Continuing on with my 90’s reading list, this was a breath of fresh air after the last 90’s Spider-Man book I read, Todd McFarlane’s Torment. Indeed all my issues with Torment – the lack of interesting dialogue; the threadbare story; the over-reliance on narration – are all absent here. Instead we’ve got a totally engrossing story about Doctor Octopus assembling a new Sinister Six with a plot to (you’ll never guess) take over the world.
But what’s great is that The Sinister Six and ultimate showdown are not the total focus. Instead we’ve got interesting side stories. Aunt May must deal with grieving a fiance; Mary Jane is the victim of stalking; Peter and MJ are trying to balance having a romantic relationship with Peter’s day-job AND being Spider-Man; Sandman is struggling with not wanting to be villain anymore. There’s really a lot going on here to make the story feel fleshed out and real. Even some of the twists that come later in the book involving drug addiction seem heavier than expected. Or at least as if the writer (David Micheline) didn’t want to stick with trite plot devices.
The dialogue is solid. There’s plenty of inner monologue stuff, so depending how you feel about that it’s a good or bad thing. It was maybe a bit more than I’d like. But the dialogue was all snappy and felt natural. The artwork was great and really reminds me why I fell in love with Marvel as a kid in the 90’s Hobgoblin for instance looks absolutely awesome here. It’s clear that the artist Erik Larson had a strong love for the source material and that shows in his detail to the villains, the massive single-page spreads of Spidey’s webs and Doc Ock’s arms. He must have also had an affinity for Peter’s “oh so woah wife” Mary Jane.
All in all, I thought this was a great book. I’m really glad I finally got around to reading it.