Last issue of Marvel Knights Spider-Man has taken an expected amount of heat, but will this issue improve readers’ opinions (if they haven’t dropped it yet)? I’ll give you a hint: No! Spidey has awoken from his drug trip and is now facing even more of his rogue’s gallery! …And that’s it! Featuring SANDMAN, HYDRO MAN, SHOCKER, and MYSTERIO!
MARVEL KNIGHTS SPIDER-MAN (VOLUME 2), ISSUE #2
“99 Problems” Part Two
Written By: Matt Kindt
Pencils By: Marco Rudy
Colors By: Val Staples
PLOT: There isn’t much of one. The story begins with Spider-Man falling out of the airplane he was aboard at the end of last issue. He flashes back to fifteen minutes previously (seriously), where we see Spidey fight Sandman, Hydro Man, Shocker, and Mysterio. Sandman completely envelopes Peter, but he somehow hits Sandy in the sand-crotch, effectively disintegrating him. Hydro Man begins to suck the water from Spidey’s body, but Spider-Man uses him to fry Shocker to apparent death. Spider-Man reaches Mysterio, who muses about the plane running on belief as a power source. This annoys Spider-Man so he punches Mysterio in the face. Finding that the plane is on autopilot, Spidey is initially relieved, but an explosion shakes the plane and Peter is sucked out into open air. Spider-Man lands in the ocean and figures the Kingpin is behind all of this. Um, okay.
THOUGHTS: Phew. So if you guys listen to the Crawlspace Podcast (and why wouldn’t you?) or have been talking to other Web-Heads online, then I assume you know that there is tangible hate in the air for the first issue of this miniseries. If you read my last review, you’ll also know that my opinion was quite different. I didn’t hate Marvel Knights Spider-Man #1 at all, though it was a very abstract issue and I can completely understand why a lot of fans wouldn’t be into that. Yes, Spidey was “trippin’” the whole issue, but I thought that it was interesting setup if nothing else and I appreciated the creators for trying something so different than what we’ve come to expect. I was looking forward to the next issue. That being said… Wow, this issue was terrible. When Spidey dropped into the ocean at the end, I guess I skipped over the “To Be Continued” box because I turned the page genuinely expecting much more. I was honestly shocked that the issue was over. Please, compare my synopsis of Issue #1 to my synopsis of this issue. Does this one look a little shorter? That’s because almost NOTHING HAPPENED. I did not feel cheated last month, I felt like the story was introduced and the characters moved along in an interesting way. This month, I can’t believe this thing cost $3.99. Fans say that a lot, but this issue didn’t move the story along at all! Spider-Man tells us in his narration that it literally takes place in a span of fifteen minutes! Unless you consider Spider-Man kind of killing Shocker important, but I’ll get to that in a second. I want to fully review this thing, so I wrote out a full synopsis, but you could easily sum all of this up with “Spider-Man punches the bad guys and falls out of the plane into the water. To Be Continued.” This whole 99 Problems story was built up as a huge threat and a big problem for Spider-Man, and Kindt has 5 issues to tell it. I can’t even begin to comprehend why he would waste (yes, WASTE) an entire part like this. And trust me, lack of story content isn’t the only problem. There’s got to be at least 98 more. So let’s dig into this thing.
I need to start by talking about continuity and Shocker’s slight case of death. You guys commented on my last review trying to figure out where this story is supposed to fit into Spider-Man’s tricky continuity. I didn’t worry too much about it at first, I assumed a Crawlspacer would figure out some time back when Peter was single (and alive) that these events could have occurred. But when you see the four villains this issue, a big ol’ wrench is thrown into whatever idea you may have had going. First, Mysterio has only looked (kind of) like that in the Clone Saga, and a whole lot like that in Ultimate Comics Spider-Man. This might not seem like that big of a deal, but then we have Shocker’s redesign. First of all: Why? Second of all: That makes this story even harder to figure out because Shocker has never (to my recollection) looked anything like that. Spider-Man even mentions the villains having new looks, which is completely unnecessary. At this point I’m going to just assume that this story is taking place in its own little pocket universe, Earth-616.1 or something. Marvel likes their decimals. And I guess in this Earth-616.1, Peter Parker doesn’t have a problem with… Not exactly killing, but causing villains to die, because he very clearly uses Hydro Man to fry Shocker. I don’t mean his face is blackened and his hair is standing up, I mean we literally just see a skeleton. On top of that, Spider-Man leaves the rest of the villains in the crashing plane to… Live, I guess? No.
There were places in this issue where the art was gorgeous. It really was, especially that spread of Spider-Man falling out out of the plane. But like last issue, the art sometimes became so abstract that you can’t tell what’s going on. If there weren’t a few seats now and then, you would totally forget that Spider-Man was fighting these guys on an airplane. At the end of last issue I was left thinking about how fun it could be to see Spidey fight multiple villains on a plane, but wow that setting was vastly under-utilized, as were the villains. And there were these weird… I don’t even know what to call them, there were these weird little comic strips on the sides of the pages during the fights. Each one showed something vaguely (vaguely in the strongest sense of the word) related to the villain Spider-Man was fighting. Like when Spider-Man fought Hydro Man, there was a little cartoon Uncle Ben with the initials “UB” on his shirt trying to show a young cartoon Peter how to swim. During the Sandman fight, you see the two characters at the beach and so on and so weird. They are excessive, I don’t get why they are taking up page space. From the art, I seriously can not tell how Spider-Man defeated Sandman. He does something with his fist, Sandman is like “Ow, man! Low Blow!” and he disintegrates for the rest of the issue. I guess he found Sandman’s weak spot? Who knows. The ending was also extremely unclear. Spider-Man sees that the plane is on autopilot, and then some random explosion comes and Spidey is sucked into the air. And why on Earth would he just assume the Kingpin is behind this??
Two more things I want to address, the first being Peter’s ridiculous lack of urgency this entire time. He doesn’t have a serious thought in his head, despite the fact that he has no idea where he is, how he will survive, or how many innocent lives are on the line. He says: “I’d like to know who they are, though… I’ll play the game until I figure out what’s really going on.” Okay Peter, but you’re not going to question any of the villains? You’re just going to punch them all into unconsciousness and hope for answers? It’s clear Mysterio has some insight, but no, Spider-Man just sucker punches him in the face. Alrighty.
One thing I kind of liked was the way Peter thought about the way he uses his Spider-Sense, but… Not much of a pro really, when you lay it all on the table.
PROS: A lot of great and unique art, interesting Spidey narration.
CONS: Terribly unclear storytelling, bizarre leaps in logic, Spider-Man punches first and asks questions never, lack of urgency, weird continuity, NOTHING HAPPENED.
GRADE: D. I would have slapped a minus on that D, but I really did love some of the artwork. This one was a suckfest in my opinion. Most of the potential that I thought the first issue gave this miniseries has been wasted and I don’t even know what to think about that. But what did you guys think? Hate? Love? Hate? Probably hate? DROP ME A COMMENT and let me know! Thank you for reading, Web-Heads.