Graphic Novel Review: Astonishing Spider-Man and Wolverine

(Panini Books, �12.99)

THE “Astonishing” line of Marvel titles is designed to offer relatively continuity free, self-contained stories featuring the publisher’s most bankable characters, and this release achieves just that with a first-rate team-up between the webslinger and the X-Man which delivers on character just as much as action.

Admirably supported by the artistic talents of the legendary Adam Kubert, Jason Aaron weaves a time-twisting tale which plays to the strengths of both Peter Parker and Logan, celebrating the differences between the two protagonists as well as highlighting their common bonds.

We open with scenes on prehistoric Earth, where a ragged and bearded Spidey has used a cobbled-together telescope to chart the course of an asteroid heading on a collision course for the planet – the same extraterrestrial event which wiped out the dinosaurs. Reluctantly he visits a colony of primitive ape creatures ruled over by Wolverine, ignoring warnings that he does so on risk of death, and confronts his fellow Avenger with the news of the imminent catastrophe.

The narrative then flashes back to present day New York, where the two heroes interrupt a bank robbery only to find themselves catapulted into the past by the power of a mysterious hoard of diamonds. But the Cretaceous Period will not be the only stop on their journey through time, and the consequences of their actions will have ramifications throughout history…

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As the current writer of Wolverine’s main solo series, Aaron obviously has a good handle on the character, but what is evident here is how much more of a grasp he also has on Spider-Man. Whereas many writers ignore Peter Parker’s scientific acumen and portray him merely as a wise-cracking adventurer, Aaron recognises that should the wall-crawler find himself stranded in the past then it would be his knowledge of physics and chemistry he would call on to make life more bearable.

There should be no surprises that two of Marvel’s leading characters don’t end up living out their days in another era, but what is important here is the journey they take and the lessons they learn in doing so, which leaves the reader happily satisfied without the need for continuity-shaking twists at its conclusion.

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Highly recommended.

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