The Dark Kingdom Part 1: “Turnabout”
OK, class, take out your handy dandy notebook and your #2 pencils. Our text today is the newest story arc in the Amazing Spider-Man dealing with none other than Mr. Negative. Just look at that beautiful cover with Mr Negative jumping off a building while Spider-Man races up to meet him! That’s a fight scene that’s sure to be worthy of an upcoming episode of Friday Night Fights. Just look at the tag line. It has an exclamation point!
So how does the story inside stack up to the cover? Well, read on, true believers, as we take some mighty Marvel mayhem global (that was for you, Ashley) and head on over to China for a spell.
The Devil in the Details:
Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Matteo Buffagni
Cover Art: Alex Ross
Colorist: Marte Gracia
Lettering: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Editor: Nick Lowe
Published: Jan. 6th
The Story – Pay Attention, This Will Be on the Test:
We start out on a prison transport ship carrying none other than Mr. Positive (I’m guessing that’s the name of Mr. Negative when he’s de-powered). He’s whiny, crying, and all around rather unterrifying. In comes a rather different Cloak and Dagger (they’re reversed now) and they not only break out Mr. Positive, but they give him a temporary tattoo sticker that has drugs in it to give him his powers back. They’ve been using the drugs themselves.
Meanwhile, Peter Parker and Min Wei are having a romantic picnic lunch on the top of one of Parker Industry’s Chinese headquarters. They are interrupted by the arrival of a business partner who has plans to turn the Spider-Mobile designs into clean energy cars for everyone to save the environment. Because police are searching Parker’s offices due to the break-in way back in #1, Peter learns that Mr. Negative is back in town.
Spider-Man steps out, saves some guy from getting hit with a wrecking ball because some other guy is using the Negative drug tattoo and has lost it. He then steps back in, changes to Peter Parker, and gets beaten by Dagger, Cloak, and Mr. Negative (O.K., really just Dagger and Negative – Cloak just stands in the background). Last panel shows Peter getting corrupted by Mr. Negative’s touch. Oh no! To be continued!
Reverse Cloak and Dagger is the best thing about this book. I had to go look and find out why they were reversed. Turns out it happened in Spider-Island: Cloak and Dagger. I went back on Marvel Unlimited and read issue 1 (good), issue 2 (meh), and could not find issue 3. I really thought it was great visuals. To add to it, the irony of Cloak and Dagger having to use drugs to stay in Mr. Negative’s control was a nice touch. In my book, if a story inspires me to research, it has merits. Of course, I’m a bit crazy and like researching, so….
I’m interested in Min Wei, so getting a chance to see some more of her character was a check. Not a check plus, though, because while I have the feeling she could eventually be as good as Anna Maria, she’s not living up to it yet. We are also really building up the supporting cast. Which can be a good thing.
A story not involving Zodiac earned a few points too. And the cover is awesome.
I’m going to go ahead and say this here so I won’t have to say it every review henceforth (cool word, huh?): I hate the shine on Spider-Man’s suit. It’s such a small detail, but I can’t stand it.
OK, more relevant to this issue: I am not a fan of this art. Buffagni is a better artist than I will ever be and he draws a good Spider-Man and a good pretty much everything. Everything except faces. Look at this example:
If I were shown that picture and asked who the guy on the left is, I would never have guessed Peter Parker. The art, in general, is not a major factor in whether I like the book or not, as long as I can easily recognize the main characters. The plus side is that I’m not recognizing Peter Parker as he’s being written, so I guess the art matches the story. Silver linings, you know.
Even though building Peter’s supporting cast is listed in the pass category, it is also in the fail one too. Over time this will probably be rectified, but for now, I’m not liking to sheer number of people being brought into the supporting cast. I feel like I just do not know anyone. I’m not saying we always need Flash, Glory, Harry, and the rest of the gang. I’m just saying A LOT of new cast members are here and I am having difficulty getting to know them.
It seems that one of these new characters, Yao Wu, is just Sajani as a male. He grumbles about how Peter conducts his business, he undermines the project with the Spider Mobile engine by calling in the police on the day of the meeting, and he hates working with/for Spider-Man and Shield. I imagine he will play a bigger role in the destruction of Parker Industries.
Another point that took me out of the story was the end. When Dagger bursts in on Peter, he starts jumping and flipping. There is no way someone could not figure out that Peter has some super powers. He tries to play it off as being rich enough to have ninja warrior personal trainers (those are his exact words), but Cloak and Dagger have worked enough with Spider-Man to recognize those moves. So add two more people to the list that knows (or at least should know) and maybe a third since Mr. Negative was there.
More pop culture references. I’m not against these. Stan Lee used to do it all the time. In fifty years it will be neat to explain the reference. However, we have some song reference every issue it seems. On top of that, it was a Miley Cyrus song. Peter curses twice later because he can’t get the song out of his head. I’m trying to remember another time Peter cursed in a Spider-Man comic (at least one NOT narrated by JR).
And last – the cover does not actually happen. Spider-Man never actually sees Mr. Negative. They certainly does go all Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon on each other. I like the cover to actually happen in the story.
Extra points to anyone who can put together a list of all of Spidey’s web cartridges. In this issue we learn that cartridge #3 is acid webbing and web cartridge #7 is quick drying wet cement webbing. His web shooters are beginning to look a lot like Hawkeye’s quiver. I’m not sure how I feel about this. On the one hand, if we are going to have a Spider-Man that is creating all kinds of tech, I guess different forms of webbing is obvious. There is some precedent for it. He’s made his webbing with asbestos before and also with a higher acidity. Plus, Ben Reilly had stingers and impact webbing. On the other hand, this is a heck of a lot of tech for Peter to have developed in such a little amount of time. Of course, I guess we could say that Parker didn’t invent all of it, he has people working for him all around the globe that might could have designed some of the webbing.
Breaking out the red pen for this one. Despite the high amount of failing moments and the art that didn’t click for me, I really enjoyed reverse Cloak and Dagger. I’ve never been a fan or a hater of them, but I really enjoyed their moment. They made it an enjoyable read. For that I’m giving this book a: