From 1997, this is the final book in the Spider-Man "Doom's Day" team-up trilogy that was started in 1996 with Spider-Man & The Incredible Hulk: Rampage (Doom's Day Book 1), then ran into Spider-Man & Iron Man: Sabotage (Doom's Day Book 2), and which now concludes here. In "round robin" fashion, the two co-authors that worked with Danny Fingeroth (one each on the first two volumes) now say goodbye to Danny and combine forces to wrap-up the series. It all has a comforting symmetry.
In an effort to keep the series fresh Spidey picks a new dancing partner on the hero-side, with the Fantastic Four joining him on centre stage. The villains are Doctor Octopus, and good old Doctor Doom who has been moving mostly behind the scenes until now. With two doctors in the house, you can just bet Spidey's in for a tough time.
There's a change in heroes this time, with Hulk and Black Cat moving out to make room for "ol' Tin-Head" - Iron Man (and his millionaire alter-ego Tony Stark). Mary Jane still flits in and out through the background, while Flash Thompson is dropped completely after his starring role in the first of the trilogy.
The boys (and girls) from S.A.F.E. make a return also, and back once more is the "Gamma Syphon" and the "Infinity Engine", being the respective Doomsday devices from books one and two. There had to be some way to tie the series together, and it's basically the somewhat un-convincing pairing of these two technologies that form means of doing this. But let's not get ahead of ourselves.
First, the basic plot. Doom's robots (masquerading as Hydra Dreadnaughts) rescue Ock and his Arms (separately), and take both to Doom's New York lab, where Doom forces Ock to assist him constructing the device that will conquer the world. Breaking into the Fantastic Four's building, Doom steals the energies of the Negative Zone. Doom then builds a giant Infinity Engine combo Gamma Syphon thingy on top of a tall building, and starts his countdown. Naturally, the Fantastic Four, Spidey, and SAFE combine to defeat him - assisted by Ock who rebels against being conscripted by Doom.
That's basically it. There's a whole bunch of filler stuff, Peter with MJ, Spidey and the FF separately figuring out who was behind things, and there's a few chapters of the extended battle at the end. But essentially, there's a doomsday device, a countdown, and the inevitable victory to the good guys, and the defeat (and of course the escape) of Doom, with Ock restored to prison.
I mean, what else did you expect?
It must be pretty obvious by now that this trilogy really hasn't impressed me that much. And why should they? It's blatantly obvious that whatever happens in the middle, the final situation will be the same as however things started. Nobody important will die, no recognised characters will be changed in any way. That's pretty much a given, unfortunately.
Even worse, no new aspects of any character are revealed. Any new character introduced is pretty much guaranteed to be discarded at the end of the series, and as a result it's really very hard to care about anything that goes on. Fein and Askegren do their best to make something out of the narrow scope which is open to them, but they're pushing it uphill the whole way.
I can't complain. I got what I expected, no more and no less. Compentent writing, characters we know and love, and nary a surprise in sight. It's easy to write a bad Spidey tie-in novel, but very hard to write a good one. I'm gonna give the three writers the benefit of the doubt for having avoided any major disasters.
Even so, I'm not prepared to be too generous here. Right under "Wreckage" in my reading pile is "Life of Pi", and "Well of Lost Plots". Both are brilliant pieces of writing that remind me how rewarding a genuine well-written book can be. I've made it clear, I don't blame Fein, Askegren or Fingeroth for the limitations they worked under. However, you can't help but recognise that while having "Spider-Man" as a topic guarantees you an audience, a market, a world in which to work - the mere weight of the surrounding material can completely smother all the originality out of nearly any story.
Perfectly adequate, could have been much worse. Let's consider the whole series a victory on points, and usher the trilogy off with a somewhat better than most rating of 3.5 webs.