Marvel and JJ Abrams’ Spider-Man story feels kind of exhausted.

On Wednesday, September 18th, Marvel released the JJ Abrams and Son Spider-Man collaboration. It tells the tale of an alternate universe Spider-Man where the down on his luck Peter Parker just cannot win and honestly, the book just in general tells a story we’ve seen and read and heard a million times. I’m about to delve deep into spoiler territory so if you want to back out now, here’s your opportunity to do so. If you’ve read it or just don’t care, feel free to proceed.

The book starts off immediately with the stakes set very, very high. Spider-Man is covered rubble, his suit is torn in many places with his mask revealing half of his face but most importantly, his right was crushed by the debris and it’s bloody and it’s absolutely useless. Mary Jane is in the thick of it hoping she can help him out until they’re quickly attacked by a brand new villain, a cyborg known only as Cadaverous. Spider-Man is swarmed by his robotic minions and Mary Jane gets impaled by Cadaverous. Using the last of his energy, Spider-Man breaks free and catches Mary Jane’s corpse after Cadaverous carelessly throws it aside and off the bridge, a move Spider-Man has had to do far too many times now.

With no further explanation on the matter, Spider-Man escaped and lived to bury Mary Jane. It’s revealed the two had a child a little red headed boy whom they named Ben. What follows is a time skip where the reader is brought twelve years into the future and Peter has all but abandoned his role as Spider-Man and become an absent father by burying himself into his work at the Bugle. Peter travels the world, occasionally stopping in while Aunt May raises another Parker. Peter’s son, Ben, is revealed to be an angsty teen who gets into fights at school and has a horrible relationship with his father. Peter tries to persuade him to keep his head down but that only drives Ben further away. Later, Ben experiences a bloody nightmare featuring Mary Jane which cause his Spider-related powers to bloom and Ben wakes up hanging from the ceiling. Thankfully, the ever caring Aunt May helps him down and guides Ben to a box underneath the floorboards where he learns all about Peter’s alter-ego and the book ends.

I understand Marvel and it’s infinite universes quite well and all the variations of Marvel’s characters that reside within them but even then, Peter’s actions just feel incredibly out of character. Even with the death of Mary Jane and the loss of his arm, you’d assume Peter would try to be a better(or more at least more present) father after he abandoned his Spider-Man alter ego. Despite all that he’s lost, family has always been important to Peter and taking that away from him feels just plain wrong although I do understand where his anger comes from. He just kind of comes off as a dead beat dad so far. As for Ben, he just feels like another version of Annie, Peter and MJ’s daughter from “Renew Your Vows”. If I’m being honest, the first chapter as a whole just feels more like a “What if” version of when that book was a “Secret Wars 2” mini-series. Cadaverous himself just feels like another version of the power stealing Regent, especially considering that the only panels you see him in afterwards have an eerily similar atmosphere. It also doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense how Spider-Man got away since Cadaverous just about nearly killed him in the beginning. Hopefully that will be expanded upon later on as the story unfolds.

All in all, I feel I have to admit that I really do like the book. The artwork is great and while it’s got a solid narrative, it just delves into familiar territory and tells an already tired story that we’ve been told a hundred times without taking much risk. Marvel spent a lot of time building up Cadaverous before the book released but he honestly plays a really small role after his initial appearance in the beginning of the book where he set the stage for the rest of the mini series. By the time I finished the book it reminded me of the Future Trunks story line from “Dragon Ball Z” without the post apocalypse theme and one armed Peter isn’t in a mentoring role to Ben like one armed Gohan was to Trunks. Even the villain is a cybernetic being who seems hell bent on getting Spider-Man.