Before I start telling you what I think about this collection, I want to point out that if you are a Spider-Man fan and/or have an affinity for comic books from the 1960’s, picking up this collection is a no-brainer. If, for whatever reason, you—vintage comic book fan—are contemplating purchasing Spider-Man: The Lifeline Tablet Saga, read no further, and instead, buy this book. For those of you who either haven’t heard of this collection or aren’t entirely sold, here’s what I thought about the book.
Writer: Stan Lee, Fabian Nicieza
Artist: John Buscema, Jim Mooney, John Romita Sr., Steve Rude
Publisher: Marvel Comics
What’s Spider-Man: The Lifeline Tablet Saga about? From the publisher:
“Relive a Spidey epic decades in the telling! It all begins with a classic struggle over a petrified tablet said to hold the secret to eternal life! It’s a priceless relic that a lot of dangerous folks want to get their hands on – like the Kingpin of Crime, the Shocker, Man Mountain Marko and Maggia boss Silvermane! But the tablet has a lesson to teach: be careful what you wish for! Years later, Hammerhead sets his sights on the sought-after stone – and its full secrets are revealed in a free-for-all drawing in the likes of Boomerang, the Sub-Mariner and the Lizard! Only a Spider-Man and Doctor Strange team-up can prevent the lifeline tablet from wreaking havoc!”
So, I don’t know about you, but I love picking up a comic book and reading a line like, “Then, with blistering, machine-gun SPEED, the amazing web-spinner unleashes a devastating BARRAGE of bludgeoning blows…” Thus, despite the fact that most of the comics in this collection are older than my parents, I very much enjoyed my reading of Spider-Man: The Lifeline Tablet Saga.
Spider-Man: The Lifeline Tablet Saga collects Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #68-75, Spider-Man: Lifeline (2001) #1-3.
What I find most interesting about reading comic books that are more than fifty years old, is the insight that they provide into the times in which they were written. For example, in the first issue of this collection, there is a protest being staged at a college campus, and while this is happening, young, African-American protestors toss around terms like, “Whitey, Uncle Tom, and Soul Brother.” I can’t say that the dialogue in this book is historically accurate, but I feel as though the fact that it was accepted and published for, at the very least, being close enough to real speech, really says something.
I had pointed out earlier in this article that for comic book readers who are also fans of vintage comics, Spider-Man: The Lifeline Tablet Saga is a worthwhile buy, but for those of you who aren’t, then you may want to reconsider this one. Most of the issues in this collection are from the early 60’s, and to be frank, fans of modern comics may not find these to be all that interesting compared to what is happening in the industry. Both the writing and the artwork are outdated, and while I see that as good thing, the next guy may not.
The plot progresses slowly, but reading through the collection does have its rewards. There is an excellent cast of Spidey villains, and the last three issues of this collection are from 2001 (modern-ish) and are quite entertaining. Again, vintage comic book fans will appreciate the collection and should buy it, whereas fans that prefer modern comics should probably get something else.