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Childhood's End
Arthur C. Clarke
Brian Michael Bendis, Olivier Coipel
Scrivener's Moon - Audio
Philip Reeve
Spider-Men - Sara Pichelli, Brian Michael Bendis So it's a gimmick book. There's no other way to describe a reality hopping adventure that allows two different versions of Spider-Man to meet: Peter Parker from the original Marvel universe and Miles Morales from the Ultimate universe. It's a gimmick, the sort of thing that's usually meant to drive up sales. It doesn't need to be good. It doesn't need to have heart. And yet, against all odds, Spider-Men is good, and it does have a heart.

But I might be biased at this point. I've become a big fan of what Bendis has done with the Ultimate Spider-Man title, so I was predisposed to like this. I expected that I would. I expected that it would be fun to see Bendis write an older, more mature Peter Parker and to let young and inexperienced Miles Morales see that being Spider-Man can be a long term deal. And I did get that. Peter and Miles worked great together, and I would've been happy to have this miniseries stretch out a few more issues, just to get to see them taking on a few more villains together. It was fun, a lot of fun, and that was all I could have hoped for from a miniseries like this.

So far, so good. And then Peter goes and does the one thing that I should have expected him to do: he goes to see Aunt May. Now, this could have been overwrought, but it wasn't. No copious weeping here. Instead, the visit ends up being mostly happy for Peter, who gets to see a version of Gwen Stacy who is alive and well, and for May, who gets to see her boy grown up into a man she can be proud of. There's that heart I was talking about. Issue #4 is mostly taken up with that meeting, and it is by far the best of the miniseries.

It isn't all fabulous. The main villain, Mysterio, never really comes across as a credible threat. Frankly, I just can't take the guy seriously. There's never any doubt in my mind that Tony Stark will fix everything, so there's no tension that Peter will wind up stranded in a world where he's officially dead. That's a relatively minor thing, though, because Mysterio himself doesn't take up that much panel space. This isn't about him, it's about Peter and Miles. Also, I could have done myself a favor and read this a little later on. I'd only read the first collection with Miles, and I probably should have read at least through the second, if not the third.

Yes, it's still a gimmick book. I'm not claiming it's anything but. But for a gimmick book, it's very well-written, with the characters themselves at center stage.