Avenging Spider-Man #3 Review

Déjà vu all over again.  Well, this situation sure feels familiar.  Much like Brian Bradley and butters, I too began my comic book reviewing career a year ago this month.  However, in the course of that year, my book got canceled (to the cheer of many) so I took over someone else’s book.  Now my tenure on the latter book is coming to an end as well (on account of no Spidey), so I’ve taken over the Avenging Spider-Man reviews until that gets canceled as well (at which point I’ll just have to steal another book).

But you’re not here to read about me.  You’re hear to read about Spidey.

Avenging Spider-Man #3

Writer:  Zeb Wells
Artist:  Joe “Joe Mad” Madureira
Color Art:  Ferran Daniel
Letterer:  VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Art: Joe “Joe Mad”Madureira
Variant Cover Art:  Humberto Ramos

Spidey Team-Up:  Red Hulk (General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross)


DISCLAIMER:  Normally when I take over a book, I make it a point to go back and get the issues belonging to the current arc, even if they have already been reviewed.  I do this to get a good grasp on the story.  That said, Avenging Spider-Man #1 was going for ridiculous prices at my two LCSs, and the world of digital copies scare me, so I only got Avenging Spider-Man #2 as my frame of reference.  I apologize if that skews my review in any way.

THE PLOT:  Following last issue’s cliffhanger, in which Red Hulk was stabbed in the heart by the Molan champion Ra’ktar, Spidey takes Jameson and makes their escape on some sort of “mole mule” all the way back to Subterranea, leaving Rulk behind.  Spidey means to go back for him and the captured Mole Man, but Jameson keeps giving him a hard time.

As they argue, the Molan warriors catch up to them, meaning to wipe out the Moloids.  Jonah rides off, but Spider-Man stands up to Ra’ktar.  Spidey receives a brutal beating from the Molan champion, and before Ra’ktar can deliver the final strike, Spidey webs up a sharp piece of rock (the same kind that makes up the blade of Molan weapons) and swings it with enough speed to slice Ra’ktar’s girdle (“Heeee is NOT wearing underpants”).

Having shamed Ra’ktar in battle, Spidey is declared the victor according to Molan law, and Ra’ktar is chained up.  Meanwhile, Rulk finally heals up and shows up to find that Spidey has formed a truce with the Molans.  Back at the surface, Jonah is chiding the other Avengers when they see Spidey and Rulk come out from underground.  Rulk admits that Spidey alone save the day and jumps away.  Jameson scolds Spidey for not doing something about Mole Man, to which Spidey replies that maybe a little kindness goes a long way.  Underground, Mole Man ponders a new attack on the surface.

GENERAL THOUGHTS (get it? Because Rulk is a general?  Ah, forget it):  Avenging Spider-Man #3 is a pretty enjoyable issue.  The first thing that any reader will notice is the amazing art by Joe Madureira.  I’ve seen some of his previous art, and he does not disappoint in this issue, or at any point during this arc.  It’s animated but without becoming too stylized, and it sets the tone for the overall storyline.  It goes without saying that this book is a spiritual successor to that beloved book Marvel Team-Up, and thus we don’t get a very deep storyline but rather something light-hearted.  It works just fine.

In issue #2, we saw how easily Rulk was taken down by Ra’ktar.  That’s not easy task, so going in the reader expects Spidey to defeat his foe with something other than brute strength.  His battle with Ra’ktar is the highlight of the issue.  Not only is it visually beautiful (you can feel the intensity of every punch and every kick delivered by Ra’ktar thanks to the excellent art department) but it reinforces several themes that are standard Spider-Man fare.  You know Spidey is not backing off, and he’ll fight until he can fight no more.  He was unable to hold on to the sharp rock-blades with his hands, so he webs a rock-blade and starts to swing and slice.  That, to me, reinforces the unconventional way Spidey fights his battles.

The next thing that follows is Spidey realizing that all he managed to do was exposing Ra’ktar’s royal jewels.  At this point he thinks he’s lost, but then unexpectedly Ra’ktar’s allies turn on him.  Call it Parker luck or just dumb luck, but that’s classic Spidey comedy.

Speaking of comedy, another classic theme that is brought on is the old-couple relationship of Spidey and Jameson.  Jonah flying off the handle with Spidey is good for a few laughs.  Of course, the main team-up in this issue is not forgotten, with Spidey managing to cool down an enraged Red Hulk a few times.  These character moments are very much appreciated and worked out really well.

So, all in all, I consider this a very good issue.  So what’s the problem?  Well, I like Joe Mad’s pencils.  I like Ferran Daniel’s colors.  I like Zeb Well’s writing.  I’m particularly enjoying his Carnage stuff.  So why didn’t this issue engage me like it should’ve?  I don’t know.  I don’t know how to answer that.  By comparison, issue #2 was very strongly written and had me anticipating the finale.  The only conclusion I can reach is that the resolution wasn’t as gripping as it could’ve been, but I don’t know how they could’ve done it better.  I’ll just leave it at that.  I’m rambling on at this point.

FAVORITE LINES: (when Spidey is trying to get Red Hulk to calm down after Ra’ktar mocks him)

SPIDER-MAN:  Easy, big fella.  We’ve got a truce to protect.  You can let it go, right?  I mean it doesn’t look like you really got hurt at all…
RED HULK:  Grrr….
SPIDER-MAN:  Oh, *your feelings*?  Your feelings got hurt?
RED HULK:  Shut up.

VERDICT:  Like I said, Avenging Spider-Man #3 is very well-written.  Art is some of the best stuff I’ve seen in comics.  It’s just very hard to recommend, probably because of its light-hearted nature, but if you’re just looking for a good story, then I think you’ll enjoy this. 3 Webheads out of 5.

Some clarifications are in order:  Someone asked when this story would take place.  I can answer that:  before Fear Itself.  Spidey having his Spider-sense is a goof.  Also, the “free” digital copies (free, my foot!) expire a year from the cover dates, not the day of as implied on an earlier review.

SHAMELESS PLUG:  For more on the Two-Bit Specialist, follow him on Twitter and check out The Two-Bit Special, my personal blog.

Also, follow Brian Bradley for the lulz!

~My Two Cents

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(18) Comments

  1. hornacek

    @Donovan - I thought the same thing, especially since his mouth was uncovered, Jonah should recognize his voice. But if this takes place before Fear Itself, doesn't FI take place before Spider Island? The psychic blindspot (ugh) didn't get removed until the end of SI so Spidey knew Jonah wouldn't "unmask" him by recognizing his voice. Of course, I'm only guessing that FI occurs before SI. Otherwise, whoops.

  2. Alex

    This book is amazing. Fantastic. Fun. How did they get Joe Mad! to do three issues? That's amazing!:) Well, it looked cool.

  3. Brian Bradley

    Finally sitting down to read comics and reviews... been crazy days, haven't even read my FF books yet. Nice review though, I enjoyed this first story arc, the idea of a Marvel/Spidey Team-Up book excites me, and now they're going to do the same thing with Captain America and [insert guest hero here]... going to be tough not to pick that up. Not sure if I was a big fan of the exposing bad guy thing, but using the web and rock weapon thing was a nice scene. Some good humor in this book though anyway. and noooo, please don't follow me!! it's just going to make it worse :)

  4. Sthenurus

    Great review. I would have settle for a little higher score but it wasnt outstandng either. The think i love most about this book is that I have a "team" book where spidey is more than a cameo/bag of joke/punchline.

  5. Mike 13

    Yeah, you have to scroll over the text to see what you've written... a light green or a Spidey red would look much better... Oh yeah, good review.

  6. Two-Bit Specialist

    @Mike 13 - I was hoping it wouldn't be too bad. I'll change it later today. @Spideydude - Has Wells done anything as bad as SHED? @Enigma - Ah, yes. Those were the days. @Don - The thought did cross my mind. Then I thought, "Meh." @spideytothemax - Spidey may know that Red Hulk was once a general but may not know WHICH general. To my knowledge, I think only Banner and Rogers are privy to that information. If you've been following my reviews, then you'll recall that Spidey and Red Hulk have actually teamed up before in Spider-Girl to take down a secret organization that had agents in the military. Ross and Anya shared intel all the time, and Anya was often having off-panel conversations with Spidey, so that's probably how he knows that Red Hulk was in the military before.

  7. spideytothemax

    I'm enjoying the book thus far. How does Spidey know that Red Hulk is Thunderbolt Ross though? I was thinking his ID was known only to a few select folks.

  8. Donovan Grant

    With JJ that close to Spidey's face with his mask torn and his eye exposed, I think Jonah should recognize him.

  9. Enigma_2099

    We've come a long way from the Big Red Machine who whooped the Hulk and everyone else who got in his way, haven't we? Sorry, But I can't think of Red Hulk without remembering the stupid parts...

  10. Spideydude

    My problem with wells is that he has largely inconsistent with his writing. He did the very well done sandman story that ended Peter parker: spider-man. A the same time, he did shed. So to me with every good solid or fun story, there is a HUGE step or three back... -SD

  11. Shaun Martineau

    3/5? You are crazy good sir, this is at least a 4. =) Wells is quickly becoming one of my favorite Spider-Man writers with this and the Carnage Mini he's doing right now.

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