Just over 800 pages of comics, some thirty-five issues in this massive collection, and I read it in one go. David Michelinie's Spider-Man is fun, light and engaging. Coming straight from having read a great deal of the 1990s clone-related stories, this is so, SO refreshing. Peter and MJ have to contend with eviction and related money troubles but there's no existential crises to be seen in this two-year run and that's just the way it should be: so too are there no deals to be made with devils. Quite the contrary: the fledgling marriage of the young Parker couple is all warmth and really flies in the face of latter-day marriage deniers whose will has been catered to by the buckling Joe Quesada.
While things go a little awry towards the end with that whole 'Cosmic Spidey' nonsense, at least the first half of this book is hugely compelling stuff, unputdownable even. The latter half features issues that formed parts of larger crossovers (Inferno and Acts Of Vengeance), or ones that relied on prominent events in other Spider-titles not collected here. There's also the six-issue "The Assassin Nation Plot", which one suspects was drawn out to that length to facilitate the eventual graphic novel publication in a time when that format was in its infancy. Rogues Gallery fans are treated to appearances from classics from the Lizard to the Chameleon, alongside less worthy late-1980s fodder such as Chance, Paladin and a few too many appearances by Silver Sable.
And then there's Todd. For his first pair of issues on art you wouldn't even know it WAS McFarlane, but in no time at all he puts his stamp on the book and as you may have heard revolutionised the way Spider-Man comics were to look for the 1990s and beyond. The evidence is even present in this very collection, with the few fill-in issues from Erik Larsen (who would take over as McFarlane's immediate successor when he left to illustrate AND write his own Spider-series, beginning with the 5-part Torment) owing a lot to his exaggerated, cartoonish style.
Extras include an afterword from Michelinie dated from April this year, as well as a collection of Todd's other Spider-Man work such as covers for collections and the Marvel Tales work he did. Presentation and quality is of the usual high standard in the Omnibus line, and if you can get this one for less than £50 (it's early days yet) don't hesitate. As revolutionary and revitalising as this run and this artistic collaboration may have been, it's simply a joy to read and to look at and deserves a place as a blind-buy in any serious collection. As always, if you prefer either of the two available covers (there's a variant with the black costume featured) ask Amazon for the one you'd prefer and if they can accommodate you they will.