Avenging Spider-Man #8
Writers: Ty Templeton with Dan Slott
Pencils: Matt Clark
Inker: Sean Parsons
Colors: Wil Quintana
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramanga
Cover: Davis, Morales, and Ponsor
Spidey Team-Up: Silver Sable (Silver Sablinova) and Doctor Strange (Stephen Strange)
***WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD***
PLOT: In the aftermath of Ends of the Earth, Spider-Man looks back on an earlier adventure (an “Untold Tale”). Silver Sable hires Spider-Man because she and Doctor Strange need him to marry a Symkarian princess to prevent Doctor Doom from doing the same (she belongs to a powerful mystical lineage, whose power Doom wants to attain). Before anything comes out of this, Doom finds them and tries to take Princess Lenka, but Strange teleports them to safety.
Strange makes it clear to Lenka that she must marry someone she genuinely loves… and consummate that marriage. The only proper candidate is her best friend Marek, who was sent to work at the Symkarian embassy in New York for protection. Spidey picks him up from his apartment, and the heroes try to stage the wedding at the embassy right away. Doom finds them, and Sable stalls him long enough for Lenka and Marek to… consummate their marriage. Seeing how she’s no longer of any use to him, Doom leaves, not before declaring that everyone involved had made a powerful enemy.
Back in the present, the Avengers drop Doctor Octopus off at the Raft. Before leaving, Spidey tells Ock that his satellites have been shut down, so now he has nothing left for a legacy. At the ruins of Doc Ock’s base in Gautemala, Black Widow and a rescue team still find no signs of Sable or Rhino. An Octobot is seen hiding in the depths of the sea.
THOUGHTS: As someone who did not pick up ASM during Ends of the Earth, I was concerned that I would have to catch up to the developments of that event just for this issue. Thankfully, this is basically an Untold Tale, and all the reader needs to know is that Spidey fought Doc Ock and Silver Sable “died.”
Conversely, I love it when stories reference old Spidey adventures. In this case, it’s Web of Spider-Man #72 (January 1991), in which Spidey and Sable team up with Dominic Fortune. The reference is only used for timeline placement purposes and doesn’t affect the story whatsoever (meaning you also don’t need to read Web #72 to understand this issue), but I though it was a nice touch.
Anyway, I am a fan of ridiculous plots in comics. I mean, last month I read a comic about cats trying to take over New York. But much like with that issue, the execution is key, and that is where Avenging Spider-Man #8 drops the ball. For starters, initially the issue leads you to believe that the story is about Spider-Man having to marry a princess to save the world. We’re already in dangerous territory here. The entire time I was reading this part I was thinking to myself, “Why go there?. I can’t believe we’re going there.” I thought it was a little cruel to mess with the fans that way, but as if that wasn’t bad enough, Spider-Man’s only excuse is that he has a girlfriend (not wife, even though he’d be married by this point). Sigh.
Those plans are thankfully quickly discarded when Doom shows up and Strange reveals that Lenka’s wedding “must be real in every way” (including her wedding night). Unfortunately, I felt everything that followed was very contrived. Lenka reveals that she’s in love with her friend Marek, but she never brought it up until now (even Sable calls her out on it). Marek is also conveniently in New York for his protection’s sake, Lenka happens to know his exact address, and Sable’s uncle is a Symkarian wedding minister.
Then Doom shows up again. The heroes fight. The entire time, Spidey’s narration is trying to drive home the fact that Sable, despite being powerless, stood her ground against Doom. That’s nice, but it felt more like I was being beaten over the head with it. I thought, “Yes, I get it. Sable is awesome. She’s not the first to fight bad guys without powers of her own and won’t be the last.” I know it was supposed to be this inspiring moment, but it never came off as such to me BECAUSE of that narration.
By the way, this is the first time I encounter that often-cited complaint about Dan Slott’s writing (I assume it’s his, but Templeton is primarily responsible for the issue). Spidey, narrating, says “It was either my friend, Silver Sablinova—or everyone else on Earth. And I made the call.” On first reading, it was very jarring. I didn’t need the extra exposition. The previous page is the recap page, where we learn Sable’s name. I don’t know why the narration called for spelling it all out again. It’s a minor thing, but it’s there.
The only genuinely interesting part is when Spidey drops off Doc Ock at the Raft. He has some last words for him, basically saying he’s wasted his life. It’s only two panels, but they were by far the most powerful out of the whole thing. Of course, it can’t be the end of Doc Ock, and that’s why we have a random Octobot wandering about under the sea.
I don’t mind all the plot contrivances, but the whole goal of the issue was to make Silver Sable look awesome, which shouldn’t be that hard to do, and, yet, Avenging Spider-Man #8 failed to achieve that. It doesn’t help that our hero once again fails to do anything worthwhile doing. Doom was going on about how insignificant Spidey was to him, and throughout the issue I was waiting for him to prove him wrong. The moment never came. Sable’s, meanwhile, fell flat.
There are a few good laughs to be had, such as Silver Sable not being able to afford Johnny Storm for the job or the minister speeding up the ceremony because of explosions outside the embassy. Sable leaving a message for Spidey on the Jumbotron is a nice nod to their previous interactions. And like I said, I like ridiculous stuff in my comics, so I didn’t mind that the princess and her husband were somehow able to… have marital bliss while a superpowered fight was going on in the other room.
The art was okay, but Spidey’s mask lenses look weird. It’s a good idea in concept that they would reflect the lights of the city, but in practice it doesn’t work well. There was one panel I absolutely loved, and it was when Doom starts blasting the embassy. The look on the couple’s faces had me chuckling.
FAVORITE LINES: Lenka had a crush on Spidey up until their first battle with Doctor Doom. That’s why Strange and Sable asked him to marry Lenka in the first place.
LENKA: I thought Spider-Man had battled Doom several times and emerged victorious…
SPIDER-MAN: Dumb luck each time, Princess, I promise you. Why don’t you go crush on Johnny Storm?
SILVER SABLE: I don’t have the budget for Johnny Storm.
VERDICT: Avenging Spider-Man #8 is more of an Untold Tale than an epilogue for Ends of the Earth. It’s supposed to be a swan song for Silver Sable, but it fails to make the reader feel her loss any more than before. What little comedy is here is plagued by plot contrivances and annoying narration. You’re not missing on anything. 2 Webheads out of 5.
FREE CODE GIVEAWAY: Uh… Unless you REALLY want it, I’m not gonna bother this time. You’re welcome.
SHAMELESS PLUGS: As always, follow me on Twitter (twitter.com/2BitSpecialist).
It’s been way too long since my previous review, but I’ve kept busy. Since that time, I’ve written a review for Mega Man #13 and a series of blogs of my adventures at A-Kon in Dallas, complete with photo galleries (here, here, and here). I also did a collab video where I tell you why Avengers: Battle for Earth will suck (E3 Digital Forecast).
~My Two Cents