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The Amazing Spider-Man – The Gauntlet: Electro – Power to the People (Review/Retrospective)

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.

Trying to channel Batman while writing Spider-Man is a risky business. The two characters are iconic – each can make a credible claim to be the most iconic character at their publisher, and perhaps the most iconic superhero ever. Both have imprinted themselves on the public consciousness; both have enjoyed multiple iterations across cartoons and movies; both have iconic stories and popular runs, as well as bucket loads of merchandise; both have truly wonderful supporting casts.

However, trying to use Spider-Man to evoke Batman is a risky move. You can end up with a mess like Spider-Man: Reign, demonstrating that the dark cynicism many associate with the Caped Crusader does not translate to the wall-crawling web-head. Alternatively, you get a sense that what makes Peter Parker unique and appealing is being crushed in a desire to fit a round peg in a square hole, like with The Amazing Spider-Man.

Shocking...

Shocking…

That said, The Gauntlet is a pretty spectacular Spider-Man story, one only enhanced by its similarities to the iconic Batman saga Knightfall. It’s a massive sprawling epic that seems to have been written with those comparisons in mind, with the writing staff very cleverly using the story as a springboard to emphasise the differences between Spider-Man and Batman. The Gauntlet, like Knightfall, is fundamentally a story about trying to break the central character a sinister new adversary launches a sustained assault using a collection of classic baddies.

However, The Gauntlet serves as an argument that Peter Parker can never be completely consumed by darkness. Even in his darkest hours, even when the story twists in a way that it really shouldn’t, there is an inherent optimism and reserve of strength and hope that keeps Spider-Man from tipping completely into the abyss. The entire Knightfall saga is about Batman clawing his way back from the abyss. The Gauntlet is about how Spider-Man really can’t be pushed into that abyss in the first place.

Swinging into action...

Swinging into action…

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