- Paperback: 336 pages
- Publisher: Marvel Comics; 01 edition (19 Mar. 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0785129979
- ISBN-13: 978-0785129974
- Product Dimensions: 16.8 x 1.3 x 26 cm
- Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (1 customer review)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 943,840 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Spider-Man, Peter Parker: Back In Black TPB (Graphic Novel Pb) Paperback – 19 Mar 2008
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)
The storyline in the Sensational arc was good, dealing with a rash of Spidey-wannabees, although the climactic battle resolving that was not very dramatic. The Eddie Brock side story was of more interest to me.
The second half of the book was almost a waste, though - they sell Marvel Encyclopedias which serve as villain rosters and character bios, filling half of a $35 hardcover with that was very disappointing.
The latter four issues have weak relevance to Spider-Man's transition to a darker mood after Aunt May's shooting. They are merely Spider-Man in the black costume.
That said, that means that six issues are worth looking at if you want to examine Peter's reaction to May's shooting, all of them in Sensational Spider-Man.
Issues 35-37 have a nice juxtaposition between Spidey's dark transition and Calvin Zabo's dark transition, but they're only a side story that has little influence on the Spidey books. Issues 38 and 39 are about Eddie Brock's struggle with the inherent symbiote inside him, and although it's a good story, whatever substance it contributed to the event of "Back in Black" has been nulled in One More Day. Issue 40 is a nice retrospective story, which is also nulled by One More Day. The Annual was a touching tribute to MJ's and Peter's relationship.
Which was also nulled by One More Day.
These stories were fairly good. They really were. It's just a shame that they have little meaning due to One More Day, and that they're piggybacked with meaningless issues of Marvel Spotlight and Official Handbook. Honestly, you can probably get those Sensational issues as back issues for a cheaper price, and if not, by the time you get this book, it won't be relevant to Spider-Man as a character at all. It's not even relevant NOW, in fact.
If you really like the black costume and are willing to gobble up any of its numerous appearances, regardless of story integrity or book integrity, then I wholeheartedly recommend it. I really do.
I doubt, however, that that's the case.
Back in Black is a Spider-Man story arc that originally ran through the Amazing Spider-Man books in 2007. It eventually crossed over into the other Spider-Man titles. It's the final major falling out to follow the Civil War mega event that lead to enormous changes in the Marvel Universe mainly regarding Spider-Man. The concept behind the main story title is Spider-Man donning the black costume once again signifying his descent into darkness, which was triggered by Aunt May being shot in the chest by sniper fire. The storyline takes place across two books; Spider-Man: Back in Black and Peter Parker, Spider-Man: Back in Black. The former is by far the best of the two as it deals with the most important story elements, while this batch feels quite tacked on. All the negativity by fans behind this portion of the story can be understood since it adds nothing to Back in Black. However, there are things it touches on in entertaining ways that will appeal to the most die hard and very easy to please Spider-Man fans. This TPB has several writers at the helm being Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Matt Fraction, Sean McKeever, and it collects Sensational Spider-Man 35-40, Annual #1, Spider-Man Family #1-2, Spider-Man: Back in Black Handbook and Marvel Spotlight: Spider-Man Back in Black .
The book begins with the three part storyline The Strange Case Of... There's a host of Spider-Man copycats running around the city and Spider-Man is catching them as quick as they appear. The guys have most of his abilities and some appear to be crosses of various Spider-Man incarnations, such as the Man-Spider when Spider-Man at one point was turned into a Spider, along with the Spider-Hulk, when Spider-Man was spliced with the Hulk. The story is interesting at first; the culprit transforming these people is revealed to be Calvin Zabo aka Mister Hyde. Since Spider-Man revealed his identity to the public in Civil War, Zabo attempts to recreate his own Spider-Man using random teenagers, mainly homeless teens, with hopes they would give in to their dark urges. It seems as if there was potential here for something greater but it's never realized. It ends in an average brawl between Spider-Man and Hyde, and quite frankly Hyde never felt like a threat. The story involving the teens really didn't go anywhere either and it was just a vehicle to give Spider-Man something to do.
The Last Temptation of Eddie Brock is the strongest story in the book. Eddie Brock is still in some way possessed by the alien symbiote, and it wants Eddie to go on the rampage again. This story is quite interesting as it deals with Brock coping with his terminal cancer, plus trying to fight off the symbiote's sinister influence. Madame Web makes an appearance here assisting Peter in trying to deal with Aunt May's inevitable passing. The story is more character driven than action packed and this really isn't a bad thing as long as it's done well, in which I'll say it's decent. To Have and To Hold is another character driven tale that further explores Peter and Mary Jane's relationship. Now the story Undone is an earlier encounter between Spider-Man and Venom, and there's actually action here but don't expect to be blown away.
This book is a heavy mixed bag though and for me, it kind of leads towards the negative. Now as a fan of Spider-Man I love when the character himself is explored. Spider-Man is a character with several dimensions and through out his life he has never truly embraced the darkness. Earlier 90's storylines such as Pursuit, Shrieking, and The Clone Saga explored his more aggressive side as we saw Spider-Man almost reach his limit and snap. He felt very angry in those storylines which brought new depth to his character. Back in Black is billed as the pinnacle in all of this. Spider-Man: Back in Black does explore it to a large degree, while this batch of stories is only Back in Black in name alone. At no time did Peter feel different here, I didn't feel his rage at all; and while some folks will harp all day about the love between Peter and Mary Jane, along with the Venom fight, even they will have to admit it feels added on just to take up book space. To further this argument, the last hefty portion of the book is made up of an alien symbiote retro story, some interview, and a Spider-Man "Who's Who" villain line up with power ratings and all. Isn't there a Marvel encyclopedia for that Who's Who? The book does reek of a cash in.
Since this is a crossover through several Spider-Man titles you can expect different artist. Although the artwork isn't the greatest ever, The Book of Peter illustrated by Clayton Crain has the strongest visuals, and it mainly works with the type of story. It uses a fine yet hazy, oil paint style delivering a dream effect of what could be the after life. The artwork brings out the best in this story as Peter is having a conversation with an almost demonic looking man. He's very ugly, eerie, scary, with a feel of death all over him as if it's strongly hinting on who this person could be. This story is the visual highlight of this book. Ramon Bachs and Angel Medina deliver some good work on the hulking Hyde, I don't remember him ever looking this intimidating. Terrell Bobbett's cartoonish artwork in Homesick which depicts a battle against the Sandman is decent at best. It feels right for a light hearted comic, but out of place with this particular book. Well it cold be worse, Humberto Ramos could have drawn this. The action during the Venom battle is the best here despite the short length. As usual, he's depicted to be far more powerful than Spider-Man, the Sandman battle has fun moments and if anything it shows how powerful the symbiote can be.
When I think about Peter Parker, Spider-Man: Back in Black, the only thing I can imagine it truly being good for is coming up with the idea that appears to have influenced the 2011 Spider-Man event Spider-Island; you can definitely see the traces here with the Mister Hyde story. Other than that though, this story really doesn't take advantage of the Back in Black concept. They felt like any other Spider-Man story previously read. Although there is some type of good to be found here, I only recommend this to serious Spider-Man fans. Those whom only want to follow the Civil War aftermath events are much better off reading Spider-Man: Back in Black. This book should only be checked out if you're very curious.
Pros:Some decent moments here, use of artwork in Book of Peter
Cons:Really not essential, adds nothing to overall storyline