Marvel Comics Presents (Vol. 2) #1

Background

I hope you know something about Spider-Man...if not, there are better places to read about on this site then this review.

Story 'Unfriendly Neighborhood'

  Marvel Comics Presents (Vol. 2) #1
Summary: Spider-Man Stars (Credit SM Story)
Editor: John Barber
Writer: Stuart Moore
Pencils: Clayton Henry
Inker: Mark Morales

Things kick off simply enough. Peter gets home exhausted after an intensive battle with Doc Ock and collapses on his bed. Suddenly, Peter is interrupted by Spider-Mech from Neighbourhood 4301 who appears through a portal of some kind. He takes a not-so reluctant Peter through the portal where he meets dozens of other Spider-Men, apparently holding a meeting of some kind. Of course, these aren't your regular Spider-Men, they're the Galactic Alliance of Spider-Men. Yeah, seriously.

Spider-Mech introduces Peter to various aliens who have variations of the Spider-Man outfit and an odd mastery of the English language. Well, except when they mention names like Mar'e Jan and Aunt Rae-843, otherwise that'd sound too silly. Everyone is in the midst of the great Peter Parker pastime of self-pity/loathing. Any Spider-Man fan who's been around for more then a few months should recognize some of the familiar whining: Mary Jane giving cold Pete the cold shoulder, Gwen Stacy dieing, and Aunt May having yet another heart attack. In an odd way, it's a bit funny to see the various problems Peter's had confront him through various bizarre mouth pieces. In a less odd way, it would have been nice if these aliens would put a sock in it.

Things are suddenly called to attention when the Neighbourhood-Watch Board comes to life to warn the Spider-Man and the very weary Peter Parker that Earth is being attacked by the Doctopoids. The Spider-Men assemble to take on the threat when Peter snaps and pulls of Spider-Mech's mask to reveal a Tenta-Clone. It threatens to kill everyone as Peter is sucked through the portal and wakes up on his bed. Apparently the whole thing was a dream...or was it?!

Actually, I really hope it was.

General Comments

Use any comparison you care for, the Green Lantern Corps. or the Nova Crops., but once you've got that template in mind you've more or less got the Galactic Alliance of Spider-Men. Not that this is a bad thing, and the twist of giving them Peter's personality is a bit amusing, but it all seems like an excuse to have some aliens make fun of some of the more serious aspects of what is essentially a very fun and light-hearted character. Even the Galactic Alliance of Spider-Men itself could be a tease of the spider that bit Peter all those years ago was actually a creature trying to infuse him with some special power (a la Abin Sur). Clever, quite clever.

Of course, I could be reading far too much into a simple eight page story. The only two real complaints I have about the story are probably a bit too damning though. It lacks a real story, and more importantly, it's missing the funny. For every smile that I cracked, I seemed to be stone faced for ten more jokes. It feels like jokes are thrown at the wall in a vain effort to make a point about how Spider-Man seems to enjoy whining. While I'm all for stopping the incessant whining present in certain Spider-Man titles, there must be funnier ways of going about it. Not that it isn't clever, it certainly is, but being witty and being funny aren't quite the same thing all the time. The lack of any real story wouldn't even matter if we had a little more of the funny. But alas, I couldn't find any major laughs in this one.

I should also add that the art is gorgeous. Only having to produce 8 pages in a single month (I'm guessing here) has allowed Clayton Henry to create some really nice looking pages and some interesting looking aliens. I think the funniest thing in this little story was the way he drew Spidey's mask with sad little eyes.

Overall Rating

That's largely for the art and any laughs you could possibly find within that I may have missed. This is probably the weakest title in the book, so if you're plunking down the four dollars for it alone, you might want to pay some more attention to the other stories. Or, just skip it completely. That might work best if you don't care for anthologies or non-Spidey stories that have a long build up.