Here we have a teen-aged Spider-Man re-imagined into the modern era with all of the exciting nuances, subtle chills, and top-of-the-park fun from the Silver Age of Marvel Comics. Yep, while it is true that these stories are, essentially, targeted for a younger audience, but there are plenty those of us "old timers" who find this title is a welcome friend. As stated, in this version of the Marvel Universe, it is present-day America, and Peter Parker is still 15, attending Midtown High, and a part-time freelance photographer for The Daily Bugle. This, my friends, is the Marvel (Adventure) Universe, and we are so happy that it is here.
Peter and his class go to Oceana, a local aquatic theme park. While most of his classmates are looking at this trip as a day off from school, Peter (geek scientist in wafting that he is) is more interested in the scientific knowledge that he can acquire while attending the tour of the aquarium part of the facility; so while his friends are asking "Where's the bathroom?" and "How many trainers have the killer whales eaten?" Peter inquires about how whales and dolphins communicate.
So pleased that he was asked a real question, the tour guide tells the students about a CD that is available in the gift shop that contains the sounds of the aquatic creatures communicating with each other. Shortly afterwards, the students are all poolside to watch Kantu, the killer whale go through his paces, only something seemingly goes wrong with the programmed show, as Kantu starts to attack his trainers.
The next thing that anyone knows, the perennial Sub Marnier foeman, Orca , crashes through the side of the building, claiming that he has come to liberate Kantu. As Orca attacks the trainers, and Kantu goes wild; the crowd rushes for the exit and Peter looks for a secluded spot to switch into his fighting togs. Unfortunately, his first attempt leads him to the employee locker room (which is packed with employees), so he winds up in a fish food storage locker.
Smelling like day-old leftover at the Fulton Fish Market, Spider-man suddenly appears and takes a swing at Orca, only to have the man-fish* punch him into the middle of next week. Spidey lands in a fisherman museum, and scores a very large harpoon which he plans on using in his renewed assault on the anthropomorphic manfish. Returning to the fray, Spidey launches the harpoon in the direction of Orca only to (apparently) miss. Orca laughs at Spidey's bad aim, but our hero informs him that Heroes don't use harpoons on villains, revealing that he was aiming at a large fish display that was behind Orca. Once hooked, Spidey pulls the large structure down on Orca in the hopes of putting him out of action.
Needless to say, this action doesn't quite work (especially as if it had, this issue would have been 11 pages short), and though stunned, Orca recovers and uses the line from the harpoon to pull Spidey off his perch, and towards the waiting jaws of Kantu (which Spidey attempts to web shut). As Orca attempts to pound Spidey into codfish cakes, he comments that he and Kantu "Speak the same language" he sets off Peter's scientist brain, and he heads for the gift shop. Where he acquires the previously-mentioned Whale and Dolphin sounds CD. From there he heads off to the park's control booth where he sets the CD up to play the top-10 (with a bullet) track, "Danger approaching! Defend the pod!" Interestingly enough, this actually works and not only messes with Orca's head, but sends Kantu into a defender's frenzy where he attacks the villainous manfish.
Unfortunately while thrashing around, Orca trashes the main filtration tank in an effort to fully flood the park. At this point Spidey brings in reinforcements in the form of a pair of dolphins, who immediately attack Orca. While he is diverted, Spidey gets the trainers to direct Kantu to block the block the pipe that is flooding the park, allowing Spidey to turn his attention back to Orca.
Between Spidey and the dolphins attacking Orca and Kantu blocking the incoming water, the trainers have enough time to shut down the pumps flooding the park. Kantu then moves against Orca, and (as directed by Spidey) bats Orca clear out of the park, thus saving the day. On the ride home, Peter happily listens to his Whale songs CD on his Walkman, as the local SWAT team moves in on Orca who is buried up to his neck in concrete outside of the park.
*Yes, I know that technically, Orca (as a whale-man) is not really a fish, but a mammal, but Man-fish sounds funnier.
In the history of silly, off-beat-but-plausible Spidey stories, this one has got to come in the top five. Sure a cage match between Orca and Spidey would (or should) result in either A) never happen, or B) wind up with a flattened Spidey, but by having it take place at an aquatic park, and adding a killer whale into the mix, it not only totally works, but makes it both fully readable and totally enjoyable as well.
If you are not reading this title, you really owe it to yourself to start. It is easily the best written Spider-title currently being published today.
High marks go to the ingenuity of the odd-ball juxtaposition of a Namor villain with Spidey totally works, and makes this a fun tale indeed. In fact, it is a whale of a tale. Hey, don't be a crab. Don't clam up. Just because those last puns had no porpoise, and you fell for them hook, line, and sinker. I have a whole school of them. I could go on, but I'd rather cut fish than wrap bait.
There is another new one-page of Chris Giarrusso mini-marvel story at the end of this tale, again, this one doesn't have Spidey in it, but delivers a very funny Secret Invasion tie-in involving the Fantastic Four. Again, it is hysterical. As always there is more Chris Giarrusso that can be found at his website.