Marvel's multiverse has been destroyed and all that remains is Battleworld! If you're unfamiliar with the latest Battleworld it is a "patchwork planet composed of fragments of worlds that no longer exist." Clear enough for you? Great!
Secret Wars: Spider-Island is one of those fragments and, you guessed it, this world is based on the Spider-Island event that ran from Amazing Spider-Man #666 to #673. This domain is now the Kingdom of the Spider-Queen and she works hard to make sure all its inhabitants remain under her mind control.
Flash Thompson (aka Agent Venom) leads the resistance against the Queen. He is joined by a group of mutated Avengers (their mutations are based off of the Spider-Man's rogues the Lizard, Morbius, Man-Wolf and the Green Goblin) including Captain America, Iron Man, Captain Marvel and the Hulk. The group of heroes recently freed Stegron and Spider-Man from the clutches of the evil Queen.
Continuing from the prior issue, Flash and his band of rebels are fighting their way through the Spider-Queen’s headquarters with two captives in tow (Stegron and Spider-Man). Eventually the team successfully makes their way back to their underground hideout. Peter and Flash share a brief bonding moment as they mutually uncover their alter egos and commiserate as to who is more responsible for the Queen overrunning Manhattan.
The realization that Spider-Man did not perish fighting the Queen’s forces brings some excitement to the resistance. Although not everyone is convinced Peter can lead them to victory, including Peter himself. Citing his imprisonment for placing him ‘behind the curve,’ Peter asks Flash to remain in the commanding role. Flash accepts the responsibility.
Flash’s next plan to defeat the Queen revolves around Dr. Vincent Stegron (aka Stegron the Dinosaur Man) and his infamous retrogeneration ray. Stegron had an axe to grind with the Queen because she had reduced him to his weak human form. In order to get his revenge he continued to optimize his weapon alongside Tony Stark, who seems to be succumbing to the effects of the Goblin Formula. His Iron Goblin suit had the ability to propel him through the air but he still preferred to fly on a Goblin Glider…sound strange??
Despite the shortcomings of their team, Peter and Flash remained optimistic as they continued with their plan. Peter whips up a few more batches of Curt Connors’ Lizard Formula, but he is soon given bad news. Flash informed Peter that Mary Jane, Betty Brant, Sharon Carter and Carlie Cooper had all succumbed to the Spider-virus. The news puts Flash and Peter in a difficult spot; if they use the Lizard Formula to save the ladies, that means less formula to save the super-powered Spider-minions. Ultimately Flash decides to save MJ and the others despite the fact that it puts them at a tactical disadvantage.
Soon after, Flash and his team confront the spidered-out MJ and her female cohorts. They dose the ladies with the Lizard Formula and soon their normal cognitive processes return. Unfortunately MJ and the others were unsuspectingly tagged with tracking devices, which led The Queen right to their headquarters. A spider-riddled-Giant Man soon came crashing through the walls, however he was stopped by a selfless act from the Iron Goblin who was armed with the Black Night’s ebony blade. The blade carried a blood curse that ended with the death of the wielder. Tony ended the curse and his life at the same time as he embarked on a kamikaze mission against Giant Man. The move enabled Flash and the others to escape…for now.
Honestly, this book was a bit of a let-down because it simply repeated the story telling formula from the prior two issues. The group waits in their headquarters, Flash doubts his own leadership, eventually someone tells him he can do it (this time it was Peter Parker), he devises a plan to defeat the Queen and then converts more Spider-minions into his allies using the Lizard formula (this time it was MJ and the rest of the ladies). That is almost exactly what happened in the prior issue. The lack of creativity in this issue makes the story read like an unnecessary filler-story and suggests that this mini-series may not have needed five issues in order to tell its story.
The one redeeming quality of the book was Stark's selfless kamikaze attack on the Spider-Giant Man. Interesting, and completely believable, that Stark would rather die than turn out like Osborn, that scene fit very well. My criticisms of the Goblin Formula/madness aside (see review of the prior issue), that was actually a heartwarming scene and one that I can say I did not see coming.
Not a spectacularly unique book, let's hope things pick back up.