The Omega Effect continues, for those who haven’t already forgotten about it. The Punisher, Daredevil, and Spider-Man have teamed up to take on the New York underworld with the Omega Drive (the “t” in “the” is no longer capitalized), “which is full of information about A.I.M., Hydra, Black Spectre, Agence Byzantine, and the Secret Empire,” in their possession.
You can tell this is a Punisher comic. The recap page is all black with half of it taken up with half of the Punisher’s current “caught in the rain” skull logo. Dark and dreary, just the right tone. This recap confirms what I suspected in the Avenging Spider-Man #6 review: that Rachel Cole-Alves’ story has been part of this series’ previous issues. The best thing about this page is that it’s played straight without the cheap jokes that crop up in Avenging’s recaps. Could we continue that policy over in Avenging, Stephen?
To the story. Frank and Rachel load up on weapons (with Frank loading his shotgun with rounds of rubber buckshot) as Spidey and DD extract some information from the Omega Drive. They pause on the Brooklyn Bridge to help deliver a baby for a woman stuck in traffic. (Or, at least, DD does. The father won’t let Spidey near his wife.) The grateful mother declares, “Daredevil…that’s not such a bad name for a girl, really. We could call her ‘Dare’ for short.” They then continue to their rendez-vous with “Killer and Killette” as Spidey calls them. There, DD gives Frank a “target list,” which is apparently what they took off the drive, so he can work up a plan. Frank makes a bid for the whole Omega Drive. “A.I.M., Hydra, the Hand, the Exchange, I could scour them from the city,” he says. (The Exchange is, according to the recap, “the criminal organization that murdered [Rachel’s] husband and family on her wedding day” so we have an appropriate illustration of Rachel seething with vengeance when the Punisher mentions their name.) Daredevil tells him that such an approach allows for too much danger to innocents and turns Frank down.
As the Punisher pieces together his plan, with Spidey kibitzing, Daredevil tells Rachel that “I heard your heart race when Castle mentioned the Exchange” and that “revenge isn’t justice.” Frank finishes his plan, which pairs Spidey with Rachel and himself with Daredevil. But Spidey vetoes this, afraid that the Punisher will try to take the Omega Drive. So, instead Spidey and Punisher tackle Hydra while DD and Rachel take on A.I.M., leaving messages with all the villains that they will be in Grand Central Station at 3 AM with the Omega Drive. When DD and Rachel take out some Exchange goons, she wants to kill them but Daredevil talks her out of it.
At 3 AM, with the heroes perched above Grand Central’s main concourse, armies from the various criminal organizations converge. Daredevil takes the Omega Drive from around his neck and tells the villains that he has the Drive and that he will “take it out of play.” Except… well, something happens. It appears that DD throws the Drive, then shines (what looks like) a flashlight at it (it’s a device that Spidey gave to DD back on page one), but then is shot (?) in the process. DD falls and the Drive lands next to Rachel. She reaches for it (but we can’t see if she grabs it), then looks down at Daredevil being engulfed by the bad guys below.
Well, we got a little farther this time but then we finished on an ambiguous note, which is never a good idea. No one wants to plow through 19 pages only to be thrown by the 20th. No doubt this is all part of the heroes’ plan, designed to confuse the bad guys, and it may have a great pay-off next time but right now I feel as clueless as if I was wearing one of those beekeeper suits. And no one wants to be one of those guys in the beekeeper suits.
Just like part one of this story, things just don’t seem to work. The “deliver the baby” scene is just filler but features this weird exchange between Spidey and the prospective father:
Is there a joke in all this? Are we supposed to believe the dad can see past DD’s devil suit but not past Spidey’s spider suit? Do we really need Spidey actually explaining to the dad how many legs a spider has and how many he has? This is all labored, forced stuff, including the strange moment where the mother wants to name her daughter after Daredevil.
In fact, most of Spidey’s “funny” dialogue feels labored and forced. This is exemplified in everything from his “balloon” and “cake” mentions to backing off from his strong stand against the Punisher by coughing and calling Frank “sir” to coming up with the nickname “Magoo” for the blind Daredevil (he uses this twice) to saying, of all things, “awesome-sauce.” There’s not much characterization in this issue as it is but Spidey is particularly deprived of it. More and more it seems as if writers think the only way to write Spidey is to write gags. As they strain their brains to come up with those gags, the lines get lamer and lamer until they come across as exactly what they are: overthought, overwritten and not the sorts of things anyone would ever say (even Spidey). When scenes (such as the baby delivery and Spidey’s “chat” with the Punisher) seem specifically written to give Spidey the opportunity to say these overwritten lines, then we’re really in trouble. (Though I admit to laughing when Spidey answers the Punisher’s silence, during their “chat,” with “I’m glad we had this talk, Frank. I really cherish our little chats.”)
Marco Checchetto is again the artist and his hyper-realism is still in evidence but he doesn’t seem to have tried as hard this time. He provides no interesting point-of-view shots, no unusual perspectives, nothing as innovative as Part One. It’s still nice to look at but it doesn’t get the blood pumping like the previous installment’s artwork did.
The story still isn’t going much of anywhere, the characterization is still loose and disinterested, and the artwork is less inspired. And let’s not forget the big “huh?” at the story’s conclusion. I’ve no choice but to dial it down to a web and a half. See you in Daredevil (Vol. 3) #11 for what I hope is a rousing finish.