On its face, Amazing Spider-Man Annual #37 seems like a decent enough one-shot story with a few clever twists and some funny dialog. The annual is supposed to be taking a deeper look at the first time Spider-Man met Captain America and that is really what ruins the issue.
Annual #37 is part of an ever growing and largely annoying trend perpetrated by Marvel where stories set in a much earlier time somehow end up with modern touches that don’t fit. The most egregious example would be the new Avengers Origin book that’s supposed to show how the Avengers started (which took place in the 60s) and yet Hulk favorite Rick Jones is part of an underground computer hacker group.
This story follows Spider-Man who is trying to stop Cain Marko (Sandman) from robbing a bank. When Marko gets the drop on Spidey a swift play from Captain America saves the day. Post-Sandman battle, a weird set of “thinkers” who want to kill the grainy super villain appear. These thinkers have targeted Marko because they have calculated that somehow he will end up killing one third of the human population. Captain America and Spider-Man refuse to have Sandman slaughtered and so the fight begins.
The rest of the story is fun, action packed and even clever as these thinkers reveal themselves to be Tesla, Madame Curie, Darwin and Kafka though dressed like rejects from an episode of Buck Rogers. Kafka’s power is he can become a spider, Darwin becomes superhumanly strong, and Tesla can fire energy. I think you see the theme happening here. While Annual #37 has interesting elements it just feels off, mainly because Marvel clashes two time periods together.
I’ve never been a fan of modernizing stories that happened in the past, I see no reason why they can’t be written and drawn in the era the story would have come from. I understand comic companies, Marvel especially, love to try and hook young readers but combining elements of the past and present seems like a foolish way to go about it.
In one part of Annual #37 Spidey uses the term “FYI” and Captain America talks about Wikipedia yet the issue references something Spider-Man did in Avengers #11 from four decades ago. These little hiccups take you right out of the story and suddenly the whole issue falls apart. Even the art in this issue is lazy and uninspired, drawing absolutely nothing from the era we’re supposed to be reading about.
I guess nobody at Marvel cares about a throw away one-shot, which is too bad because this could have been a nice break to the current darker themed Gauntlet story going on in the Spider-Man continuity. Instead, Annual #37 feels like a cheap shill, as though Marvel tempted you with an awesome idea only to reveal this drivel. Amazing Spider-Man Annual #37 is a major disappointment that serves no real purpose. If you hate any holes in your collection then I guess buying this makes sense, otherwise skip it. I wish I had.