Spider-man Reign 1
How does one sum up a typical Spider-man story? Some personal mess ups for Pete, including potential tragedies for his nearest and dearest, followed by a big fight with a bad guy, before returning to Pete's often downbeat personal life. Despite the fact that things rarely go terribly well for Spidey, there's usually a lightness of touch about his book, making it accessible to all ages.
But someone obviously hadn't told that to Kaare Andrews. This is dark. I mean, really dark. You thought the wacky Kraven the Hunter story was dark. Or the story with Spidey in the asylum? Man, those tales were small fry compared to what's going on here. This tale is set in the future and we're in full on Blade Runner style dystopia here. Pete's old and frail and has only JJJ for company (though he is haunted by the ghost of a faceless MJ). There are no real bad guys as yet in this story, just the Reign Corporation that is in charge of the city. And JJJ is trying to persuade Pete to put on the old costume and do the right thing. But will he do it?
Anyone who has read my list of favourite covers will know that I think highly of Andrews. I wasn't overly keen, though, on his artwork here. He has a very distinctive style that exaggerates body types and so both Pete and (the very old) J Jonah Jameson look really odd here - peculiar charicatures. MJ is drawn well, in that her red mane always covers her face and that helps exaggerate the madness Pete is presumably feeling. However, the big moment for me appears about half way through when the feeble Pete pulls himself upright in bed, naked and... yes, there it is. That wobbly thing between his legs. I'm not sure how this got past the censors but Andrews has managed to include a full frontal Peter Parker in this issue. An historic moment.
But to be honest, whilst Andrews is doing something very interesting here, I struggled because Spidey's books aren't like this. There are three more episodes to go and I just have this feeling that things aren't going to get better at all.