Comics / Comic Reviews / Marvel Comics

Spider-Man: Reign #1


By Jason Mott
February 8, 2007 - 14:30

Reign1_Cover_small.JPG
Everyone loves a comeback story. And since Batman got to have his “Rocky moment” in Dark Knight Returns and Superman got his shot with Kingdom Come, Spider-Man was long overdue for his heroic “out of the retirement home” story. Spider-Man: Reign follows all the rules of the comeback story: something traumatic happens to cause the hero to hang up his costume (in this case, the death of Mary Jane), the worlds falls apart, someone or something drags the hero out of retirement and, usually, the return of our hero helps the world come to its senses. So how is Spider-Man: Reign any different? Thus far, it’s not. So far, there are so many parallels to Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns (both visually and in the narrative sense) that one has to wonder exactly why this story got the green light from Marvel. So far, it’s feeling just a little bit like a knockoff more than any comeback story in its own right. Perhaps the next three issues will begin the divergence this story needs to make a name for itself. Only time will tell.

The evil entity that is the cause of Spider-Man’s return is simply a totalitarian government called “The Reign” that rules New York. Apart from having the overall story arc feel a bit stock, Kaare Andrews does a good job here of giving us a worn, defeated, elderly Spider-Man. In Reign, Peter Parker is a broken, impotent figure haunted by memories and loss. Most of his inner turmoil is revealed through clean, efficient inner dialogue which, when combined with some well-placed artwork, can have a powerful effect at times. A particularly well-written and well-drawn scene comes in the latter half of the book when, dreaming, Peter Parker confronts the four people most important people in his life (most of whom have been lost): Aunt May, Mary Jane, Uncle Ben & Jonah Jameson. In this scene, Andrews manages to condense decades of Spider-Man mythology and character development down to just a few, short panels.

The artwork of Reign is crisp, fluid and befitting Spider-Man. This elderly Spider-Man has aged badly. He seems frail and brittle, which, mentally, he is. Andrews also handles the colors and panel pacing of Reign with some a controlled, impressive talent. So many other artists these days have a tendency to try and cram as much dramatic and artistic posturing into the book as possible. But Andrews uses precision and mood to pull the reader in, which gives the book a more “meaty” texture. While there are the obligatory “drama panels,” they all feel sufficiently germane and Spider-Man, as well as this new world he’s currently occupying, comes away with a nimble, efficiency that every spider should have.

Overall score: 7/10 (But with good prospects in the future)

Rating: 7 /10


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