It’s an Infinity crossover. Off the top of my head I think this is the first time a version of Marvel Team Up has ever been involved in a crossover.
Superior Spider-man Team-Up #3
Writer: Robert Rodi
Artist: Michael Del Mundo
Letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover: Paolo & Joe Rivera
Spoilers to follow after the break (and note the ending is a damn fine plot twist you may not want spoiled so you’ve been warned):
The Plot: So for those who aren’t following Infinity, the short version is The Avengers discover an ancient alien menace has made its way into known space and decide to join the Shi’ar Empire in preventing them from getting any further. While the Avengers are off-world Thanos figures this is an ideal time to strike at the Earth, with a particular focus on the Inhumans, while a bunch alien riffraff target the rest of the planet for him. This book is picking up either after or between the pages of the new Mighty Avengers title in which an alien horde descended on NYC and with the Avengers gone it fell to Heroes for Hire and few reserve Avengers like Spidey and Captain Marvel 2.0 (Monica Rambeau now using the name Spectrum) to defend the city.
While the new makeshift Avengers team fights on, we meet a teen/college-age chick named Sylvia who doesn’t like technology and enjoys reading medieval texts before she is evacuated by the invasion but she is a little late in leaving and gets exposed to a mysterious green gas.
Octo-Spidey is disabling the alien soldiers with ease by ripping out their air supplies when one of his Spider-Bots picks up the disturbance affecting Sylvia. He finds her now transformed into an energy-being and in a panic. He wants to study her for science but there isn’t time due that pesky alien invasion. He helps her pick out a codename (Fulmina) and gets her to agree to help the Avengers fight the aliens and then when it is over, the Avengers can help her become human again.
Ock then teaches her to ride the power lines to get to the battle site, but when she gets there she panics because she can’t figure out how to reform. And then she decides if she is going to be a hero and save the world, maybe should deal with the larger problem of technology and decides she is going to short out the electric grid and bring society back to the dark ages.
Critical Thoughts: Basically the beginning of this book annoyed me, I hated the middle but then I really liked the plot twist at the end. So let’s look at those elements one at a time.
This book does nothing to advance the Infinity crossover at all. I suppose you could say that about a lot of crossover issues, but I had higher hopes for this one. In part because I tend to enjoy Thanos stories, and also because this book has been going nowhere so I was hoping we’d see some higher stakes and that would move things along. Instead the opposite occurred with Octo-Spidey totally dismissing the alien threat and dispatching them with ease. Ignoring how that completely undermines the gravitas of your major crossover, I don’t think that rings true to Ock. Alien invasions are so above his normal experience level he should be freaked out even with whatever confidence he’s gained the past few months as Spidey. Hell Peter ran in terror the first time he met Thanos and he is far more of a true hero than Ock will ever be, and that was after years of experience as a crime fighter. Ock wanted to run off from a group a C-list foes in the first issue of Superior but now he is dismissively battling a horde of space aliens after what is presumably a month or two at the most Marvel time as a crime fighter. I simply don’t buy it. I could buy that he would fight the threat alongside the Avengers if no one else was available but not that he would consider this threat beneath him, literally saying at one point “how vexing” it is there is a worldwide alien invasion taking up his time right now when he has better things to do.
This brings us to the part I hated. Ock meets Lumina and is super-impressed with her powers. And I’m like, ‘Dude, you just walked away from Spectrum two pages ago and she has the exact same powers!’ Actually Monica’s powers are much more diverse but at the most basic level turning into energy is her power. Now you could argue, he wants to study Lumina and Monica wouldn’t go for that. And normally I would buy that argument; except he has frickin’ Electro prisoner right now! And while traditionally Electro just shoots lightening and doesn’t turn into it like this girl does, in the Avenging Team-up issue (which is essentially the exact same series we’re reading now) where Ock captured Electro, Electro received a power upgrade from AIM that . . . wait for it . . . LET’S HIM TURN INTO ENERGY! So yea that whole scene was just poorly thought out.
However, I really liked the ending plot twist. Here Ock tries to give a patented Peter, ‘rah rah use your powers responsibly’ speech and he ends up inspiring this girl to cause mass havoc. Furthermore I can completely buy why the girl is doing this. We saw she has a fondness for the past and a dislike of technology. Assuming she’s a college freshman–who generally spend their time debating ways the world or society could be better–I can believe that she could misinterpret what Ock said and go for using her powers some broad-based social solution. What makes this interesting is even with this turn of events she isn’t evil. She’s misguided and she’s attempting a solution that is both idealistic and simplistic as someone of her age thrust into a Great Power situation might do. That she has the potential to cause a lot of destruction and that Ock is indirectly Responsible for her actions creates both an interesting story dilemma in the short-term and has the potential to let Ock echo the central theme of Peter’s life if this character sticks around in the long term. So big kudos to introducing a new character that’s actually interesting because that doesn’t happen very often.
Grade: This is hard to grade in that the first two-thirds of the story were disappointing leaning towards terrible but then the ending really worked. It was a well done surprise but one where you can go back, see the foreshadowing and say, ‘Ah, that makes sense.’ I’m giving this a C-, reflecting there are legitimate negative criticisms in this comic while acknowledging the cliffhanger did it job by making me want to read the next issue.