In Spider-Man: The Ultimate Guide, DK present a huge, no-messin', glossy hardback history of our favourite friendly neighbourhood wall-crawler. Spanning the whole of the hyphenated hero's long 40 years in the public eye, Tom DeFalco spins a fascinating tale of Spidey's rise from humble origins, scraping a guest appearance in the cut-rate catch-all comic book Amazing Fantasy, to the blockbuster-inspiring cultural icon he's become today.
Marshalling his material admirably, DeFalco uses over 600 full-colour images to complement detailed sections on the various characters, villains and events and to illustrate the interesting chapters on the comics of the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s. He obviously has a passion for his subject, and manages to convey the appeal that has enabled Parker's wisecracking alter ego to endure over the years.
With its edifying introduction from Stan "The Man" Lee and its extremely in-depth explication of the web-slinging wonder's origins, the Marvel-endorsed Spider-Man: The Ultimate Guide is bound to prove indispensable to hardcore Spidey-philes as well as to new disciples lured into the Spidey's web by all the Hollywood hoo-ha. And though the more serious fans may become disenchanted with the episodic structure, and the more casual reader may tire of the minute details (do we really need to know Peter Parker's wife's parents' university majors?), this book strikes a happy balance, being easily devoured from cover to cover or just dipped into using the gazetteer and index. Ultimately, this slab of spider-facts is a must for anyone with even the slightest interest in popular culture. You know it makes spider-sense. --Paul Eisinger