Spider-Island #1 (2015) Review (Spoilers)

SI-CPAgent Venom is back, and in top shape as the rest of the world fights to survive around him.

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

SI-FB“The Spider-Virus: Don’t Get It.” One helluva PSA:

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.SI-PB

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.

SI-2WWith 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.

SI-SWMayday 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.


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(15) Comments

  1. Al

    Regarding the Spider-Girl story I feel some things should be said. Spider-Girl was ccreated in the 1990s but also deliberately evoking Silver Age sensibilities. Ostensibly it was a wholesale rejection of then modern comic book practices and that continued onwards into the series. In later issues the refusal to decompress the stories was a point of pride amidst all the 6 part written for the trade stories in the business. The refusal to be grim, gritty and realistic like Ultimate Spider-Man or the likes of Civil War also became it’s standing point. There was even a villain called Mayhem who was effectively representative of the 90s and 2000s emphasis upon violent anti-hero protagonists and existed to show us Mayday’s old school sensibilities were better. That’s kind of the lens you need to be looking at Spider-Girl through. You know how USM was the decompressed talky trying to be realistic and capture teen dialogue Spider-Man book and that really applied to the rest of the Ultimate line? Well, the MC2 Universe defined itself very differently within the confines of it’s own universe. It was the nostalgia universe so its not really something to apply modern standards of dialogue and exposition to. At the same time though the ‘over exposition’ was done because at the time and even later on DeFalco stuck to the mantra of every issue is someone’s first thus all the relevant information should and had to be delivered in dialogue just like it was in comics from the 1960s-1990s. And honestly that is a genuinely effective method if your comic is written to be just picked up and enjoyed on its own without you needing to do research or buy a trade. A prime example. I tried to read Deathlok #2 recently and I was lost even with the recap page. Consequently I didn’t know what was happening until I got home and ran a google search. With MC2 books though I can be fine picking up any random issue at the store that day and reading it on the train back home and enjoying myself. Because it’s written that way. In fact having the CHARCTERS deliver this draws you into the story more than if you merely read a recap page. As for the exposition narrative being told out loud all I can think of is when Mayday is letting her heart out to Stinger and when MJ is explaining to Uncle Ben, both of which are natural places to put exposition since it’s a conversation. In short it really isn’t sitcom writing. I don’t see how everyone’s concern for her is heavy handed. We see Stinger concerned, we see her family concerned and we see literally 2 panels of her friends. I mean her Dad JUST died. How is that not going to lead to scenes of people showing concern? Peter got that when Aunt May died. I don’t think you can really compare this to Spider-Gwen’s depression. This was her father dying, a character we have emotional investment in. We’ve seen ZERO scenes of Gwen and Peter actually talking to one another so far and being guilty over Peter dying is so far the be all and end all of Spider-Gwen.

  2. Sano

    They can bring back Peter from MC2 back to life very easily. Since he never went through his "The Other" transformation well now's his chance. Sure the Inheritors should notice, but use either magic, aliens, high tech or whatever blocking their view as part of some grander plot and there you go. Anyway I really didn't enjoy the issue that much because Slott really poisoned this universe with Spider-Verse. I hope they put things back the way they were at some point.

  3. Frontier

    DeFalco and Frenz sure liked poking fun at the changes Slott made to their character, from the name change to the new generic costume, and don't seem to be very subtle about it.

  4. Enigma_2099

    @#8 Renew your Vows isn't fixing a god d*** thing. It's a glorified What If story tat's meant to sucker in people who want a married Peter Parker into giving them a few more dollars. NOTHING tat happened in One More Day is even being referenced, let alone addressed and fixed and after the reboot, you tell me how much of this will even matter.

  5. Will

    @3 Renew Your Vows is the store that is fixing Brand New Day, Civil War is also fixing it in a way because it is also showing a married Peter with daughter and not Mephisto experiences.

  6. PeterParkerfan

    I hope Mayday goes back to being 'Spider-Girl' after the Shattered story arc. She looks weird in her dad's costume.

  7. Diannah

    Shaun, I agree and disagree with you. I agree with you on the main story, although for different reasons. One doesn't have to be a Venom/Flash fan to appreciate this story. This is a tightly written story, which is a huge departure from most of the Secret Wars storylines. Gage is clearly a student of the Edgar Allan Poe school of writing: If it doesn't add to the story, don't include it. I would also add the art for both of these stories was outstanding, with special kudos for Buscema and Crossley in the second story. Drawing an athletic girl in a Spider-man costume without making her look male or over-sexualized is a challenge, but they pulled it off. But Shaun, where you and I disagree is on the second story. When you get to 30 issues or so, you can review this story. I think it was around issue 22 or so when Mayday had her confrontation with Normie Osborn, which is IMO one of the finest pieces of comic book work ever done. The rest of her stories just seal the deal, making you realize what a unique character Mayday really is. "Shattered" is a good opening act for a continuation of this character's story, and fits well as a follow-up to Spider-verse. If you don't get what makes this a great story, then you don't get Mayday. So go back and do your homework, and we'll wait here for you. :-)

  8. Enigma_2099

    f all the stories they want to go back and try to fix... they pick tis one instead of the most broken one.

  9. RDMacQ

    So...uh... why the @#$% was MJ on the cover of the issue if she didn't appear at all?

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