I don't know what the other reviewers where reading, but this a solid run on The Amazing Spider-man, One reviewer said Parker had no girlfriends in his life at the time, this is not true, Betty Brant makes a return (She's separated from Ned Leeds)and wants to hook up with Pete (she here through out the whole book), then there's the Black Cat, she really likes Spider-man, Mary Jane is gone but not totally, she makes an appearance here and there, then there's Debby Whittman from The Spectacular Spider-man comics. the stories are quite good, Spidey get his clock cleaned not once but three times, first by The Fly, then The Kingpin does a number on our hero (Spidey with a broken arm! issue 197, it's one of my all time favorite comics, I have 3 of them, I must have read it 100 times) and Mysterio soundly defeats Spidey. Kieth Pollard with Jim Mooney take up the bulk of the art chores and they do a fantastic job, John Byrne does several issues and so does Sal Buscema. Marv Wolfman writing is great and Roger Stern and Denny O'Neil come in to do the last 5 issues. This Essential Spider-man is better than vol 8 and as good as vol 7. A lot of the book focuses on Peter Parker's personal life, with friends, work and Aunt May, This is my favorite run on Spider-man, it just has so much to offer, victories and defeats, scandals (Pete with a married woman) and loss (John Jameson, Aunt may and Black Cat dies, or so Pete thinks) and finally, dealing with freak J. Johan Jameson is at it best in this installment. Give this one a shot, you can't go wrong, it's less than fourteen dollars on Amazon, maybe cheaper given time. Last, but not least, Jim Starlin does number 187 it is in my opinion his best art that I've seen him do.