Hidden Gems of Comics: Mark Millar's SPIDER-MAN

Fans of Millar’s more recent work will know what to expect from this run, while fans of Spider-Man might be initially taken aback by the darker tone, but stick with it and you will be rewarded with a fantastic read.

It€™s an understatement to say that Mark Millar is rough on his characters. Just look at what happens to Dave Lizewski in Kick Ass. Or Bruce Banner in The Ultimates. Or the entire cast of The Unfunnies. So it€™s no surprise that on the second page of issue one of Millar€™s Spider-Man, we find our hero, bloodied and battered, and cowering in a pile of thrash. And this only the start of the misery the crazy Scots man doles out to everybody€™s favourite wall-crawler. Released in 2004 under the Marvel Knights imprint, Millar€™s run comprises the first 12 issues of the series, split into three arcs, €˜Down Among The Dead Men€™, €˜Venomous€™, and €˜The Last Stand€™, but telling one all encompassing story. With art by Terry Dodson and Frank Cho, it finds Peter Parker€™s life turned upside down when a mysterious villain discovers his secret identity. Starting off with the desecration of Uncle Ben€™s grave, the villain€™s plan ramps up with the kidnapping of Aunt May. Also, on top of all this, the Daily Bugle is offering $5 million for any information on his identity. As you can expect, it is quite a dark story that Millar tells. We find Spider-Man at his lowest, his family in danger, his reputation with the public in tatters, and his enemies, almost like they smell his weakness, attacking him with increasing brutality (one fight being completely on sided as the Vulture attacks him in his hospital bed). The wise cracks are still there, it wouldn€™t be Spider-Man without them, but there is hardness behind them. There is a hardness to everything he does, be it arguing with Captain America why unmasking was easier for him because everyone he cares for is already dead, or brutally dealing with Venom by pulling a building on top of him. One thing Millar knocks out of the park with this run is the villains. From the team of Electro and Vulture resting between jobs, to a mind controlled Doctor Octopus cleaning up loose ends for the government, they are all given their own unique voice, and new light shed on their characters. We see Eddie Brock give up the Venom symbiote, hoping that selling it at an auction for super villains and giving the money to charity will buy his way into heaven, having finally seen the error of his ways. The Vulture is given a new motivation for his life of crime in the form of a special needs grandson, the revelation of which sends Spider-Man further down his spiral of guilt, having sent the money for the boy flying across the New York skyline. But it is the Green Goblin that hogs the spotlight. Norman spends the majority of the run behind bars, but is no less threatening. Taunting Spider-Man at every turn, delighting when Parker asks him for help, you can imagine Millar had a blast writing him. Fans of Millar€™s work will know what to expect from this run, while fans of Spider-Man might be initially taken aback by the darker tone, but stick with it and you will be rewarded with a fantastic read. Spider-Man: by Mark Millar The Ultimate Collection will be released on Paperback from December 28th. Previously; Hidden Gems of Comics: Brian Azzarello€™s LEX LUTHOR: MAN OF STEELHidden Gems of Comics: Garth Ennis€™ HITMAN
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