“With Great Power …”

Writer: Roger Stern

Penciler: Lee Weeks

Inker: Lee Weeks

Colorist: Dean White (with Matt Hollingsworth)

“Shed: Prologue”

Writer: Zeb Wells

Penciler: Chris Bachalo

Inker: Chris Bachalo

Colorist: Chris Bachalo

Cover Art: Lee Weeks & Dean White

Be warned – there are SPOILERS ahead!

It’s the earth-shattering conclusion!  Literally!

The Plot

Continuing directly from last issue

As earthquakes continue to rock New York, Spider-Man and the Juggernaut confront Captain Universe.  After an explanation of his origin, the Enigma Force transfers to a new host to deal with the fault problem.

The Good

Lee Weeks hits the trifecta, turning in a third straight gorgeous issue.  This issue, he has to draw surrealistic mindscapes, flashbacks, and underground fault lines, and it never feels forced.  There is a grittiness to his work that is perfect for this kind of story.  His inks are also to be commended here – they’re fluid for the indoor scenes and just rough and jagged enough in the action scenes to convey a sense of power.  This might be my favorite take on Juggernaut.

While I have a lot of problems with the pacing (see The Bad), Roger Stern does a good job of tying this story into his classic “Nothing Can Stop the Juggernaut!”  He ties the origin of Captain Universe into that original story by placing him in the Financial District, which Juggernaut plowed through in The Amazing Spider-Man #229.  We also get an explanation of how Juggernaut freed himself from being buried in concrete, which to my knowledge has never previously been explained.  (He was buried by Spider-Man in The Amazing Spider-Man #230, and his next appearance was in Uncanny X-Men #183, two years later.  And how’s this for symmetry – both of those issues were drawn by John Romita Jr.!)  Stern also writes more quick and jabbing Spidey quips, which is how I like it.  While I wonder about his placement in this story, there’s no denying that this is the Spider-Man we know and love.

There’s even a little call-out for people with sharp eyes and memories: the construction site in which the action takes place is being overseen by Atimor Demolition.  Back in The Amazing Spider-Man #230, the construction site that serves as the battleground for the climax is overseen by Atimor Construction.  That’s a nice touch.  (Atimor, of course, is “Romita” backwards.)

Oh yeah, and seeing Juggernaut as Captain Universe is just really damn cool.

The Bad

I touched on it a bit in my last review, but the fit really hits the shan this issue in terms of pacing.  The entire first half of the issue is a bunch of exposition.  While I appreciate the detailed explanation of the origin and of the source of the earthquakes, and despite Weeks making the exposition interesting to look at, it’s just far too much.  It brings the entire story, viewed as a whole, to a screeching halt.  It’s also a pet peeve of mine – I hate talking heads, and this story brings that to a literal degree that I could have done without.

But there’s a bigger problem: Spider-Man’s role in the story.  For the most part, he’s just standing around like a dope while Captain Universe and the Juggernaut are the main focus.  This speaks to a larger problem with the plot, which is that it evolves into a story that Spider-Man doesn’t belong in.  Spidey is, at his core, a street-level hero.  He beats up dudes with mechanical arms and stops purse-snatchers, and he does it while trying to make sense out of his daily life.  It’s a premise that’s beautiful in its simplicity.  As anybody who listens to Clone Saga Chronicles knows (Yes, I worked in a plug for a podcast I’m on … you want to make something out of it?), I don’t like Spider-Man stories to have an overtly supernatural element to them.  This is one of those stories.  It’s all fine and good to have Spider-Man duke it out with people that have power levels beyond his – after all, “Nothing Can Stop the Juggernaut!” is one of those kinds of stories – but once it turns into a “somebody needs to use the Enigma Force to repair damage to the underlying groundwork beneath Manhattan” story, it’s out of control.

I should also mention the backup.  There, I mentioned it.

The Ug–

What, you want me to discuss the backup?  Why?

It’s so short (4 pages) and insignificant that it doesn’t warrant much discussion.  It doesn’t even boost the cover price.  I can’t bring myself to put “not jacking up the price” into the plus column, but I guess that’s … something.  By the way, has there even been a character running a research lab that ISN’T a jerkass?  That would be a nice change of pace at some point.

**AHEM** As I was saying …

The Ugly

Here’s a quote from Captain Universe Juggernaut, while he’s repairing the faults beneath Manhattan: “These jagged surfaces … I … I caused this … all those months ago.”

MONTHS?!  Are they for real?  Are they trying to tell me that the span between The Amazing Spider-Man #230 and now, which is nearly 400 issues and around 28 years in real time, is only “months” in Marvel time?!  I think we might be going a little far with the whole de-aging thing …

Come to think of it, that entire fault line subplot is pretty preposterous when you consider how long ago Juggernaut caused that damage.

The Bottom Line

This was a lackluster conclusion to what had been a pretty good Spider-Man story.  The art holds this up above sea level, but at the end of the day it’s a big disappointment.  2.5 out of 5 webheads.