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

“We’re Off on the Road to Morocco…”

Writer: Paul Tobin
Penciler: Patrick Scherberger & Clayton Henry
Inker: Terry Pallot

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch…

The fourth and final chapter of Tobin & Scherberger’s ‘Spider-Man & the Secret Wars’ finds the Marvel Heroes caught in the middle of Doom’s power grab as Galactus fails to consume the Battleworld.  Chaos quickly follows as potent cosmic forces swim around the combatants and Spider-Man and Wolverine are caught directly in it.  Reality shifts (… again) and a ton of robots and aliens show up to get jimmy-kicked like hippies at a Green Beret convention.

Cheers, Jeers and Fears await.  Spoilers below…

The Good

Penciler Patrick Scherberger gets some help for much of this issue from Clayton Henry, who tackles the shifting alternate reality mumbo jumbo that takes place through much of the issue.  While I’ve said before that I do like Scherberger’s art, I’ve also pointed out how his style makes many of the Marvel characters seem too young.  Henry, however, does a fine job of depicting these heroes and villains more as they should appear given the specific period in time in which the Secret Wars occurred.  Early on he gets to deliver the Symbiote Spidey beating the snot out of the Battleworld villains with his cosmic powers.  Storywise this sequence is… well we’ll get to that below.  But speaking on a purely artistic level it was well done and a damn lot of fun to see.  If you ever wanted to know what a Godzilla-sized Spidey looks like punching Galactus in the jaw then this will make you chuckle.

Scherberger turns in good work too and gets to shine when Spidey and Wolverine go toe to toe against an army of robots and alien monsters.  At one point we even see an alien monster that looks like Tundro from the old 60’s Hanna Barbera Herculoids cartoon, complete with the blaster horn thing.  It actually looks a lot like Tundro.  Looks like Tundro so much that when I saw it I actually said “Hey, it’s Tundro!”   Hopefully Hanna Barbera won’t mind.  Oh wait – they’re owned by Time Warner now.  They probably won’t mind though – it’s not like they’re competing with Marvel in any particular market or anything.  Ahem.

Just teasin’.  Hey – they’re two different colors.

The Bad

The art’s fun, sure, but the story itself is a confusing trip into Surrealsville, Population: Us.  And here’s why it doesn’t work for me.   The first two issues of this mini were straight-forward ‘reimagingings’ of specific events that happened during the Secret Wars of the mid-1980’s.  But the last two issues, while covering the same events, morphs between realities and time and all that jazz.  It makes about as much sense as reading an old Marvel G.I. Joe and then suddenly having Snake-Eyes float through ‘Thoughtspace’ with Vertigo’s Sandman & Death stories.

Last issue we had Gwen’s death being repeated – again – and here we get Uncle Ben dying as well.  And hey, more than once.  To the point that it’s played for comedic effect.  And that was groan-worthy.  And while the Wolverine and Spidey stuff is fun to look at the scene starts coming across as Bing Crosby and Bob Hope in one of their old ‘Road To…’ movies.

(Normally this is where you’d see Hope & Crosby singing ‘Road to Morocco’ on the back of a camel via the glorious magic of YouTube.  But WordPress vexes me this night and I can’t get it to work; I think Brad Douglas might be the only one set up to add video links in here.  Yes Brad – that’s a subtle hint to edit this post and add the video in.  So click this link and just pretend, okay? Shhh.)
BD: No prob George


The Ugly

Spider-Man not knowing who Jean Grey was when he saw her during Wolverine’s reality-altering bit.  And the fact that in four, count ’em, four issues we never once got to see perhaps the most epic moment of the Secret Wars from a Spider-Man perspective: Spidey beating up the X-Men in Secret Wars #3.  Seriously?!

Bottom Line It For Me, Berryman!

I admire the effort and I think Tobin, Scherberger (and Henry) are all talented guys.  They’d probably do really well with something like a team book with younger characters.  But this mini has gone from Okay to Sorta Okay t0 Dull to HUH? to ‘What the Hell?’

But the final issue is still a little fun cause of Henry’s omnipotent Godzilla Spidey cold-cocking Galan of Taa.

2.5 out of 5 Webheads

–George Berryman!

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