cover image Spider-Man


Daniel Quantz, Stan Lee, Steve Ditko. Marvel Comics, $5.99 (128pp) ISBN 978-0-7851-1439-0

In this digest-sized volume, new creators retell stories from Amazing Spider-Man #2-5, plotted in 1963 by the hero's cocreators, writer Stan Lee and artist Steve Ditko. These include the origin of Doctor Octopus, the villain in this summer's Spider-Man 2 movie. This is far from the first time that Marvel has done remakes of early Spider-Man stories with new art, new dialogue and (in Ultimate Spider-Man) even radically different plots. Presumably, today's young readers consider the Lee-Ditko versions dated. Perhaps this is so, but Lee and Ditko were one of the greatest teams in the history of American comics. Stripped of Lee's dialogue--full of wit, drama and insight into character--and Ditko's distinctive graphic design and masterful visual storytelling, these stories' basic plots are revealed as mostly juvenile, conventional clashes between superhero and super-villain. The new writer and artists' uninspired work manages to muffle any potential for drama, and dark, muddy coloring further removes impact from the art. What Lee and Ditko depicted as harrowing despair comes off in this new version as a momentary bad mood. Lee and Ditko's original renditions are still available in the Essential Spider-Man and Marvel Masterworks series: accept no substitutes.