Peter’s real plan was to divorce himself from Spider-Man, not Mary Jane.

Spider-Man Unmasked

Marvel Comics (1996)

ENTRY WRITERS: Mark Bernardo, Peter Sanderson, & Bob Budiansky

COVER ART: Scott McDanile & Klaus Janson

also contributions by various artists

COVER COLORIST/SEPARATION: Kevin Tinsley

BOOK DESIGN: John Marasigan

EDITORS: Tom Brevoort & Eric Fein

Like Iron Man: The Legend this is not a comic but another profile book dedicated to one character. I guess this is what happens when Marvel decides they can’t keep the Official Handbooks current. Especially nowadays where “status quo” is such a hated thing that I don’t remember when they last had one yet they insist it must be shaken up. Every five seconds apparently, just like real life. Like just now the house down the street just spontaneously exploded…oh wait, it’s back as a brand new house. Darn life never the same from one moment to the next.

The book starts with the obligatory origin story and then goes into an explanation of Spider-Man’s powers and gear. One odd note is that according to this book Spider-Man’s wall-crawling power is the result of being able to “increase the attraction between the molecules of his body and those of the surfaces he climbs”, limited by thicker substances by shoe leather. I think Sam Rami, the guy who hated a high school kid developing web shooters and fluid, actually had the better explanation with feelers he could extend or retract from his fingertips (and maybe his toes, although that wasn’t in the movie) at will. That fits the whole mutation thing, while this makes no sense even with the later addition of that lame spider-totem nonsense.

After a brief history of Peter Parker we get a “friends of Spider-Man” section, although it’s mostly friends of Peter Parker. Aunt May, Uncle Ben, Mary Jane (back when they were married), her aunt Anna…the only ones who were actually friends of his alter ego are Captain Stacy and Doctor Kafka. Heck, some of the people on the list actively didn’t like Spider-Man. There is a later section with Spider-Man superhero allies, although the chose of background image makes part of the text hard to read so that was a bad decision.

There’s a nice section trying to pin down all of the relationships to everybody, tied in some way to Spider-Man or Peter Parker or both, a small rogues gallery that covers the more popular or at least well-known villains, which is followed by Spider-Man himself rating his gallery up to this point by how how strong they are or how smart they are. There’s a brief look at the Daily Bugle building, the friends that the extended media keeps forgetting Peter didn’t know until he went to college (except for Flash Thompson of course), how he returned to Midtown high as a substitute teacher (and would later become a teacher until One More Day), a brief look at Amazing Fantasy #15 (Spiderman’s debut and that’s how they wrote it, thus confusing many somehow to this day as they forget the hyphen), and finally a checklist of other important issues that follow Peter’s history as Spider-Man.

Overall, it’s interesting but like the aforementioned handbooks out of date. There is enough interesting info for its time that I wouldn’t dissuade the curious and I’m not removing it from my library but I don’t think it’s a must-have book these days.

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About ShadowWing Tronix

A would be comic writer looking to organize his living space as well as his thoughts. So I have a blog for each goal. :)

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