Comics : Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #668

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This story is part of an Arc: "Spider-Island"
     Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4 / Part 5 / Part 6

This review was first published on: Sep 2011.

Background...

Over the past few weeks Miles Warren/The Jackal has returned and set loose a swarm of genetically enhanced bedbugs on New York creating a Spider-Island! They have infected many normal New Yorkers and given them spider-powers, all of whom have reacted in different ways. Peter Parker’s girlfriend, Carlie Cooper, has her own set of spider-powers and is determined to become a Spider-Cop!

The Jackal, working for a mysterious spider-telepath and flanked by Spider-King and Tarantula/Kaine, organises all the criminals with spider-powers to run riot in Bryant Park. Several heroes, including Cloak and Dagger, Shang-Chi and Spider-Woman arrive on the scene and begin fighting the mob!

The real Spider-Man eventually arrives on the scene, chasing after Carlie, but his fellow heroes mistake him for a bad version of himself and beat him up!

In Detail...

"Peter Parker: The Unspectacular Spider-Man"
Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #668
Oct 2011 : SM Title
Arc: Part 2 of "Spider-Island"
Senior Editor:  Stephen Wacker
Assistant Editor:  Ellie Pyle
Writer:  Dan Slott
Pencils:  Humberto Ramos
Inker:  Victor Olazaba
Lettering:  VC's Joe Caramagna
Colorist:  Edgar Delgado
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Articles: Arana, The Jackal, Winters, Norah, The White Rabbit

Bryant Park: As the heroes of New York continue their fight with two hundred criminal Spider-Men, Shang-Chi leaps into the fray and rescues the real Spider-Man from mistakenly being pounded by his friends! Luke Cage tells Spider-Man to leave the scene to prevent them attacking him by accident and he reluctantly agrees. He changes into his civilian gear and continues looking for Carlie but finds Norah Winters and Mary-Jane Watson instead. Norah is busy filming for The Daily Bugle and is about to rope Peter into helping when MJ shows him that Carlie is using her spider-powers responsibly, helping the Anti-Spider Squad. Peter grabs Norah’s video camera, feeding live to the Daily Bugle website, and hands it to MJ. He displays his own spider-powers and calls for all real New Yorkers with spider-powers to come out and fight against the Spider-Men army; to be super-heroes! (Norah’s story continues in Spider-Island: Deadly Foes #1)

From his secret lair, The Jackal watches Peter’s broadcast and is congratulated by his female employer. She can feel more spiders coming out of hiding… Jackal turns his attention to the next stage – infecting the rest of the country! He injects Spider-King with two thousand mutated spider embryos!

In Bryant Park the heroes and getting outnumbered… until Peter Parker shows up with dozens of real New Yorkers all ready for a fight! Peter joins Carlie and the tides begin to turn against the Spider-Men!

The morning sees the heroes, Anti-Spider Squad and Peter’s army victorious. Mayor J. Jonah Jameson arrives on the scene and lets everyone know how proud he is of them. He calls for them to continue to fight for the city and demands a full quarantine. The tunnels, bridges, seaports and airports all need to be closed and policed before the infection gets loose.

Those with spider-powers seem to be enjoying it! MJ watches, a little disheartened, as Peter and Carlie swing overhead, kissing each other goodbye as they go to work.

Peter arrives at Horizon to find that it has been declared the new Centre for Disease Control and that Reed Richards is visiting the anonymous Number Six with Max Modell. Peter meets Reed, who takes a DNA sample from him. Peter asks if he can assist with a cure but Reed turns his expertise down, mysteriously mentioning that Number Six is an expert in Parker DNA! Max sends Peter on a special job.

Eddie Brock/Anti-Venom uses his powers to remove anyone infected with spider-powers. Madame Web/Julia Carpenter watches, knowing that both he and Venom have parts to play… but one of their stories will end.

On the George Washington Bridge, the authorities, Firestar and Gravity are under attack from Spider-King! Venom/Flash Thompson arrives on the scene! (see Venom (Vol. 2) #6)

Peter has made his way to the superhuman evidence locker where Max has told him to retool the Anti-Spider Squad with the weaponry he finds. Carlie joins him and admits that Peter working there was Carlie’s idea so that she can keep him safe. Peter fits her out with some webshooters and tells her that eating starchier foods will help replenish her organic webbing. Carlie explains that she knows who is behind the infestation, going for the obvious answer really: The Jackal! Peter realises he’s been an idiot not to realise!

They head to The Jackal’s last known lair on Empire State University campus and break in. Peter feels like he needs to regain control and leave but Carlie wants to explore. Watching from above are White Rabbit, Scorcher and one other – spider-powered Spider-Man villains!

In General...

Dan Slott’s planning seems to be truly paying off here. Ending Act I with the defeat of the Spider-Men army and, most definitely, moving the plot and characters forward into a new direction, he’s driving the story into natural yet exciting territory!

This is no more obvious in some of the best character moments of the issue. With the new morning comes the first time I’ve cared about MJ since One Moment In Time as she contemplates how happy Carlie’s spider-powers are making Peter. Following that there is Peter’s continuing rejection. In recent months he’s been flying in the face of adversity and here, quite rightly, Slott puts him into a situation in which he is quickly over his head. Listing those who’ve anticipated things ahead of Peter, Slott piles on the pressure (particularly with Carlie outdoing him earlier) and sets him up for a typical Parker faux pa at the end of the issue! Add Carlie’s growth and confidence with these powers and you’ve got some great development for their relationship.

In this vein there are additional and valuable moments for JJJ, Reed, Max and Norah that also show Slott’s grasp of the situation.

The thing that makes this issue take that step into Act II is the continuity between characters, tie-in mini-series’ and, ultimately, the planning of the whole event. Slott’s references to Spider-Island: Deadly Foes, Venom (Vol. 2) and even making a point of not including Dagger or Shang Chi in the victory panels (as they are off doing their own things in Spider-Island: Cloak & Dagger and Spider-Island: Deadly Hands Of Kung Fu respectively) means that the whole event is one fluid and expanding story. Often tie-ins are designed to sell more comics. This tie-ins are specific enough to the main story and offer the detail and continuity that Slott himself is famous for. Having always been a fan of subplots, this transition from Act I to Act II feeds so many subplots and moments of intrigue (who is that woman with The Jackal!?!) that I’m fully immersed in the anticipation of future issues.

Once again, Humberto Ramos delivers on pretty much every page. A master of backgrounds and settings, Ramos continues to portray the city itself perfectly and captures the levels of action, violence, rejection, character and emotion necessary. The thing that impresses me most is that he doesn’t cut corners. He’s always delivering a massive amount of characters within his shots and isn’t afraid to play about with angles and space either to create a book that visually matches the event feel. I can’t really do the intricacy (and again, planning) of his work justice here; I’d recommend pouring over the array of details for a dozen or so reads if I were you.

There are two things that pull the quality of this issue down. The first is editing. If this was a film, I’d be complaining that the scenes jump too much and there’s no lead in shot (of a setting) or a time check. There is a horrific jump at the end as Peter and Carlie arrive at ESU. Not professional. The second problem is the ink-consistencies. Victor Olazaba has flashes of brilliance and then panels of difficulty, especially towards the end of the issue where the lines deigned to signify the difference between fore and background are the same, light and sketchy weight and the panels fall flat.

Overall Rating...

Ink-consistencies aside, this issue continues to create a detailed, planned and involving story that truly meets the hype and build-up.

The next act of Spider-Island is coming!