Spider-Island #5 Review (+ Event Review) (Spoilers)

SI5Y’all ready for the boss battle round of Spider-Island? After getting the lowest grade yet last issue, Flash and his creative team will make one last Hail Mary pass to save the Spider-Island, domain and series alike. Are they successful?

Spider-Island #5: The Grand Finale

Writer: Christos Gage
Artist: Paco Diaz
Colorist: Frank D’Armata
Letterer: Travis Lanham
C.Artists: Humberto Ramos & Edgar Delgado
Editors: Nick Lowe & Devin Lewis
Editor-In-Chief: Axel Alonso

Mayday: Spider-Woman in The Long Row

Storytellers: Tom Defalco & Ron Frenz
Finished Art: Sal Buscema
Colorist: Andrew Crossley
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Editor: Nick Lowe

12088373_1036258809748436_2171183649722206907_nHe was not just a host: Agent Venom and his team face the giant mutated spider Queen, but seem unable to do any real damage to her. As his final Hail Mary, Flash has the symbiote engulf the Queen, sacrificing himself in the process. The symbiote is able to force the Queen to injury herself drastically, allowing Stegron’s dinosaur army to consume her while being unable to fight back, thanks to the symbiote. Flash gets to say goodbye to his hero and the love of his life, before passing away.

A few days later, one of Doom’s Thors arrives to inspect the realm. Peter Parker is appointed as Baron and explains that people are still spidery, but with free will. They’re being given the opportunity to choose from becoming lizard, vampire, werewolf, dinosaur or bird people as well. Peter and Betty reflect on everything that happened and how Flash would be proud. 

He was my friend: This issue is fairly polarizing, which makes sense since every issue since the first has been. There’s some good material, but not a lot of it. Or even material period. This is a very rushed finale, with the final fight composing the first ten pages and then a seven page epilogue, both of which can be summarized in nine sentences. And the epilogue is pretty much just exposition for a world we will never see again, with some (unearned) sentiment sprinkled on top.

That being said, I like Flash’s final play. I’ve written my own version of the Agent Venom story and I’ve always thought that it should end with the death of Flash. He’s a soldier, who has been shown time and time again as someone willing to sacrifice it all, to do the right thing. His survivor’s guilt is a key characteristic of Flash, especially in this mini, as it shows his honor with depth as opposed to everyone telling us. Flash, the symbiotic soldier, is the man who was always going to be the one to make the sacrificial play. So I’m happy I got to see it done here, even if it was incredibly rushed.

12088005_1036258863081764_549216388425901951_nAnother aspect of the Agent Venom story that I thought should play a part, is Flash’s relationship with Venom. We get to see that here and it would have been an effective touching moment, Venom sacrificing himself to save humanity alongside Flash, if it hadn’t come so far out of left field I wasn’t even aware it was part of the game. Aside from mentioning in passing that the symbiote hasn’t been corrupting his mind, we see no relationship between Flash and Venom in this miniseries.

Artistically, it’s more of the same. Lots of cool creature designs, a lot of full page splashes, but nothing in the boss fight is particularly new or exciting. Even when the symbiote takes over the Queen, it’s drawn in away that really only delivers a giant symbiotic spider for a single panel, as the symbiote struggles to contain the Queen. And we don’t really get to see the money shot of the dinosaur army going at the Queen, it pulls away. I do think the facial expressions are a lot stronger than usual in this issue, which is good for Flash’s farewell scene. Flash dying with a smile on his face as his hero praises him is a nice scene, as is the sun rising on a new day in the next panel.

Frank D’Armata colors the first ten pages in a bleak, darker style while the final seven are more colorful which is a nice, if common way to differentiate the tones of the two scenes in this comic. One thing I do like is that he colors parts of the Queen with yellow glowing spots, a classic design for video game boss battles, indicating where you should attack the creature.

11148338_1036258976415086_1312981231123686831_nVerdict: It is killing me that this is exactly the ending that would have made this an A+ issue if only the story had built to it. The ending Agent Venom deserves is right here, on the page in front of me, and I can’t love it. In fact, it’s making me angry. Instead of focusing on Venom and Flash, this story was so interested in teasing plot twists, whipping out Spider-Man history, and creating monstrous creatures out of everyone that they ruined it. Still, this issue isn’t at fault for what came before, so I’m going to give a decent grade. The story started and ended strong, but losing itself in the middle really hurt this series.


  • Flash and Venom’s sacrifice
  • More cool creature designs


  • Unearned




12087657_1036258933081757_5953565978710909175_oMiniseries Review:  Spider-Island was a celebration of Flash Thompson as Agent Venom. I’ve never been able to picture a happy ending to this era of Flash’s life. His transition to the Guardians of the Galaxy in the 616 universe always felt off to me, a shift done out of Bendis’ want, rather than being story driven. The Agent Venom days are a dark period for Flash and this story reflects that. Flash is humanity’s last hope when this series starts and he successfully brings back Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and saves the day. This series was Agent Venom at his best, but they oversold this by having him never slip up and having numerous characters praise him endlessly. They gave him a heroic noble death, but the series didn’t earn this ending and so it rang hollow. Instead of focusing on Flash and Venom, Christos Gage introduced a huge cast of characters to help Flash on his quest. And to be fair, there are some highlights in this decision, such as Paco Diaz’s monstrous designs or Tony Stark/Jack Russel stealing scenes. But the biggest mistake made was bringing Peter Parker into the equation. He constantly derailed the story, the discovery of Flash’s secret and vice versa was handled poorly, and he took up time that could have been used to flesh out the Flash/Venom relationship. He ultimately added nothing to the story, except to have Flash sent off by his own hero. But the Agent Venom era was all about Flash moving past his idolization of Spider-Man and becoming his own hero, so this wasn’t needed.

And while I never expected the Agent Venom era to have a happy ending, I do hope that the Space Knight Era of Flash Thompson is all about him discovering joy again. He’s out in space, his relationship with Venom is strong, and the character is a superhero in his own right after everything he went through. Robbie Thompson has been killing it on Silk and I hope he brings some happy days to Flash and Venom.12049448_1036258829748434_7944132274405089362_n


  • Agent Venom at his best…
  • Flash and Venom’s sacrifice…
  • Character Designs for the Supporting Cast…


  • … but too much of a good thing
  • … that rings hollow
  • … who stole the spotlight from Agent Venom




12074566_1036259003081750_7196431753045727759_nI am the only Spider to have been raised by a happy and loving Peter Parker: Mayday saves Scott Lang from his daughter’s attack, hiding him somewhere safe, before returning to help her team. She tries to talk Cassie out of Enthralla’s control, but is unable to. Kaine and half of her team is quickly mind controlled by Enthralla, so Mayday takes Cassie out and creates a plan around Darkdevil. She has Enthralla try to entrance him, but the demon inside of Darkdevil overpowers Enthralla and knocks her out. Hope Pym tries to escape, but Uncle Ben Spider-Man stops her. Mayday thanks all of her allies for helping her and they all return home. The series ends with Mayday suiting up in her father’s old suit, realizing she no longer has to dwell on his death but how Peter wanted the world to be.

And that makes me unique: The antithesis of the main story, I would say too much happens here on so few pages. But it doesn’t feel too overwhelming and it all ties together pretty well. Scott Lang’s words to Hope about lingering over her father’s death ring true with Mayday and she finally manages to pull herself together after her father’s death. Her use of Darkdevil against Enthralla is clever and Uncle Ben’s costume is pretty cool.

This short tale took me by surprise, making me far more interested in the Mayday character than I was before. It started a little slow, but really picked up in pace and quality towards the end. I doubt this is the last we’ve seen of Mayday, but if it was, it would be a nice capper to her adventures. We got to touch base with the heroes of her world, her supporting cast, and see Mayday go through a personal evolution.


 (both for this issue and the Mayday backup series) 

(12) Comments

  1. Al

    @#11: Whilst this is indeed comics this is also a narrative and thus a certain amount of narrative rules must apply. No. Prizing that Mayday changed her look off panel is one thin. No. Prizing that a dead person came back to life because comics is something which is not acceptable by the rules of storytelling. Ostensibly if you need to explain why a house is back to life you should explain how a whole character is back to life. Something similar applies to an off-panel revelation over Darkdevil’s true identity. Its too vital and big to be left off panel in a hypothetical ‘phantom scene’. I’ve actually discussed this in relation to MJ and Gwen’s alleged friendship. People are adamant that they were really, really close and had a very strong friendship and yet nothing on panel in the silver age indicates this at all. Even flashbacks don’t truly show this beyond them being a bit closer than we initially saw. The idea of them having this close friendship when we never saw it is narratively problematic because there is literally nothing to back it up and it’s entirely conjecture. And No. Prizing that indeed they grew closer and bonded a lot and had this great friendship (even though that’d contradict MJ’s facade idea) is saying these really, really, really important character moments and developments happened entirely off panel which isn’t acceptable narratively speaking. That goes even further when it concerns your lead character. Mayday discovering Darkdevil’s connection off panel is akin to Peter discovering the stuff about Gwen and Sins Past off panel and in a story we just randomly drop dialogue like “Man I can’t believe this is happening. Then again I couldn’t believe that my first love Gwen Stacy had twins with Norman Osborn either and I was wrong about that.” It’s too big of a development to NOT happen on panel. Because of that one of the remaining conclusions for us to draw is...this isn’t the real Mayday. Which in a story all about AUs makes total sense. Hell technically this could all be the grown up Mayday from the Real Clone Saga mini-series DeFalco co-wrote. And as a sidebar Frenz discussed how he and Oliffe and Buscema on Spider-Girl made a point of depicting MJ’s hair a certain way because she was dying it. ASM #8 contradicted showing her all natural that and now Frenz, the same guy who basically defined Spider-Girl and how everyone looked in it, drew it the same way. Another little nugget pointing in the AU direction. Whether that was a research faux pas on Slott’s part or a deliberate thing or not isn’t really relevant. A writer’s intentions do not make the canon what it is. What is on the page is the canon divorced from the writers’ intentions. A classic example, Gerry Conway in his own mind believed Gwen was dead before Spider-Man showed up at the bridge. But he himself admits to not knowing why he put the snap sound effect in and questions why he did that if he thought she was already dead. So does that mean Gwen was already dead or did the snap kill her? Conway the writer felt she was already dead so does that canonically mean she was? But the otherside to this is that Conway later said he did put the snap in deliberately as a commentary on Vietnam (don’t ask). So...did Spider-Man kill Gwen or not? Another example, Jim Owsley wrote Spider-Man vs. Wolverine and in that story had Peter kiss MJ. His intention to show how wrong a romance between them would be. The scene on the page though doesn’t show that at all. This all basically comes down to the fact that the art of writing is at some point subconscious and there is stuff a author puts to paper they don’t even realize they put there or didn’t mean to. Speaking from experience, I tried writing a fanfic years ago about Spider-Man and Black Cat. As I was getting into Felicia’s head I started to explain her attraction to Peter as her liking him due to his nobility and morality. I did worked on this for a few hours until it suddenly hit me that we know precisely why Felicia was attracted to Peter and it had nothing to do with any of that and everything to do with the thrill and excitement of him being s super hero adventurer. I’m not comparing myself to Conway because I wish I was in his league, but my point is that when you write stuff runs away from you or you go down directions you don’t mean to go down. Hell it happened to Stan Lee. He intended Gwen Stacy to be Peter’s OTL and a better character than MJ. He wound up despite himself making MJ a bigger deal and more interesting. Because a writer’s intentions are so ethereal and subjective like that it is not logical to hold thier intentions or their statements outside of the story itself as hard canon unless it fills in the gaps to things and fits with what is on the page. After all for a film or comic or book the story and narrative should always stand on its own, you shouldn’t have to have background information provided by the author before or after to make the story make sense. Afterall once a creator puts thier work out there legally they might own it but from a creative POV it is no longer theirs it is what it is. Long story short what is on the page is the canon and in the canon Peter knows Mayday despite them never meeting. If that’s the case then logically they either must have met off panel (which again is not a narratively acceptable practice, particularly considering it is undermining to TWO major protagonists) or else in this story about AUs this is a different Mayday he’s met off panel. Whilst both are bad the latter only undermines Peter but the former undermines Mayday so that is our best option. Furthermore the idea that Mayday and Peter met in SG #10-11 is undermining to both Mayday’s story a little bit but more importantly to Peter’s as it retcons a Lee/Ditko classic and changes events. It even has ramifications upon Clone Saga continuity since no one comments upon how Ben’s recreated the exact costume worn by Spider-Girl. Suddenly, just like OMD we’ve got a different version of Spider-Man history supplanting what was originally established. We can’t even say Peter/Ben just forgot about the Spider-Girl from years ago and remembered her costume subconsciously because they couldn’t forget something major like that and Peter apparently would remember this girl he met and lightly interacted with for literally less than an hour at least 10 years ago in High School when lots of other crazy things were happening. If he can remember that and tell Mayday is Ms. May Day even though she’s grown and changed her appearance he and Ben MUST have been able to recall Spider-Girl’s costume in the Clone Saga. At the same time Peter isn’t at all shocked by Ms. May Day being a superhero, a Spider-Hero, his future daughter with Mary Jane or that mysterious Spider-Girl from years ago. And he doesn’t even call her ‘May Day’. The dialogue literally says ‘Mayday’ which wasn’t the name he knew her by. All of which makes absolutely no sense...unless they met off panel which isn’t narratively acceptable for either character. But what IS comparatively more acceptable is the idea that this isn’t the real Mayday and so you are just undermining one of 2 protagonists instead of both. I like seeing the consequences of these changes too but that doesn’t stop them from being damaging and worse for her character and the series. Civil War and the Unmasking had brilliant depictions of Peter dealing with his identity being exposed and life on the run. DeMatteis competently wrote a story in the 1990s where Spider-Man had a mental break down and it was entirely believable. But like the changes to Mayday, none of those things were narratively healthy for the character or franchise and the same thing applies here. I’m hop9ng Web Warriros by accident or design actually does more stuff which makes the case for Mayday not being the real Mayday.

  2. Yvonmukluk

    To be fair, this IS comics. Heroes and villains tend to come back from the dead. It's just we never saw it. as for finding out her relation to Reilly? Well, after the shock of Peter's death I could see Kaine maybe finally sharing that information with Mayday to try and help her carry the burden. A 'you are not alone' moment if you will. As for Spider-Verse & Peter knowing her, that was Slott's failure as a writer in not doing the research, not, I think, a deliberate 'out'. I could get behind the 'this isn't OUR Mayday' theory with SVTU #3, but to Tom & Ron's credit they made me able to accept the changes by actually examining the consequences of it on her character. Then again, considering Web Warriors is all about the multiverse, who knows? Maybe we'll see a Mayday who never had the Spider-Verse experience show up. Actually, we might see an alternate version of Baby May (the daughter of Powerless Peter from the Secret Wars miniseries-considering how much his backstory aligns with the planned putting Peter Parker out to pasture -try saying that 5 times fast- in the 90s, odds are good it's MJ & Baby May he goes home to).

  3. Al

    @#9: In this story Mayday calls Dardevil 'coz' and Crimson Curse is alive. In the MC2 universe Mayday never learned this information anc Curse was dead. This lends credence to the idea that this isn't OUR Mayday. That and the fact that Peter somehow knew her in Spider-Verse despite having never met her.

  4. Jack

    DeFalco might be sprinkling exit-doors in the stories, for future non-Slott writers to use if they choose.

  5. PeterParkerfan

    I loved the Spider-Girl backup stories. It was cool of DeFalco to clean up some of the mess that Slott made in his Spider-Verse storyline. Gotta admit, the new costume looks good on her. It's way better than her dad's old costume. It'd be great if DeFalco somehow revived her dad in a time-travel story or something like that...but knowing Marvel, they probably won't let him do it. The art by Ron Frenz was top-notch. It reminded me of the WHAT IF issue where Mayday made her first appearance.

  6. Al

    @#6: Actually whether intentional or not this story might just have further established Mayday as NOT the MC2 version we've known. In this story Crimson Curse is alive when she died and Mayday seemingly refers to Darkdevil as 'coz' but in the original series she never knew about their connection.

  7. Yvonmukluk

    I'll be honest, DeFalco & Frenz managed to make me care about Mayday even after Slott messed up the place. I mean, in an ideal world Spider-Verse would have never happened and Peter would still be alive, but I can live with this. Also a minor correction: Mayday is actually wearing a new costume that combines elements of her Dad's and her original costume at the end of the story.

  8. Al

    @#1:: At the moment Mayday has been so damaged by Spider-Verse that I want this version of Mayday established as not being the real deal. And technically that is possible. In this story Crimson Curse was alive and well even though she died and Mayday refers to Darkdevil as 'coz' as in cousin but she never knew they were related.

  9. Al

    I’m happy to hear you became interested in Mayday. I recommend if nothing else checking out her origin story as its one of the best stories from her. Her main series are also really good though it’s done in a way anathema to most modern comics, adopting a silver age writing/dialogue style with mostly single issue stories. A quick correction though Mayday doesn’t suit up in Peter’s costume. Her costume at the end is a entirely new one we’ve never seen before. Mayday is confirmed to show up in Web Warriors

  10. Diannah

    The MC2 universe needs to be brought back. The Mayday series deserves a solid A, and is a reminder of what an amazing universe DeFalco/Frenz created. To be honest, I'd rather read a new Mayday series than anything in the "all new" Marvel universe.

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