Comics : Amazing Spider-Man: "Unmasked" Coloring Book

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This story is part of a Lookback Series: The Magic of Color

This review was first published on: 2008.

Background...

This 8 1/4" x 11" 48 page B&W coloring book from Marvel Books in the 80's actually tells a story. It's the Green Goblin vs. Spider-Man, and somebody gets "Unmasked". Let's find out who!

In Detail...

Amazing Spider-Man: "Unmasked" Coloring Book
Year 1983 : SM Title
Find ISBN 093976637X
Publisher:  Marvel Books
Writer:  David Kraft
Pencils:  Winslow Mortimer
Inker:  Mike Esposito
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Review

Spidey is swinging around the city on his webbing when suddenly... Crooks! He beats up the bad guys and saves the honest citizens, while secretly the Green Goblin is watching and waiting. Goblin's been beaten before, but this time the green guys are going to win!

The Goblin's plan is to unmask Spidey. The crooks dose him with a gas that they've been given, but it doesn't seem stop Spidey. The crooks lose, but... the gas actually lets the Goblin track Spidey and discover his secret...

Hey?!

This is all really familiar! It's the plot from Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #39, and it follows through all the way into Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #40. The Green Goblin captures Peter, shows Peter that he the Goblin is actually Norman Osborn, then Spidey escapes and defeats Norman. Norman can't remember anything and Spidey takes him to the hospital.

The art is all new for this retelling of that classic tale. Instead of individual panels as in the original, each page in this version is a carefully redrawn full splash page. There's a single short sentence on each page, sometimes only a phrase. That lets the book serve its primary role as a coloring book.

In General...

There's quite a challenge in retelling this classic but far-from-simple tale in this out-of-context setting, but David Kraft succeeds quite admirably. Winslow Mortimer and Mike Esposito don't manage to achieve the heights that John Romita, Sr. achieved. Then again, they have to do their version in black and white, which is hardly fair.

In any case, it's clear that the art in this coloring book is far from an afterthought. The art team put a great deal of care into every page to make sure that there is a range of interesting characters, poses and perspectives. The backgrounds are generally well filled with "other things to color". This is a major contrast to most modern coloring books which are so often full of countless repetitive full-page shots of Spider-Man, with backgrounds a mere afterthought if they're present at all.

Overall Rating...

Great story, great art, great coloring pages. The final result is a book that's far too nice to spoil by coloring it in!

This book helped set the high standard for coloring books in the 70's and 80's which subsequent decades never really managed to live up to. I'm giving this one the full five webs, in memories of splendors long since past.