One of the best things about working in a comic store is having a look at what turns up in collections that people sell to us. More often than not, it's a pile of W.I.L.D.Cats or Youngblood that are headed right for the discount bin, but occasionally some cool old-timey treasures turn up. My favourite of these are the now-obsolete repackagings of vintage material that are fairly hard to come by, from the days when publishers were still experimenting with people's ideas of what constituted a comics-delivery system, so to speak. I'm talking about the old over-sized treasury editions (my favourite of these is the Kirby 2001: A Space Odyssey adaptation, but I'm still keeping an eye out for the original Superman Vs. Spider-Man), or the novel-sized digest reprints where you would only usually get about two panels per page. However, this little gem appeared in a collection a few weeks back:
Published by Simon & Schuster, this collection features a pretty random collection of pretty awesome Spidey classics. There's some early John Romita-drawn issues (yes, despite what the cover would have you believe, somebody other than Stan Lee was involved) featuring old favourites like Electro and the Rhino, and the notoriously non-Code approved three-issue arc by Lee and Gil Kane where Harry gets hooked on drugs, triggering his old man to become the Green Goblin again. This arc is also notable for having appeared at a time when Stan Lee decided to stop using so many exclamation points all the time, resulting in weirdly deadpan delivery from everyone. Check it out:
The issue after this one is the one where they basically just erased any punctuation that wasn't a necessary exclamation point or question mark, which reads as though everyone is talking in a weird monotone voice (there's a great article about this short-lived phenomenon over at Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed). That drug dealer guy is awesome, by the way. Only a career criminal could get away with that look. Speaking of fashion, though, let's take a better look at Peter and Harry's wardrobe at this point...
Whoa, what the hell is going on? Harry at least has the excuse of a raging drug habit to explain away his orange suit and yellow turtleneck combo, but Peter's outfit has entirely too many tassels. He looks like Beyonce!
I sort of got off track here. What was I talking about? Oh yeah, old Spider-Man comics are the best. Especially when you can get 'em in a now-defunct format.