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Thursday July 9, 2009 2:53 pm

Marvel Comics Review: Amazing Spider-man Annual #36




Posted by David Torres Categories: Reviews, Marvel Comics

AmazingAnnual

Rating: ****

Wow!  Last week I gave a glowing review to Grant Morrison’s Batman and Robin #2 where I used the phrase “wow” to express my appreciation for that issue.  Well, here I am saying “wow” again for Amazing Spider-man Annual #36 because that is exactly how I felt after reading this issue.

I’ve been reading Spider-man on-and-off since the mid-80s.  If the writing was good, I read it, but if it wasn’t I dropped it.  There were three or four monthly Spider-man titles to chose from so I was at least collecting one of them at some point through out the years. In the 90s there was a storyline that will go down infamy as far Spider-man and comics in general: The Clone Saga.  If you’re a comic reader, there is no explanation needed for what was the “Clone Saga”.  I am one of the few people who liked the “Clone Saga” at first, but as time went on the story became a mess and the original planned ending was abandoned due to fan outrage. 

I haven’t read Spider-man for probably over a year now.  I haven’t read it since Marvel Comics committed the sin of the “Brand New Day” storyline which effectively wiped Peter Parker’s marriage to Mary Jane from continuity.  The way in which they did it was atrocious and I refused to buy another Spider-man comic until they reunited Peter and MJ.  Well, I decided to break my promise this once and pick up this issue.  The reason I broke my promise is because of one name: Ben Reilly

As I said before, this was a great issue.  The issue opens up with Peter Parker in Boston to celebrate the engagement of his Aunt May to J Jonah Jameson, Sr.  I heard that they hooked these two characters up, but I didn’t know they were going to get married.  As an engagement gift, JJJ, Sr reunites Aunt May with her family.  The family consists of May’s sister Jan and various cousins who happen to also be super hot. This makes Peter wish he were gay because he has the hots for them.  Very funny scene.

Peter goes to the bathroom and is attacked by a new super-villain called Raptor.  Peter and Raptor crash through the window and fall to the streets.  Peter is able to stick to the side of the building, change into his costume, and then begins to battle Raptor in the streets of Boston.  The writer of this issue is Marc Guggenheim and he does a brilliant job here with the witty Spider-man banter that we all know and love.  Since Peter is in Boston he also has the crowd yelling encouraging things to Spider-man in a Boston accent.  Someone in the crowd even yells, “Jeter sucks!” which we all know can be said by any Bostonian at the drop of a hat.

We assume that Raptor is attacking Peter because he knows Peter is Spider-man, but actually he is attacking Peter because he thinks he’s someone else.  He’s attacking Peter because he thinks Peter is - Ben Reilly!  Now here is where things get tricky for me.  I know after “Brand New Day” Peter Parker’s memories have been changed and he doesn’t remember his past life being married to Mary Jane.  But when Raptor mentions the name Ben Reilly, Peter says that Ben came to town and wrecked his and MJ’s life.  Could this be a mistake in continuity or does Peter remember somethings now about his past.  As I said, I haven’t been reading Spider-man in a while so I don’t know.

In the beginning of the issue, we see Raptor fighting someone in a burning house.  His family is in danger and the person who he seems to think is responsible is the man he’s fighting: Ben Reilly.  Spidey is able to defeat Raptor, but he escapes.  When he returns to NY he looks up the incident and finds a police sketch of the man they think is responsible for the deaths of Raptor’s family.  There is a police sketch of the culprit and the person looks like Peter or in this case Ben.  So what happened?  Was Ben a killer?  Maybe this was another clone and he took the name Ben Reilly to frame him.  Could Kaine have something to do with this?  I loved that character too.  It’d be cool to see him come back as well.

Marvel continues its return to the Clone Saga in a September mini-series entitled “Spider-man: The Clone Saga”.  The series will be written by Tom Defalco and Howard Mackie and it will present the Clone Saga as it was originally to be presented.  I’m looking forward to this.  As I said, I liked the Clone Saga in the beginning and I also wished they never killed off Ben Reilly.  Does all this mean Ben will somehow be resurrected?  With Bucky alive as Captain America and Barry Allen alive as the Flash, why not!  At this point, as long as it’s a good story, who cares.

I highly recommend this issue.  Pat Olliffe provides the art work here and I was a huge fan of his work on Spider-girl.  With all of this Clone Saga talk, I guess I’ll be checking out Spider-man for a while.  I will definitely be picking up the big 600th issue.  If you’re a long time Spidey fan like me and have abandoned the character because of “Brand New Day,” give this issue a shot because it will definitely put a smile on your face.  It’s a fun read and it’s able to stand next to the quality of old Spidey stories from the past.  Go get it!

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