Review | John Romita’s The Amazing Spider-Man Artifact Edition

Last updated on February 9th, 2017 at 09:04 am

A giant sized look at his early Spidey run, John Romita’s The Amazing Spider-Man is the best book yet for fans of these iconic characters’ designs.

John Romita's The Amazing Spider-Man Artifact Edition variant coverThis is it, the John Romita Spider-Man book fans have been waiting for—Nearly 200 pages of prime John Romita Spider-Man art from his very earliest days on the title, and all but 10 are scanned from the original art (NOTE—we decided to add stats of those 10 pages to complete stories. So while this is an Artifact Edition, there are FOUR complete Romita Spider-Man stories in the book)! This over-sized (it’s as big as the recent STERANKO Artist’s Edition) Artifact Edition showcases the absolute peak of Romita’s tenure on Amazing Spider-Man from his first 15 issues (#39 – #53), and all are twice-up pages—this one is an enormous 15” x 22” tome!

As with all original artist’s gallery editions this is a collection of classic comic material and I’ll be reviewing the book and not the story. For a complete list of all current and announced editions, with review links, please visit our Index.

Before getting into the contents we need to address the change in shipping product. What went out to comics retailers via Diamond was the variant cover, which is featured above in the picture and ISBN number. I’m showing the regular edition cover and ISBN in the Index; that will be sold as the variant through IDW. Scott Dunbier addressed this at WonderCon 2015 as a printing and shipping error.

John Romita's The Amazing Spider-Man Artifact Edition interior 1

This is IDW’s second Artifact Edition, which collects whatever pages are available without complete issues. And that concept was thrown out for this book, as ten pages not scanned from original art were added to create four complete issues. The full contents are listed in the table of contents below, mostly. Also included in the Cover Gallery are covers to Amazing Spider-Man 42,47 and 50, Spectacular Spider-Man Magazine 1-2 and Marvel Treasury Edition 1 back cover. Page numbers are included in both tables of contents even though the pages are not numbered. Rounding out the volume is a one page biography of Romita.

John Romita's The Amazing Spider-Man Artifact Edition Table Of Contents

The scans appear to come from a variety of sources, showing pages in various states of decay. It’s a broad range, with near white pages and heavily browned pages interspersed. I’ve never seen this much blue pencil used in original art pages: whole issues are blue lines and black inks. A good amount of correction fluid as well: the pages look and feel worked on. All the scans were clean and showed the artwork well.

John Romita's The Amazing Spider-Man Artifact Edition interior 2

Black levels on scans vary greatly as well and seem to depend on the scan. A few pages showed black gradients but most inks were solid. Mickey Demeo inked the bulk of these pages and his style comes through. A lot of the pages are signed by John Romita and to a lesser extent Stan Lee.

John Romita's The Amazing Spider-Man Artifact Edition interior 3

Production is excellent as always. The book came in a cardboard case but was not shrinkwrapped. Binding is sewn and appears a little looser than previous Artist’s Editions and is a welcome change since this book is quite large and the pages lay mostly flat.

John Romita's The Amazing Spider-Man Artifact Edition interior 4

Design is by Randall Dahlk, like most IDW art editions. This time around he’s gone with a heavy two-tone colour scheme with fragmented lines and shifted overlays. It’s bold and eye-catching, edgier than previous work.

John Romita Amazing Spider Man Artifact Ed HC – $180.00

Retail Price: $225.00
You Save: $45.00

Scott VanderPloeg Written by:

Editor-In-Chief. Scott works in I.T. but lives to eat and read. His other ramblings can be found at eBabble. Art collection at Comic Art Fans. Joe Shuster Awards Harry Kremer coordinator.

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  1. April 8, 2015

    When I returned home from camp in the summer of 1971 clutching a copy of ASM Annual #5 that I had begged off a friend, I headed straight to the corner store and bought ASM #102, and Marvel Tales #32. Thus began my association and, dare I say it, love affair with ASM. There’s been the expected highs and lows over the decades, but nothing will ever equal the thrill of that first year reading the monthly title in conjunction with the stories reprinted in MT that appear in this Artifact Edition. ASM #47 has always been a strangely satisfying story, and the AE features the two premiere pages of Gwen and MJ (seen above), back when Gwen could hold her own against anyone. She was one tough cookie before dating PP, and it’s great to see that characterization portrayed in these pages. I showed them to my 15 year old daughter and she flipped over Gwen’s snappy dialogue. It’s a terrific selection of pages, the only disappointment being the MJ “Face it, Tiger” page being a stat, however, they found what looks like a Marvel archival stat for the page that preserves the production notes, instead of the usual b&w stat. for anyone of this era, either ’66 or ’71, this edition should prove very special. You’ll find some of the best line work ever seen in the run of the series. My only beef is with the Green Goblin cover, instead of the ASM # 50 cover originally solicited. Nothing against GG, but the art is from ’68 and the AE features art from ’66. The original cover was perfect. Why change it? Unless IDW is trying to falsely create a collector’s market for variant covers. Regardless, this is an outstanding edition.

  2. April 8, 2015

    Rob, I explain the cover swap in the paragraph above the first spread but will provide some background. Because of the dock strike in California earlier this year containers piled up and everything was delayed, including a bunch of books from IDW. Since the book is clearly labeled with the variant cover image and ISBN on the cardboard case the mistake had to have occurred by IDW shipping Diamond the wrong books.

  3. April 8, 2015

    I obviously missed that paragraph. As I did Dunbier’s statement! My mistake.

  4. April 9, 2015

    I just picked up my copy. This is my holy grail of John Romita/Spider-Man comics and art. My first off the rack Spider-Man book was ASM#45. I always liked the cover from Spectacular Spider-Man #2 so the switch from the ASM#50 cover didn’t hurt much. A wonderful book.

    Rob also agree on that issue #47 and Gwen..

  5. April 9, 2015

    It’s a double-edged sword with this kind of product: we get to see the original art but it’s shown with all the flaws, white-out, blue line and pasted fixes we didn’t see in the printed comic.

  6. April 12, 2015

    As someone who has made comics and drawn storyboards for twenty years, I love seeing the process. I remember meeting Matt Wagner for the first time at the Silver snail when he was doing Mage. His originals were all cut and paste. He told me all that’s important is that it prints. I actually buy these for the white, out the blue line edits, the marginal notes, and paste ups. You really get a sense that real people worked on these. BWS actually carries on a conversation with Roy T on the margins of the Red Nails pages. Notes to Stan and the colourists; all great. And the exquisite line work. The New Gods was almost a disappointment for how clean the pages were. I want smudges and finger prints. I want to know and see Romita’s hand on art and Royer’s inks, and Jack’s underlying pencils. These books are a pure joy to me as an artist. I just wish there weren’t as many as quickly. Too much of a good thing and now a undeniable strain on the bank account.

Make It Good.