Current Reviews


Spider-Man: Reign #4 (of 4)

Posted: Monday, March 19, 2007
By: Dave Wallace

Writer: Kaare Andrews
Artist: Kaare Andrews, with Jose Villarrubia

Publisher: Marvel Comics

The final issue of Reign arrives, and whilst it isn't the runaway success that many fans hoped for, it provides a solid enough ending to Kaare Andrews' series that readers of the previous three issues shouldn't be disappointed. Spidey prepares his final assault on Venom, and the populace of New York is motivated to react against their own totalitarian government, giving Andrews the chance to finish his limited series with a bang whilst dangling the possibility of Spider-Man's demise in front of the reader. It's testament to Andrews' skill as a writer and artist that he can create a dark, brooding mood which convinces us that this could really be the last Spider-Man story, and it makes the character's triumphant successes all the more poignant when they eventually come. If nothing else, Andrews has proved with this series that he "gets" Spidey, with the trademark groan-inducing humour and wacky, colourful costume contrasting with the dull grey of Andrews' future New York to emphasise the qualities that make the character so enjoyable and inspiring to read.

However, there are a couple of wrinkles in this final issue which work against the greater story that Andrews has been telling over the course of the series. Whilst it's impossible to know exactly how the shape of Andrews' idea for the book has evolved since its original conception, I can't help but feel that Marvel editorial must have meddled with it somewhere, as there are one or two last-minute developments here which seem to have been shoehorned in rather than evolving naturally from earlier plot points. The revelations concerning Sandman's daughter seem to come out of nowhere, and the villain's importance to the story seems to increase very suddenly, at the expense of a satisfying resolution to a number of other plot threads and a solid conflation of the overall themes of the book. Considering the way this series has been touted as a unique vision of Spidey's future from Andrews, it seems uncannily similar to the upcoming movie in some significant ways, and these apparent concessions to Marvel's greater marketing strategy are distracting enough that they detract slightly from the elegance of Andrews' final issue.

Still, on its own terms, this issue provides a fitting end for Andrews' story which offers a final note of hope and optimism without selling the dystopian atmosphere of the book completely short with any quick and easy change to the series' status quo. Andrews shows off the strengths of Spidey's character by pitting him against near-unassailable odds and putting him through more fight scenes in one issue than most writers manage in a complete story arc, and it's difficult not to root for the sheer indefatigability of the aged Peter Parker as he meets the challenge of his greatest villains and succeeds. In the absence of Spider-Man: The End, this series will do just as well, and I'm looking forward to seeing what Andrews does next - both as a writer and artist - as this book has shown just how much potential the creator has.

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