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Non-Review Review: Spider-Man – Far From Home

Spider-Man: Far From Home cannot help but exist in the shadow of Avengers: Endgame.

Indeed, one of the problems marketing Far From Home was the manner in which the entire emotional premise of the film served as a spoiler for Endgame, which meant that the film had to wait quite late in the game to release its second trailer. This sets up an interesting tension with Far From Home, which finds itself in the the seemingly contradictory position of being both the last movie in the current “phase” of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and also a film actually being produced by a company other than Marvel Studios.

Masking his feelings.

This weird push-and-pull runs through Far From Home, which seems caught between existing as a coda and epilogue to Endgame and working as a Spider-Man movie in its own right. To a certain extent, this was always going to be a tension within Far From Home, even before Endgame set its sights on becoming the biggest movie of all time. Endgame was always going to exert a gravity on Far From Home, given its plot mechanics and its character decisions. Writers Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers, along with director Jon Watts, were always going to be reacting to narrative and character choices that they never made.

As such, the most interesting thing that Far From Home can do is to literalise that tension.

Night Monkey Moves.

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The Amazing Spider-Man – The Gauntlet: Mysterio – Mysterioso (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.

And so The Gauntlet circles around to writer Dan Slott and artist Marcos Martín. It really is impressive the talent that Marvel was able to draw to The Amazing Spider-Man as part of their Brand New Day. The comic was publishing several times a month, requiring rotating writers and artists to keep everything moving, with a strong editorial hand to guide the comic. Whatever one might say about the motivations and consequences of Brand New Day, it affirmed the idea that The Amazing Spider-Man was one of Marvel’s premier titles, featuring some incredible creative talent.

The Gauntlet is focused on the idea of re-working and re-engineering various classic Spider-Man bad guys. Both Power to the People and Keemia’s Castle stressed the idea that Spider-Man’s bad guys are really tragic figures – that there is something to pity in figures like Max Dillon or Flint Marko. With Mysterioso, Dan Slott and Marcos Martin focus on Mysterio, perhaps the least sympathetic bad guy featured as part of The Gauntlet. (The only real competition comes from either the new Rhino or the Lizard, if you separate him from Curt Connors.)

"Mister Spider-Man, I've been expecting you..."

“Mister Spider-Man, I’ve been expecting you…”

Far from a tragic figure trapped by circumstance, Slott positions Mysterio as a arch-criminal-as-artisté – a character who not only revels in the crime that he causes, but also the psychological damage he inflicts. He is a super villain who considers the entire world to be his set, staging elaborate set-pieces for nothing beyond his own amusement. There’s no fractured psyche here, no familial love, no excuse. Mysterio is a character who simply enjoys what he does. It doesn’t add much depth to the character, even if it is great fun.

And yet, despite this, Slott manages to make Mysterioso something of an encapsulation of the themes of The Gauntlet. This is the first time in the epic that Spider-Man’s “no kill rule” is discussed and stressed, and a story that emphasises that Spider-Man’s unique brand of heroism is about enduring the impossible without being corrupted by it. As such, it feels like Slott is really codifying some of the rules of this epic. Mysterioso skilfully closes out the first third of The Gauntlet, confirming what lies ahead.

All bets are off...

All bets are off…

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Ultimate Spider-Man – Vol. 12 (Hardcover) (Review)

You know, Jeph Loeb actually managed to make quite the impression on Marvel’s Ultimate line of comics. While his Ultimatum was intended to serve as a “shot in the arm” to a comic book line with waning sales and interest, it’s telling that Marvel organised another event almost directly afterwards, with The Death of Spider-Man serving to reorganise that fictional universe once again. This collection, the twelfth in the Ultimate Spider-Man line, sees author Brian Michael Bendis guiding the book between Ultimatum and The Death of Spider-Man. (Indeed, the next book in the set is the Death of Spider-Man omnibus collection.)

As such, it’s not too surprising that these fourteen issues feel a bit disjointed and uneven, as Bendis deals with the aftermath of one radical status quo change while gearing up for another. That said, I still think that Ultimate Spider-Man represents the single most consistent run on the title, and Bendis still manages to keep things interesting, even if this collection doesn’t quite compile the author’s strongest run of issues.

Spider-Men…

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Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s Spider-Man – The Amazing Spider-Man Omnibus, Vol. 1 (Review/Retrospective)

It’s hard to believe that Spider-Man first appeared fifty years ago. The character is arguably Marvel’s most iconic comic book creation, and his appearance and iconography is instant recognisable all around the world. As such, fifty years after his first appearance, it’s fascinating to look at just how much of Spider-Man is firmly rooted in the initial thirty-eight issues of the title, written by Stan Lee and illustrated by Steve Ditko. While I am normally quite wary of older material (Will Eisner’s The Spirit being the exception that proves the rule), it’s amazing how well Lee and Ditko’s Amazing Spider-Man holds up.

Animated by Kerry Allen.

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Kevin Smith & David Mack’s Runs on Daredevil (Hardcover Vol. #1)

It’s said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. It’s also been said that Frank Miller’s Born Again pretty much defined Daredevil. So it should really come as no surprise that Kevin Smith borrowed from that particular story wholesale for his relaunch of the character back in 1999. It’s not necessarily a bad thing – Smith has the decency to admit that the concept isn’t incredibly original – and in a way it provides a suitable note upon which to relaunch the title.

Bring your child to work day was not the resounding success Matt Murdock expected...

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