Secret Invasion: The Amazing Spider-Man #3

Background

After being lampooned by a DB! article after a crime-fighting caper went sour, Jackpot headed over the offices of the newspaper to demand a retraction. She did so at the same time the Skrulls decided to invade New York, and one of them (with the powers of the Sinister Six) came to the DB! looking for Spider-Man. Spidey's in the Savage Land fighting aliens with the New Avengers, so it fell to Jackpot to stop the madness. She managed to get Vin, Betty, Bennett and Robbie safely out of the building, but the skrull gave chase under the mistaken belief that one of them was Spider-Man. The villain has caught up with them now, but Jackpot can't help as she is currently fighting for her life against Menace!

Story Details

  Secret Invasion: The Amazing Spider-Man #3
Summary: Spider-Man appears
Arc: Part 3 of 'Brand New Secret Invasion' (1-2-3)
Editor: Stephen Wacker
Writer: Brian Reed
Pencils: Marc Santucci
Inker: Mark Pennington

Menace has Jackpot by the throat and he's not letting go. Jackpot wrestles with her foe, and tries to pull off Menace's mask (only to discover that it may not be a mask at all). Menace throws Jackpot to the ground, but rather than fall to a messy death, our plucky heroine grabs hold of the goblin glider forcing it to spin out of control.

Meanwhile, the Sinister-Six Skrull is still under the impression that one of the targets in the car is Spider-Man, and is still demanding that Spider-Man give himself up. Betty deduces that as Spidey can't be Robbie or Bennett then it must be Vin. Considering how Vin believes Spidey set him up in Kraven's First Hunt, that theory doesn't get much traction. "It's more likely you're Spider-Man than me!" he says to Betty. Unfortunately the skrull believes him. He yanks her out of the car and prepares to kill her.

Surprising it is Dexter Bennett that leaps to Betty's rescue. Using his great powers of oratory he brow-beats the Skrull; shaming him into putting down Betty. After all, what evidence does he have that Betty is Spider-Man? Can he be sure? Really sure? Sure enough to tell his superiors that he got the right man? The super-skrull is confused. He's still confused when Jackpot, Menace and an erratic and excessively pointy goblin-glider barrel into him. There is a large explosion.

Jackpot peels herself out of a mailbox and staggers over to her companions. Jackpot thinks Menace is dead; but the goblin is actually staggering to safety down a dark alley. She also thinks the skrull has been killed, but she's wrong about that too. The alien (now impaled on Menace's glider) roars to its feet and chases Jackpot and the others into Flannigan Fish Market. A property owned by Walter Declun, no less.

After trading more blows and still getting nowhere, Jackpot hits on an idea to put the skrull on ice permanently. Using her acrobatic prowess she tricks the skrull into the DEEP FREEZE. Where she traps it under a fork-lift and seals the door. Then Jackpot along with Betty, Vin, Robbie and Dexter Bennett hold the door shut until the banging stops and the alien monster freezes solid.

A few nights later, Jackpot is filling Spider-Man in on what happened. He is appalled by her pun ("Chill out" indeed!). However, Spidey is holding a copy of the DB! and has found the printed apology that the Jackpot went to the paper to get in the first place. Sadly it's printed as a clue to the cryptic crossword, but that's more than Spidey ever got from the Daily Bugle. However, the front page is an overdose of the Parker luck: "DB staffers saved by Declun!"

After accidentally flirting with Jackpot, Spidey bows out and swings off across the city. Several days later, in the arc's second epilogue, a weary Peter Parker returns to the Coffee Bean and his friends. He mumbles a story about being trapped in Queens and not being able to get through on the phone.

Then it's back to Jackpot (how many epilogues does this story need?) She's relaxing in the bath when she gets a phone call from Sara. Sara who? Sara Ehret perhaps? Sara congratulates Jackpot on a job well done. And promises to talk to her later. Jackpot's story continues in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #35.

General Comments

One of the things I liked about this issue was that we got to see a more pleasant side of Dexter Bennett. He's veered from being an oaf to a petty villain in the parent title, but we've never seen him do anything admirable until now. People are seldom two dimensional, and it's nice to see Bennett do something heroic. Unfortunately, this scene was also one of the things I didn't like in the issue.

Am I alone in thinking that it was all just a little too silly? New York is on fire, aliens are killing people all around, and here we have a super-skrull (who up until now has been painted as a single-minded killer) playing Elmer Fudd to Dexter Bennett's Bugs Bunny. Bennett might as well have handed him a giant comedy bomb with a burning fuse. Does that scene really sit well in the context of the rest of the arc; with Harry Osborn climbing over dead bodies to escape being murdered?

And why didn't the Skrull just kill everyone in the car? His fellow skrulls are hurtling across New York killing all and sundry. He's probably responsible for many deaths himself, so why is he politely waiting for Spider-Man to stand up? "Tell me now which it is, or I will kill you all!" No. Kill them all, and then it doesn't matter which one it is. The Skrull Queen isn't going to slap him on the wrist and chide him for killing too many humans to get to Spider- Man is she? And didn't it occur to the skrull to wonder why "Spider-Man" wasn't doing anything particularly spider-like to escape or to battle him?

I don't want to be too negative, as the story is still well told and briskly paced. There's a lot of humour that does hit the mark, and it's an entertaining romp. I think my biggest meaningful criticism would be that the story wasn't ambitious enough. The super-skrull attacks, Jackpot fights and eventually defeats it: the end. There could have been more to it than that. Perhaps Reed's remit didn't let him construct anything more complex, but I think offering that up as explanation for the story's short-comings would be overly charitable.

He did manage to turn my midway criticism around in this issue, by having Jackpot instigate the defeat of the skrull - even if she did use Super Hero Cliche #349 to do it. Jackpot is turning into quite an intriguing character. After reading this mini-series I really do want to find out more about her, and discover how she is linked to Sara Ehret and to Mary Jane. Hopefully, the annual will contain the meaningful revelations that this mini-series lacked.

The best line of the issue has to come from Harry Osborn. While surveying the destruction of New York he opines that "... every summer it's one big event or another going on around here." Of course Harry was still in Europe for Civil War and World War Hulk, but the point is well made. Here's to a 2009 free of multi-title New York destroying crossovers!

Overall Rating

A solidly entertaining read, and worthy addition to the Brand New Day story. I'd really like to see Brian Reed as one of the regular writers on Amazing Spider-Man, if only for the inevitable return of SRA Union Rep Helen Rogers! An enjoyable three webs.