X-Men & Spider-Man: Time's Arrow Book 1: The Past

 Posted: 2004
 Staff: Starving Writer


This book is one of a recent series of novels based on Marvel Comics characters, produced by Marvel Comics/Byron Preiss Multimedia, and published by Putnam. This trilogy is also the first-ever novels to feature a cross-over between Marvel's most popular character, Spider-Man, and Marvel's most popular team, the X-Men.

Story Details

  X-Men & Spider-Man: Time's Arrow Book 1: The Past
Summary: Paperback
Arc: Part 1 of 'The "Time's Arrow" Novel Trilogy' (1-2-3)

In Limbo, Kang the Conqueror has come upon a brand-new plan. He wants to find a timeline with no heroes and where his beloved Ravonna still lives, then wipe out every single other timelines, leaving only the one with Ravonna in it so Kang and Ravonna can live happily ever after. Nice plan, but there's a whole bunch of people who're not going to be hapy with this.

At a museum exhibit of the Civil War era, Peter Parker stumbles over a picture featuring ... Bishop and Peter! He also finds a deactivated spider-tracer. Pondering this puzzle, and promising MJ that he'll be home in time for supper, Spider-Man heads over to the X-Men.

Meanwhile, at the X-Mansion, the X-Men and Cable are having a discussion. Apparently, somebody has shot four "time arrows," which destroys timelines, into the past. So it's up to them to go back in time and destroy the time arrows. After a bit of debate, Spidey and X-Men decides to split up into four teams and go to the various points of history where the time arrows are.

Spider-Man and Bishop head to 1867, where they meet Two-Gun Kid and take on a bunch of robots in a stagecoach.

Wolverine and the Beast head to prehistoric time, where they meet Moon Boy and the Devil Dinosaur, and they have to survive a dinosaur stampede.

Cable and Storm go to medevial England, where they meet the Black Knight, and they have to enter Morgan Le Fey's castle. Oh, and Cable also meets his long-lost love, Aliya, who's tracking down the time arrows too.

Gambit and Iceman end up in the 1940's, where they meet the original Human Torch and Toro.

After the usual hijinks, all four teams destroy the time arrows, and return to their "home." All, that is, except for Spider-Man and Bishop, who ends up transported into a parallel world!

General Comments

I'll be honest here. This was, as far as I'm concerned, the best story to come out of the Marvel novels that's been published over the past few years. It was truly entertaining, and I was just totally digging it on every page. There were a lot of cute and amusing in-jokes that made me chuckle, such as Spider-Ham and "Batman" in the first book, and Forbush Man and White Rabbit in the second book.

The action scenes were all well-written, and kept me eagerly flipping the page, curious to see what would happen next. The characters each really fit their scenes (An example: Beast and Wolverine, both of whom look sightly devolved, were sent to prehistoric time).

It was very easy for me to notice that three different authors wrote the three different books. Book One, for me, was the most pure fun, while Book Two felt the most well-paced. In my opinion, Book Three felt like it lagged a bit, but my stepfather absolutely loved Book Three the most, so what do I know?

I really loved the parallel world shown in Book Two. That version of X-Men were wickedly evil, and it was very interesting to see a version of Spider-Man where everything "goes right" and see how it would've affected how Peter Parker ended up.

The basic plot was very entertaining. I would dearly *love* to see this story done in comic book format. A 12-issues maxi-series, perhaps? Oh, I'd change some things (such as having Spider-Man meet MC2's Spider-Girl, instead of the version in the novel), but this story in comic book format would simply be excellent.

In short, this trilogy was a lot of fun and very well-written. That's why I give this ...

Overall Rating

Five whole webs! Very highly recommended! If you love Spider-Man or the X-Men, walk, nay, run to the bookstore (or go to Amazon.com) and get this ASAP!

 Posted: 2004
 Staff: Starving Writer