Spider-Island Deadly Foes Review


The Basics

Phil Urich dons his Hobgoblin costume and puts his plan into winning Norah Winters heart into high gear. He decides that the easiest way to beat the competition is to actually murder the competition. While Hobgoblin openly attacks Norah’s boyfriend Randy Robertson, it becomes apparent that Norah’s true love isn’t either men, but rather journalism itself. Randy’s new spider powers are able to subdue the Hobgoblin, but he dumps Norah in disgust. Phil shows up in his civilian guise and gets a kiss from Norah.

In the second story we see the Jackal greet the newly revived Kaine aka Tarantula. A degenerating Gwen clone comes from revenge, is Jackal is saved by a mysterious female who has control over spider beings.

The Good

  • This is a perfect example of how an event tie-in should work. You could read the Spider-Island-Hashtag even in “Amazing Spider-Man” without this book and be just fine. If you do chose to read this book, you get some important developments (Norah/Phil) and revelations (Jackal/Kaine). It’s a great balance that keeps this book from being a pointless throwaway.
  • We finally get an explanation for how Phil got his powers back how he went from hero to stalker villain. I didn’t read “Loners” so it was good to see Phil’s recent developments finally fleshed out in the pages of a Spider-Man comic. The explanation for the return of his powers leaves some lingering questions about past stories, but we have an explanation at least.
  • Norah’s behavior could be seen as bad characterization, but that is the point. Norah’s character flaws are done on purpose here and presented to the readers to show she is in the wrong. Are we setting her up to learn a lesson later? Is she going to take a fall? I don’t know, but either way I find it interesting here. Norah’s actions have consequences and her attempts at one upping Betty Brant (due to her blog scooping her) have cost her a loving relationship.

The Bad

  • ·         The inspiring “we are superheroes” speech Peter makes in “Amazing Spider-Man” issue 668 appears here first out of context and is presented with much less majesty. It robs it of its weight and almost makes you brush by it here. It seems like Peter is making light of the situation or joking.
  • ·         The continuity errors in the Jackal story are dropped left and right. It’s as if instead of reading the Clone Saga for reference, a Wikipedia entry was read or had a friend relate their vague recollections instead. Examples include Warren finding out Peter’s identity a different way than what has previously been established, and the new version of how he found out creates complications too vast to name here. Another example is Warren saying he hypnotized the Spider-Men into fighting at Shea Stadium. They weren’t hypnotized, they were told if the fake Spider-Man touched Ned Leeds, his bomb would explode. Both Spider-Men thought the other was phony and fought eachother to save Ned’s life. Are we to assume the Jackal is just insane and doesn’t remember things properly?
  • ·         When Kaine was born the Jackal gave his cells the power to regenerate? That is literally the opposite of what Kaine’s body does. He had to wear a suite because his cells were rapidly regenerating! You can’t just make stuff up!
  • ·         So Warren is immune to the physic blindspot but Osborn is not? Before someone says “Warren studied Peter’s DNA and engineered the Clone Saga”….so did Osborn.
  • ·         Gwen wore go go boots and 60’s clothes in the Silver Age because….it was the 60’s. Having her clones (in MODERN COMICS) continue to dress like the 60’s is ridiculous. Mary Jane’s wardrobe evolved…if Gwen had lived I’m sure hers would have as well.
  • ·         The terms “sister”, “brother”, “father” and family are used far too much in the Jackal story. The whole “Jackal and his family” joke was played out by the third reference. By the fifth I was ready to drop the book.

The Switch

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For reasons unknown, Ned Leeds was replaced with Joyce Delany in the flashback/cover homage to “Amazing Spider-Man” issue 149. Why was this done? They obviously had to look at the original cover since this was almost a direct tribute. Did Marvel think having Ned there was too confusing? Were they trying to simplify things? It seems like a pointless switch. It also makes the scene less sensible as many fans have pointed out that Warren would never attach a bomb to his beloved Joyce Delany. Poor Ned Leeds was a chump when he was around, and he’s a chump decades after his death. Speaking of death…

The Death

A Spider-Man character that has been around since the mid 1970’s was killed off this issue with a whimper. The original Gwen Stacy clone, who has also been called Gwen Miles and Joyce Delany, met her demise at the hands of Abby L (another deranged Gwen clone). When Joyce first appeared, it turned Peter’s world upside down. She was thought to be the original Gwen until Ned Leeds (sigh) figured out she was a genetic duplicate. She disappeared at the end of the first Clone Saga but returned once in the 1980’s and again in the 1990’s. Many considered her a loose end and some Marvel writers cursed themselves for not killing her off in the 1990’s. I never saw her as a loose end. She was a character who gave us a deeper glimpse into the deceased Gwen. She was someone who could’ve answered Peter’s questions regarding “Sins Past” or shown up every few decades to stir things up. She was a version of Gwen that lived on and had moved on with her life in another direction. Now she’s gone. She was one of my favorite characters and will be fondly remembered…at least by me!

The Final Word

There are some integral developments to Spider-Island-Hashtag in here, which makes this a good buy for those faithfully following the story. However, continuity screw ups and failures in logic in the second story weight thing down significantly. A must have for people who follow Spidey continuity closely, otherwise I’d skp it.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 webs.