“Spider-Island Part Two: Peter Parker, The Unspectacular Spider-Man”
Writer: Dan Slott
Pencils: Humberto Ramos
Inks: Victor Olazaba
Colorist: Edgar Delgado
Last issue’s cliffhanger is resolved in the space of two pages by Wolverine’s nose. The Avengers bench Peter. Mary Jane gives Peter a responsibility lecture and he promptly rallies the “real New Yorkers” to combat the Jackal’s goon squad. As Jonah quarantines New York, Carlie gets a lead on the Jackal and Peter tags along as she goes to investigate. But they’re not the only ones in the hideout…
- Peter’s self-recrimination at the end of the issue, though predictable, was perfectly in character. In fact, it actually made more sense here than when he was worry about “spidery transmitted diseases” last issue.
- I loved Slott’s description of Reed Richards as “Albert Einstein and Indiana Jones rolled into one”.
- Peter’s glee at web swinging openly (in his civies) is palpable.
- As much as I may dislike Carlie (and by extension her and Peter’s relationship), I actually liked the scene where Mary Jane sees them swing past while acting very couple-ish. Between this and the teasers/previews that show MJ in possession of spider-powers of her own, I definitely get the vibe that something is being set up here. Whatever that may be, I’m interested.
- As cheesy as it was, I liked Peter’s rallying cry to the city’s better half.
- Finally, the splash page on which Peter leads the newly-empowered New Yorkers into action is just awesome.
Neither Here Nor There
- This category exists because I am so very ambivalent about the scene in which Mary Jane pep talks Peter back into the hero thing after the Avengers bench him. On the one hand, whether they’re involved or not, MJ has always served as Peter’s closest friend and confidant, particularly since Roger Stern and Tom DeFalco’s runs on Amazing in the ‘80s. But my problem, with the scene does not lie with Mary Jane but rather with Peter. The fact that he even needed the pep talk in the first place bothered me, as the very sense of responsibility that compels him to blame himself for everything that goes wrong in his life should also have driven him to leap back into the fray, no matter what his teammates had to say.
- Check out the scene with Anti-Venom towards the end of the book. I’m as certain as I can be (without asking the artist directly) that Humberto Ramos drew himself into the comic as the guy Eddie is chasing.
- Slott still seems to have a tendency to write Mary Jane as a moron. Especially where Peter’s secret identity is concerned. To his credit, it hasn’t come up too often in the course of his run so far, but I first brought this up way back in my review of Amazing Spider-Man #652, so it’s something he should probably work on.
- There were a few points where this felt more like an issue of The Amazing Carlie-Girl than it should have.
- On a related note, exactly does Carlie get a lead on the Jackal? Last I checked, she was a lab girl, or, for those of you who watch Bones, a “squint”.
- So just what happened to Peter’s organic webbing, anyway? I honestly don’t care whether the webbing is organic or synthetic, but it’s been three years since we went back to the web shooters and we have yet to be given an in-story reason. Editor Steve Wacker makes reference on the letters page to the powers Peter gained in The Other being “gone for now” and that it’s “just the nature of those powers to disappear until the time calls,” and, while the organic webbing was not among the powers gained in The Other (they actually came about in a Paul Jenkins story in Spectacular Spider-Man the year before), that’s still as close to an explanation as we’ve gotten so far. An explanation which, by the way, I should not have to read the letters page to get. Frankly, this is only made all the more glaring by the fact that Slott clearly acknowledges in the dialogue that Peter at one point had organic webbing.
Though it’s still not nearly as bad as it was in the later portion of Brand New Day (particularly from The Gauntlet forward), the Carlie cheerleading has once again reared its ugly head. From Mary Jane’s little speech near the start of the issue to the “deus ex Carlie” that was Peter’s discovery of the Jackal’s involvement; it’s just being laid on a bit thick. Really, if the creative Powers That Be find it so important to convince fans that they should just love this character that they’ll continually use other, more established characters (say, Mary Jane) as a mouthpiece to do so, not to mention have the rest of the cast talk endlessly about how awesome she is, they should probably take a step back and reexamine why they’re doing this. While I’m sure there are people out there who like Carlie, I am admittedly not one of them. And frankly, this cheerleading doesn’t help. If anything, it comes across as an attempt at convincing me (with all the subtlety of a mallet to the skull) to like a character I can barely stand, and ultimately has the opposite effect.
Nitpicks and Carlie aside, this was a good one. Not only was it a definite step up from the previous issue, but Spider-Island is starting to feel like the event it should be. The Jackal and his shadowy associate continue to advance their schemes, New York is under quarantine, the superhuman community has its hands full, and all of this with four issues and an epilogue to go!
For more of Comic Booked’s Spider-Island coverage, check out Skott of Fables’ round-ups of the event and the tie-ins so far, two of which have been published since my last review. You can find them here and here.