I have to admit that I haven’t read many Spider-Man stories recently. I’m one of those people who was burned by the whole “deal with the devil” thing; as such, I avoided Spider-Man for a while. I went into this comic with every intent to give it as few chances as possible, but I have to begrudgingly admit that this issue was fantastic.
I’m a lifelong Spider-Man fan, and if I had to answer that stereotypical question, “Who’s your favorite superhero?”, I might have to say Spider-Man. Peter Parker has always had a certain personality that is extremely familiar to me when it’s done right, and I was struck immediately by how strong Dan Slott’s grasp is on the Parker spirit. Slott writes Peter’s thought captions perfectly, and I instantly recognized the long-suffering attitude of a Spider-Man that compulsively takes responsibility for everything. Upon finding out that his girlfriend has gained spider-powers, his first reaction is to assume that it must somehow be his fault. Slott even implies that the fact that the two are having sex may have led to the sharing of a “spidery transmitted disease”, and he cleverly suggests this idea without any crass language that would be inappropriate for a Spider-Man comic.
Perhaps most importantly, Slott’s dialog has great pacing, and it succeeds where many Spider-Man writers fail: it’s funny. Spider-Man is funny, his girlfriend that just randomly acquired spider-powers is funny, and even the background characters like Madam Web are unintentionally funny. Slott’s humor gives this comic a lighthearted tone that is enjoyable but not corny or campy.
I was skeptical about the premise of Spider-Island before I picked up this issue. The idea of giving out spider powers like so many party favors seemed a little easy to me, but I was pleasantly surprised by the way Slott handled it. He has the Jackal (AKA Professor Miles Warren, the lovely green geneticist behind the Clone Saga) uniting the lowlives of New York with his gift of spider powers. It was nice to see The Jackal brought back and made cool again, or, rather, cool for the first time, depending on who you ask. The Jackal’s marauding army of Spider-Men, who have great power but no sense of responsibility, was very entertaining to see in all of Spider-Man’s alternate costumes.
This was a great Spider-Man comic. It had almost everything I need from a good Spider-Man story, and, I have to admit, I’m on board for the next issue. I’d recommend this story arc for anyone who is a fan of Spider-Man.