Spider-Man Chronicle: A Year by Year Visual History is an illustrated history by DK Publishing written by Alan Cowsill and Matthew K. Manning with a foreward by Stan Lee. Yesterday we looked at another offering in the Spider-Man chronicle format with Manning’s Spider-Man: Inside The World Of Your Friendly Neighborhood Hero (you can check that review out by clicking here). Where Inside The World was an introductory course, the chronicle is a masters class.
This tome looks at each and every comic released in Spider-Man’s 50 year history. The book is not only a celebration of that achievement, but a history book that looks at the creative teams that have brought us Spider-Man through the years. Even more interesting, historically, is the inclusion of actual historical facts that coincide with the month at the bottom of the page appearing as a ticker tape of information. The first section of the book looks at the works that inspired Spider-Man and how he as eventually brought to life in the pages of Amazing Fantasy #15. With a month by month synopsis of everything that happened in the pages of Spider-Man, the reader is able to get an amazing insight into issues they either weren’t alive for, haven’t found, or can’t afford. Every story is recapped and the characters they introduce are dissected. Every appearance of the web-slinger is explored, even the What If? issues and Ultimate Universe.
The collection reprints some of the amazing artwork form the masters who have steered Spidey’s adventures. You have full page spreads in the book form artists like Ditko, “Jazzy” John Romita Sr., Todd McFarlane and more. The great art isn’t contained within the book either, there are two prints included in an inside flap on the cover. The prints are of the wraparound cover featuring Spidey swinging through the crowd of all the characters that have fleshed out his world over the half century of his existence. I rarely comment on a book or collections binding, but this is one of the best. The collection comes in a protective slipcase. The binding is sturdy and capable of handling the impressive weight of the book and the 350 plus pages.
The information inside the book is astounding. Manning and Cowsill have pulled off a truly impressive feat. The amount of time and research that went into putting this together is almost mind-blowing. Even if you are a diehard Spider-Man fan, there will be something in this book that you didn’t know. The book is recommended for ages 8-12. It is written so as not to insult the intelligence of children, but also keep the adults from looking at it as a kiddy book. The only negative you could comment on is that the book chronicles up to around June or July of this year. If it could have waited until the end of this month and the conclusion of Amazing Spider-Man #700, it would have been a complete work in this reviewers eyes.
Bottom Line: If you’re a Spider-Man fan or want to jump in to this magical world, this is where you should start. As far as chronicle books goes this is one of the best.
Cody "The Thorverine" Ferrell
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