The Spider’s Web

Given that Spider-Man has been spinning his webs in comic books for almost 40 years, it's about time the wall-crawler made the leap to the big screen. Besides starring in his own flick this spring, Spidey has his sticky fingers into - appropriately enough - the World Wide Web. With no modem-clogging video or sound, comic books are ideal for the Net, and Marvel Comics has put a few of its monthly titles online. At marvel.com you can find Ultimate Spider-Man, a present-day retelling of how high school student Peter Parker was bestowed with spider powers. There's also a print edition, but you don't have to go looking for it in stores if you miss an issue - every Ultimate issue is archived on the site.

The Times of Big Ben Among fans of Spider-Man's comic-book adventures, the infamous Clone Saga is considered one of the worst. It was certainly one of the longest, stretching from July 1994 to December 1996. At the center of this tangled web was Peter Parker's clone, who called himself Ben Reilly. Ben had spider powers, too, and even tried his own hand at being a super-hero - first as the terribly named Scarlet Spider (whose dime-store costume is shown here), then briefly taking over Spidey's webs with Peter's blessing. After a massive fan backlash, the writers brought back the classic Green Goblin to knock off Ben so Pete could return as Spider-Man for good. The tedious, meandering, and contradictory ordeal left a sour taste in the mouths of many Spider-fans, and finally two of the creative team behind the storyline have come forward to explain just what the hell happened. Their serialized online column is almost as long as the Clone Saga itself, but you may find some meaning in "The Life of Reilly" at www.grayhavenmagazine.com.

Swingin' with Spidey Spider sense tingling - there's nostalgia close by! After being out of print for 25 years, Spider-Man: Rock Reflections of a Superhero has returned to record stores. Don't expect to find the theme from the classic TV series here - this CD is an eclectic mix of '70s pop, swing, and doo-wop tunes with lyrics that probe the theme of Peter Parker's double life. Legendary comics guru and Spider-Man creator Stan Lee provides some background narration between songs, which are often so outrageous - one tune is sung by Dr. Octopus! - that you'll laugh yourself silly. Add a cool cover painting by Golden Age Spidey artist John Romita, Sr., and you can't miss.


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