The time has finally arrived for Doctor Octopus to enact his master plan for world domination before he dies! With the majority of the Marvel Universe conveniently off planet, and the Avengers considering submitting to the mad doctor like the punks they are, can the Amazing Spider-Man hope to stop him before it’s too late?
ENDS OF THE EARTH Part One: My World on Fire
Written by Dan Slott
Illustrated by Stefano Caselli
Colored by Frank Martin Jr.
Lettered by VC’s Joe Caramagna
THE PLOT: Peter Parker, the Amazing Spider-Man, continues to wallow in happiness over the success of his inventions profiterring Horizon Labs, while galvanizing his proactive workload as a crime fighter. However he’s faces the challenge of the year when Doctor Octopus holds the planet at ransom.
LONG STORY SHORT: While the rest of the Marvel Universe is conveniently off planet and the Avengers consider their options, Spidey bursts through the mansion in a new suit of armor ready to fight.
MY THOUGHTS: What I take away most from this issue is that it’s about as “first chapter”/part one/written for the trade as it gets. Doctor Octopus announces his plan, Spidey wants to stop him, end story. This could’ve been told in the first half of the issue, or at least had more meat to it. It wasn’t bad, but not great either. Again, the dialogue’s killing me. Not only do we get expositional Slott-Speak, but the characters at times just say things because it might sound cool with little reasoning to go on. I don’t have much to really go on as a story because this was essentially just one long story beat.
The entire opening scene with Spider-Man wasn’t necessary. It’s basically a repeat from the scene in ASM #666 with Spider-Man relishing in his inventions and how useful they are. It’s nice in intent, but we’ve seen it before from the same creative team. It would’ve been alright but what I thought was just outright dumb was the whole Spider-Glider/not-pumpkin bombs thing. Honestly, WTF was that? At what point did Spider-Man think he would need a glider in the fashion of the Greeen Goblin? The Spider-Bombs I can understand as it was explained he couldn’t fit the thermoreactive formula into his web fluid. I also like the little Spider-Heads design they embody. But the glider was flat out ridiculous. There’s no reason on Earth it was put in there other than to sell a crazy toy, and that’s just what it felt like.
I dunno, things like that irk me. Essentially with Slott, he puts things in the books that sounds fine from the onset, but refuses to go in depth when further explanation would be beneficial. Things like “Firefighter Frank, who risks his life and limb everyday.” flat flat for me. I’m all for bringing attention to real life heroes, but there times when it’s done that it feels trite and phony. Spider-Man for a while has been guilty of that ever since the movies, where the comics adopted that type of cheerleading. The firefighter just feels like a writing tool, which makes the scene that should evoke some emotion feel hollow. His name’s Frank, he has a moustache…it’s too uninspired. I’m not a fan of played out character tropes in comics, which is where the majority of my criticism with Slott’s run comes from because he and the editorial staff love that stuff. It feels comic book-y to the point that the pastiche becomes the example.
Erik covered it in his review, but the scene is so bad that I’ll jump on the leftovers. Jonah’s a moron. He’s using the power and responsibility as the mayor to basically lay off dozens if not hundreds of people illegally just because he has a grudge. I know that’s not entirely a betrayal of his character, but this harkens back to the Ditko J. Jonah Jameson where he was practically an evil, immoral businessman. This Jonah’s just as immoral, but the reader is supposed to feel sympathy because HE ALMOST LOST HIS SON! BAWWWW!!! Cry my a freaking river. Why not go after NASA for having Col. Jameson work with Horizon Labs considering their recent history? Coupled with the fact that the economy is in the tank, yet Horizon is apparently making bank off of Peter’s inventions which genuinely do good for the world, and you have one gigantic douchebag of a mayor. This just isn’t realistic. The least Jonah could do is approach legal council to see if he had a case against Max Modell, but he didn’t even have that. Slott’s Jonah can be fun at times, but when he tries his hand at the whole emotionally wrecked, vengeful Jameson he makes him look like a cardboard cut-out of a human being.
Speaking of cardbaord cut-outs…look, I love Doctor Octopus. I like that he’s a grade-A example of comic book supervillany. I enjoy it when he’s being diabolical and ranty and typical. But Slott’s doing him no favors with the dialogue. It’s just hard to take seriously. It is so type approaches farce. I can almost handle it when he’s addressing the planet, but does he have to talk to the Sinister Six that way? Instead of:
Sandman: “Doc? This it? You dying on us?”
Doctor Octopus: “Yes Sandman. Soon. But not today.”
Why not just have him say “Not just yet.” or “Not today.”?
And for the love of God, we know it’s the Sandman. We can see it’s the Sandman. Everyone in the room knows who Sandman is. Cut it out with the expositional dialogue. Please. Pretty please.
Let’s try another example. Rather than…
Ock: “I am done waiting. All the preparations are complete, and my monitoring systems have confirmed it–The Fantastic Four, The Defenders, and the X-Men are all occupied, off Earth, or in other dimensions. Now is the perfect time to strike.”
Chameleon: “Hold on. What about the Avengers?”
Ock: “‘Earth’s Mightiest Heroes’? I have analyzed their strengths, their weaknesses, and have devised the perfect counter measures. They are no threat to me..or to my greatest masterpiece!”
Ock: “The preparations are all complete. My monitoring systems have also confirmed that the Fantastic Four, the Defenders, and the X-Men are all occupied, off Earth, or in other dimensions. Now is the perfect time to strike.”
Chameleon: “Hold on. What about the Avengers?”
Ock: “I have analyzed their strengths, their weaknesses, and have devised the perfect counter measures. They are no threat.”
This is probably the most pretentious thing I’ve included in a review to date, but the point still stands. Ock is a super villain. He’s a mad scientist. He has a master plan. Cool, that’s fine as an idea. When writing however, you cannot have the character meticulously verbalize the characteristics that makes them such ridiculous stereotypes. It just falls apart once that happens. That’s why Spider-Man’s such a smart mouth to being with. Stan Lee himself recognized how silly and unbelievable characters in comics were, and he had the Thing and Spider-Man mouth off to the villains not only to lampshade the cheesy writing, but to add character. Spidey mouthing off to the villains would make the book a bit more self aware, a bit smarter than what was being published by and large at the type. That’s why Spidey is awesome. When there’s no hero to hang a lamp onto, it’s just cheesy writing and you can’t take it seriously.
I don’t really buy that the majority of the Marvel Universe just happens to not be on their home planet all at the same time. That’s about as convenient as Doctor Strange, a.k.a. former world class surgeon Stephen Strange not being able to heal a bullet wound. Alas, I don’t read every Marvel book out there. What gets me is how at no point do any of the Sinister Six bring up Spider-Man. Uhhh…HELLO?! The one guy who’s kicked your butts more times than prison cellmates! Why isn’t he given a mention? I couldn’t believe it, the guy who they’re most associated with doesn’t even cross their minds. Really?
I also find it weird that the Avengers would consider for a second Ock’s proposal to save the planet, as Ock’s plan was so insanely evil and corrupt. Upon second reading, I suppose it was the reasonable thing to do.
I’ve been ranting a bit, so here are some positive. Caselli’s art is still very cool. Easily my favorite of the three Slott artists. I did like the Spider-Bombs, seperating them from the stupid glider. I lied that Peter was the focus of the issue, although that shouldn’t be a plus since it’s his own title. It’s so rare now that he is the focus that it might as well earn a no-prize.
I liked this when I first read it, and it’s not terrible. But when sit down and think about it…come on.