Individual comics were selling in the millions!
In the early to mid-'90s the speculator craze in comics had reached a fever pitch. It may be too simple to credit one person as being the reason for all this, but Todd McFarlane was very easily a key figure in the mix.
Michelinie & McFarlane's Amazing Spider-Man success in '88-'90 led to sales in the millions for Marvel in the early 90's. Spider-Man #1, X-Force #1, and X-Men #1 hit the industry like a tidal wave, and then McFarlane, Rob Liefeld, and Jim Lee, among others, rode that wave to success with Image Comics. Sales on Youngblood #1, Spawn #1, and WildC.A.T.s #1 were also extremely high, and the speculator craze was officially in full swing.
Here in this collection we see Michelinie & McFarlane's main contribution to the craziness. Seeing this rendition of Spider-Man for the very first time, to me, was like seeing him in high definition for the very first time- before HDTV even existed! I'm somewhat amazed at the creativity in these visuals, yet at the same time McFarlane's artistic fundamentals were clearly still in development. To me, the good here far outweighs the bad, and I consider this to be a landmark, visual interpretation of this famous character.
A few of the distinct, visual elements here include big eyes on the mask, crazy-exaggerated poses, hyper-detailed line work, spaghetti webbing, and extreme camera angles & page compositions. It's this combination of stylistic elements that makes McFarlane different from all artists that preceded him. He often throws down a million little microscopic lines on the page, and while I didn't really like this effect back in the day, here on this over-sized omnibus paper it's looking quite a bit better to me. This is Image-style art before Image came to be.
Michelinie & McFarlane give us explosive stories with a great range of characters. I like that we initially & briefly get to see Spider-Man in his black costume before switching to his traditional red & blue. Highlights here for me include: Silver Sable; Black Fox; Sandman; Black Cat; Chameleon; Taskmaster; Killer Shrike; Green Goblin & Hobgoblin; Hydro-Man; extra mutated Thing; Scorpion; Rhino; Blacklash; Captain America; Solo; Red Skull; and the Incredible Hulk, among others. And VENOM. Lots and lots of Venom. And that isn't even a complete listing. I especially love McFarlane's depiction of Captain America- a really distinctly visual take.
This omnibus also includes 2 issues with art by Alex Saviuk in the beginning. At the end, a few of the Acts of Vengeance issues appear, with artistic contributions by Colleen Doran and Erik Larsen. And then there's a miscellaneous art section, including covers from Marvel Tales & more, and a brief What The-?! take on a Bat-Man. I've seen a similarly humorous take about a Bat-Man in John Byrne's Superman: True Brit.
Even though I initially bought this collection for the visuals, it's David Michelinie's crisp, economical & entertaining writing that's keeping me interested in reading this entire thing. Michelinie, McFarlane, and Spider-Man make an entertaining team!
P.S. Contents include: Amazing Spider-Man 296-329 & a few pages from Spectacular Spider-Man Annual 10. Also 2 pages from What The?! issue 3; assorted Mcfarlane covers & pin-ups; and a few character drawings from the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe.