Plus, Mayday alert, you get not one but two Spider-Woman in one book.
Spider-Island #1: Altered States
Writer: Christos Gage
Artist: Paco Diaz
Colorist: Frank D’Armata
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Editors: Nick Lowe & Devin Lewis
Editor-In-Chief: Axel Alonso
Mayday Parker: Spider-Woman in “Shattered”
Storytellers: Ron Frenz & Tom DeFalco
Finished Art: Sal Buscema
Colors: Andrew Crossley
Letters: Travis Lanham
Editor: Nick Lowe
Flash Thompson, aka Agent Venom, is one of the last human survivors after the events of Spider-Island. In a united front against The Spider Queen, Spider-Man lead New York’s heroes against her army of mindless spider-people, made up of hero and citizen alike. The Spider-Virus proved to be more contagious than thought and Spider-Man fell at the hands of his own allies while Flash managed to escape and fight another day, thanks to the Venom symbiote.
Current Day, Agent Venom and Vision lead a heist to steal something from Spider-Island. Venom makes a sacrifice play so Vision can escape when a horde finds them, but not without an ace up his sleeve. As night falls, Jack Russel turns from Spider-Slave to Werewolf. They’re able to fight off a horde but flee into the sewers from a Six Armed Hulk. Agent Venom leaves Jack behind as day approaches, who tells him of a possible cure at Horizon Labs.
At HQ, Flash meets up with Vision and Jessica Drew (Spider-Woman) to plan an assault on Horizon. To do so could very well be humanity’s last stand as there are so few uninfected left. Jessica and Vision think it may be a trap, but Flash has a secondary plan to justify the mission.
The assault on Horizon turns out to be a trap, as they are attacked by Spider-Marvel, Spider-America, and Spulk. However, Flash reveals he has been collecting items that can rewrite DNA from Spidey’s Rogues. He changes Captain America into a Were-Wolf (via John Jameson’s stone), Captain Marvel into a vampire (with Michael Morbius’ blood), and Hulk into Hizard (using Curt Connors’ formula). The issue ends with Iron Man leading a horde of Spider-Soldiers against Agent Venom and his team, with Hulk, Cap 1 and Cap 2 going feral.
Thoughts:When I first started collecting comics, I lived in a small town, where the concience store only got two series: Amazing Spider-Man & Avengers Academy by Christos Gage. AA remains a favorite today, consistently good, ccassionally exceptional. Gage knows how to pace a comic and if this is one last go with Flash in Spider-Man’s world before he becomes rooted in Marvel’s Cosmic line, then he is in good hands.
This issue is a celebration of Flash in many of his roles. We see Quarterback Flash Thompson, the Hail Marying natural leader in the field. We see the founder of Spider-Man’s Fan-Club in the way Flash uses the mistakes of Spider-Man’s enemies to save the Avengers from mind control. We see the soldier who is willing to sacrifice himself for his country, in the way Flash is willing to sacrifice himself for humanity. And we see the broken man hiding behind the symbiote, except now his escape makes him one of the most important people alive. This books feels most like a spiritual successor to Rememnder’s first dozen issues, before the Circle of Four Hell madness. But the best thing about this Flash is how prepared he is. He has a backup plan going into everything and he leads a team clamly through a transistion from Plan A to Plan B. This is Flash at his worst but Agent Venom at his best.
With such a celebration of Flash, it’s kind of a let down that none of his supporting cast is around. Maybe Betty and the others are coming later, but hell I’d even take Cletus Kassidy… Scratch that, we need Carnage in this. Still, Jessica and Vision jive well with Flash and I enjoy this team’s banter; how Flash complains about never being able to escape the sounds of spider legs above him or Vision defends his prediction of Flash’s death by calculating the odds. Jack Russel steals the show in his brief appearance, I hope he returns in some capacity going forward.
This book is beautiful and nostalgic for the Agent Venom days with Paco Diaz returning to the character. He really sells the nature of these spider infected characters, his six armed Hulk is a favorite of mine. I’m excited to see him draw the monstered out Avengers next issue, he gave us a nice teaser of their design at the end of this one.
Review: A ton happened this issue. It was a fast paced yet dense story with a great take on Agent Venom. And this is only one of five, there is still so much more to happen (although I predict it will slow down around issue three.) Here’s to remembering Flash as he was before he becomes who he will be.
What if: Flash is Jessica’s Baby Daddy?
I’m Torn Between Trying To Live Up To My Father’s Legacy And Curling Up Into A Ball: Ever since her father’s death in Spider-Verse, Mayday just feels like she is drifting through life outside of her costume.
She goes out on patrol with Stature… Stinger (Cassie Lang) and they are attacked by an female Avengers themed group of vigilantes called Dream Team. The issue ends with Cassie being converted to Dream Team’s side in the fight.
Mayday Thoughts: I started reading Spider-Girl for this review. I’m about 16 in on her first series and so far as 90s Spidey comics go, I like it a lot less than 2099 but more than the Ben Reily era. I don’t love the over exposition/thought narrative and it’s even worse when they say it aloud. It’s sitcom writing and this book isn’t funny enough to support it.
I really like how Mayday is reeling from the events of Spider-Verse, unsure if her identity of Spider-Woman is helping her with her depression or increasing it. Everyone’s concern for her is a little heavy handed though.
The art reminds me of a more animated Steve Dillon. They sell Mayday’s depression fairly well and the action has a very 90s feel to it.
They must have known when this book was coming out before writing because the supporting cast in this is basically the Lang family (both Scott and Cassie will be seen in Ant-Man next week)
Review: I don’t think I’m the intended audience but I enjoyed it for it was. Also, she is going through something very similar to what Gwen is in her book.