Spider Island Part One: The Amazing Spider-Manhattan
Written by Dan Slott
Art by Humberto Ramos, Carlos Cuevas, and Edgar Delgado
The villainous Jackal has released a swarm of genetically modified bedbugs that grant spider-powers all throughout Manhattan’s populace.
Spider-Island continues, and if last month’s super-sized Amazing Spider-Man #666 prologue was a love letter to the Spider-Man legacy, this issue skips the romance and takes you straight back to it’s place for coffee.
Peter Parker’s life went from awesome to bad to worse, and it’s only been two issues. That talk Carlie wanted to have last issue? Yeah, she’s not breaking up with Pete, she’s got wall-crawling, web-shooting, spider powers! That plot Madame Webb (the super sexy Jula Carpenter) was preparing Spider-Man for? It’s already underway, and co-preparer Shang Chi isn’t happy with the way she’s handling things.
The Jackal? Already strutting the streets with Tarantula and The Spider-King (genetically engineered Kaine and Ben Reilly (Maybe?) for those keeping score). Seems The Jackal is already on phase two of his diabolically laughable plan: having infected the city, he’s now taking most of the infected city’s criminal thug element and turned them into Spectacular Spider-Imposters! Like all insane schemes, it’s too stupid not to work!
And so Manhattan is beset by Spider-Men, looting, robbing, stealing falafel, and being generally unpleasant. And they’re not just in the classic duds, there’s Black Suit Spider-Man, Battle Damaged Spider-Man, Negative Spider-Man, any action figure variant you probably owned. Even Mary Jane is fooled by a Future Foundation poseur! As the lady says, “I swear, if we’re doing the clone-thing again, I’m going back to LA!”
It’s too much for Peter to handle, especially with his girlfriend declaring herself the Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Cop, and Mayor J. Jonah Jameson declaring a city-wide epidemic.
We’ve hardly had time to catch our breath before Spidey’s Amazing Friends come to the rescue, in the form of Spider-Woman, Spider-Girl, Cloak and Dagger, Gravity, Firestar, Iron Fist and Luke Cage, Ms. Marvel, Hawkeye, The Thing and Mr. Fantastic (repping the Future Foundation), Red Hulk, and yes, Wolverine. Listen, I know there’s an event going on with hammers that’s got the Marvel Universe hot and bothered, but I’m finding it very boring, and all these heroes spilling out of Cloak did in one panel what Fear Itself hasn’t in five issues: The answer, my friends, is “fun”.
Some people might balk at all the guest stars, and maybe they’re tired of crossovers, and I don’t blame them, but you can’t deny: these guest stars are as much a part of Spider-Man’s life as goblins and The Daily Bugle, and it’s these touches that make this a definitive Spider-Man story.
Anyway, about the time Spider-Man shows up, they’ve already beaten so many Scarlet Spiders, Captain Universe, Iron Spiders, and Day Glo Black Spider-Men, can you blame the team for not believing he’s the real deal?
As Madame Webb says,”Even though he shoulders great responsibility, while he’s here, all of his great powers are absolutely meaningless.”
Dan Slott’s script moves at a breakneck pace, juggling a lot of subplots. And yet it’s not a fast read, and there’s a lot of detail being laid out as quick as the scenes are. In fact, I welcome it after the lengthy set-up of the Prologue last month; just like Spidey, this event is ricocheting around and still managing to think on it’s feet. It’s clever, it’s not taking itself too seriously, but it’s still engaging, and it’s fun. It’s ridiculous at times, but it moves so fast and makes so much sense in that bizarre way only Spider-Man can that you can only appreciate it more for being ridiculous.
The art suits the tone of the issue perfectly, with Humberto Ramos and Carlos Cuevas keeping things light and super heroic while still nailing Manhattan (one of the key characters in the story). It just feels like Manhattan (I’ve been, I can say this), and it feels like the Marvel universe with all these absurdities going on and other spandex heroes crashing in, but it never feels crowded (see: Avengers). Ramos really impresses with the battle scenes, with so many Spider variants vying for screen time with the other Marvel icons present. There’s a spread I wish was a poster.
Edgar Delgado’s colors enhance the rest of the creative team’s efforts, keeping things bright and popping. I remember the Clone Saga, and while it was a dark hour, it was also very…dark and grimy. Fitting Slott’s Spider-Love, this book remains bright, with shiny costumes and glimmering, garish spandex. This is a comic book about super heroes, with a Saturday Morning Cartoon premise, and the colors keep that feel. Everything is clean and distinct, and having colored, I can appreciate the work this man put into this issue, with so many superstars in every panel.
Spider-Island continues to impress me, and I can tell you, I was really jaded and ready to not like it. It won me over despite myself and itself. With a fantastic story, solid writing that’s accessible to fans old and casual, and amazing art teams, this is one event that I’m happy to invest in every piece of. I’ll be back with continuing coverage this weekend, starting with Spider-Island: Cloak and Dagger.
Are you enjoying the ride as much as I am? Lemme know.
Tags: Amazing Spider-Man, Clone Saga, Dan Slott, Future Foundation, Hawkeye, Humberto Ramos, iron fist, Luke Cage, Scarlet Spider, spider-girl, Spider-Man, spider-woman, Wolverine