40th Anniversary Spider-Man CDROM Review

Back in September I mentioned the 40th Anniversary Spider-Man CDROM Collection — Amazing Fantasy #15 plus issues 1-500 of The Amazing Spider-Man all in one CD-ROM collection for about $40.

I finally managed to pick up a copy recently. Basically, what we have are 501 PDF files containing relatively high-resolution scans of each comic book. This has its advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, everything is included in each book, including inside covers, advertisements, letter pages, etc. If its was in the book, its in the PDF. Unfortunately, many of the comics that were used for the scans are clearly showing their age. Even more recent books tend to show quite a bit of wear. This is in contrast to Topic Entertainment’s previous Marvel Comics CDROM collection which achieved stunning images by scanning the black-and-white original art in Marvel’s archives and then adding a digitally colored layer which could be turned off.

Storing the scans in PDFs creates a number of issues — the most annoying is that the books were scanned in landscape which means each page in the PDF usually represents two comic book pages. I find this a bit annoying. It does preserve the occasional two-page layout, but for the most part I’d have preferred to have my monitor filled with one page rather than two.

The user also has to use Adobe Acrobe 6.0 or later, or a “Marvel” watermark will appear superimposed on the pages. That watermark always appears when you print the page, so if you really want to print anything you’ll need to grab a screenshot. That’s stupid behavior IMO. What’s the point in nerfing printing like that, especially since its trivial to circumvent?

Other than that, the PDFs aren’t DRMed, in that you don’t need to register the Acrobat Reader or anything. I quickly copied all 6+gb of PDFs to my portable hard drive so I can read them on any computer I happen to be using at the moment.

Overall, its not perfect, but at less than a dime per comic, this is the bargain of the century. And coming soon is a Fantastic Four CDROM reproducing the entire 30-year run of that book. It truly is a great time to be alive.

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