Friday, 7 January 2011
GRAPHIC NOVEL : AMAZING SPIDER-MAN
While I have a fairly broad taste in graphic stories and own a good selection of what you'd call the top end -massive collections by Los Bros Hernandez, Will Eisner, The Sandman in the Absolute editions, several Osamu Tezuka GNs, Maus, etc- my heart lies in the super hero genre. Admittedly I like to think it's the best of the genre but it's still super heroes and mostly published by DC. The only Marvel title I've bothered with in recent years has been Ultimate Spider-Man, the fresh alternate universe version of the character created and written by Brian Bendis (whose Powers series I also collect).
Recently, however, I've bought 13 Spider-Man collections. What happened was I came across a brief overview of a series entitled Brand New Day which completely shook up the existing Spider-Man mythos and made it fun again. So I took the bait and bought the first three. Several years ago, in a legendarily loathed storyline, one of Marvel's Satan-a-likes revamped reality so Peter Parker was no longer married to Mary Jane and never had been. Then, in the course of a massive company-wide crossover where legislation decreed that super-heroes had to be registered and reveal their identity to the government, Spider-Man does just that but also reveals his secret identity to the world. Some time after that, reality got juggled again so that no-one, not even people who've known for years, no-one knows he's really Peter. All the various Spidey titles got cancelled except for Amazing Spider-Man which became a weekly comic written by a team of writers and artists not unlike an American sitcom.
At this point I jumped on board.
The result is a refreshing take on Spider-Man which gets him out of the repetitive and predictable rut by introducing new ongoing storylines and characters. It's uneven of course. Not all the stories work and the standard of the art varies considerably but overall it was enough to get me to buy 13 of these collections. It would be counter-productive to list all the stuff that's going on. I'd be here all night writing if I tried. But here are a few of the more notable developments.
Best friend Harry Osborne is going out with Lily whose best friend Carlie, a coroner's assistant, likes Peter. Peter moves in with a Spider-Man hating cop who likes Carlie. Lily's father is standing for mayor of NY and is regularly attacked by a Green Goblin-alike called Menace. Aunt May is working for a charity which feeds down and out and whose respectable boss is secretly a villain. When Jonah J Jameson has a heart attack his wife sells the Daily Bugle to an unscrupulous media magnate behind his back and most of the staff of the DB end up working for a low circulation socially conscious paper, including Peter. Former Green Goblin, Norman Osborne now runs The Avengers who are now composed of supposedly reformed supervillains and makes life difficult for Peter by trying to corrupt (again) his son Norman (PP's BF) and kill Spidey. Spidey saves the life of an elderly man who turns out to be Jonah J. Jameson Snr who abandoned JJJ Jnr as a boy. Snr is a nice old geezer who starts courting Aunt May and Peter discovers the two in bed together -no that is not a joke. Peter's flatmate turns out to be part of a gang of corrupt cops who hate Spidey and are framing him a serial killer by planting Spider-tracers on dead bodies. Menace turns out to be Harry's gf Lily who's taken too much of the Goblin serum and is now psycho. There's an inauguration day team-up with Barack Obama which is actually good fun and Obama is known to be a comics fan and I'd be very surprised if he hadn't read and enjoyed the issue in question. Aunt May and JJJ Snr get married and no-one dies, though personally I'd give the old geezer a couple of years max. Spider-Man-lusting heoine/villainess The Black Cat returns and gives him a quickie and Mary Jane returns who doesn't.
JJJ Jnr also becomes Mayor of New York.
And that was the tip of the iceberg.
Since then there's been a multi-volume series entitled The Gauntlet which seems to have been a bit disappointing so I'm going to skip and rejoin at the end.
Basically Amazing Spider-Man has become a lively, fast-moving, eventful, fun and often funny super-hero comic. That will do me nicely.