Itsy Bitsy Spiderman

“Mary Jane. Aunt May. Uncle Ben. I couldn’t save any of you. Never had the power. Never could handle the responsibility. When I am buried beside you … will you tell me … why you lied to me? “

SpiderMan ReignChildren’s Rhymes are not for teaching kids about finger counting, neither are they about fun games. Children’s rhymes are about one thing that grown ups try to teach kids (a broken yolk filled body, a starving dog, an old woman and an empty closet)- Pain. And Spiderman-REIGN is certainly about that. This four issue alternate story arc of spiderman features a fifty-something, broken and hallucinating Peter Parker in a city with a military police force called “The Reign”. It shows a totalitarian government with extreme laws and the pitiable conditions of the poor and minority (the different), basically an Orwellian dystopia. The mayor of the city sanctions the creation of an energy cage that allows noone to leave or enter the city, called “The Webb”. Masked vigilantes (super-terrorists as they are called in the series) are banned by the law and are shot on sight. The story starts with a couple children caught by the “Reign-police force” and brutally beaten for doing graffiti and Peter Parker losing his job at a florist shop. Peter then reaches his home and talks to illusions of Mary Jane, and exhibiting the fact that not only he has a completely broken spirit but a broken mind as well. The following panles then show J. Jonah Jameson who was on exile come back to the city and give Peter back his Spiderman costume and urge him to fight against the injustice. The story builds up from this point, and goes ahead to show an all out rebellion and the return of hope into people’s lives.

Spiderman-Reign, has a biblical touch throughout the story, basing on themes of judgement 01and salvation. It show the fall of human empathy in modern times and rise of corporate power. Peter Parker is a man looking for salvation, because he blames himslef for the death of his beloved uncle and aunt and Mary Jane, (since Peter was bitten by a radioactive spider, all of his body fluids became radioactive and the prolonged proximity to him gave Mary Jane cancer.) Her death causes him to lose all his sensibility and he buries his red-n-blue costume along with her. The villain in this plot is the political advisor of the mayor (a corporate devil), who is later revealed to be Eddie Brock (Venom) and the black symbiote is compared to Oil (nudges the brain a bit right?).  The government (controlled by Venom) orders all churches and metallic structures to be demolished for the proper functioning of the Webb. Later on when hordes of symbiote beings come inside the caged city and starts ingesting the population. A group of masked rebels consisting of kids mostly go about ringing a church bell to ward them off. An oil lord controlling a government versus a broken rebel who is reborn and tries to find a reason for his existence and a gonging church-bell reviving hope in people, such profound symbolism continues throughout the four issue series.

This series is said to be inspired from Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns” (even in this comic, significant parts of the plot are revealed by news channels) but according to me, this is many notches above Miller’s work both in terms of the dark and slightly “cartoony” artwork and the plot. Spiderman is probably the most vulnerable and “human” super powered vigilante ever and this story shows that no matter how much pain is inflicted upon him and the innocent they are ever ready to get back up and fight for what’s right.