Reviewer: Tim Stevens
Story Title: Last Stand Part II of IV
Written by: Mark Millar
Pencilled by: Terry Dodson
Inked by: Rachel Dodson
Colored by: Avalon’s Ian Hannin
Lettered by: VC’s Cory Petit
Editor: Axel Alonso
Publisher: Marvel Comics/Marvel Knights
There has been a lot of discussion on our message boards as of late about the nature of our reviews. Are we too positive? Are we too negative? When we are positive, are we helping anyone, are we doing our job, or are we just kissing up? When we’re negative, do we do it right? Do we cross that line between critique and personal attack? Where is that line? Are negative reviews more useful than positive ones? And on and on.
So that, plus the fiercely anti-Spidey book camp (with this book and Amazing being the focus of its energies) that has be happening as of late, inspired me to do things a bit differently this time. Not for all time, just this once, just to see if a new approach could/would work. First, I’ve ditched the number system for this review. I suck at giving out numbers and I think a lot of people zone in on it as the ultimate indicator of my feelings toward the book when my reviews are often a bit more complicated than that. Second, there be spoilers ahead. Not usually something I like to do, but necessary for how I plan to write this review. Let’s see if it works.
My feelings on:
1.) Peter Parker/Spider-Man: Man, I can’t remember the last time Peter seemed as…ineffectual as he strikes me at the beginning of this issue. It is meant, I expect, to convey the crushing inevitably of his situation, but it only serves to undermine Parker’s best asset, his inner strength. As the issue goes on, the Peter Parker I have come to expect (yes, even from Millar) seems to return. Frustrated, cornered, but still striving to do as much right as he can. Even a sense of humor at one point (hey, I liked the “Miss Kyle” line). Still, those opening pages stuck with me throughout and it made it hard to appreciate the rest of Peter’s inner monologue.
2.) Gun toting Mary Jane: I don’t love it, but I get it. At least Millar hasn’t reduced her to either whiny about how she and Peter are too young for this sort of thing to happen or chain smoking like a fiend. Plus, it looks like the gun will actually make a difference in the storyline, unlike, say, that aforementioned smoking subplot in the early 90’s. The jealousy between her and Black Cat didn’t ring true for me though. It comes across as a bit too forced.
3.) Felicia’s offer: Nice to see some layers to the lady. I appreciated that she’d make it even though, I’m sure, she knew there was no way Peter would take her up on it.
4.) Ninja Spidey: Okay, the sweat suit thing was silly, admittedly. But it struck me as silly in a very harmless sort of way, like something out of the Silver Age. So it does not bother me at all (which is weird, since I tend to be very anti-Silver Age throwback stuff). Plus, with so much bile being spewed about Spidey’s “unmasking” in New Avengers, I was kind of thankful that Spider-Man will be able to fight in his red and blue togs with mask rather than his civvies. So silly, yes, but silly with an appreciated payoff.
5.) The Sinister Twelve: I love villains and I have a soft spot in my heart for a lot of Spidey’s lesser opponents (yeah for Shocker!) so I love this. Yes, the odds seem literally insurmountable, but isn’t that what Spider-Man is all about? I don’t know about you, but I prefer when he has a rough time of things, at least in his costumed identity. I will say that I don’t really know about the inclusion of Lizard on the team as it seems like Connors, in reptile form, would never have the wherewithal for this sort of team-up. I am also sad to see Sandman popping up, but that’s just because I long for the days when it looked like he had given up the villainy gig. That, however, was many moons ago and it has become quite clear by this point that he is a villain again. So, I can deal.
6.) Scorpion takes a brideÃ¢â‚¬â€errÃ¢â‚¬â€symbiote: I’m very mixed on this one. The costume is not the prettiest thing I’ve ever seen, but I like that they tried to incorporate both the classic Venom and Scorpion looks into one appearance. I do like that Venom is evolving into a scary villain again, with or without Brock (although, personally, I would prefer with). I am disappointed that it has to be at the cost of Scorpion, who is another one of those “almost top shelf” villains that I have affection for. I do believe there is a great Scorpion story to be told (at least one), but I suppose there could be several great Scorp-nom stories to be told. A one page reveal is enough to get the wheels turning and the blood pumping, but I’ll admit that it isn’t enough to really form an opinion on.
7.) The art: Good stuff. I really like the Dodson’s work. Coloring seemed a touch off in comparison to previous issues though. Could have been the high concentration of darkness in the issue that is responsible for that.
8.) The script: I think I am one of the few Spidey fans (not that I have to justify myself as a “true” fan or anything) that has, by in large, enjoyed this series. That having been said, I thought this was one of the weaker installments. Millar, in my opinion, was on a bit of a roll during “Venomous” and this issue feels a bit lackluster in comparison. I won’t be calling for the man’s head any time soon (or any time far in the future for that matter) but I have to call a spade a spade and say that I was hoping for a bit more out of this issue.
All right, so that’s it. Please visit the message boards and let me know how this approach worked for you. And by all means, feel free to discuss/debate this issue as well. That is, after all, why we write these reviews, positive, negative, and everything in between.