Avenging Spider-Man #17
Writer: Chris Yost
Pencils: Paco Medina
Inker: Juan Vlasco
Colorist: Dave Curiel
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Art: Paolo Rivera
Superior Team-up: The Future Foundation (Alex Power, Onome, Leech, Artie Maddicks, Bentley-23, Dragon Man, Vil, Wu, Mik, Korr, Turg, Tong)
***WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD***
PLOT: The newest version of the Fantastic Four ask “Spider-Man” to baby-sit the Future Foundation while they are in the Microverse [which is quickly becoming a popular place in Marvel stories these days]. He agrees because he wants access to the contents in the Baxter Building’s vault. Suddenly, everyone is attacked by Death’s Head and the Time Variance Authority, who want to prevent the destruction of the timestream by one of the students, Bentley. Spider-Man, with a little persuasion, convinces him to give up on his project, thus protecting the 616 timeline.
Spider-Man berates Scott Lang for the poor job he’s doing of taking care of the Foundation. The Time Variance Authority is unable to do anything about Spider-Man and Doc Ock. The item Ock wanted from Reed Richard’s vault is revealed to be the remnants of Sandman.
THOUGHTS: One thing that I really look forward to with every issue of Avenging is how Otto Octavius interacts with characters outside of Spider-Man’s supporting cast and rogues gallery. It’s just a lot of fun to get his take on the other superheroes in the Marvel Universe. Here we see that Doc Ock holds a certain amount of respect for Reed Richards and his team (which is not surprising, because they have actually worked together before). But the FF has disappeared (…again) and in their place we see Scott Lang (in case you’re wondering, he was brought back to life during Avengers: Children’s Crusade), She-Hulk, Medussa, and newcomer Miss Thing. Ock’s thoughts on them are less than generous (“thief”, “ambulance-chasing lawyer”, “acceptable”, and “what was Richards thinking?”, respectively).
Ock gets stuck with taking care of the Future Foundation while the main team is gone. He hates it, obviously, but he’s midly impressed by their work and even takes a liking to Bentley (who “sounds just like me when I was his age”). Something interesting then happens. When the Baxter Building is attacked by the Time Variance Authority, Ock confesses that his first thought is of the children and the thought of them getting hurt is unbearable. Even Doctor Octupus, the megalomaniac genius that he is, can’t bring himself to let children die, though it’s not quite clear why that is. Peter Parker’s “ghost” (as featured in the Superior Spider-Man book) doesn’t make a visible appearance, so it’s up to the reader to guess if this is Otto genuinely caring or Peter taking control. Frankly, it’s more interesting this way.
I kinda like it when writers use obscure characters in their stories. Death’s Head is particular is important because he’s supposed to be a powerhouse on the level of The Thing and She-Hulk, so Ock knocking his head off in a fit of rage is a big deal, just once again showing that Spidey is more powerful than he lets on. I’ve never heard of the Time Variance guys, however. Being able to see the entire timeline, they know Spider-Man’s true identity at this point, so Ock is once again forced to think quick (in this case, however, he just webs up their mouths before they can say anything).
The resolution is interesting, because he’s able to identify with Bentley (a super-villain in the making) and knows just how to get him to abandon his plans to create a machine that would destroy the timeline. What he whispers to him is unknown (you would need a magnifying glass to see the lettering, and who has a magnifying glass at hand these days?), but he essentially chooses to solve the problem the way Doc Ock would rather than the way Parker would.
We get yet another ending foreshadowing future developments. Who knows what Doc Ock plans to do with Sandman, but we sure are NOT gonna find out next time!
Overall, this is yet another fantastic issue by Chris Yost. The art team by Medina and Vlasco did a superb job once again. I can’t find a fault with this issue. The story held my interest all the way through, the gags were funny, and Yost makes Ock worth reading about.
SPIDER-MAN: (narrating) I’ll have to leave the children. They’ll be fine, though, right? After all, what could possibly–
SPIDER-MAN: –happen? Spider-Sense? Flaring. Parker luck…? In full effect.
VERDICT: Avenging Spider-Man #17 is an excellent issue from start to finish. It’s a lot of fun. The art is beautifully done. The premise is not exactly original, and the characters featured are of the lesser-known variety, but don’t let that stop you from getting this issue. 5 Webheads of 5.
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~My Two Cents