Yes, you read that right. "Radioactive Sperm" In what turned out to be one of the most bizarre comics in the Marvel Universe ‘Spiderman – Reign' manages to leave its readers dumbfounded with themselves as well as with the writer and illustrator – Kaare Andrews. It was an obvious rip off of Frank Miller's ‘Dark Knight Returns' which guided to turn the genre on its head and this was not indeed in the same league.
The Industry learned a lot of lessons from the ‘DKR’ although not the right lessons. It had come to a point where it was fashionable to publish ‘Last' stories of iconic characters and Marvel managed to make the most out of this trend by releasing Mini series under the banner ‘The End'. It essentially consisted of stories that offered a closing adventure to a given hero. ‘Daredevil – End of Days' and ‘Spiderman - Reign' all issued under ‘The End'.
‘Spiderman – Reign' by Kaare Andrews gives us a glimpse into the life of an aged Peter Parker. (Marvel could have done better than this) Seemed more of a failed attempt at recreating ‘Dark Knight Returns' for the Marvel fans. It was so as the former lacked the ‘over the top satirical edge' that Frank Miller had in ‘DKR’ which made it what it is today.
Spiderman – Reign failed to recognize how ridiculous and absurd it was. It was a pale imitation of Frank Miller's works set in an Apocalyptic New York city. One could see that Andrews used the same tools and technique of Miller's but only with considerably less skill. The commentary and plot feel very much familiar. Spiderman returning to action in no way compared to that of the triumphant return of Batman in Dark Knight Returns. But, Andrews does acknowledge his influences. They name one of the Initial characters to be brought in as ‘Miller Janson' for the writer/artist and his frequent associate. We also have lower ranked villain reappearing to a Homemade mix tape conveniently named ‘Hypno - 86' this was expected to be a reference to the year that ‘Dark Knight Returns' released on. (desperate much)
This was just the beginning. The real absurdity was with the way that Mary Jane was written off. They diagnosed her with Cancer (Poor old MJ) However the way she contracted cancer was due to Peter Parker and his (UHM how do we put this) bodily fluids which were supposedly Radioactive. This was an absolute abysmal thought that Andrews managed to bring into print. It literally punishes MJ for sleeping with the hero. Mary Jane had no purpose in Spiderman – Reign and primarily served as a motivating factor for Peter. When the death of MJ breaks him it is only thus that he comes to term with it and dons the suit of the friendly neighborhood Spiderman(not so friendly anymore)
Spiderman – Reign has pretty much given up all by this point. There's a sense that it has something relevant to say and thus screams ridiculousness. Characters such as Venom and Doctor Octopus at the end provide somewhat of a relief as to what we can expect in the future. Doc Ock although dead somehow manages to call on his four tentacles whom he referred to as his four sons. They guide Peter Parker to the grave of Aunt May, Ben Parker and yes, Mary Jane’s as well. And thus comes the return of the famous Red and Blue suit that we all know and love. Spiderman – Reign wants to be taken seriously and prove it is adult and edgy as the rest of the comics of that time were. However, it is nowhere close to smart as it thinks it is. It never really did manage to understand its central character and Kaare Andrews failed miserably at this amateur imitation of a more successful and iconic comic.