Comics : 100 Things Spider-Man Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die
This review was first published on: 11 Aug 2017.
You have have to give credit to Mark Ginocchio for shameless self-promotion with the grandiose name of this 322 page soft-cover paperback, 5.5" x 8.5" with B&W illustrations.
"100 Things Spider-Man Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die"
Of course, no book could hope to live up to such a title. It's hard to imagine a bucket list reading:
- Dine at the Jules Verne restaurant at the top of the Eiffel Tower.
- Read "The Illiad" in the original Greek.
- Climb Machu Picchu.
- Read a three-page fan-written summary of Mysterio's origins and movie non-appearances.
- Run with the bulls at Pamplona.
100 Things Spider-Man Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die
Jun 2017 : SM Title
Find ISBN 9781629374024
This books is a collection of 100 small essay articles inspired by (if not directly taken from) Mark's Spider-Man fan-blog, Chasing Amazing. It's a nice-enough blog, which has been running for years and now has a solid back-history.
Mark is a loyal Spider-Man fan, and competent and thoughtful writer. He has taken 100 of these topics, expanded them, and converted them into unauthorised printed format with the aforementioned ludicrously self-important heading.
The essays themselves bear topics like: "Introducing Peter Parker", "The Burglar", "J. Jonah Jameson", and "The Parker Luck". There are of course 100 such essays, each running to an average of three pages of text, some with illustrations but most without.
There's a variety of types of content here: Some essays talk about the behind-the-scenes thoughts, history and politics of Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, or other past Spidey creators. Others muse over the role of key characters, heroes, villains, and supporting cast members. The occasional "Must Read" essay highlights one particular story or story arc, with the obvious recommendation that you go and read it Right Now!
All this is well-meaning enough. But there's really not a lot of substance. Consider "30. Mysterio" – where we learn that Mysterio was created in Amazing (Vol.1) #13, that he wears a fishbowl and has lots of tricks up his sleeve. A brief character introduction, and a mention of three or four key stories. A one-line quote from Marv Wolfman, and then a discussion of the fact that Mysterio has never appeared in a Spider-Man movie.
Frankly, I'm not much enlightened by all that. The Marvel Encyclopedia will tell me that and plenty more, with color pictures and a cross-referenced index!
Or take this aside from "1. Introducing Spider-Man". Mark refers to the story's 11 pages as "-- half a comic by today's standards --". Well yes. It is half a comic by today's standards. But it was also half a comic in 1962! The second half of AF #15 was made up of two back-up stories (a mummy story titled "The Bell-Ringer" and an alien story titled "There are Martians Among Us").
There's also an annoying amount of repetition between the essays. "2. Peter Parker" quotes Stan Lee as an average teenager who "gets sinus attacks, he gets acne and allergy attacks while he's fighting". Well, firstly, I don't recall sinus attacks being a major problem in Spider-Man's history at all. But more importantly, the exact same quote and discussion is re-visited twenty pages later in "10. The Parker Luck"!
This book is well-meaning. Mark Ginocchio is a mega-fan, and he wants to share his passion and his ideas with fellow-fans. That's highly creditable. The problem with the final product is the complete lack of competent editing. There's just too much filler, too much repetition, and too much well-meaning but uninspired and uninspiring verbiage. I'm not surprised that the book credits no editor, the absence is well-noted.
Overall the book lacks structure or purpose. It sort of tries to be a "History of Marvel Creators & Spider-Man", and a "Spider-Man Character Encyclopedia" and a "Reading Reference Guide to Classic Spider-Man" and a "Philosophical Essays on Spider-Man" and a "Friendly Spider-Man Fan-Chat Diary".
In the end, it fails to be any particular thing at all.