Hey everyone. I’m playing catchup after getting a couple weeks behind due to about the worst case of flu I ever came down with and the fact that I’m trying to deal with upcoming finals. Let me take this moment to apologize to for these couple tardy reviews I’m now posting. I’ll be officially caught up once these are posted, and back on track for next issue!
Ends of the Earth starts getting into the action now, resulting in a much less convoluted and far more coherent issue than the last one. There’s a lot more Saturday morning cartoon in this and a lot less apocalyptic babbling. It’s a step in the right direction, but it’s still got work to do before I’ll feel invested in this story, and it’s still bogged down by a slightly confusing attempt at couching it in real-world issues and political figures — but, if you’ve always wanted to see Spider-Man punch Al Gore, then look no further.
The Amazing Spider-Man #683: Ends of the Earth Part 2 — Earth’s Mightiest
Words by Dan Slott
Art by Stefano Caselli
Colors by Frank Martin Jr.
Letters by Joe Caramagna
It’s a political climate these days. And what better medium to make commentary upon it than The Amazing Spider-Man? Only, I’m not completely certain if that’s what Slott’s actually trying to do here. There is an unusually heavy real-world presence even for the way that Slott’s been writing this title lately, and I’m starting to really scratch my head over it. It’s not like Slott is the first ASM writer to try to address contemporary events with the character, and I’m sure he won’t be the last, but I can’t recall ever seeing real life politicians show up in such great numbers.
Part two opens with Spidey and the other Avengers crashing “an emergency G8 summit… made up of both the world’s leaders and the greatest minds on the planet.” There was a problem with this for me: I immediately thought, “How did they get all the world’s leaders and its top scientists in one room in such a short period of time?” But that isn’t actually the problem — the problem is that I had to think that at all. Because we are in the Marvel universe here, where godlike telepaths, sorcerers and time traveling scientists are no big deal. A group of world leaders and think tankers suddenly appearing in a room together at a moment’s notice should never surprise me. But the reason why it does here is because I’m staring at Barack Obama, Hilary Clinton and Stephen Hawking. These people should not exist in this world. I hear about them every morning when I turn on NPR, and I know all too well just how incapable they are of the kinds of miracles that occur every day in this fictional universe I’m reading about. Forget Angry Birds, “I can has cheeseburger” and Occupy Wall St.; those things may date the title, but at least there’s no reason why I can’t imagine them existing in the Marvel U. But what is Stephen Hawking going to do? Next to Reed Richards he might as well be a grade schooler playing with an amateur science kit his mom bought at Zany Brainy. The goofy, chubby supporting character at Peter’s job just invented a time travel door that almost destroyed New York. There is no reason to bring Stephen Hawking into this.
Well, at any rate, the Avengers barge in and Spidey declares that, for considering Doc Ock’s proposal they are completely insane, and why? Because they are debating whether they should throw in with “a guy who makes robot octopi.” Says the guy strolling around in a suit of powered spider armor.
But I do have to give Slott credit for this: he really got me with Al Gore here and Spidey giving him a mean right hook in response to his support for Ock’s plan. I was ready to have a fit about that, but it turns out it was the Chameleon, which genuinely surprised me and left me feeling pretty amused at the whole thing. I can be the bigger man and admit when I’m successfully trolled.
So here’s my theory regarding why I’m seeing this “G8 summit” with Al Gore and Barack Obama. Slott is not writing a comic book event, he’s writing a summer blockbuster action movie. You can imagine Michael Bay directing this. It really does have everything; the corny dialogue, the nonsensical pseudo-science based around a hot current topic, the America-centric meeting of the world’s leaders to address the problem. Undoubtedly, as the story progresses, these world leaders are going to get closer and closer to siding with a bad guy because no one will be able to see the truth except the hero. Jameson’s part of this too, as his Horizon Labs shutdown continues; he waltzes into the place with the chief of police after cutting its power and orders the building “cleared,” with no indication at all why he didn’t just do this last issue when he was there the first time. It’s still not clear how exactly Jonah can walk into a place he doesn’t like and shut it down just because he’s the mayor — shouldn’t he have to go through some kind of legal process where Horizon is implicated in something and ordered to be shut down? — but this is exactly the kind of logic typically employed in the sort of blockbuster movie this is starting to read like. Leaders in suits, while not necessarily evil, are working against the hero, who must be doubted by everyone in authority so that he can come out that much farther ahead in the end.
Now, as negative I may sound, it’s not that all this is terrible or something. It’s just that it’s kind of cheesy and it’s a very basic story. When Spidey and the Avengers jet off following their big scene at the world politics center, there’s a showdown with the Sinister Six that I found totally enjoyable in the same sort of guilty pleasure way I might enjoy the action sequences in one of the brainless, big-budget pictures I’ve been comparing this to. As each member of the Avengers systematically goes down, it’s actually kind of fun to see the ways Slott came up with for Ock to deal with them — most are fairly clever and some reveal his impressive knowledge of comic history (impaling Thor on the midgard serpent tooth) while some are kind of stupid (freezing Captain America in ice — get it, because that happened to him before, so it must be his weakness or something? What?). But it’s a sequence of absolutely beautiful panels courtesy of the ever-reliable Stephano Caselli, and I certainly can’t complain about that.
It ends pretty much as you’d expect, with Spidey in a bad situation seemingly at the villain’s mercy, like we’re all supposed to wonder if he’s going to end up prevailing in the end. You know how your friend who thought that Live Free or Die Hard was an awesome movie and you just have to “not think about it” or “turn off your brain and enjoy it”? Well, if you took his advice and found it worked — or if you actually are that guy — you’ll probably enjoy this. It is what I believe the kids like to call “epic” these days.
- Again, Caselli knocks it out, especially during the Avengers vs. Sinister Six fight scene which is dynamic and beautiful.
- If you dislike Al Gore, you can pretend it wasn’t really the Chameleon during the scene where Spidey punches him.
- The battle at the end has some pretty solid moments, albeit interspersed with some bad ones.
- This really is utterly brainless entertainment so far. You can easily imagine the movie trailer, because it would be exactly like the trailer of every “blockbuster” you’ve ever seen.
- If you’re like me, you hear enough about Obama in your daily life that you really don’t need to see him in your comic books, and you’re not sure what the hell Stephen Hawking is doing in this instead of Reed Richards.
- Another ridiculous scene involving Jonah at Horizon where he now actually goes through with shutting them down for no reason beyond a personal vendetta. I know we’re supposed to hate politicians, but this is too much.