Reviewer: Jesse Baker
Story Title: The Last Stand Part 1
Written by: Mark Millar
Penciled by: Terry Dodson
Inked by: Rachel Dodson
Colored by: Avalon’s Ian Hannin
Lettered by: VC’s Cory Petit
Editor: Axel Alonso
Publisher: Marvel Knights- Marvel Comics
Millar’s Spiderman run nears its end as the story of Aunt May’s abduction goes in the most contrived direction possible. Basically Norman “Green Goblin” Osborn is to blame, having activated a revenge scheme from jail. He’s leaked Spiderman’s identity to the Scorpion (who serves as Norman’s mouthpiece for this issue) and now unless Spidey busts Norman out of jail, Scorp will kill May.
The issue deals a mighty blow to Millar’s Spidey run by taking it into the one direction fans don’t want to see it go in. Norman Osborn has been used and abused as a character by writers who rush to blame him for every single problem in Spidey’s life. It’s gotten to the point where I wish they would just kill him again to end this stupidity. The fact that this revelation comes on the heels of JMS’s recent crapfest in Amazing Spiderman adds to the salt being poured into the wound.
Convoluting this mess even further is Millar coming up with a nonsensical conspiracy storyline involving Norman Osborn, the US Government, and the Marvel Universe’s villain population. The plot essentially has it that the US Government and big business have been secretly funding super-villain activities since 1945. It seems big business has been recruiting former soldiers and turning them into super-villains to destroy super-heroes for a cock-and-ball reason that corporations are afraid of losing political power at the hands of the heroes. Norman and his company were a major part of these programs until his Green Goblin activities caused him to pull out. Now the US Government wants to kill Norman in order to keep him from using said information in order to get released from jail.
OK, this is a rather nonsensical plotline from Millar but one that DOES make sense in a way. After all, the existence of Justin Hammer and other evil corporations in the pages of Iron Man validates the notion of corporations using their power to finance villainy so as to maintain their corporate and political power. Also, Millar carefully avoids the issue of which villains are corporate sponsored flunkies and only gives specific examples in the form of the Golden Age villains.
That being said, the only problem is that Millar makes it clear that Norman was involved in the program in the beginning. The only time in Norman’s past that lines up with Millar’s tale is AFTER Norman’s “death”, when we learn that he was financing the Jackal, the Scriers, and paying Jason Macendale to dress up like a woman and stalk Mary Jane’s Aunt and the Jameson family.
The issue itself ends on a cliffhanger with Spidey weighing his options and Scorpion himself getting an indecent merger proposal from the Venom symbiote. This could be an interesting way to revamp Venom (provided that they have Scorpion’s hatred for J. Jonah Jameson is able override the symbiote’s vendetta against Spidey), but does Marvel have the balls to go through with it?