Thanks to Carlie no doubt, Reed Richards has seemingly found a way to revert the super powered citizens of New York back to their normal selves. But as Spidey soon finds out, it may already be too late!
Spider-Island Part 3: ARACNATOPIA
Illustrated by H. RAMOS
Inked by C. CUEVAS
Colored by E. DELGADO
Lettered by VC’S. J. CARAMAGNA
Read by U. READER
THE PLOT: As the invesitgation for how the people of New York gained Spider-Powers is conducted by Officer Carlie Cooper and her plucky boyfriend sidekick Peter Parker (secretly known as the Amazing Spider-Man), Reed Richards figures out the origins of how the city was infected through mutated bed bugs. His solution involves giving everyone a low-level mutagen to counteract the Spider-Powered genes, cancelling out everyone’s abilities.
LONG STORY SHORT: Spider-Man and Carlie are set upon by the Shocker, who reveals to not only have Spider-Powers himself but is in the process of turning into a bonafide Man-Spider as well! As Carlie undegoes the same transformation, we see that the mastermind behind the whole scheme is none other than fan-favorite Paul Jenkins character from Spectacular Spider-Man…THE QUEEN!
MY THOUGHTS: This issue continues the trend of being better than the last, and with the distraction of the big Spider-Island fight over and done with, I’m now having fun with this. The series is becoming more of a mystery than a sensationalistic summer blockbuster, which makes the book more interesting, as well as surprising in some places. There were a lot of things I liked about this issue, and they began at the very top so let’s get started.
Right at the beginning, I geeked out when I saw Scorcher, Chance and the White Rabbit. Okay, it was mainly the Scorcher who I squealed at. He was one of the stand out villains created in Untold Tales of Spider-Man, and as that was some of the first Spidey comics I read as a grade schooler, it was a treat seeing him here again. Pairing him up with Chance and the White Rabbit was an odd choice, but just because they are so D-list you wonder what the point of it was. At the same time, that’s the fun of D-list villains, you can pop them in a book with very little consequence.
What was also great to see was Peter having his “THIS ENDS NOW!” moment, and pulling a Hyper Combo Finish on all three bad guys in the span of a few seconds. In the last issue we saw Peter getting fed up with being lead nose during the whole Spider-Island event, and here’s where we get to see some righteous pay off from it. One, because it’s awesome to see Spidey take it to bad guys every now and then. Two, because it shut Carlie up. This whole arc has really made her insufferable in my eyes, which in fairness is logical because a cop with superpowers probably would be. It’s not a fault of the writing, it’s the fact of story. I just don’t have to like it.
This is where we get the whole “Does Carlie suspect” aspect of the plot that we should have gotten several issues ago. I personally like it because it adds much needed tension in this relationship, as well as make Carlie out to not be a total dope. I do wish by this stage in Peter’s life as Spider-Man, he would have ready-to-go excuses for how he wouldn’t be Spider-Man, but that’s not immediately necessary. I did also like the Jackal total shellacking of the incident by suggesting hijinks will ensue, and how he doesn’t prefer Carlie to Gwen at all. I like how the Jackal’s been written by Slott, because he’s the one character I feel in this current era who is 100% the same as when we last saw him in the Clone Saga, personality-wise. For those who haven’t read, the Jackal really was this wise-cracking, pop culture referencing motormouth who would make fun of everything going on with the heroes.
Truth be told, not a lot happens in the middle of the issue that’s really worth going over. It’s more of the same that occurred last issue, with scenes of MJ, Venom and Anti-Venom. I will say that the worst aspect of the book for me was the J. Jonah Jameson scenes. I know Slott can write him well because I loved how he was written in ASM #555 and #556. At the same time, this cartoonish, over-the-top hyper-animated Jameson really grates on me. I can’t say it’s out of character because that’s what the character is known for. Perhaps it’s the context. Ramos has him screaming, hooping and hollering all over the scene with Reed Richards, and it literally attacks you on the page. I understand the mindset going into writing such a portrayal, but the fact is that Jameson chews that scenery up and spits it out like nobody’s business. It was obnoxious.
Ramos’ art here is something to discuss, because I’m starting to lose a sense of consistency with each issue. The last issue looked great, but the issue before that felt a bit rushed and less clear visually. Here, I think there was an over-reliance of same facial expressions. Too many times, characters had their mouths open and looked as though they had buck teeth. It’s all over the book really, and if that struck out to me here then it makes me wonder what about the twice monthly schedule does to an artist of Ramos stature. I’ve not seen repetitive facial expressions in his work before this issue, so it is a bit disconcerting. It’s still good work, but it’s less dynamic in that way.
Finally, the last scene was a great cliffhanger, or would have been if Marvel hadn’t spoiled it. I’m not referring to the Shocker appearing because it’s a very comic-booky thing to have a character appear on the cover when it’s a surprise in the book. Red Robin did it with Black Bat in issue #25, so that wasn’t a problem at all. It was Marvel blowing the surprise of everyone turning into giant Man-Spiders that I wish they wouldn’t have spoiled, and this is seriously getting to be ridiculous at this point. It goes hand-in-hand with the Miles Morales “controversy” in that Marvel blew the revelation of that character before the book hit the stands to sensationalize his race, and it makes Marvel appear that they are way less concerned with storytelling as they are sales. In a way, that’s reality, but spoiling something they want readers to read will be less likely to get readers buying the book as a genuine last-page shocker(no pun intended) would. I really, really wish they would stop revealing things that are coming in the future, and it looks as though they aren’t going to with the whole “I’m Spider-Man” promo that was released last week. Stuff like that effects the overall enjoyment of the series plain and simple.
Aside from that, by itself I thought the twist was pretty good. It rounded out the issue well and gave Spidey more of a challenge to face in the upcoming issues. So all-in-all, this was the best issue of Spider-Island yet. Pacing was great, story was great, everything was fun. Just wish I didn’t know the ending going into it.