Dark Kingdom Part 2: Opposing Forces
After reading the point 1 issues, I’m ready to get back on the main book and see what it is store for everyone’s favorite friendly
neighborhood globe trotting Spider-Man. We have another nice cover by Alex Ross this time showing a fight between negative Cloak and Dagger and the web head. The blurb provided by Marvel for this issue promises “Cloak and Dagger are serving Mister Negative in his war on Spider-Man! But how? Things get even worse as Mister Negative inverts Peter Parker himself!”
- Does the comic live up to the cover?
- Was Peter corrupted by Mr. Negative again?
- Will we see new Spider-tech?
- Who joins the list of people who want to betray Peter Parker?
All this and more, Spiderphiles, just after the break.
The Devil in the Details
Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Matteo Buffagni
Colorist: Marte Gracia
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Artist: Alex Ross
Editor: Nick Lowe
Published: Feb. 3, 2016
The Story – Pay Attention, This Will Be on the Test
Oh no! Peter Parker has been corrupted by Mr. Negative. You can tell by his evil Jack Nicholson grin he has. He has been tasked to slip some Shade (the kiddie tattoo style drug that has similar properties to the Negative corrupting touch) to Shen Quinghao. You met him last issue. He’s the guy interested in buying the green engine that runs the Spidermobile.
What a relief! Peter’s thought caption boxes (whatever happened to the thought balloon? I miss those) remind us that since he was already corrupted once as Spider-Man, he cannot be corrupted twice. I know some of you were concerned there for a while. Cloak takes Peter back to his office where Peter pulls a page out of Captain America’s book and pretends to be sick to throw the bad guy off.* Using the distraction he puts a tracer on Cloak.
Meanwhile, back in Parker Industries, Lian is ticked off because Dr. Wu is not working on his cancer research (because Peter tasked him on an antidote to Shade). Dr. Wu is ticked off because Peter is coming down to see him. Peter is ticked off… wait, no, he’s fine. He gives Wu the Shade patch to assist in the antidote and then blows off Lian who is desperate to talk to him in order to go out and find Cloak.
Interlude #1 – Shen Quinghao proves to be quite the turd as he takes Parker Industries money, but doesn’t mention them at the press conference. Instead he plants trees and gets Chang to plant some too. It is hard to tell at this point if Chang is just doing this to appease a difficult client or if the seeds are being planted for Chang to jump ship and turn against Parker Industries.
Back to China – Spider-Man has a momentary crisis because no one, not even All New All Different Power Pack has come to help him. He calls Anna Maria and she blows him off since she is too busy due to Sajani’s dismissal. Sajani and Anna Maria were quite close there at the end – maybe a potential reason for Anna Maria to turn on Peter. He calls New York only to find that Harry has gone MIA. He only mildly wonders if everything is O.K. (he used to do that all the time when Harry was having drug and goblin break downs back in the 70s).
Interlude #2 – We get to see where Harry went – dinner with his family. Harry, Stanley, Liz, and that kid that Harry sometimes goes days not thinking about are there. That kid is a bit put off that Stanley has to be there. Harry and Liz look like that they may even be able to start trying to work out their difference. On the way out of the restaurant, a speeding car almost hits them. Harry grabs Stanley and pulls him out of the way, while Liz grabs that kid that harry sometimes goes days not thinking about. That kid is put off by that too and feels that maybe his father doesn’t like him. They were all saved, though, by a new superhero – Regent.
Back to China – Spider-Man uses his tracer to listen in on Cloak to try and find Mr. Negative, but Cloak teleports and Spidey couldn’t get a bead on him, however, Cloak does re-appear at the Shade factory where Dagger threatens to kill all of the workers’ families if they don’t produce drugs faster. The police come in and promptly get corrupted.
Interlude #3 – Mister Negative, who chained himself up, turns back into Martin Li, but leaves a video for Li to watch showing why Shen Quinghao deserves what he is going to get. The assumption is that Martin Li will finally give into Mr. Negative.
Spidey then dumps a bunch of the drug patches on Dagger, who starts to overload on the darkness until Cloak is able to suck some out of her before teleporting them away. Spider-Man starts collecting as much Shade as he can and declares himself a winner (almost like he is anticipating this being on a Friday Night Fight episode one day).
Interlude #4 – Lian is at the hospital with her mom, who looks like she is in bad shape. She calls Scorpio and we see that she has been giving him codes all along and is now offering him Spider-Man in exchange for experimental treatment for her mom. How? By sabotaging the Spidermobile (a la Tinkerer and Penguin). Oh no!
There is a lot of story here. While there is not a big fight or even a remotely self-contained story there is quite a bit a story packed into the comic. It was nice to see Normie again and Harry interacting with his family.
New and improved spider tracer. I always wondered how people didn’t find the old style tracer sooner than they did. This small one is microscopic. It doesn’t work on spider sense power, though. We see it appearing apparently on the inside of the eye piece in the Spidey mask.
Here is the breakdown of the new weapons so far (did I miss any?):
Cartridge #3 – acid webbing
Cartridge #6 – micro-coiled z-metal
Cartridge #7 – quick drying wet cement webbing
Cartridge #8 – expanding web foam
The cover is somewhat accurate. He does fight Cloak and Dagger, but not much. Better connection than last week.
This has both a global feel and a street level feel. So props to Slott for mixing in both of those aspects in this story.
Best of all, it isn’t one of the point one stories. That’s the main strength of the book.
While Spider-Man doesn’t get help from Mockingbird, Shield, Torch, random children who figure out science things before our science geek hero, it is not for lack of trying. I understand that it is serving the purpose of informing us where these other characters are (currently trying to track down Scorpio), but it serves a reminder of how our hero can’t seem to rely on himself anymore. He even says at one time that Mr. Negative, Cloak, and Dagger are just too much for him to handle. It is sometimes hard to remember that this is the same guy that single handily took out the X-Men. Twice.
I must admit, I am not an expert on Mr. Negative and his power set. I have read up on it and from what I’ve read it said that people corrupted have the “negative” glow. Peter doesn’t have that glow and Mr. Negative doesn’t seem to notice. I assume that the Marvel Database must be wrong about that power trait.
I’m also at a loss for how this drug is administered. In issue #6 I got the impression that it must be slapped on or at least pressed into the neck. However, Cloak just throws them in the direction of the police and Spider-Man does the same to Dagger and they seem to work just fine. How sticky are these things?
Not much happened. Sure, I know I said there was a lot in this comic. The problem is that it seems to all be set up for future issues. I hate that. I spent money on THIS issue. I want a story in THIS issue, not a set up for OTHER issues. This not a complaint directed at Slott. This seems to be a norm for most writers today. It is the stinking write for a trade paperback mentality. I miss the days when the mantra was, “This comic is somebody’s first comic.”
Plus, despite my earlier comment that this has somewhat of a street level feel, it still doesn’t feel completely like a Spidey comic. I feel like I’ve picked up a comic of some new character instead of a Spider-Man comic. It could just be me.
Goes to anyone who is unfortunate enough to understand my reference to Captain America pretending to be sick to get one up on (or even to run away from) the bad guy. If you think you’ve got it, post it in the comments.
I feel I’m being generous here, but the comic wasn’t good and it wasn’t awful. It’s hurt by the lack of actual story and helped by being better than the point one issues. I’m neither looking forward to the next issue nor dreading it. I feel there is potential here.