Roger Stern is widely considered to be the best Spider-Man writer since Stan Lee. According to CBR readers, he is responsible for three of the ten best Spider-Man stories ever: The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man at #8, Nothing Can Stop the Juggernaut at #7 and the Hobgoblin Saga at #6. Yet, the collections of his Spider-Man work have been haphazard. Wizard‘s 1998 list of the ten greatest Spider-Man stories included those three, as well as a two-parter with Cobra and Mister Hyde.
It’s a bit of a cheat calling for his work to be reprinted since there have been several attempts to collect it. In the 1990s, Spider-Man Megazine was a monthly reprint series which lasted for half an year, and collected Stern’s first twelve issues. It’s how I first read
“Nothing Can Stop the Juggernaut” and the Cobra/ Hyde follow-up, two near perfect Spider-Man stories. Stern’s first Hobgoblin tales were collected in Origin of the Hobgoblin, one of the first Spider-Man Trade Paperbacks. That one was out of print for nearly twenty years, but there’s now a new expanded collection.
The first volume of Marvel Visionaries: Roger Stern started with his less famous work on Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man. They never got to a second volume. The Marvel Premiere Hardcover included the first six issues of his Amazing Spider-Man run at a cover price of thirty dollars, although the Premiere Hardcover Classics line has since been cancelled. Murder By Spider, a black and white digest, included the same material, but it’s also out of print. “Nothing Can Stop the Juggernaut” was collected in a 1990s Prestige Format Trade Paperback, as well as the Gauntlet: Juggernaut volume, which included Stern’s BNE era follow-up “Something Can Stop the Juggernaut.” Wizard also collected several of Stern’s stories in their Marvel Masterpieces Spider-Man hardcover, although that is also now out of print. The black and white Essential Spider-Man series has also caught up to Stern’s runs on both Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man and Amazing Spider-Man.
The major reason Stern’s Spider-Man work isn’t collected in the same way as Frank Miller’s Daredevil, Peter David’s Incredible Hulk, John Byrne’s Fantastic Four or Chris Claremont’s Uncanny X-Men is that he just isn’t a big name. He’s respected, but he’s not as popular as the second-best writers on other franchises. He has returned to the Spider-Man comics several times in the last few years, including for a one-shot celebrating the character’s 50th anniversary earlier in the month. Sales on those titles were respectable, but not the equivalent of what you would get if Grant Morrison returned to the X-Men.
But it was still pretty damn good. His 26 issues of Amazing Spider-Man may just be the most perfect run in the series’s history. It includes the origin of the Vulture, the return of Mary Jane after a five year absence, the beginning of Spider-Man’s romance with the Black Cat, battles with famous Marvel villains like the Juggernaut, and a lot of stuff that isn’t tremendously significant, but just a lot of fun. A new reader who picks it up at a book store is bound to be impressed.
His Amazing Spider-Man run can be reprinted as one giant omnibus volume. It could also be split into two “Ultimate Collection” trade paperbacks, to join similar collections of J. Michael Straczynski’s Amazing Spider-Man and Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley’s Ultimate Spider-Man. The first one could include Amazing Spider-Man #224-227, 229-236 (which were reprinted in Spider-Man Megazine) as well as the 16th Annual. The second collection could feature Amazing Spider-Man #238-251, which would include the entirety of his Hobgoblin saga. Smaller TPBs are the norm, so Marvel could also release the run as four Trade Paperbacks with 6-8 issues of content each.
At some point, they would go back and reprint his Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man run. It’s well-written, and introduces some of the characters and themes of his later work. But I think it’s preferable to start with the better-known material, as it’s an easier sell. Anyone who reads that will be interested in what came first.