Marvel Knights Spider-Man #18

Reviewer : Tim Byrne
Title : Wild Blue Yonder (Part VI of VI)

Writer : Reginald Hudlin
Penciler : Billy Tan
Inker : Jon Sibal
Colorist : Ian Hannin (Avalon)
Letterer : Cory Petit
Editor : Axel Alonso
Publisher : Marvel Comics

This is how the world ends.
This is how the world ends.
Not with a bang but a whimper.

T.S. Eliot was expressing the right sentiments when it came to this story-arc by Reginald Hudlin. Six issues? SIX issues?? And for what? I mean, I know that six-issue story arcs are encouraged at Marvel these days, but was this story idea really worth such lavish treatment?

In any event, this issue does serve to (sorta) bring the threads together, as Spidey, the Owl, the Absorbing Man, the blonde, and the faux-Superman are all roughly in the same place at the same time.

The involvement of Spidey in the Avengers is also referenced, with May and Jarvis making a fairly unnecessary appearance, with the whole editorial confusion about Spidey’s secret identity rearing its ugly head AGAIN.

By this, I refer to the efforts gone to be Spidey and the New Avengers to conceal his secret identity (and that of May) from the Avengers. What about the ‘King of Hell’s Kitchen’ arc in Daredevil, where it looked pretty clear to me that Reed Richards knew exactly who Peter Parker really was?

Anyhoo, Ethan (or faux-Superman) has come up with his own Matrix-esque outfit and his cute little Superhero name of the ‘Tiller’. Independent of aesthetic concerns, the whole thing seems excessively referential to DC, particularly with the hardly-coincidental referral to ‘Identity Crisis’ (in bold type no less) in one of the first pages of the issue.

The story is not as horribly mischaracterised as the early issues, but seeing the Owl channelling a sort-of Black Mask crime boss thing just doesn’t sit with the way that he has been consistently portrayed in the other titles, most especially Daredevil.

And as for the ending…well, I suppose its sort of cute, and it does tie in to the expressed viewpoint of the character, but it doesn seem too twee for words, and certainly is a lazy way of tying up a number of the loose ends left dangling by previous issues.

The art by Billy Tan is good when it comes to people in masks like Spidey and ‘The Tiller’, and much more shaky with, you know, people. Interestingly, his depiction of Reed is almost spot-on.

It will be telling to see how Hudlin does with his share of the ‘Other’ cross-over starting in October.