Hopping in to my first review, I jump straight into the middle Marvel’s annual kidnapping of the major solo titles for the summer event. Normally I can’t stand these tie-ins but wait……is that Boomerang?
Writer: Dan Slott
Art: Adam Kubert and Scott Hanna
Colorist: Justin Ponsor
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Covert Artists: Adam Kubet and Morry Hollowell
Variant Cover Artist: Gabrielle Dell’otto
Assistant Editer: Devin Lewis
Editor: Nick Lowe
Cover: Little Annie May Parker in a homemade costume crouching over an unconcious Boomerang and Beetle on a plain white background. The position of the three characters looks very awkward, like they were all drawn as part of different pictures and were superimposed on top of each other here. Honestly, I think its very bland and uncreative. I never care for the “stock photo of protagonist looking at reader” cover, and it stinks of laziness that they couldn’t be bothered to include a background.
That said, an Annie May in costume does correctly promote what happens in the comic, and any time I see some of the Superior Foes in another book, I get a little hopeful that their character progression won’t be forgotten.
Synopsis: Before picking up where issue #3 left off, there’s a page of flashback of Annie growing up. A series of incidents throughout her lifetime show how frustrated she’s been never being allowed to use her powers. Moving forward to today, MJ and Annie are being snatched in the school courtyard by a couple of uniformed soldiers. Taken through what appears to be a shadow, they arrive in a base where a shadowy figure with an eye patch is talking. He references Flint having not checked in, so those who remember Sandman’s lines last issue can reasonably conclude that this is not Regent’s lair, but SHIELD’s.
Back with Spider-Man, he’s doing what Spider-Man tends to do, embarassing the Sinister Six with a severe beatdown. Having seen his family taken away, he’s fighting angry. Sandman shows up and tries to explain what happened, but Peter’s running too hot and and doesn’t believe him. Before Sandman can properly explain, Regent arrives in person. Using the combined powers of Major Victory and Storm, he incapacitates Spidey and Sandman.
Switching to MJ and Annie, the soldiers who grabbed them reveal themselves as The Prowler and Mockingbird. They confirm that they aren’t with Regent, but SHIELD. The shadowy eyepatch man from the earlier page shows himself to be Hawkeye, and the shadow that transported them there was created by The Spot. Turns out, this place is “The Resistance”. Jarvis arrives, which comforts MJ. He tells Annie that her friends (Power Pack) are here and that she can go play. She asks her mom if she can take off her bracelet and use her powers. After being assured that Regent’s scanners can’t reach where they are, MJ allows it. Hearing about Pete’s inhibitor bracelets though, excites Hawkeye. Apparantly, having that kind of technology would lead to some kind of breakthrough.
Before we get to hear what it is though, we turn to Regent. Entering his facility, he’s carrying Peter and Sandman with Levitation. He checks on the progress of the integration of D-Man’s powers, and Peter feels regret for allowing D-Man to be taken. As he’s thinking about this, Regent reveals that he’s currently reading Peter’s thoughts and now knows his identity. He then reveals that he only gets so many uses of that power, as he uses it again to extract the location of the SHIELD base from Sandmans’ mind.
In the SHIELD base, we hear the rest of Hawkeye’s plan. Using the tech Peter developed for Annie’s bracelet, they can inhibit Regent’s access to his own powers. All they need is his DNA. Annie shouts “Mom, Look at me!” revealing that she had entered unnoticed, and is now wallcrawling high up in her new costume (featured on the cover). MJ’s quite upset, as she absolutely does not intend for her daughter to end up a combatant. The argument doesn’t get very far though, because the perimeter alarm is set off. As they just begin to prepare for evacuation the Sinister Six (Shocker, Rhino, Boomerang, Kraven, Beetle, and Mysterio) burst through the wall.
Regent decides, as supervillains are prone to doing, to monologue about his master plan before killing our hero. The real reason he’s been collecting powers is so that he can fight god. Specifically, Doom, the god of Battleworld. He knows he needs an edge against Doom though, so he plans on his being taking Pete’s Spider-Sense. With advanced warning of attacks, he reasons he might stand a chance. Since Peter and Flint know nothing of Doom or the going’s on of the greater Marvel Universe however, this just sounds like insane ramblings. Regent decides to just kill Flint, as he has no use for Sandman’s powers. Flint has one final move though. He was hiding inside of him a portal made by The Spot.
The SHIELD base is filled with action as the Sinister Six invade. Spot opens up a portal to another safehouse and non-combatants start to evacuate. MJ plans to take Annie and run but Annie has other plans. Finally being able to use her powers, she takes after her father fighting Boomerang, Rhino, Shocker, and Kraven. Flint’s portal to Regent’s base opens up. Hawkeye, excited to finally have a weapon he can use on Regent, plans to end things today. Annie turns to beg her mother to follow towards Regent to save her dad. MJ agrees and they travel towards the finale together.
Commentary: Usually these longer multi part stories tend to fall apart at least a little in parts 3-4, and this one hasn’t. Going into this month’s reading I was virtually certain we were going to spend two thirds of this issue on the fight in front of the school with very little real progression. Being wrong was a nice surprise. This issue was pretty tightly knit, not wasting any page space without moving the story along.
Annie’s growth as a character is fairly well done considering the limits of the mini format, but there’s such a heavy load on a mini series to get through the entire story in a short space of time that her major arc moments can’t carry the weight that they could if they were the culmination of a couple years of development. If she’s brought over to the new Marvel U as has been speculated, she won’t be able to have the impact they want because they haven’t given the story enough room to breathe. Its hard to care that much about Annie as her own character, rather than just as Spider-Man’s daughter” because she just appeared out of thin air a couple months ago. Further, since she’s only had to spend 3 issues hiding herself, her “finally” being able to use them carries no surprise or meaning. She’s interesting enough for the story as it exists here, but I feel that they’ve wasted some of her potential in the long run.
Because of the demands of the story, MJ had to spend the issue being “mom” and nothing else. Rather sad when we get so few MJ issues these days. Peter was written pretty well overall. His fighting angry felt like a solid melding of his short temper as a kid, with his adult emotional attachments to the situation at hand.
Alternate universe stories tend to be very hit or miss depending on the tastes of the reader, and I don’t think this is any different. Some people see that a story’s out of main continuity and immediately tune out. If that’s the case for any of you, there isn’t anything here to change your mind. If alternate universes don’t bother you though and you’ve been enjoying the rest of Renew your Vows, this issue doesn’t drop the ball. It isn’t special or spectacular on its own, but my immediate memory of Marvel “Part 4’s” suggests that being a solid issue at this point in the story is a strong achievement in the era of writing for trades. It brings interesting ideas to the table, and it entertains.
While entertaining on its own, this issue raised a larger question for me. How can they finish this in a satisfactory way? If they just defeat Regent, he’s still done such a catastrophic amount of damage it may well feel like a hollow victory. This I think is one of the problems with Spider-Man taken away from street level crime. He’s a character who focuses on the realities of every day living. Success, is seeing success in the personal lives of Peter and those he cares about. In situations like this however, what’s the happy living situation afterward? “Well Pete, you stopped him!…..I mean sure he murdered most every hero on the planet….but be happy! You won and thwarted his plan to…….stop Doom and save the multiverse….that’s good right?”
All the same, That’s a question for next time. This issue did its job admirably.
-While I appreciate the intent of Regent’s plan, and the fact that they finally managed to tie this in to Secret Wars, why exactly does he need Spider-Man? I mean for one, Spider-Sense would not be the perfect weapon against Doom. Doom’s omnipotent, so he can give himself the exact same ability. Let’s assume that the Spider-Sense would be perfect though. Why does he need Peter? Does this universe not have Silk, Ezekiel, Ben, or Kaine? Does it not have a Jackal that can make clones? Better yet, how does Spider-Sense even work anymore now that there is no great web or master weaver with the collapse of the multiverse? Did I completely misunderstand Spider-Verse as it related to Spider-Sense?
-Does everyone who runs SHIELD need an eyepatch? If I were Maria Hill I’d wear safety goggles everywhere.
-Ok, so the premise with the Spot in this book is that Regent started to absorb him, but he got away. Ever since then, whenever
he makes a portal, a small part of him disappears. Interesting premise, if a little contrived. Why are there holes all over his
normal street clothes then? I can guess that when he makes a portal the piece of him that disappears takes some clothing with it, but does that mean he’s never changed his clothes since he was afflicted with this?
-Why oh why did they include Boomerang and Beetle, have them of all people be on the cover, and then not give them lines? This is the book that finds a plot important role for The Spot and they can’t think of one funny line for ‘ol Fred?
-Poor Sinister Six. Losing twice in one issue, with their founder getting humiliated in the previous. Writers realize whenever they do this though that they’ll have to try twice as hard to establish one of these guys as a threat on their own when they have to run a solo story right?