THIS IS a great time to be a Spider-Man fan. Besides the highly anticipated "Spider-Man 3" hitting theaters today, Marvel has come out with enough titles featuring Spider-Man to choke a comic shop and has enough trade paperbacks available to fill a library. Most importantly, the material is diverse enough to be enjoyed by both new and old fans of the webslinger and appeal to a variety of ages and tastes.
For those who want a young, wise-cracking, high-school-aged Peter Parker who is arguably the most like his movie counterpart, there is "Ultimate Spider-Man." The title is in its last story arc with the fan-favorite team of writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Mark Bagley, and if the last couple of issues are any indication, the duo looks to go out with a bang.
In the flagship title, "Amazing Spider-Man," writer J. Michael Straczynski has just started his final arc as well. The story has Peter switching back to his old black and white costume to reflect his darker nature following his Aunt May's critical wounding by a sniper's bullet.
After one issue, the arc looks like a winner. Chilling, too.
"Sensational Spider-Man," meanwhile, has mainly focused on reinvigorating Spidey's older foes. The latest issue does so with Mr. Hyde and his alter-ego Calvin Zabo, who has kidnapped a bunch of homeless youths and turned them into a bunch of Spidey doppelgangers. It is when he comes face to face with the evil of Mister Hyde, however, that Peter starts to reflect on his own turn to the dark side.
"Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man" is a lighter take on the character, even though he is still sporting the black costume. This series focuses a bit more on Spidey's supporting cast and is chock-full of the humor that writer Peter David is famous for. Last month saw the end of an arc featuring Sandman, and David explores that character's beginnings in "Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man Annual" No. 1, available later this month.
Spidey is also still a member of the "New Avengers," which has him bonded with characters like Luke Cage and Wolverine as they are still fighting the Super-Hero Registration Act and eluding characters like Iron Man.
The webslinger also plays a prominent role in the "Fallen Son: The Death of Captain America" series, which shows how the heroes of the Marvel Universe are reacting to Cap's death. In the issue released last week starring the Avengers, Peter is one of those clearly in the "anger" stage of grief.
An installment later this month will delve further into how Cap's death has rocked Spidey's world.
For those who like a variety of tales in one issue, there is the new "Spider-Man Family," the latest of which features Eddie "Venom" Brock.
Also on shelves now is "Spider-Man/Fantastic Four," which stars the two Marvel properties hitting theaters this summer in a fun tale by Jeff Parker; "Amazing Spider-Girl," which features an older, retired Peter Parker and his chip-off-the-old-block daughter; "Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane," which should appeal to teenage girls; "Marvel Adventures Spider-Man," which is ideal for younger readers; "Spider-Man Magazine"; and the "Spider-Man Poster Book."
"Spider-Man Fairy Tales" No. 1 hits shelves later this month and promises fun fairy tales done in the Marvel style.
As far as collected material, there is "Amazing Spider-Man Omnibus" Vol. 1, which collects an incredible 1,088 pages of Spidey's earliest adventures.
For those interested in collections of more recent material, there is "Ultimate Spider-Man Ultimate Collection"; "Ultimate Spider-Man" Vol. 8 hardcover; "Ultimate Spider-Man: Clone Saga" premiere hardcover; "Civil War: Amazing Spider-Man" trade paperback; "Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man Vol. 2: Mystery Date" trade paperback; "Spider-Man: Saga of the Sandman" trade paperback; "Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane" Vol. 1, hardcover; "Marvel Adventures Spider-Man Vol. 5: Monsters On The Prowl Digest"; and "Essential Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man" Vol. 3, trade paperback. *
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