin battle.

I've read that sales picked up with Romita (and I'll admit that I thought his art was better when I read them ages ago); however, looking back, Ditko's art has withstood the test of time. Romita drew more attractive women and made Peter look more like a leading man from a romance comic--thus more mainstream. But that wasn't what made Spider-man great.

Even so, it was a brilliant move by Lee to start with the secret identities of Spider-man and the Goblin revealed with those transition issues. No one would pass those up. (I've read that revealing the identity of the Green Goblin was the straw that broke the Lee-Ditko team. If so, it's too bad they couldn't see what they had going.)
From trapped to unmasked. May 2 2015
By Luquillo - Published on
Format: Paperback
Spider-man attempts to thwart a theft operation by an unknown outfit; he then learns that their leader is an unknown entity calling themselves The Master Planner. At the same time, Peter must deal with his first day of college, and then suddenly tragedy strikes his home. -summary

The Amazing Spider-Man Volume 4 may not be the best volume at this point in regards to overall quality storytelling. However, it's definitely the single most influential volume because the outcome towards the end of the book will play a critical catalyst in the life of Peter Parker/Spider-Man for the rest of his life. This one major event is very important in the Spider-Man mythos.

It was no secret that Spider-Man was one of Stan Lee's favorite children, easily 1 or 2 as he seemed to be a lot more into these stories. Spider-Man decides to search for The Master Planner when he steals something very important to him. At this point, this is definitely Spider-Man like never before as he becomes very aggressive when dealing with the criminal element. His angry drive and determination is such a shock that he sends his deadliest enemy running off practically fearing for his life. Things also take another turn when the Green Goblin returns to settle the score and things end up going in his favor.

The major running storylines taking place such as "The Master Planner" story arc is definitely Spider-Man at his best; this storyline is what puts the "super" in hero, as he does everything in his power to protect and save family. He is very selfless and full of courage, and this is just some of the things that make him so great. The final major arc Spider-Man vs. The Green Goblin, results in one of Marvel's most famous battles, and it was no doubt Spider-Man's most important battle by this point.

There are some other good stories taking place with Spider-man engaging in another forgotten, but very fun slugfest with the Molten Man. I will never understand why these confrontations would never make it to most people's "greatest battles" list, because like the Scorpion, Spider-Man is usually forced to take it to the Molten Man, and I can't think of a single boring brawl between them.

While Spider-Man's life is no doubt interesting; Stan Lee continues to make Peter's life equal or close to it. This batch of stories features the first appearances of Harry Osborn and Gwen Stacy, and I love the rocky start here because it all plays into the now legendary "Parker Luck". The minor flaws come in two forms; filler stories that really aren't as good as everything else, but they serve their role as nice cool down stories though. The second is that Lee straight up rehashes how he handles his main characters love interests. There is way too familiar of a feel across Spider-Man, Iron Man, and Thor books. It's quite clear that Lee had very little imagination handling these, with Captain America being handled the best in this department when looking back.

John Romita follows up Steve Ditko's artwork very well with how he handles the action. The way Spider-man maneuvers in battle is something I never get tired of seeing; but the highlights are definitely the brawls with Molten Man, along with the fights against Dr. Octopus and Green Goblin. His character designs especially for the females are really good, and he gets Gwen Stacy down as the girl any man would want to be with. I especially like the fusion with Lee's storytelling as his pencils captures most of the drama perfectly, and the closing of The Master Planner storyline is the best example.

This volume doesn't end in a cliffhanger to leave one salivating for the next volume, but with the good stuff found here it really didn't need it. I definitely recommend this volume as a must buy to anyone whom has either been following these stories or reading them for the first time.

Pros: Highly influential stories, some very good action, John Romita's art

Cons: Some filler stories here and there
Huge turning point in early Spider-man Aug. 7 2013
By Reid Sherman - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Marvel is doing a pretty good job at collecting its massive back catalog into trade paperbacks so that newer readers can rediscover the classics of Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and all the others. There are some gaps that either have been collected but are out of print or have never been published, but that's a topic to take up with Marvel.

I'm a big Spider-man fan, but had never read many Spider-man stories from before the late 80s. I thought I should at least get a taste of the early days as Stan Lee and Steve Ditko basically invented from scratch the whole world and characters that other people have mined for decades. I chose this particular volume because I knew it contained two stories that are considered classic, the Master Planner Saga (issues 31-33) and the unmasking of the Green Goblin (issues 39-40). It also has the transition from Steve Ditko to John Romita Sr., so I'd get a taste of both iconic artists.

How you feel about this book will probably depend on what you expect to get out of it. If you aren't interested in history and just want great Spider-man stories to enjoy, you would probably find this book pretty corny and old-fashioned, and should get some Bendis Ultimate Spider-man or Dan Slott Amazing Spider-man books. However, if you are interested in this as a museum piece of classic world-building or expanding the scope of superhero characterization, it's great.

Compared to modern comics, these issues are absurdly fast paced. Each page has at least six panels, each of which tends to have a lot of text moving the story forward, so that almost every story is done in one issue, compared to the modern tendency to have arcs over 4-6 issues. Also, Stan Lee's writing is a bit dated, but what made him stand out then and does still hold up is how goofy and meta he is. He is constantly breaking the fourth wall and making fun of the silliness of the comic book stories, while at the same time, with remarkable economy, giving empathy to every one of a very wide cast of characters. Some of the writing, especially as he has asides to the reader about the writing process, is still pretty funny even today.

In this book Peter Parker actually is kind of a jerk, so wrapped up in his dual identity that he can't pay attention to or connect with other people. Towards the end of this book, and from the bits I've read of the 40 or so issues that come after this, he gets progressively more sympathetic as he tries harder to be a good guy as well as a hero, but tends to fail anyway. It's also funny to see how this book introduces for the first time Harry Osborn and Gwen Stacy, although it takes a long time for Peter to finally not be so oblivious to the outside world that he can get to know them.

The middle of the book has a bunch of forgettable one-issue stories, as Lee and Ditko keep creating a whole bunch of new villains and throwing them at the wall to see which of them stick and can become recurring characters. The best stories, not surprisingly, are the ones with villains that did work, the opening 3 issues that include Doctor Octopus, and the final two with the Green Goblin. Both stories have some genuinely powerful moments and plotting that hold up even against modern stories.

Overall it's a fun read and a good bit of Spidey history, but your enjoyment does depend on whether you are interested in the history, as it doesn't have the craft of later books.
Ditko at His best April 14 2014
By Snake Pisken - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book has the famous scene drawn by Steve Ditko , as Spiderman is pin beneath some heavy machinery , very weak from a big fight , but His Aunt life is at stake an must Get Her medicine to her When You glance at Ditko's art , It looks like early Silver Age stuff , but when You read it , the art takes off on its own . Peter Parker wasn't a good looking Guy , He was a plain ol geek , and Spiderman art with the cob-webs under His arms is pure genius , Spiderman also had a light on His belt that was a projected His Spiderman image , that was also only on Ditko's art. Ditko did the first 7 issues in this book , then Romita took over the last 2. He would go on to draw Spiderman for a few years, I liked His art as well , but now in the Silver age, all Marvels art was at its peak , with Kirby , Steranko an many more .This book is the last of Steve Ditko , so if Your a Fan of His art , this should be added to Your collection , its paperback an a lot cheaper than the hardbacks