First Published: April 2007
Contents: Amazing Spider-Man #161 (October 1976) to #185 (October 1978); Amazing Spider-Man Annual #11 (1977); Giant Size Spider-Man #6 (1975); and Nova #12 (August 1977)
Key Creator Credits: Len Wein, Ross Andru, Marv Wolfman, and others
Key First Appearances: Jigsaw, Dr. Marla Madison, Dr. Bart Hamilton/Green Goblin (III), Will-O’-The-Wisp, Rocket Racer, Big Wheel, Phillip Chang
Story Continues From: Essential Spider-Man Vol. 7
Story Continues In: Essential Spider-Man Vol. 9
Overview: Stop me if you heard this before. Bitten by a radioactive spider, Peter Parker gains the abilities and powers to mimic said spider. Learning the hard way that with great powers comes great responsibilities, Peter dons a red-and-blue costume to fight crime, stop villains, and raise J. Jonah Jameson’s blood pressure as the amazing Spider-Man. So, let’s find out what’s going on in Essential Spider-Man Vol. 8.
As one of Marvel’s most popular comics, it was a natural place for characters to make a cameo appearance. Maybe you are a new character gaining popularity, but not quite popular enough yet to support your own book – Punisher, we’re watching you! Sometimes you need a crossover to help boost the sales of another book, as we see with a crossover with Nova. Sometimes you just want to introduce a new character, thinking that they will be the next big Marvel star, but they fall far short of glory. Let’s just say I will never be reviewing Essential Rocket Racer Vol. 1 for multiple reasons.
The core story from this volume is the return of Green Goblin. But this Goblin is not an Osborn! We find out that Harry Osborn had been undergoing counseling with Dr. Bart Hamilton. As secrets come to light during the sessions, Hamilton learns of the dark Osborn legacy, and uses his new-found knowledge to become the next Green Goblin, albeit without the strength-enhancing drug. The new Green Goblin starts a war against Silvermane, which leads Harry Osborn to put back on his Goblin costume. As for our hero, Spider-Man is caught in the middle of all of this!
The volume concludes with Peter finally graduating college, or so we think. Does a villain show up to disrupt the ceremony? Is Aunt May confined to a hospital bed fighting off death? What could possibly keep Peter from graduating? Read this volume and find out!
What makes this Essential?: This is a solid collection of Spider-Man stories, but I don’t know that I would say this is truly essential to read to understand Spider-Man. Len Wein finishes up his long run on the title with the introduction of a new Green Goblin, before handing over the reigns to Marv Wolfman. Ross Andru completes a five-year stretch on the title (see below). While this may have been Marvel’s flagship title of this era, I don’t think that this was the best that Marvel was putting out on the newsstand at that time. If you are a Spider-Man fan, then pick this up. For the casual Marvel fan, this may be one to pass on.
Footnotes: Amazing Spider-Man #161, #162, #174, and #175 were also reprinted in Essential Punisher Vol. 1.
Nova #12 and Amazing Spider-Man #171 were also reprinted in Essential Nova Vol. 1.
Giant Size Spider-Man #6 is a reprint of Amazing Spider-Man Annual #4, which was reprinted in Essential Spider-Man Vol. 3 or Essential Spider-Man Vol. 4 (depending on which edition you read). The cover to Giant Size Spider-Man #6 is included in this volume.
If you like this volume, try: looking at some of Ross Andru’s other books. Andru worked for nearly 50 years in comics, primarily for DC and Marvel. In the 1950s, he was one of DC’s go-to artists for the many war comics on the racks. In the 1960s, he had lengthy runs on Wonder Woman, Metal Men, The Flash, and others. The 1970s saw Andru move over to Marvel, where he helped bring about the Defenders and the early issues of Marvel Team-Up. That led to a five-year run on the Amazing Spider-Man, which that run concludes in this Essential. My personal opinion is that Andru does not get the recognition that he deserves, It’s is Andru’s version of Spider-Man that comes to mind when someone mentions the character to me.