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Amazing Spider-Man: The Gauntlet

Amazing Spider-Man: Grim and Grit

It's shovel and pail time as writer Fred Van Lente pits Spidey against the Sandman

By Jim Beard

From the earliest days of his career, Spider-Man has possessed a keen respect for beaches-why, you ask? You'd tread lightly too if one of your greatest foes consisted of sand. Lots and lots of sand.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #616 writer Fred Van Lente continues to toss "The Gauntlet" at our favorite wall-crawler on December 23 as he spills the beans on what puts that grainy goon the Sandman over the edge once and for all and back into the depths of criminality.

"Not a lot I can say there without too many spoilers," he cautions. "Suffice it to say Sandman has never had anything resembling a normal life; when he tries to form one, it's Spider-Man who ruins it for him, but it's not like Spidey is doing this for fun. In order to get that 'normality' Sandy has recently committed some of his worse crimes-even if he's not personally aware of them yet."

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #615 variant cover by Joe Quinones
This story promises to spotlight a turning point in the Sandman's career. His on-again-off-again bouts with being a super hero come to end and his long history with Spider-Man comes to a head.

"Sandman just wants to be left alone, and Spider-Man would be more than happy to accommodate him, but he just can't, under the circumstances," says Van Lente. "It's definitely an unwanted confrontation forced on the combatants by larger events."

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #616 also reflects upon Sandman's current mental state, as well as a dramatic change to his malleable and often quite volatile form.

"Sandman isn't really insane or disturbed, he's just a guy with a body made of sand," Van Lente notes. "But he's developed some new powers that have led to mental states-multiple ones-crucial to this story. Let's just say for Sandman the phrase 'the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing' is particularly apt."

"Awesome" hardly begins to describe the Sandman's powers, powers in which Van Lente admits he's found inspiration in a big way.

cover by
Paolo Rivera

"He's definitely, the most powerful we've seen him, at least in the comics," the writer notes. "I was struck by the way he was treated in Sam Raimi's movie 'Spider-Man 3' and wanted to get the giant eight-story tall Sandman into this story. And oh boy, is he ever."

The Gauntlet storyline re-introduces such classic Spidey villains as Electro, the Rhino and now the Sandman. With such a proliferation of the wall-crawler's greatest adversaries flying at him fast and furious one can almost imagine them gathering together over a beer and chuckling at the pain they're bringing their old foe.

"The villains aren't working in tandem-technically-in 'The Gauntlet,'" explains Van Lente. "Although you will see, particularly at the end of Mark Waid's Electro story, that there may be a subtle influence guiding them subconsciously toward attacking Spidey all at once."

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