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The Amazing Spider-Man – The Gauntlet: The Lizard – Shed (Review)

This April, to celebrate the release of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, we are taking a look at some classic and modern comics featuring Spider-Man (and friends). Check back daily for the latest review.

Shed is the climax of The Gauntlet. It is The Gauntlet pushed to its logical extreme – just about as dark and grim as you could possibly make a story in The Amazing Spider-Man. In many respects, Zeb Wells and Chris Bachalo’s Shed starts out as a typical Spider-Man story. Curt Connors has relapsed, as he tends to do. Connors has transformed into the bestial Lizard, and the Lizard has decided to target Connors’ family in order to assert his dominance.

The basic plot is familiar. It is standard Spider-Man fare. Our hero will react to this crisis and fight the Lizard to save the Connors family from the monster that their husband has become. Indeed, Spider-Man may even use Curt Connors’ love his family to help vanquish the Lizard, thus offering readers a “happily ever after” ending to what was an emotional ordeal for all involved. It’s one of the most basic and archetypal of superhero stories, one so compelling because it’s about humanity winning out over basic instinct.

Here there be monsters...

Here there be monsters…

That isn’t what happens in Shed.

What makes Shed so brutally effective is the way that it manages to completely subvert expectations. Thanks to the meddling of outside forces, Peter Parker isn’t able to protect the Connors family; he can’t save the life of Billy Connors; he can’t redeem Curt Connors. The Lizard wins. The Lizard dominates. However, what makes the story so clever is the way that Wells layers another twist on top of this, suggesting that although the mosnter has vanquished the man, the monster may not be unchanged.

Balancing the scales...

Balancing the scales…

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Wolverine by Jason Aaron Omnibus, Vol. I (Review)

With our month looking at Avengers comics officially over, we thought it might be fun to dig into that other iconic Marvel property, the X-Men. Join us for a month of X-Men related reviews and discussion.

Wolverine shouldn’t be a tough character to get right. He’s a fairly simple archetype, one often seen in the annals of pulp fiction history. He’s the Man With No Name, the ronin, the warrior who has lived through the war. He’s a man who is a weapon, even if he doesn’t necessarily want to be. He’s badass, he’s a loner, and he doesn’t take any nonsense from anyone or anything. It’s easy to see why the character is one of Marvel’s most iconic fictional creations, right up there with Spider-Man in terms of recognition. However, it seems that many writers struggle in characterising the most famous mutant. Arguably the writer with the best handle on Wolverine since Chris Claremont left Uncanny X-Men was Mark Millar, who wrote two of the character’s more memorable stories (Enemy of the State and Old Man Logan). However, this collection makes a nice argument for Jason Aaron as the logical successor to the writer who defined the bladed Canadian.

It’s hardly cutting edge, but it is good comics…

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