Just when you think the last TASCHEN comics themed book was a heavyweight, and one could not expect a volume any bigger and more exciting, be ready for a surprise.
Comic book legends Stan Lee and Steve Ditko in the Silver Age of comics created a large pool of superheroes for Marvel, among them a young, most amiable and successful avenger and guardian:
Spider-Man, who would take care of his Queens neighborhood and the world, if necessary.
Average youngster Peter Parker, also becomes one of the most interesting crimes busters in his red, white, and blue spandex suit.
He was the superhero adored and cerebrated by a mostly teenage readership. They would easily identify at least with the ordinary side of his life. And hungered for his new adventures as Spider-Man; maybe quite a few readers wished they could be just like him and had a secret identity ready for them.
His adventures first appeared in August 1962 in the series Amazing Fantasy (#15), and Lee and Dikto modeled him on the formula working for several other Marvel heroes: Parker/Spider-Man was an ordinary guy with everyday problems of his age group and his abilities, also acquired unintentionally, caused him more trouble than pleasure.
The character quickly became very successful and in March 1963 Spidey had his own comic book series. And as with most of the Marvel superheroes, he equally spends as much time with covering up his secret identity as he does with fighting his enemies high above the city of New York.
The title at hand comes just in time to celebrate Spidey’s 60th birthday in 2022, that also is accompanied by a brand-new Spider-Man movie that hits the cinemas these days.
Comic book experts David Mandel and Ralph Macchio in large essays muse on the young superhero and supply a lot of expert knowledge about the life and times of Spider-Man.
Other priceless extras in this 700 page monster volume are the hundreds of rare photographs, art boards, corrected layouts, split screens and never seen before panels, extreme blow-ups of major action scenes and further gimmicks.
There are two version of this bulky volume (11 lb, language: English). The most exclusive version is the “Collector’s Edition,” limited to 1,000 copies.
They come individually numbered in an aluminum print cover tipped into a leatherette-bound spine, foil embossing with a slipcase. According to the publisher a purchase of one such copy “entitles the collector to preemptively secure the same identical edition number for all forthcoming Collector’s Edition titles in The Marvel Comic Library.”
The only other edition is tagged the “Famous First Edition” and comes in 5,000 copies. It is also numbered and the reasonably priced alternative. That makes a total of 6,000 copies of this gem.
And there is more good news: this volume is just the beginning of a longer collaboration between Marvel and TASCHEN.
Just as Vol. 1 introduces the first 21 (!) editions of Spider-Man, the following volumes of The Marvel Comics Library will present the equal number of high-quality comic book reprints of the Avengers (Vol. 1. 1963-1965), Fantastic Four (Vol. 1. 1961-1963) and Captain America.
They are scheduled for 2022 and 2023, respectively.
Those 21 Spider-Man adventures not only come in super-size, close to their original format, but they include all the original layout, complete with vintage ads for extreme muscle growth, x-ray specs and the like, and offer the spirit and the look and feel of having a vintage copy in your hands, just now in better quality.
There are three different paper qualities in use here, the one for the reproductions equals the raw, pulp-like quality of the first copies for extra vintage feeling.
To drive this wish for authenticity – in a reprint – even further, all the colors of the vintage editions were copied as close as possible (in cooperation with Certified Guaranty Company).
So the reds and blues in Spidey’s suit of the XXL edition are the exact same colors audiences in the early 1960s would identify with the superhero.
Putting those first volumes in top condition on your shelf, even as reproduction, with the look and feel they had at the time of their original publication never was so easy. Compared to years of hunting for them at auctions and in comic book stores.
Review by Dr. A. Ebert © 2021
David Mandel and Ralph Macchio (eds.) Marvel Comics Library. Spider-Man. Vol. 1. 1962–1964. Taschen, 2021, 11 x 15.6 in., 10.62 lb, 698 p., ISBN 978-3-8365-8233-9
Famous First Edition, 5,000 numbered copies
David Mandel and Ralph Macchio (eds.) Marvel Comics Library. Spider-Man. Vol. 1. 1962–1964. Taschen, 2021, 11 x 15.6 in., 11.13 lb, 698 p., slipcase, ISBN 978-3-8365-8995-6
Collector’s Edition, 1,000 numbered copies