I don’t know that much about Spiderman in the comic book sense, I have watched some of the Fox kids cartoons, which I loved and read a few things here and there but I have never delved into the backstories of the heroes and villains. What I did know was the Peter Parker’s parents were dead, that’s how he came to be looked after by his Aunt and Uncle. What I didn’t know is that they they were super spies working for the CIA and that possibly Peter Parker has a …sister?
Let’s get this out of the way first, not everything about this narrative is cohesive, it doesn’t ‘feel’ like a Spiderman story, it’s more of a serious attempt to craft a Spy Thriller and meld it with a Marvel character than anything else. The whole narrative is a globe trotting James Bond-like adventure with clever nods to Casino Royale, Skyfall and even Peter remarking that he’s just been invited to be “Jason Borne”.
However as a piece of comic book fiction it is very engaging, Spiderman does get to do a little ‘Superheroing’ and we get to see him in action away from the grimy streets of New York for a change. The whole homage to the Spy genre comes complete with casinos, safehouses, shady informants and car chases. This brings a fresh perspective to the character and the art team of Dell’Otto and Dell’Edera seem to completely relish the settings, too. The seaside roads and old hotels that Peter and Teresa visit are wonderfully evocative of spy fiction, but stop short of pointing too directly at familiar settings from films past.
Unfortunately the dialogue doesn’t always hit the mark, there’s a palpable sense that the writers and/or editors are holding readers’ hands to explain who these characters are. Not all of the exposition is bad (the primer on Richard and Mary Parker’s CIA history, which was first detailed in Untold Tales of Spider-Man #-1, would be welcome for even most comics fans), but lines such as the Kingpin’s assertion, “I became too complacent as the head of all New York crime,” isn’t the most eloquent exposition in comic book history.
So it’s a fairly fun read and accomplishes something which most graphic novels related to Superheroes mostly fails to do, it tells a clever story from a unique hook that wouldn’t work in a monthly comic book arc. Well worth a read, if only for the intriguing novelty factor.