Marvel Knights Spider-Man (Vol. 2) #3 (of 5) Review


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Enter if you dare.

 

MARVEL KNIGHTS SPIDER-MAN VOLUME 2, ISSUE #3

“99 Problems” Part Three

Written by: Matt Kindt

Pencils by: Marco Rudy

Colors by: Val Staples

 

PLOT: Spider-Man nearly drowns in the ocean, but then is taken into a submarine. He wakes up to the Queen, who asks him if he has ever thought about what their children would look like. Naturally he is confused by this, but things become more confusing once Queen says that her pet spider has already retrieved Spider-Man’s “essence”. Yes, her spider “retrieved” Peter Parker’s “essence”. He continues down a passageway of the submarine, opens a door, and finds Venom and Carnage waiting for him. Spidey apprehends Carnage with a sploosh of his webbing, and Venom informs him that he wants his brains pretty badly. There are some speakers on the ceiling using vibration to drive the symbiotes crazy, Spider-Man somehow uses his web to change the frequency of the speakers, which… Calms the villains down, I think. Spidey leaves, running into the villain Scarecrow, who’s… crying about something. He sends some crows after Spider-Man, so he runs away. He next runs into Tombstone, who is also very upset. He says that he always wanted to be the boss, but now he’s just a pawn in someone else’s game. He walks through a door (the art is very unclear, my impression was that he somehow killed himself), exiting the story. Spidey continues on, running into a character named Nitro, who apparently just wants to die and take a superhero with him. The countdown that has been running the entire issue reaches zero, and Nitro blows up.

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THOUGHTS: What do I even say? This was awful. If you are a fan of any of the villains in this book, you are going to be astonished with how atrocious their characterization is. Let’s start with plotholes. I do not understand how we got from last issue’s ending to the beginning of this issue. Spidey landed in the water, and he seemed to be swimming fine. He used his psychic powers to figure out that Kingpin must be behind all of this. Yet when this issue starts, he is drowning deep in the ocean and Kingpin is not mentioned even once. Then what was even the point of the lame and head-scratching cliffhanger last issue? And how did he go from swimming to drowning and unconsciousness? Do I even care? Not much. One of the things about this story that is bugging me the most but Matt Kindt doesn’t want me to think about is how the myseeerioouuss mastermind behind all of this ridiculousness is setting these kid-playing-with-action-figures situations for Spider-Man. First, we got Peter following a random photographer wanted ad into the haunted house with all of the villains whom I suppose were just sitting around waiting for him to show up. How did they know he would follow that ad? How did they know when he would show up? What on earth were those creepy little robot girls? In the second issue, how did they get Peter aboard that plane? And the most glaring question to date comes up in this one. For Spider-Man to be taken aboard that submarine, the mastermind would have to have known:

 

  1. Exactly when Spider-Man would wake up on the plane.
  2. Exactly how long it would take him to defeat the three villains aboard the plane.
  3. The fact that Spider-Man would choose to jump out of the plane.
  4. Exactly when Spider-Man would jump out AND FINALLY
  5. Exactly how long it would take for Spidey to reach exhaustion from swimming and drown.

There is no possible way for the mastermind to predict all of this, let alone wrangle up ninety-nine villains, murderers, and criminals and make them all stand around and wait for the plan to fall into place. None of this adds up.

 

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As if the plot holes aren’t bad enough, each and every character is just plain written terribly. I’ll get to Peter in a moment, let’s talk about the villains. I haven’t read all of Queen’s stories due to them being infamous for sucking, but I’m going to go ahead and say she was written terribly. Just in general, no one talks like this. Her dialogue is like Matt Kindt writing Talia al Ghul, but you know, badly. She calls Spider-Man “my love” in almost every word bubble and the words “My man, my Spider-Man… You were always the strongest of them all…” couldn’t possibly be cheesier. The most… disconcerting thing in this comic is that Queen’s pet spider “retrieved” Spider-Man’s “essence” while he was asleep. To put it lightly, the spider took his… “manly DNA”. Why? What was the point of that? And why does Spider-Man have absolutely no reaction to this horrifying development other than acting like it’s gross? …How exactly did the spider “retrieve” it? I don’t even really want to know the answer to the last one but my brain is still asking the question. I don’t even think Carnage said anything in the issue but Venom was written in the stereotypical way that even his hardcore fans roll their eyes at. I believe his exact line was: “We wantssss your brain, sssspider!”. That’s gripping stuff. I don’t even know how the whole subwoofer controlling the symbiotes thing is supposed to work, but if it’s really that easy, it takes the threat of the symbiotes down quite a few pegs. It should not be that simple of a process to tame them. Also, we are told that there are men inside the suits, but the issue does not tell us who exactly they are, further placing this story in confusing continuity territory. Tombstone. I’m not sure what to say about his scene other than it was so confusing and uninteresting. He might have killed himself. I’m not familiar with the Scarecrow that Spider-Man runs across while he’s having an emotional breakdown, but that was so pointless and anticlimactic I read it twice to make sure I didn’t miss something.

 

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I will personally PM you a picture of a real dollar on the message board if you can tell me that you honestly know who Nitro is without checking. I had to Google. Apparently he is a criminal and terrorist who received the power to blow himself up and reform as much as he wants. Kind of like Extremis in Iron Man 3 but less lethal for the one blowing up. He got his power from genetic alteration by the “Kree Lunatic Legion”. Needless to say, Nitro is a very obscure character and at the end of the issue he cries about wanting to die and blows up. How am I supposed to feel about this? I hope Spidey makes it out of this alive?

 

The art by Marco Rudy is getting harder to look at. I enjoyed his unique style in the first issue, was nothing but confused in issue #2, and now just trying to figure out what is going on is exhausting. There were a few pages I really liked, such as the first story page where Peter is drowning and the bubbles swirl around him, that was painted beautifully. Despite hating what was going on, I also really liked the art on the Venom and Carnage pages. The paint-like colors really do a lot for Marco Rudy’s work. The way the symbiote scene is colored gives the aliens a flowing, smooth look. I think Rudy’s style gives the symbiotes a great look and I love how the panels are set up in the shape of Venom and Carnage’s faces. I also love the way the Nitro scene is colored, it gives the scene an eerie feel and the explosion (as pointless as it seems), looks gorgeous. Other than those great pages, however, the art again tries so hard to be trendy and different that it detracts from the story dramatically. Not that there was much story to detract from in the first place.

 

I could go on for MUCH longer about the problems with this issue, but that would just be beating a dead horse at this point. This was bad storytelling. If I’m not only not looking forward to the next issue, but actually somewhat dreading it, that means that this is not a story well told. I don’t know how Kindt and Co. plan to wrap this story up in two issues and I wish them the best, but I don’t think I could possibly be enjoying this story any less.

 

PROS: Some beautiful pages and unique layouts, lovely paint-style coloring, it’s still Peter Parker I guess.

CONS: Queen’s spider literally took a sample of Spider-Man’s sperm while he slept (can there be a bigger con?), each character was written poorly in their own unique way (which is impressive), the art was difficult to follow, the way this entire story is playing out does not add up, I have little interest in where this is going.

GRADE: D-. Whew. What did you guys think? Do you agree with my points or am I dead wrong? LEAVE ME A COMMENT and let me know! Thanks for reading, Crawlspacers!

(11) Comments

  1. E. Wilson

    The debate over this title reminds me of a discussion I had at my LCS regarding the Spider-Man: The Graphic Novels collection released last year. I own it, and was asked my thoughts on it. I explained that, with the exception of "Parallel Lives", it's a VERY unconventional Spidey collection, with some very different types of stories. This is a book, after all, where Spidey protects an immortal wizard child from a Lovecraftian horror called the "Thunder Cockroach", with artwork that wouldn't look out of place airbrushed onto the side of a van in 1972. It's a unique Spidey collection, and it won't be to everyone's tastes because of that. I'm definitely getting the same vibe from this series. It's, by definition, not going to be to everyone's tastes because of its very unconventional approach. At the same time, some folks will totally dig it for the same reason. And I loved me some Thunder Cockroach, so I should probably check this one out, too.

  2. crazychris

    I like experimental and pychodelic comics. My favorite comic series of all time is Sandman by Neil Gaiman and I also am a huge fan of The Invisibles by Grant Morrison. I enjoyed Arkham Asylum by Morrison, which I see as being in the same "genre" as this volume of Marvel Knights Spider-Man. Even looking at this series fully accepting what kind of comic it is trying to be, I still saw nothing interesting in the first issue. It is a series of disconnected snapshots of fights with random villains without a single thought-provoking idea in it. The art style would have been groundbreaking 20 years ago but it is nothing extraordinary today when I can go buy an issue of Sandman Overture and see JH Williams do these kinds of experimental layouts for a story that actually has some interesting ideas.

  3. George Berryman

    What kind of story should one expect with a comic that has Spider-Man written in giant letters on top of a Spider-Man symbol across the cover? Howard the Duck? Nomad?

  4. Chasing Amazing

    @Chris I think the value I see from it comes from the fact that I'm approaching it as something more experimental and high concept. It's unquestionably NOT a Spider-Man story and can understand why fans are turned off by it, but for me personally, I think Rudy's art is excellent given the vibe and tone of the series and I appreciate some of the unique character beats that Kindt is hitting upon. I especially thought the stuff with Sandman and Hydro-Man in issue #2 was really smart and cerebral and actually liked the Tombstone characterization here for just how unsettling it is. If you've read Kindt's work on Mind MGMT, I think there's lots of parallels, and I happen to think Mind MGMT is an excellent read... of course that begs the question is Kindt just doing the story he wants to do, regardless of its connection to Spider-Man continuity or history of any kind. And based on the interview my site/podcast had with him, it appears that Axel Alonso gave Kindt and Rudy a blank slate to just do whatever the heck they wanted with the character, and tell a story their way... my assumption is the bigger goal for Marvel out of this series is to recruit new talent from the indie circuit, and Kindt, by most reports, is the next big thing for writers. With all that said, I know I can't argue with you or BD or anyone else who opened up this comic expecting a Spider-Man story and got something else altogether. I will readily admit, this is NOT a good Spider-Man story, but as a general comic book enthusiast, I'm enjoying the experience of reading it. My complaint about this review (and the last one, I honestly didn't see Crawlspace's review on the first issue) was that the articles came across as if the reviewer had gone into an arena expecting to see the Beatles, got Yoko Ono in a bag singing in a box instead, but reviewed the Beatles anyway.

  5. CrazyChris

    Chasing Amazing, I honestly can't understand why anyone would want to read a story that is full of confounding logic and off-kilter characterization. What do you like about it? I only read part one, and I thought it was incomprehensible.

  6. BD

    I would give the story an F and did in the podcast we just recorded for Spider-Satellites. Just because Spider-Man is in limbo doesn't mean the writer is in limbo. Him randomly going through doors and villains isn't a story. I've spent $12 for 3 issues and have no clue what is going on? He's drugged I get that, but where are we going with this story? At this point I'm so frustrated I don't care. Where is the hook? What is making me want to continue to read confusion? I rank this as one of the worst Spider-Man stories of all time.

  7. Punisher

    Well of course the story is hard to follow, this is Peter's mind in limbo. I'm reading this story as it's peters mind now that he's been pushed out of his body by ock but isn't dead and can't move on. So everything is fast paced discombobulated and confusing as he battles the horrors from his past. That's the only way I can read the story, I am sure I will be disappointed at the end but whatever, it's a Peter story so no matter what it's more enjoyable than what's going on in superior which got old months ago, seriously they are just dragging the plot out now by revisiting the exact same things over and over again.

  8. Shaun Martineau

    I'm on the opposite side of the scale from you... I agree with a lot of what Chasing Amazing said... And Nitro is a rather low tier big name, mostly in relation to kick starting Civil War; he's been in video games and Marvel events... I always thought he was more of Wolverine/New Warriors villain though, not Spidey. My roommates who barely read Marvel comics know who he is, thanks to CW and Ultimate Alliance 2. My biggest problem is how much they're throwing into a single issue and how long it's getting strung out... Less villains, a couple of trippy issues, and a clarification issue to top it all off in three issues would have been nice.

  9. Chasing Amazing

    It's. A. Drug. Trip. Put aside your preconceived ideas of what a Spider-Man comic book has traditionally been, and what you're left with is what Kindt and Rudy are going for. The characterizations are meant to be off-kilter and the logic of how Spidey gets from Point A to Point B is designed to be confounding. I can totally understand a story like this not being everyone's cup of tea (I think it's groovy, but I also love Kindt's work on Mind MGMT, which is equally disconcerting in tone), but this site's reviews of this series thus far come across as someone not understanding why the peg is square rather than round. And while Nitro is a deep cut, he did fight Spidey once in Spectacular, was a mainstay in the Bronze Age Captain Marvel stories and was a key part of the events that kicked off Civil War, so it's not like he's THAT obscure.

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