Rating: 3.5/5 – An Annual that’s Fun but not Required Reading.
By ComicSpectrum senior reviewer Shawn Hoklas.
For at least the past five to ten years, super-hero annuals have unfortunately become unnecessary and quite often uneventful reading. While offering more pages, the pages that we do get are often full of guest artists, writers, and/or newcomers to the industry. These “new” and different creators will get a back story or tale that doesn’t tie into the main storyline happening in the numbered series, or is just a fun one-in-done tale meant to entertain and fill the extra pages. While we get those extra pages, they do come at a price and in this case it’s $4.99 which is high when the stories aren’t “required” reading produced by a handful of guest creators.
Amazing Spider-Man Annual number one is all the things mentioned above. It has three different stories that are out of the current continuity in the main book, it has artists and writers that haven’t contributed to the main series, and a couple of the stories are lighthearted and fun, moving away from the serious tones of the current Clone Conspiracy storyline that has been extending its reach into other Spider-family titles like Prowler and Silk.
That said, while the annual is all these non-essential things, I still enjoyed my time reading it. The first story of the three stars Spider-Man in Mexico City as he fights to stop a demon goddess called Izpapalotl. It’s written by Christos Gage and Humberto Ramos, which is an interesting writing team up, with really fun and cartoony art by Francisco Herrera. Herrera exaggerates his line and his facial expressions and his art is reminiscent of a Disney animated movie which made each and every page a joy to look at. While the story is a fun read, the ending looks as though it may continue on in some future story with a villain who needs more time in the spotlight.
The second story is called “Neon Dragon” and stars Cloak and Dagger. Written by James Asmus, it’s a decent story that I may have liked less because of my personal apathy towards Cloak and Dagger. While I love the characters visually, I’m not sure if I ever read a story starring the two characters that I really loved. That same feeling applies here. It’s a well told tale, but there’s nothing all that memorable and I didn’t walk away wishing I could see these characters again soon.
The last story is called “Whose Crime Is It, Anyway” and as the cover blurb states, it guest stars Wayne Brady and Jonathan Mangum who write the story as well. While I admittedly rolled my eyes when I saw Brady’s name on the cover, the story is quiet cute and clever. Spider-Man is struggling with his one-liners and material and heads to the Improv club to get his groove back. While it’s definitely not going to be considered cannon, it’s still a fun read.
Overall, while this annual isn’t a must read it’s still a fun read. I wouldn’t recommend paying the full cover price of $4.99 for this unless you’re a Spider-Man completist. Best bet is to watch for this one to show up in the bargain bins at your local comic shop or convention.
Reviewed by: Shawn Hoklas
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