Who is Cadaverous?  And what does his appearance mean for our friendly neighborhood Wall-Crawler?  Your Major Spoilers review of Spider-Man #1 awaits!


Writer: J.J. Abrams & Henry Abrams
Artist: Sara Pichelli
Colorist: Dave Stewart
Letterer:VC’s Joe Caramagna
Editor: Nick Lowe
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $4.99
Release Date: September 18, 2019

Previously in Spider-Man:  Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson are about to meet the villainous Cadaverous for the first time.

Will they survive?


We open in the wreckage of Brooklyn, as Spider-Man regains consciousness after a crushing defeat by… something. It’s only the voice of Mary jane Watson that brings him out of it, only to be immediately confronted by someone I can only assume is Cadaverous, who begs for his help. Spider-Man is quickly overwhelmed by minions of the villain and has to watch as Mary Jane is impaled from behind and thrown from the bridge. We get to see her funeral, including a Peter Parker who has lost an arm (the sight of his shattered bones sticking out of his flesh is both gross and effective.) Peter is devastated by his loss, to the point that he doesn’t even seem to realize that he’s not alone at MJ’s grave: He’s standing with their son. Smash-cut to twelve years later, with young Ben Parker going about his average high school day. When he tries to stop one of the school bullies, he ends up punching the kid through a door and into the next room, a moment which gets him detention. When Peter arrives to pick him up, Ben is both surprised to see his Dad and angry that he’s been absent, but it’s Aunt May who shows him the truth about why he’s sudden having issues with super-strength and sticking to walls.


For months now, the only promotional image from this series has been the Coipel drawing of Spider-Man and Mary Jane that serves as this issue’s cover, so I was sort of expecting this to be a story that drew on their on-again, off-again relationship. This made her sudden death even more annoying to me (though the use of “dead mom” to catapult a new teenage hero on his way to something something is pretty shopworn anyway), which put the issue off on a sour note for me. Once we get into the meat of things, Ben’s realization that he’s suddenly getting super-powers, the story works better for me, but I have to say: It’s nothing new. There’s a very cinematic tone to the construction of this book (which is to be expected, given the co-writer) but that works against the issue as well, since what might make for a new and different movie script is par for the comics course. I do enjoy Sara Pichelli’s art throughout the issue, as she provides a grounded, real feel for May’s house and the halls of Ben’s high school while making the combat sequences feel crazy and dangerous. Even though I don’t like the fact that they impale MJ, the actual shot of it happening is somehow beautiful, with a progression of panels that emulate a slow-motion death scene (and you can almost hear the eerie horns that would accompany it in live-action.)


When it comes to comics, there are literally hundreds of characters who pop up and are immediately the MOST TERRIBLE thing our hero has ever faced, but Cadaverous is barely even a presence in this story (and his visual resembles a cross between H.R. Giger’s xenomorphs and Marvel’s own Penance costume) and the idea of a kid suddenly getting super-powers and having to deal with it is equally familiar. This means that Spider-Man #1 is just another Spider-Man story, albeit one with some strong, emotionally engaging art, earning a still better-than-average 3 out of 5 stars overall. For new readers who might be drawn to the book based on the J.J. Abrams name, it could be a gateway to wanting more Spidey, but if you’ve been around the block, even just a time or two, this book will feel awfully familiar.

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We've Seen This Before

Sara Pichelli does a great job on the art, but the story is both very familiar and remarkably basic.

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Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.

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