***CAUTION! SPOILERS AHEAD!***
Young Ben Parker, son of Peter, has chosen to take on the mantle of his father's legacy... and Dad isn't pleased.
But before the two of them can even think about repairing the bridge between them, the monstrous Cadaverous attacks... and appears to kill Peter!
Young Ben panics and passes out from the ensuing explosion, not to mention the shock of seeing his dad impaled by the horror who killed his mother. When he comes to, his cool new almost-girlfriend Faye Ito joins him. She reasons that, in this world bereft of heroes, only the remaining one could possibly help them.
But Tony Stark may not be in any condition to help anyone...
Despite a noticeable delay in shipping, Spider-Man #3 still manages to hit the right notes and deliver a fast-paced, emotionally-supercharged experience. The idea of Spider-Man becoming a legacy character and passing his identity down to his heir isn’t a new one (shout-out to Mayday Parker!), but J.J. Abrams and son Henry have found a way to make young Ben Parker a likeable, believable protagonist in his own right. And in doing so, position him perfectly to juxtapose his defeated, emotionally distant father.
Just in time, too, for true horror to strike. Abrams and son waste no time throwing the reader for an extreme loop just a few pages into the story – some might say this came too fast for the story’s sake, but bearing in mind there’s only five issues to work with, we’re at the appropriate midway point of the story. After an emotionally fraught father and son confrontation over Ben’s adoption of the Spider-Man identity, an explosion rocks one page, and then on the next, BAM, readers are greeted with the terrifying sight of Peter Parker impaled on Cadaverous’ blades. (There’s some question as to why spider-sense didn’t alert either of them to the impending threat, though…) It’s a double-whammy that deserves a second look; everything happens so fast readers will feel compelled to flip back a page to make sure they didn’t miss something. Rest assured, they didn’t – and the impact of the visual is just as walloping the second time.
Cadaverous is treated to an origin of sorts as well – and it’s as gruesome as his name implies. Tying it to a mangy, drunken Tony Stark may be a little bit fan service-y, but seeing Iron Man reduced to a guilt-ridden, nigh-useless drunk in the wake of outliving the rest of the Avengers is a (forgive the wordplay) sobering moment. “Never meet your heroes.” And with that, the stage is set for this series to move into its endgame (don’t get too comfortable waiting, though, as issue four has been pushed back to February, and five has no current release date).
Sara Pichelli finally delivers on the promise of her skill this issue. Her visuals are flawless; everything from the conveyance of Ben’s youth to the sad-sack demeanor in Peter’s posture to the horrific nature of Cadaver to the adult savvy of grown-up Riri Williams (don’t call her Ironheart!) hits note-perfect. Whereas previous installments felt like the visuals were a bit rushed, this issue is about as perfect as it comes. The art complements the story wondrously.
Despite the tonal trappings of a horror comic at times, Spider-Man (I wish the Abrams had come up with a less basic title for the series, but I digress) hits a home run on all fronts. Now, if only something could be done about that shipping schedule – alas, the perils of big-name Hollywood talent moonlighting in comics.
Spider-Man continues to be a heartfelt journey into the idea of legacy and the failings of adulthood. If you've stayed away from this one, now's the time to dive in and see what all the commotion is about!
Spider-Man #3 (of 5): Father of the Year (And Other Such Regrets)
Writing - 9/109/10
Storyline - 9.5/109.5/10
Art - 10/1010/10
Color - 9.5/109.5/10
Cover Art - 7/107/10
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