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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The stoy that saved Spidey from extinction!, 12 May 2006
R. Wood "ryecroftwood2" - See all my reviews
This review is from: Amazing Spider-Man: Coming Home Vol. 1 (Paperback)
This story came about when everyone's friendly neighbourhood wall-crawler was dying. And by that, I mean that Marvel's greatest character was being disgracefully portrayed as the most unpopular, ineffective and tiresome hero that Stan Lee had ever created.

To elaborate further, when Spider-Man 1 was about to hit the cinema, Marvel wanted to introduce newer fans to their biggest star. As a result, they decided to relaunch the mainstream Spider-Man and have Howard Mackie write all the stories, which were terrible at best. Sales were diminishing rapidly and the main comic had to take a backseat to the Ultimate retelling of Spidey's adventures.

Finally, Marvel made the decision to save their flagship title by bringing in J. Michael Straczynski, former writer of Babylon 5, in to write for Amazing Spider-Man.

Having been subjected to Howard Mackie's tired, clichéd, drivelling stories for so long, I welcomed JMS taking over the title with open arms. And as soon as you start reading the first page, you understand immediately why JMS was just right for the job. He's captured the personality of Peter Parker perfectly, and writes the entire story with the first-class humour, courage, kindness and decency that everyone expects from the Spider-Man character.

After Mackie's mess of things, Spidey (at the time of this story) is separated from Mary Jane, and has now moved into a brand new apartment. When out swinging one night, Spidey encounters a stranger called Ezekiel, a seemingly average old man with powers identical to Spidey's own. In the encounters that follow, Peter begins to question the nature of his origin and his powers like never before.

Now, attempting to shake up Spidey's world like Straczynski has done, would usually incite the wrath of so many fans for daring to drastically alter what Stan Lee's creation is all about, but thankfully, JMS handles this whole mystical dive business with such grace and care. Instead of trying to shake up Spider-Man in a way that brings more harm than good, JMS portrays the character in a completely different light. One that's never been used before, which again, is a very risky venture, but when handled properly, like JMS has done, can be refreshing in a very enjoyable way.

Of course, what this all leads to, is perhaps the most brutal fight of Spidey's life, when he comes face-to-face with the story's main villain, Morlun, who in my opinion is the best Spider-Man villain since Carnage. Unlike JMS' later villains, or the ones that were spawned out of the clone saga, Morlun is truly one of the most brilliant villains to have ever been thought of, and is more than deserving of having a permanent place in Spidey's rogues gallery.

The reason why I think so highly of Morlun is because of his originality. Over the years, Spider-Man has fought so many costumed villains with different gimmicks, yet Morlun is just a seemingly normal, well-dressed guy that just shuts up and fights. He states that he doesn't have any personal vendetta against Peter, yet says that he has to kill him simply to stay alive. He even says that he finds Spider-Man amusing which is the complete opposite of how any Spidey foe would react. Needless to say, the whole situation rattles the wall-crawler like never before, and that, along with so many other things, makes this story arc compelling reading.

Straczynski has written this whole story with a great sense of realism. Whenever a new villain arrives on the scene, it can be so difficult to accept that he/she can be a serious threat to a hero that has proven himself again and again for over forty years, but Morlun is as dangerous as they come and when he's beating Spidey to within an inch of his life and shrugging off everything the web-head can dish out, it's done in a way that is completely believable. As a result, it really makes you feel for Spidey, as this could possibly be his end at long last. Even though we all know that's not true, the events here indicate that it could very well be.

Another merit for JMS' record is how he uses Peter Parker and all the other supporting characters. For instance, JMS develops Peter by making him a high school teacher, which was a brilliant idea, both in theory and in practice, as it takes him beyond being a student/part-time photographer and get more in touch with his human side as he helps school kids whilst remembering his roots at the same time.

As well as introducing two brilliant additions (Ezekiel and Morlun) to the Spider-Man universe, JMS does a brilliant job with writing Aunt May. I'm being honest when I say that I never ever liked the Aunt May character. It was just irritating, and it was a phenomenally bad mistake to resurrect her after her supposed death, just to subject everyone to her again, completely unchanged. Yet, JMS makes a very good thing out of a very bad thing by reinventing her as a strong-willed, determined, supportive individual. JMS has made me love the character now, by actually making her purposeful instead of a plot device, which is something I never thought could happen.

And then, there's the ending to this saga, which naturally is a shock, and changes Spidey's life forever. Again. But unlike the changes of the past, this development is for the better, and has produced more quality stories like never before.

One last thing to say about Spider-Man: Coming Home is the art work. John Romita Jr. is at his best here, and really brings everything JMS has written to life. He really excels here and will win anyone over as one of the best artists around.

In closing, Spider-Man: Coming Home is a faultless classic. That's a big thing to say but it's absolutely true. If you're looking for a fairly recent graphic novel that features Spidey at his best, look no further than right here.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Perfect Storytelling, 2 Jun. 2003
G. Buckland (U.K.) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Amazing Spider-Man: Coming Home Vol. 1 (Paperback)
I'm a huge fan of the super hero genre, but must confess to never having bought a comic in my life (save the one's bought for me by elderly relatives when I was ill as a kid). This hasn't stopped me from becoming a fan of many of Marvel's characters, Spidey being one of my favourites. I caught a few of the issues this book collects when they were published by Marvel on their website, and was immediately impressed by the involving art, but most of all by the writing. The fact that this storyline reads so much like a great episode of a TV series is down to the credentials of the writer J. Michael Straczynski, who's credits include Babylon 5 (self-depricatingly refered to in this graphic novel) among others. Marvel has evidently been recruiting respected writers for their flagship titles, and if this is the result then it's an approach that's paid dividens. JMS uses all the tricks he's learned in writing award-winning TV and transfers them beautifully into a comic book. There's witty dialogue, intrigue, mystery, an involving story and a real sense of danger that makes you fear for our hero's life when he finally engages the story's villian in a series of brutal battles. Spider-Man's vunerability has always been one of his most appealing qualities - it's hard to root for Superman when you know hardly anything can hurt him -but beneath his tattered costume, nursing broken bones and oozing blood, the price Spidey pays in fulfilling his responsibilities is made starkly clear. JMS really plays up the everyman appeal of Spider-Man - he's what you or I would be like as a superhero if we were ever bestowed with such gifts. This is what makes this graphic novel such an enjoyable read. No matter how fantastic the story may become, no matter how ridiculous the idea of a grown man dressed in spandex fighting crime may be, our hero is grounded in reality by some top class writing which makes us root for him all the more. In short, this is great stuff, and any fan of the character will find it utterly absorbing. Interestingly, this novel also contains the 9-11 issue in which Spidey and a few other superheros visit ground zero. As crass as this sounds, it's actually a restrained, even moving, piece that avoids patriotic flag-waving in favour of a thoughtful reaction to the events.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A good, solid tale, 23 Feb. 2013
This review is from: Amazing Spider-Man: Coming Home Vol. 1 (Paperback)
A good solid read. Spidey cracks some good jokes, Spidey fights some good fights, Spidey makes a good ally. Nice and solid but perhaps not special!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Converts Review..., 2 Jan. 2012
This review is from: Amazing Spider-Man: Coming Home Vol. 1 (Paperback)
WARNING!! This Review May Contain Spoilers

Spider-Man has never been my faveourite super hero. I watched the animated series when I was a kid and had read some of the Lee/Ditko/Romita Sr stories, as well as some of the Todd McFarlane issues in the late '80's/early '90's, but he always played second fiddle to the likes of Daredevil, the X-Men, Batman and the Fantastic Four. But 3 months, inspired by re-watching the first two of Sam Raimi's movies, ago I started reading Bendis's Ultimate Spidey and, having enjoyed them immensely, decieded to check out the main title. After scouting round on amazon, I decieded to start with this.

Coming Home is a truly great read, and a great jumping off point for anyone who wants to read a Spidey novel, but still appeals to the veteran fan (judging by other reviews). J Michael Straczynski's (of Babylon 5 fame) take on our Friendly Neighbourhood Spider-Man feels refreshingly modern and relevent, even nearly 10 years after it was first printed. He starts with a new villain, Morlun, who reminds me a liitle of Morbius (in the animated series anyway) in the way of not wearing a costume and looking genuinely creepy. A snappy-dresser, he is also a man of few words, which for a character with a rich history of villains monologueing, is nice.

Not to be forgotten is John Romita Jr's fantastic art (something I was famillily with through Kick-Ass, Daredevil: The Man Without Fear etc.) which brings Spidey spinning out of the page and into your living room/Bed room/other place of reading etc. There is really nothing more to say about other than it is phenomenal.

A great read, Coming Home is well worth buying for both Spidey veterans and Newby's like me.

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Amazing Spider-Man: Coming Home Vol. 1
Amazing Spider-Man: Coming Home Vol. 1 by J. Michael Straczynski (Paperback - 5 May 2002)
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