Review: Spider-Man Inside The World of Your Friendly Neighborhood Hero

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Spider-Man: Inside The World Of Your Friendly Neighborhood Hero is a new illustrated guide by DK Publishing written by Matthew K. Manning. The book is an overview of the web-slingers’ fifty year history, looking at all the characters, costumes, and objects that have made Spider-Man such a worldwide phenomenon. The back cover calls it the ultimate guide, but does it live up to that promise?

The collection features an introduction by Stan “The Man” Lee. The living legend looks at what made Spider-Man such a unique character. It’s a good introduction by Lee which explores some new ground. You have to love the man, but he does repeat himself when talking about the old times. We then go through an overview of the origin, the suit, and the tech that makes Spidey, Spidey. It’s a serious look at Spider-Man, but it’s not above calling a ridiculous thing ridiculous. When discussing Spider-Man’s webs and the time he gained organic webbing after his battle with the Queen, it admits the reasons for the new powers are unknown and when they faded away it was never explained. It also takes a fair and balanced approach for the “One More Day” storyline which many fans don’t look to fondly upon.

The book then goes through each decade of Spider-Man’s existence, highlighting big story lines and looking at major players. You have your supporting cast bios for Mary Jane, Harry, J. Jonah Jameson, and other but you get your big villains too. There are of course your bios for Doc Ock, Green Goblin, Rhino, Mysterio, and Sandman, but you also get people like Grizzly and the Enforcers. Each character bio comes with important story elements that relate to Spider-Man’s evolution as a hero.

The middle segment of the book is a huge timeline spanning all fifty years, chronicling all the jobs Peter Parker has held as well as all of his love interests. The book details events up to Spider-Man joining the Fantastic Four after the Human Torch’s death, ending the timeline with Madame Web’s warning of the Spider Island events. The wall crawler’s alternate costumes and realities are also touched on. The Ultimate Universe is given its own section where not only Peter is discussed at length, but the new Spider-Man Miles Morales.

Bottom Line: This is a great collection for Spidey fans new and old. There’s enough here to keep the most knowledgeable entertained while offering a history lesson for those that haven’t been with Spider-man too long. It’s an illustrated guide, so you have hundreds of images of the great art that has brought Spider-Man to life. With detailed accounts of all the characters and storylines that have gotten us up to the forthcoming Amazing Spider-Man #700, this is one all Spider-Man fans should pick up. From the earliest years to only a few months ago, this truly is the ultimate guide.

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