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'Spider-Man: Reign 2' #1 is dark, blunt-force Spider-Man

Comic Books

‘Spider-Man: Reign 2’ #1 is dark, blunt-force Spider-Man

Spider-Man Reign 2 is the start of a very scary nightmare that only Spider-Man can turn into a dream.

The first issue of Spider-Man: Reign 2 is out today after its very announcement shocked the world late last year. A sequel to what has to be one of the most culturally shocking Spider-Man stories ever, if not in all of comics, Kaare Andrews returns to carry forward Peter Parker’s story of utter loss, being pushed to the brink and fighting a fascist state. The second issue hits the ground running with a dark look at a New York City that hasn’t had Spider-Man for some time as Kingpin hatches a plan that will shock the world. What’s left of it, anyway.

To say Spider-Man: Reign 2 #1 is nihilistic is an understatement. If this first issue had a mission statement, it would be to put Spider-Man in his darkest and lowest place ever, along with the citizens of New York City, with the hope that he can find the motivation to fight back. The notion of “with great power comes great responsibility” is fighting for its life in this first issue as Spider-Man can’t even wake from a fever dream induced on him.

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Spider-Man: Reign 2 #1 opens with Kingpin dragging himself out of the darkness from the rubble of the Empire State Building. The last series ended with Spider-Man blowing it up and hopefully taking out his greatest enemies, but Kingpin has survived. He’s hurt, but soon, he’s eating a living human to get his strength back. If that sounds animalistic, it should be because Kingpin is like a giant beast from mythology in the way he’s inhuman. His new focus isn’t to rule New York but to be its king. Andrews positively nails the Kingpin characterization and visuals.

EXCLUSIVE Marvel preview: Spider-Man: Reign 2 #1

How we find Spider-Man.
Credit: Marvel

After a rather creepy intro to Kingpin, we’re introduced to a much older Peter Parker who is happy with Mary Jane. Something feels off, and soon, spiders are crawling all over him and their friends. We soon learn Spider-Man is tethered to a series of tubes, keeping him alive with a VR headset on. He’s a prisoner and living his “best life,” only he’s shriveled and weak. As it turns out, being with MJ is what he wants, and he’d rather live in that fantasy than be awake. Enter a woman in a cat costume rushing to break him free.

So begins Spider-Man’s foggy start as a superhero again as he leaps, swings, and dodges attacks from the prison he was held in. Andrews makes it clear Peter likes being able to swing again–he seems to not want to be dead or buried at least–which is some hope for him to return as a hero.

Andrews’ art, with Brian Reber on colors, is quite good. The visuals have an old-school feel thanks to Andrews’ old-school style, which uses clear pen and ink. The design of Kingpin is awe-inspiring, and while it’s a bit odd to see Spider-Man in his underwear, you certainly can’t say these visuals look like everything else. The very idea of long bears popping out from under Spider-Man’s mask is ridiculous, yet given the over-the-top nature of some of what is in this book, it works.

The biggest success of this issue is setting up the very scary Kingpin and the very scary world around them. This place is horrific, a prison in some sense, with infrastructure crumbling and a possible doomsday for everyone coming. This helps raise the stakes and further proves that people need Spider-Man more than ever.

Another element that works is seeing familiar characters pop in and see how Andrews gives them a dark twist. Aside from the cat woman, a major villain pops up, and there’s a major hero. Seeing how they look and act differently is interesting, and it’s a good Elseworlds story for those reasons.

That dark tone bleeds a bit into some uncomfortable bits, like the cat woman forcing a kiss on Spider-Man that feels a bit rapey, and the overall tone is darker than most anything Marvel puts out. It makes it feel almost too different from what we read at Marvel.

Spider-Man Reign 2 is the start of a very scary nightmare that only Spider-Man can turn into a dream. This is a techno fever dream of sci-fi futuristic action with social commentary edging on a profound sensory experience. This is dark, blunt-force Spider-Man.

'Spider-Man: Reign 2' #1 is dark, blunt-force Spider-Man
‘Spider-Man: Reign 2’ #1 is dark, blunt-force Spider-Man
Spider-Man: Reign 2 #1
Spider-Man Reign 2 is the start of a very scary nightmare that only Spider-Man can turn into a dream. This is a techno fever dream of sci-fi futuristic action with social commentary edging on a profound sensory experience. This is dark blunt force Spider-Man.
Reader Rating0 Votes
0
There's nothing like this visually with Kingpin and the city taking center stage
Nihilistic as it sets up one of the darkest holes for Spider-Man to free himself from
Packs in some social commentary for good measure
At this stage Spider-Man is a bystander, a surrogate for the reader, and not quite himself
Way darker than you might expect
8.5
Great
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