Amazing Spider-Man
June 27, 2022 12:34 PM - Subscribe

The first volume in the new "Penguin Classics Marvel Collection", edited by Ben Saunders.

The "Penguin Classics" imprint might no longer have the highbrow credibility it once had, after things like, say, serving as the first publisher for Morrisey's memoirs, and certainly the new "Penguin Classics Marvel Collection" isn't going to help their defense against charges of commercial pandering, but still...these are gorgeous books.

As per the first volume's page on the publisher's website:

The Penguin Classics Marvel Collection presents the origin stories, seminal tales, and characters of the Marvel Universe to explore Marvel’s transformative and timeless influence on an entire genre of fantasy.

Collects “Spider-Man!” from Amazing Fantasy #15 (1962); The Amazing Spider-Man #1-4, #9, #10, #13, #14, #17-19 (1963-1964); “Goodbye to Linda Brown” from Strange Tales #97 (1962); “How Stan Lee and Steve Ditko Create Spider-Man!” from The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1 (1964).

It is impossible to imagine American popular culture without Marvel Comics. For decades, Marvel has published groundbreaking visual narratives that sustain attention on multiple levels: as metaphors for the experience of difference and otherness; as meditations on the fluid nature of identity; and as high-water marks in the artistic tradition of American cartooning, to name a few.

This anthology contains twelve key stories from the first two years of Spider-Man’s publication history (from 1962 to 1964). These influential adventures not only transformed the super hero fantasy into an allegory for the pain of adolescence but also brought a new ethical complexity to the genre—by insisting that with great power there must also come great responsibility.

A foreword by Jason Reynolds and scholarly introductions and apparatus by Ben Saunders offer further insight into the enduring significance of The Amazing Spider-Man and classic Marvel comics."

Although it's made up entirely of material from Stan Lee and Steve Ditko's original run on the series, it's not a complete collection of that run...these volumes are aiming at a curated experience rather than exhaustive completeness.

Also released in the first round for the series are volumes on Captain America and Black Panther. I can say that books are beautifully produced, if nothing else, with really high quality printing of the original art, annotations, footnotes, and suggestions for further reading...including both other collections of comics featuring the character, and scholarly material on Marvel Comics and American cartooning more generally.
posted by Ipsifendus (2 comments total)
I'm kind of intrigued by the idea; as much as the compulsive completist in me hates to say it, they're not all winners, and sometimes you get a better feel for the character with a bit more selectivity. (As well as, especially with these older stories, sometimes avoiding some of the more embarrassing and offensive bits of past comics history; I'm a big fan of Nova, for example, but whenever I crack out my past issues of the original series, I wince a little at the story that features the incredibly racist villain Yellow Claw.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:10 AM on June 28, 2022

Halloween Jack, I'm right there with ya; I have very completion-ist impulses, and would dearly love to read everything, but I don't think I'm gonna live long I end up looking for curated selections of stuff worth reading. On the DC side, there's a subreddit that just collectively put together a list of the 71 most popular runs, "run" in this instance meaning a specific creator's tenure on a particular title or set of titles. It's a pretty solid list, and I really wish somebody would attempt the same thing for Marvel.
posted by Ipsifendus at 9:06 AM on June 28, 2022 [1 favorite]

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