Spectacular Spider-Man #8 Review

Reviewer: Chris Delloiacono
Story Title: Countdown: Part 3

Written by: Paul Jenkins
Penciled by: Humberto Ramos
Inked by: Wayne Faucher
Colored by: Studio F
Lettered by: Cory Petit
Assistant Editors: Marc Sumerak, Andy Schmidt, & Nicole Wiley
Editor: Tom Brevoort & John Miesegaes
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Does whatever a writer can…

With his interpretation of Spider-Man, Paul Jenkins has grabbed me in a big way. I haven’t been a regular reader of Spider-Man, at least in the Marvel Universe proper, since long before the “Clone Saga.” As word continued to build, and not so subtle demands from our esteemed Dark Overlord, it became clear that I just had to try out Spectacular Spider-Man. The “word” is true, it’s one of Marvel’s best monthly titles, and I have yet to be disappointed.

Bruce Jones’ has been giving us some remarkable stories in the pages of Incredible Hulk lately, but while interesting, they are not really Hulk stories. Paul Jenkins is the last man to tell, if you’ll excuse the pun, “incredible” Hulk stories. Jenkins is far exceeded any, and all expectations that I had for Spectacular Spider-Man. Much like his Incredible Hulk run, he isn’t making a vast departure from what a Spider-Man book should be, but he is telling some amazing stories. I much prefer the method of not-reinventing-the-wheel, which Jenkins uses, when it comes to classic characters.

In eight issues, Jenkins has pulled out all the villainous stops thus far. The first arc dealt with Venom in a fresh way, and although open-ended, it was still a satisfying storyline. This month, we get the third part of the “Countdown” arc featuring Dr. Octopus. You may have noticed Otto showing up in quite a few projects lately. That’s of course a precursor to the new Spider-Man film, in which the bad doctor is the nemesis, in theaters this coming summer.

Terrorism and Marvel

Terrorism and counter-terrorism, and the fallout of terrorist acts are a major theme in a great deal of Marvel’s books, since the tragedy on September 11th. Last month, Doctor Octopus took the Palestinian Ambassador from the embassy in New York, and holds him hostage. His aim? He wants Spider-Man to unmask in the middle of Times Square.

This is an extremely odd storyline, but it is actually working quite well. Ock is brilliant, and it’s a nice change of pace, to see him using his smarts to put Spider-Man in a truly precarious predicament. Spider-Man has a big decision to make. He is helped in his decision making process by: Aunt May, Mary Jane, Detective Garrett (who’s becoming a series regular), not to mention members of the Mossad (Israel’s Secret Police).

Jenkins has used contemporary events to put Peter Parker into a seriously bad way. I’m anxious to see just how he gets out of it. The one thing that would annoy me more than anything else is if this leads to Spider-Man losing his secret identity. I don’t see it happening, but with the identities of Iron Man, Daredevil, and Captain America all recently revealed (to one degree or another), it’s a trend that I do not hope to see continue within these page. Keep something sacred!

You can’t like everything!

While I absolutely loved Humberto Ramos’ artwork on books like Impulse, it doesn’t really work for me with Spider-Man title. I can see the point that Marvel is attempting to bring varying identities to each of the books in the line, but I still come back to the fact that the artwork just doesn’t work. The Manga-influenced misshapen heads, feet, and various other body parts take something away from the book. I love to see Mr. Ramos work on a monthly basis, but I would rather it be with a different character.

One other small gripe, for me, is the continued Ultimatization of everything Marvel. While the stories have been quite good, the one thing I don’t like is the continued Ultimate/Marvel-film influence felt in the regular Marvel books. Doctor Octopus, with the exception of a “news shot” in the book, looks nothing like his classic incarnation. This looks a lot more like the Ultimate version decided to cross over to the regular Marvel Universe, than it does the classic incarnation.

Other than these small gripes there’s plenty to like in this comic.