Spider-Man: With Great Power
by David Lapham, Tony Harris (Marvel Comics, 2008)

I've always been a sucker for the classic Marvel characters, as portrayed in their infancy by the likes of Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, Jack Kirby and the rest of the Silver Age Marvel crew. But no character has intrigued me more than Peter Parker, a.k.a. Spider-Man. That's why I had to check out Marvel's newly collected five-issue miniseries, Spider-Man: With Great Power.

Not a retelling so much as an expansion on the classic origin, Spider-Man: WGP takes place between the time Peter gets bitten by that infamous radioactive spider ("genetic super spider" for those who have only seen the movie) and his Uncle Ben's untimely demise.

The story focuses on his career as a professional wrestler, which turns out to be much longer than in the original version. What is appealing about this story is that writer David Lapham makes Peter relatable to today's teen. From his desire to be considered an adult ("It's Spider-Man. ... I don't want to be kid, lad, or tot anything! I'm all grown up," he tells the wrestling promoter) to his inability to handle the world of grownups, despite his desire, it all rings true. Dialogue, motivations, everything. Lapham also serves up a wonderfully ironic ending, complete with foreshadowing.

The art of Tony Harris is also exceptional. Harris's work is not easily mistaken for that of anyone else. He is highly stylized, incredibly skilled in characterization and one of the best storytellers in comics today. It's a shame that his work was absent from the interiors of the final chapter, but David Lapham (as fine an artist as he is a writer) did a respectable job of maintaining flow, protecting the reader from a serious jolt.

All-in-all, Spider-Man: With Great Power is a worthy addition to the canon, and worth the reader's hard earned lucre. Recommended to all but the youngest of fans.

review by
Mark Allen

13 September 2008

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