Saturday, 5 January 2013

The Amazing Spider-Man 50th Anniversary Edition Vintage Annual.

Amazing Spider-Man 50th Anniversary Edition Vintage Annual, Panini
From the moment I first discovered the existence of Panini's Amazing Spider-Man 50th Anniversary Edition Vintage Annual, I knew I had no good reason for buying it. After all, thanks to the Marvel Essentials, I already have copies of every tale in it.

Did that mean I didn't want it?

Of course it didn't. Just as I must buy chocolate even though I know it's bad for me, I knew at once that I craved this book.

Why?

Because it was nearly Christmas - and I knew I would've loved to have got it for Christmas when I was ten.

Sadly, the RRP of £12.99 for just under a hundred and thirty pages put it beyond the reach of one as tight-fisted as I. But, like any good super-villain, I'm a man who knows how to bide his time and, happily, as I expected, with Christmas gone, it's now available for just £4.55 from Amazon, and with free postage.

Steve Ditko, Spider-Man vs Mysterio
Suddenly my Scroogelicious tendencies were being appealed to as never before and, like the Green Goblin, I knew I must strike.

How much do I love this book?

Bigly.

If ever I needed confirmation that I am indeed the centre of the universe, this tome confirms it for me because it features only stories with a special significance for me.

The first appearance of the Sinister Six was the first Spider-Man tale I ever read.

Amazing Spider-Man #1 was the first Spider-Man story I ever read in The Mighty World of Marvel.

The Lizard has always been my favourite Spider-Man villain and, so his first appearance has always grabbed me.

And I first read Spider-Man's Amazing Fantasy origin in Origins of Marvel Comics, one Christmas morning.

Not only that but it has the Secrets of Spider-Man feature that showed up in Fleetway's legendary 1972/73 Marvel Annual - the one that includes the image of our hero lifting a giant barbell as Thor, the Hulk and the Thing watch on.

Steve Ditko draws Spider-Man, Statue of Liberty
It even has that tongue-in-cheek feature on how Steve Ditko and Stan Lee create an issue of Spider-Man, the one that shows Spidey flying past the Statue of Liberty, on a rocket. For many years, this feature contained the sum total of my knowledge of how a comic is created.

It also features a full-page cutaway spread of Peter Parker's house, a full-page spread of Flash Thompson flexing his muscles for his adoring high school fans and full-page spread of J Jonah Jameson haranguing Betty Brant. Maybe I have a faulty memory but I don't remember ever seeing any of these three illustrations before.

It also has a villains gallery, featuring the portraits of Spidey foes that were used in one of the text features of that Fleetway Annual.

Steve Ditko, Spider-Man vs Sandman
But, for me, perhaps the most interesting thing is seeing some of these tales and features in colour for the first time. Happily, the colouring's old style rather than that new-fangled method that over-complicates and half-obscures the linework - although there's a more modern style to some of the backgrounds, making them contrast nicely with the simpler figures in the foreground.

Another plus is the chance to see Ditko's full-page splashes from the Sinister Six tale in a much bigger format than we're used to.

The book's main gimmick is that the pages have been artificially aged, with tanning around the edges, fake water rippling and even creases. Really, this shouldn't add to the book's appeal but, because I'm a total mug, it does.

Fans of Stan Lee will be pleased to see we get an intro from the man himself.

Any quibbles are minor. Given that all the stories and features within are by Steve Ditko, it seems strange that none of the illustrations on the front cover are by him. Also, I know a hundred and thirty pages is a decent count for a modern annual but, given that it's a fiftieth anniversary special - and therefore unique - even more pages would have been appreciated. I still recall those doorstop thick annuals from my childhood and dream we might see their like again someday.

So there you have it - a book that's inherently redundant to me but that already feels like a treasured possession.

Oh but if only Panini had thought of doing the same for the Fantastic Four, the Hulk and Thor's 50th Anniversaries...

6 comments:

Kid said...

Those pages that you don't remember did actually appear in an early issue (or issues) of MWOM, Steve, because I remember seeing them with the green spot colour. At some stage I'll dig out my back issues and get a precise number for you. I got this book too, but I was disappointed that they used inferior early Masterworks proofs instead of the superior sources available to the recent softcover MM and Omnibus editions.

Incidentally, I purchased mine for exactly the same reason as you - because it's just the sort of book I'd have bought back in '72/'73. (I already have the tales included several times over.)

cerebus660 said...

This annual sounds cool, Steve! I didn't know it existed. After reading your review I was straight on Amazon...
:-)

Kid said...

Cerebus, then you weren't paying attention to my blog - I reviewed it back in November. Take a look at: http://kidr77.blogspot.com/2012/11/spider-man-at-50-plus.html - there's some pretty pictures.

cerebus660 said...

Will do, Kid :-)

Bistoman said...

the Marvel superheroes magazine The Avengers Issue 60 18th April 2013 priced at £2.99 has the annual as a "Free Gift" A true bargain !!!

Steve W. said...

Thanks for the tip-off, Bistoman. That's an offer I think I might be taking advantage of.

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