If you thought Morlun and the inheritors were Spider-Man’s biggest threat to date you don’t know the magesty, and eviiil of IGUANA. You know Iguana from Spectacular Spider-Man 32 in 1979. Curt Connor’s pet Iguana? Anyone? ANYONE?
WRITER: Dan Slott and Christos Gage
PENCILER: Humberto Ramos
INKERS: Victor Olazaba
COLOR: Edgar Delgado
LETTERER: Chris Eliopoulos
ASSISTANT EDITOR: Devin Lewis
EDITOR: Nick Lowe
PLOT: Our story begins with Peter Parker in a duel to the death with Iguana (OH YEAH CAN’T BELIEVE HE’S BACK RIGHT GUYS? *crickets*). Spider-Man is having issues maintaining his power levels due to Morlun sucking out his life source last issue. While in the battle he gets a phone call from Aunt May who is currently attending an auction. She is worried because she hasn’t heard from Peter in ages, but is quickly convinced to hang up after John Jameson sr. who reminds her Peter has an important meeting today. Peter then receives a call from a disgruntled Anna Maria who tells Peter he better arrive to the meeting on time. Sajani then grabs the phone and repeats Anna Maria’s sentiment in a less kind manner. She repeats her doubts about the project and reminds Peter he best have something spectacular planned as Alchemax is doing the meeting before them. We then cut to the meeting inside as Alchemax outlines their plans for the future prison. It is revealed they want to focus on curing super villains using Mark Raxton as both their poster boy and head of security. As they leave the meeting Peter Parker finally shows up, right at the last minute. As the two teams pass Liz Allan states she has some fears of Peter actually pulling the meeting off. From here we get a scene of Raxton and Tiberius Stone entering the super villain bar run by The Black Cat and hire super villain The Ghost in order to dispatch of Peter Parker permanently.
There’s also a bit at the end about the Ringer being beat up by Black Cat because he doesn’t have her money. Then she talks about how awesome her life was before it all got ruined by Spider-Man. Then she talks about her plan to steal it all back…yeah nothing really important.
STORY: Boy oh boy is this issue heavy on exposition. Nearly the entire first page is exposition, and explaining. Then there’s more exposition about Spider-Man’s weakened state. Then there’s exposition about Spider-Man’s meeting. Then there’s exposition about Peter’s views on a Super villain prison. Then there’s exposition about Mark Raxton. Needless to say I kind of loved every second of it. Is it hokey, lame, and somewhat poor storytelling? Yes. Does it have the look, feel, and tone of a cheesy 70’s issue? HELL YES.
We have the appearance of three of my favorite ridiculous super villains: Iguana, Ghost, and of course Eight Ball (he’s just having a drink but I swear he’ll do something awesome soon). Now for Iguana this is a character we haven’t seen (to my knowledge) since his appearance in Spectacular Spider-Man back in the 70s. For those of you who haven’t read the story it involves Curt Connor’s turning his pet Iguana into the Lizard. Except he has the power to hypnotize people…you know like Iguana’s do. The story ends with Iguana being reverted to his original form which well…is an Iguana. How did Iguana become Iguana again? Who knows his appearance feels like Slott was just reading an old Marvel Wiki and felt the need to add him in as a nod to old fogey’s who remember this ridiculous story. Hopefully this drives people to find the original gem in back issue bin. It’s always fun to see Spider-Man in a traditional “not really focused on the villain while talking on the cell phone” gag.
The Alchemax beat is perfectly uninteresting. I mean in the Marvel time line Mark Raxton was Molten Man what like last tuesday? It’s kind of insane that he is being flaunted as Alchemax’s poster boy. I mean the old “super villain is cured” plot always goes magnificently for the companies in charge of the program. *Cough* Two Face in Dark Knight Returns *cough*. While we are speaking of DC and specifically Batman I find it really strange that Black Cat now has almost the exact same role as Cat Woman does in new Batman comics. Both characters have become gang bosses. Although Cat Woman’s has some better storytelling explaining the “why”. Black Cat is still just coming off as a whinny sore loser. I mean was her life really thaaat good before? Boring dinner parties, and a bunch of fake friends? Why would you want that back. Also ugh the butt belt needs to die. Continuity quibble, why did The Ringer say they worked together in the past? The Ringer is like the third person to take on this mantle from the Hobgoblin super villain buyout, as he definitely got crippled or severely injured in Superior. Perhaps its just some henchman that worked with her once, but that still only barely makes sense.
If looked at from the grand history of Spider-Man there are bound to be nearly 50 issues that cover nearly the exact same plot beats as this issue. Re-establishing Spidey as a character is a requirement of any story after a big event, and they always read like .1 issues. Now personally these stories never really bother me. I enjoyed this issue even though it really doesn’t matter. It was irreverent, fun, and had a few really great jokes. For example the “time” joke when he is getting slammed into an old sundial. Iguana being one of my weird favorites doesn’t hurt this issue much either. Just wait until Eight Ball finally does something, that will immediately be a perfect issue.