I have really enjoyed the Secret Wars event, and I have really liked the different styles and approaches that are being taken for the Battleworld books. I thought that Amazing Spider-Man’s tie-in book would be hard for me to become invested in, because I don’t have much knowledge of the era from which this Spider-Man is culled. I wasn’t sure if the book would have any impact on me whatsoever; because I am not one of the many voices on the internet still shouting about the fact that Peter Parker and Mary Jane’s marriage was so completely swept under the rug. I don’t understand WHY it was swept away, but I don’t feel any sort of personal attachment to the story, or think that the characters are any less effective because this piece is missing. I do, however, have an opinion on this new book, and this different type of story being told in the realm of Spider-Man…
This book is very different from the Spider-Man that I am most accustomed to seeing; he is not at all the Spider-Man that I had seen in Superior, or in the rebooted Amazing series, but he is still appealing nonetheless. I thought that the change to the character would wear thin on me, but I seem to have grown quite fond of this Spidey who is married with a kid. Maybe it just resonates with me more because I myself am married with a kid (which has played into the way I become emotionally attached to certain stories, I have noticed) but it could also resonate with me because it is very good storytelling; so I will just stick with that. This book has been an engaging read, and it has really put Peter Parker in some strange situations that I don’t think we would ever see him in, if it weren’t for Secret Wars happening. I liked the first issue a lot, for being an easy entry point into this world, and giving Spider-Man readers an easily digestible villain for the issue in Venom. I thought the change to Peter’s character in this version of reality fit with the character’s life now: he is a husband and a father, and will do whatever it takes to protect his family. This now includes **SPOILERS** murdering Venom. Though, I truly doubt that Venom and Eddie are just GONE from this world, but I do truly think that Peter did what he did thinking that he was killing a man. Which is a crazy big bridge for Spider-Man to have crossed. In this issue, Peter skirts the issue of Venom and his death (who has become a proverbial boogeyman for his daughter) along with trying to keep his head down and just “blend in”.
I had never really thought about Spider-Man as being one to try and blend in to a crowd. To me, Spider-Man has always been the kind of guy who would put himself out there and jumped headfirst into harms way, no matter the danger. So to see how profoundly fatherhood changes him, it really just gave me a moment’s pause to think about how much fatherhood and all those different little bits of “domestication” have changed me. It is strange to think about how much we can change over such a short time, especially in the face of such monumental life changes like marriage and parenthood, but it feels right- both for us as people, and for fictional characters in comic books. I think that this version of Peter is a very honest one, that he seems to be more like what I would be like if I were a super hero, because even though you try and protect those closest to you, that protective nature takes on a whole new meaning when they are your offspring.
But enough about that, let’s get back into this comic book: I really like the idea of New York being under control of this new villain Regent. Though, part of me does wonder if he is actually someone we already know in the Marvel universe who has just been changed or coopted into this new role for Battleworld. I really like the way Regent has become the new Kingpin, and how he has a long list of Spider-Man’s villains on his roster. The short interlude with Peter and J. Jonah Jameson having some “classic” feeling back and forth really helped to ground this story in the Marvel Universe for me; it wasn’t just a flight of fancy, it isn’t an “Elseworlds” book, this is really Peter Parker as Spider-Man in HIS version of New York- and it is seriously messed up.
I wish there had been some actual story involving Venom, maybe some more meaningful flashbacks to Spidey and Venom’s final showdown, or something to act as a bit of a reveal for the reader (but still unknown to our Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man) as to the fate of Venom- not unlike the reveal of the identity of the new Thor in the last issue of that series prior to the start of Secret Wars. We got a little bit of the conversation with Spider-Man and Venom (in the form of a dream sequence) at the very beginning, but it could have been just as much an actual memory of what happened as it could have been a corrupted version of past events, that were manipulated to suit the dream. I thought there would be a LOT more Venom, since he is about 80% of the cover art, but I have slowly begun to realize that there is no guarantee as to what will be inside of a book based on what is on the cover.
The end of the issue was what really drew me into this world, and made the story worth reading for me, hopefully we get to see lots of the two main elements that are introduced at the end of the issue with **SPOILERS** The Sinister Six being dispatched to hunt down Spider-Man AND **SPOILERS** Mary Jane digging out Spider-Man’s classic black suit for him to fight in now that he has apparently run out of all of his red-and-blue outfits. I think that this series will start to pick up momentum from here, with a bigger threat directly to Spider-Man, plus incorporating the Venom imagery in his suit should help to cause his relationship with his daughter to unravel, which will add to the drama.
The story is very well written, I love the way Dan Slott writes, and I think that with this series being a bit of a new sandbox for him to play in with a different version of Spider-Man, it may allow people to read it and be a bit more objective and not constantly be up in arms because he is changing everything they love about Spider-Man. I really dislike that attitude towards comics- there are a couple old guys who are always at my LCS the minute it opens on new comic book day, and the last few weeks in a row I have heard them both commiserating over how they cant stand the “new style” of comic book art, and how they wish it would go back to the way it used to be. This is a really backwards way to view art. Nobody looks at Andy Warhol and thinks “but, if only he would have been more like Monet…” or that the Sistine Chapel should have been painted more like the walls of cavemen. This book looks and feels like a great new Spider-Man story, and I really enjoyed Adam Kubert’s Spider-Man, and I bet I will really enjoy seeing more of how he portrays the Sinister Six (and hopefully more baddies besides) in the next issues.
This series has been a unique experience, and it has brought out a myriad of ideas and feelings in me (some of those disjointed things got dumped into this review, so if you were expecting just straight comic talk- sorry…) but I look back on in and I appreciate what it was doing. I think that Secret Wars and Battleworld are quite successful up to this point (except for a few missteps along the way, but, hey- nobody’s perfect) and I have really enjoyed most of the things that I have read from Marvel during this event. I think this book doesn’t really need too much in the way of background knowledge, but that it probably doesn’t hurt if you have read Spider-Verse, and that even though it is a Teen rated book, I think it (at least this far) skews a little younger, because there hasn’t been much actual bad language or visceral violence (yet), so it has a bit broader range of appeal than a more violent or foul-mouthed counterpart would.
This book was interesting, to say the least. It made me think, and at least for myself, that’s a good thing. I am not sure where this story is headed, and I really like the unpredictability. So if you think any of that sounds interesting, then this is a book you should read.