Amazing Spider-Man Epic Collection—Volume 21: Return of the Sinister Six

amazing spider-man epic collection volume 21 return of the sinister six cover tpb
6.5 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Art: 7/10

1990s peak Spider-Man

So-so stories

Comic Info

Comic Name:  Spider-Man:  Spirits of Earth/Amazing Spider-Man (Volume 1)

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Writer: Charles Vess/David Michelinie

Artist: Charles Vess/Erik Larsen/Mark Bagley

# of Issues: 18

Release Date: 2016

amazing spider-man spirits of the earth cover charles vess

Amazing Spider-Man: Spirits of the Earth

Reprints Spider-Man:  Spirits of Earth and Amazing Spider-Man (1) #334-350 (January 1990-August 1991).  A trip to Scotland with Mary Jane lands Peter right in the middle of a supernatural mystery.  Doctor Octopus’s attempt to reform the Sinister Six leads to a plot to blackmail the world for his own nefarious plans.  Venom returns to Peter’s life and his own plans to end his battle with the Wall-Crawler.  The Black Fox is back in town and Peter finds himself in a life-or-death battle with Doctor Doom as a result…it is all just another day for Spider-Man!

Written by Charles Vess and David Michelinie, Amazing Spider-Man Epic Collection—Volume 21:  Return of the Sinister Six is a Marvel Comics superhero comic book collection.  Following Amazing Spider-Man Epic Collection—Volume 20:  Cosmic Adventures, the collection features art by Charles Vess, Erik Larsen, and Mark Bagley.  Issues in this collection were also featured in Spider-Man vs. Venom Omnibus, Venom Epic Collection—Volume 1:  Symbiosis, Spider-Man:  Sinister Six, and others.

This collection was peak 1990s Spider-Man.  You have the classic Sinister Six and a big Venom storyline.  It came at a point where I would get comics where I could and ended up with random issues in the collection.  While the title of the collection comes from the Sinister Six storyline, the meat of the collection falls after that story.

The book starts out with a weird fluke.  It is a stand-alone graphic novel by Charles Vess set in Scotland.  I like Charles Vess art, but this is definitely not his best outing.  The art is mostly solid (some of the people he illustrates are questionable), but I do like the wispy-fantasy style he brings to Spider-Man and his webslinging…but for the most part the long format story is pretty missable.

amazing spider-man #346 cover venom

Amazing Spider-Man (1) #346

The second chunk of the book is the Sinister Six story which also is rather ho-hum.  What is interesting about the story is that it falls when the Sandman was a hero (a role I kind of liked him in).  This has Octopus plotting against him to get him to work with him and also has the strange goal of Doctor Octopus:  eliminating cocaine users.  The plot circles around what appears to be a normal supervillains threaten the world story but it turns into a supervillains are blackmailing rich drug users.  It is an odd switch up.

The best part of the book however falls the Sinister Six (and has been collected multiple times).  It features Venom seeking revenge on Spider-Man (again), but has him battling Spider-Man on a desert island.  The book also serves to introduce Cletus Kasady as Venom’s cellmate and later Carnage…it is this part of the book that feels far more significant even if it is titled after the Sinister Six.

While I enjoy this Epic Collection entry, I can admit it is largely nostalgia.  The comics are rather typical comic book fodder (cackling super-villains and over-the-top schemes) and that is something that doesn’t seem as prevalent in today’s comics.  The Epic Collection editions goal is to collect a period of the title character and thematic stories don’t generally pan out in this sense.  Still, if you are a fan of Spider-Man or read comics in the 1990s, this is a solid entry for the series.  Amazing Spider-Man Epic Collection—Volume 21:  Return of the Sinister Six is followed by Amazing Spider-Man Epic Collection—Volume 22:  Round Robin.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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