Written by Dan Slott
Illustrated by Giuseppe Camuncoli
Inked by Klaus Janson
Colored by Frank D’amata
Lettered by VC’s Joe Caramagna
THE PLOT: Continuing from the last issue, Doctor Octopus learned that intruders were in the Apogee space station, and that Spider-Man is just the guy causing trouble. Ock has both rockets explode, stranding the three non-zombies on the station with precious few minutes of air left.
LONG STORY SHORT: Thanks to his magnetic web fluid (what, you didn’t know he had it?) Spider-Man manages to have all the passengers in the sensory deprivation room pilot back down to Earth with the Human Torch absorbing all the heat around them. The day is saved, but the Sinister Six are still out there scheming to take over the world.
#681 is exactly the same as last issue. This issue probably could’ve been inserted into the last one, and made for a jam packed one-shot, but it works well as a two-parter. Nevertheless we get more Torch/Spidey bickering, more “NEXT TIME GADGET” from Doc Ock, more Jonah hijinks. Is it bad? No. Is it good? Not in the optimal sense of the word. It’s just “alright” for me personally. It feels very safe, almost to the point of complete and total filler. If Slott’s a writer who will use an innocuous Marvel Two-in-One story to be vaguely referenced in an arc later down the line, I suspect the overall importance of this story will use up all of one panel in an “Ends of the Earth” issue.
BUT, and I’m repeating myself now, that is not in itself a bad thing. It’s a bit obnoxious, but it doesn’t ruin either stories. Even still, I as a reader want there to be more overall weight in a Spider-Man story. It would be a bit hypocritical of me not to mention the previous two-parter with Humberto Ramos, which had little if any relevance towards the overall Spider-Man canon, yet I enjoyed that a great deal. Perhaps it’s because although that was a possible doomsday story, it had a lot of room for fun moments and didn’t take itself too seriously. This story is meant to be serious, and J. Jonah Jameson’s presence represents that. He’s sore at Horizon for being involved in the death of his wife, he’s fearful for his son and Peter in part one mentions that he’s been through a whole lot in the past few months. In this story however, Jonah’s pathos is just melodrama. We get scenes of him being angsty, but they’re just throwaway moments, not really saying more than the fact that he is angry.
That’s what’s hollow about the story. On the surface, it’s a harmless space romp. It tried to have shades of heavy drama and conflict in the background, but because of the brevity of the scenes and the heavy-handedness in the writing, they fall flat. Jonah’s worried about his son John, big whoop. It’s understandable that he is, and we would call into question his character if he weren’t. But what we have here isn’t enough to evoke real emotion from us, or I should say, me. Nothing new is brought here, and what we have isn’t told interestingly enough to be anything special.
Although I will admit, the scene with Spidey and Jonah on the smart phone made me laugh. I do like how they have such a familiar relationship that it gives off a certain rapport.
To a similar extent, I’m feeling the same about these big heroic scenes Slott is giving Spider-Man. When he says “NO ONE DIES!” it is a call back to the Marla Jameson death aftermath which is nice to see, but it’s heavy handed as well. Inner monologue says much more than speaking out loud could ever do, or even nothing that tells us what Peter is thinking besides his actions. I appreciate Slott showing us the heroic side of Spidey, especially after how horribly his character was written during the bulk of Brand New Day. I really do. But it’s a bit patronizing to have Spider-Man act as though he’s never shown determination in a hot spot before. The character’s had 681 issues in nearly fifty years. Come on dawg. I figure we’ll be getting more of this during “Ends of Earth” when he build the new Spider-Armor, and what I would like to see is that his actions speak louder than his shouted words.
Johnny was even more annoying in this issue, and it’s really odd considering how Slott made a point to say that he’s become more serious since he came back to life. At no point is that ever displayed in the two issues, and Johnny’s a caricature of himself throughout. He’s funny, yeah. A lighthearted character, to be sure. But he’s so…childish. There’s better ways to write Human Torch that doesn’t betray his sarcastic personality without making him seem juvenile.
Like I said, this and the last issue were more or less the same. It’s not bad, but it’s nothing really really rush out and buy either. I’d like to see Slott tackle a story that’s mostly character driven as opposed to Saturday Morning supervillan driven, but that’s just me.