Octo-Spidey looks to get the Chameleon out of SHIELD custody, but he’s not the only one interested in the Chameleon.
Avenging Spider-man #20
Writer: Christopher Yost
Artist: Marco Checchetto
Colorist: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Art: Paolo Riveria
Spoilers to follow after the break:
The Plot: In Russia a KGB looking gentleman frets over SHIELD’s recent capture of the Chameleon and what secrets Chameleon may reveal to them and so orders a hit on him.
In NYC we meet the new Nick Fury, who now looks exactly like Samuel L Jackson in the Avengers movie. Indeed as this story proceeds we’ll see SHIELD is now in full on copy the movie mode: Phil Coulson is a character in it, Hawkeye and Black Widow are SHIELD agents, Bruce Banner is on the Hellicarrier science lab, and even the acronym has been changed to match the movie version. Anyway Fury comes across Octo-Spidey, who has just captured some AIM agents and turns them over to Fury knowing this will get him aboard the Hellicarrier.
On the Hellicarrier Octo-Spidey makes chit-chat with Hawkeye & Widow while sending little spider robots into the Hellicarrier so he can monitor everything in it. We finally see Chameleon, whom is being unsuccessfully interrogated by a SHIELD psychiatrist. And then a cloaked Russian fighter jet arrives outside the Hellicarrier waiting for the moment to attack and “kill them all.”
Back onboard we see Octo-Spidey use his robots to cut the power to set up a ruse where he able to check the cellblock. Things take an unexpected turn when the Russians beam onboard led two by superhumans: one who has a rot touch and one of whom has a lightsaber. Ock runs out on the fight to find Chameleon but instead finds Chameleon used the opportunity of the power failure to murder the doctor and guard and escape his cell, which Ock feels responsible for. He doesn’t have time to feel guilty for long as the two super-spies arrive at the cell block. He fights them briefly while trying to figure out how to catch up to Chameleon when suddenly Hulk shows up.
Critical Thoughts: Overall this is a good issue. While I wouldn’t put Chameleon in the upper echelon of Spidey foes, I think the character works best when used in espionage style stories like this one. The Russian villains, while not an instant classic or anything, are adequate enough in their role of secondary antagonists in a story that is packed with characters.
Ock’s voice again rings true this issue. I like how we see his opinions of Hawkeye and Widow—he dismisses the former as a moron, but respects Widow’s assassination skills. (I don’t agree with those opinions as Hawkeye is actually my second favorite Avengers, but I can accept Ock would see him that way.) There’s also a small but fun moment where Ock thinks to himself, “It feels like I should tell a joke here” showing Ock still has to work at impersonating Spidey. Playing into the “superior” concept you also get the idea that part of Ock’s plan on the Hellicarrier is to prove he can outsmart SHIELD by spying on the master spies with his robots. I mean yes, his ultimate goal is to get Chameleon and not ego, but I get the impression between the lines of the story that Ock chose this particular way of getting to him just to prove he could do it.
This story is also an interesting change of pace for Octo-Spidey as this is one of the few villainous things Ock has done since becoming Spidey. This isn’t him going overboard or being more ruthless than Peter in stopping a crime. He is actively committing a crime himself in trying to break Chameleon out of prison. And while he is probably doing this for his ongoing Sinister Six collection subplot, instead of actually setting him free: he is still acting on selfish motives against the law.
I think we also have the potential for some interesting character interactions next issue. The doctor scene reiterates that Chameleon is a master of impersonation. Will that enable him to recognize that Ock (or at least someone else) is impersonating Spidey? I also recall it being shown in flashback in ASM 600 that Hulk contributed to Ock’s fatal brain damage so how will he react to the possibility of fighting Hulk again? Heck they even show Taskmaster is onboard the Hellicarrier for one panel in this issue. Could Taskmsaster run into Octo-Spidey and notice Spidey’s body language is different since his power is to mimic athletic body movements and he’s copied Spidey before? In that sense this issue has done its job of getting me to want to see what will happen next issue.
While not Spidey related, I should also comment on the changes to SHIELD we see in this issue since they are pretty major. There is no explanation given as to why SHIELD and especially Nick Fury are suddenly so different in mainstream Marvel continuity, which is a bit of strike against this. I suspect the answer lies in Age of Ultron which has a big time travel plot going on and they don’t want to spoil the ending to that event here, but it is a little odd to just have everything be like it was in the Avengers movie for no reason. I understand why Marvel would make those changes: I mean the movie made literally a billion dollars; and plus now they have a TV show based on the movie continuity coming out. And I don’t particularly care about SHIELD’s existing continuity (and apparently I’m not alone since SHIELD and Fury haven’t been able to carry a solo title since the 1960s)—although as a Hawkeye fan I don’t think he fits in as a SHIELD agent at all. I will say I love the Avengers movie as much as anyone but there’s way too many references to it in this story: I mean they directly reference Samuel Jackson and say the phrase “having black in their ledger,” and a few other overt references until finally you want to scream, ‘Yea I get it. We all saw the movie.’ But overall these are little complaints that did not spoil my overall enjoyment of the issue.