Written by Dan Slott
Illustrated by Stefano Caselli
Colored by Frank Martin Jr.
Lettered by VC’s Joe Caramagna
THE PLOT: With help from Mysterio, the mind controlled Avengers are freed from the control of Doc Ock’s octobots. They rush off to destroy the missles headed for Earth while Spidey and Silver Sable attack the master planner at his base.
LONG STORY SHORT: Spidey is forced to leave Sable battling the Rhino in a no-win scenario in order to stop Doc Ock once and for all, which he does.
MY THOUGHTS: There’s not much to say about this finale to “Ends of the Earth”. As apathetic as that may seem, this story arc has had even less weight to it than Spider-Island did. Both are intended to be breezy, unconsequential super-hero shlock meant to entertain, but at the end of the day I felt that was a bit more effective because it involved characters we cared about like Kaine, Jameson and Mary Jane. I’m not saying that EOTE failed because it lacked heavy involvement from Spidey’s supporting cast, but perhaps that does add to it.
“Ends of the Earth” was just completely hollow. The name of the story arc itself should evoke a sense of the biggest challenge and threat for Spidey to overcome, but all it amounted to was talk. Barks with no bites. Sure there were some emotional beats like when the heroes thought Symkaria was nuked and scenes of Mary Jane in the background. There was also some interesting fight ideas like the Avengers vs the Sinister Six and the mind controlled Avengers vs Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends, but they weren’t memorable. These were flash in the pan gimmicks that furthered the plot, but only just barely.
This issue in particular was a step above the rest, if only for the second half. The hook at the end of last issue was predictably brief, and once that’s gotten rid of, the rest of the story follows the suit of an action movie’s last ten minutes. Two things of interest keep this from being out-and-out boring, and that’s Sable’s supposed “death”, and the way Spidey defeats Doctor Octopus.
Actually three things, lest I forget the art. All throughout this arc, Stefano Caselli has shined with his luscious depictions of Spidey and the Marvel Universe. He was a solid artist when he started out back in ASM#666, but I think he grew a decent amount during this run. If nothing else, this arc shows him to be a reliable, dynamic penciller with great anatomy and command of action scenes. Brief as they were, he did make the fight scenes with the Avengers pop. I think the pastel colors by Frank Martin Jr. let him down a bit. Not that rhey were awful, but they lacked a certain life to them that would have really plussed the action-movie feel of the story. Still, Caselli’s art was the true star of Ends of the Earth.
The Silver Sable death scene was apparently intended to be the “NOTHING WILL EVER BE THE SAME AGAIN” hook that EOTE leaves the Spider-Man mythos. Some readers have debated whether it was right for Spider-Man to leave Sable to her death in the way that he did, but I don’t think it’s worth much energy to debate on way or another. The scene fell flat because of its fluffy groundwork in how Slott attempted to give it resonance with the Sable/Spidey shipping in the issues leading up to this. If that’s what those scenes were meant to end up at, he wasted his time. Spider-Man’s always been a very emotional hero, and if the scene went ahead without the forced scene of romantic tension, I think the scene with her and Rhino here would have been more effective. Her and Spidey have been allies since the golden days of the 90s, and Spider-Man’s emotion at leaving her to die would feel more natural with that in mind, as opposed to “Oh she maybe sorta kinda liked me.” It approaches the Jean DeWolf situation where a hard-as-nails female friend of Spider-Man’s is shown after the fact of her death to possibly have romantic feelings towards him. Somehow that’s not as effective here. Maybe it’s because originally it would’ve been the Black Cat in Sable’s place. Were that to have happened, I think the scenes would be as effective as Slott was going for. As it stands, it comes off as bad storytelling. Silver Sable, a strong female character in her own right, gets fridged after a string of romantic interest scenes between her and the hero. Weak. And really, there’s not a soul alive who thinks she’s dead so why go through the song and dance of acting as though she is? If we saw a body, the story would earn some honest emotion or concern. But it’s just another cliche.
I did like the ending with Spidey in a bind and defying physics to save the day. That’s what Spidey’s all about and it’s great whenever Slott invokes these kinds of moments. It did end rather abruptly with Peter just wacking the dude out and dragging him to the surface.
The ending too was a bit quick and really left the readers with nothing to gleam upon. Again, Sable’s not dead evern if the Marvel U thinks she is. For what it’s worth, the epilogue which continues in Avenging Spider-Man #8 tells us nothing of the aftermath of this supposed epic storytelling besides some bromidic tripe about Sable and Dr. Strange making Spider-Man marry a foreign woman so she won’t be betrothed with Dr. Doom. It’s a stupid story, but unfortunately fits with this story as a whole. It was a basic Spider-Man adventure to be sure, but it’s more comparable with Maximum Carnage than let’s say Secret Wars. I’ve gone on about how dull the emotional beats rang throughout and in the second half it became nothing but more promotion for the Avengers movie. I think giving the arc any more attention would be beating a dead horse. It was bad, but it wasn’t good. I look forward to Slott’s two-parters, because those are definitely closer to his wheelhouse and end up better issues for it. Let’s move on from this dissapointment and never speak of it again…