Spider-Man & The Secret Wars #2 (of 4) Review

“If It’s Not Broke…”

Writer: Paul Tobin
Penciler: Patrick Scherberger
Inker: Terry Pallot

When Last We Met…

The second installment of Spider-Man & the Secret Wars was out awhile back and I am late with the reviews of this issue and with #3 (which is coming tomorrow).  I can only plead work in my defense and throw myself on the mercy of the court of Spidey-fandom.

I get what Tobin & Scherberger are going for here.  I really and truly do.  It’s like they’re trying to find a mesh of how the original Secret Wars went down and *ahem* ‘marry that’ with all the recent character devolution that’s taken place in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man in the last couple of years.  Or in other words trying to find a way to make the Spider-Man of the original Secret Wars seem less seasoned and responsible (or in Marvel Speak “old and dying”) and more immature and annoying (or in Marvel Speak “young and fresh.”)  Anyone reading Spider-Man for more than ten years knows better and anyone who might pick up the original Secret Wars in trade paperback or back issues after having read this mini-series first might find “the Two Peters” a jarring contrast.  Spoilers below…

The Good

Tobin’s story is, at its core, light-hearted and well intentioned.  In this age of Spider-Man’s drunken/non-drunken hook-ups or Chameleon rape/non-rape (or in Marvel Speak “All Ages”) such a story can be refreshing.  Tobin does well here remembering the time from which the original story came from – a time far different than today, when shock value was underplayed and usually passed over for just having a good story.  So kudos to Tobin for not having one of the alien creatures eating heads off the citizens of Denver or for having Doom scream at people about them being whore-hearted, cow-mouthed furniture la Bendis.  It’s kind of sad that I have to commend a writer for not falling into the traps of today’s Marvel but it is what it is.  And Tobin does a good job crafting this story the way it might have been told over 25 years ago.

Scherberger’s art is more enjoyable here than last issue since he’s not dealing with nearly as many superheroes as before.  I like his work but he does tend to make everyone look too young, and here the only characters we’re really seeing are Spidey, Ben Grimm (in normal human form), Dr. Doom and Reed Richards in hologram.  Everything flows fine art wise except for Grimm’s hair, which made me think he belonged more in Gen 13 than in the Fantastic Four.

The Bad

In my review of the first issue I wrote about Spider-Man’s personality being off in this story, and that continues here.  There’s glimpses of how it should be, but only glimpses (Spider-Man thanking Dr. Doom for saving a child, for instance).  But he still comes across more as a rookie kid than the seasoned hero he was during the original Secret Wars story and for someone who has read the Secret Wars and who knows how Spider-Man was being written in his monthlies when the Secret Wars first came out this is all very distracting and off-putting.  And when Spider-Man’s the main focus of the story this is a big problem.  It’s listening to the wrong-headed Tom Brevoort notion of Spider-Man being about “youth” more than responsibility and taking it too far.  But then that seems to be the norm for anything Spider-Man related these days.

Also – they’re in Denver.  Where’s the Julia Carpenter Spider-Woman?  The entire point of having Denver in the Secret Wars was allow a way for the new Spider-Woman, Titania and Volcana to come into the story and by extension the Marvel Universe.  Titania and Volcana are here (in their non-powered alter egos) but Spider-Woman’s a no-show.  That’s lost potential.

The Ugly

Seriously – do we need to see Spider-Man screaming out “FOR DENVER–!” in this?  It comes across as artificial and out of place.  It’s like he’s trying to imitate Mel Gibson in ‘Braveheart’ while defending the city.

Bottom Line It For Me, Berryman!

Tobin gets more wiggle room this time around dealing with a new story set within the original.  So it’s fresh and new but the fact that Spider-Man’s being presented as Marvel thinks he should be rather than as he actually was from this time period drags it down.  Way down.  It’s becoming almost a caricature.

2 out of 5 Webheads

–George Berryman!

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