As we all know by now, Peter Parker is returning as the Amazing Spider-Man with Superior Spider-Man ending with issue #31. What does that do to Superior Spider-Man Team-Up? Meanwhile, Chris Yost has gallivanted off to New Warriors. What does that do to Superior Spider-Man Team-Up?
The Superior Spider-Man is patrolling the city when someone starts shooting at him. He wraps his chest in his bullet-proof webbing to fend off the attack, then kicks the assailant in the head. It is Frank Castle, the Punisher, and he tells SpOck that he “wasn’t aiming to kill you. Just to get your attention.” Daredevil appears behind Spidey and tells him not to blame the Punisher “’Cause the Devil made him do it.” “Egads,” Spidey says, “You’re here not three seconds and already you’ve worked in a devil reference.” “And now we’re going on five seconds,” says DD, “and you’ve already used the words ‘egads’ and ‘confound it.’ You’re not yourself, Spider-Man and I’m a tad concerned.” And yet, DD’s hypersenses tell him that the man in the Spidey suit is the “real deal” so he doesn’t press the matter.
DD proceeds to explain that someone broke into one of the Punisher’s safe houses and stole some “acquired items” including a Goblin Glider. Frank suspects that Spidey did it during his “no crime on my time campaign.” DD asks for proof that Spidey did not take the glider and SpOck brings them to his Spider-Island stronghold. Otto brags about his beefed-up security but his armed spotter is attacked and the room where he stores super-villain weaponry is empty. Suddenly, a pumpkin bomb comes toward them. The Punisher shoots it. Spidey contains the blast with his webbing. The bomb thrower runs for it but he is dressed just like all of SpOck’s hired men and blends into the crowd. Daredevil pinpoints “an incredibly rapid heartbeat” and they find the attacker, who has strapped seven pumpkin bombs to himself, tied to a detonator with a thumb-switch in hand.
The attacker says, “I will do whatever you want. Just say the word.” Spidey tries to tell him what to do but DD realizes, “He’s not talking to us.” Instead he is in communication with the Green Goblin. But, back in his hideout, the Goblin severs communications because, “Daredevil would have detected my voice.” But the Goblin assures the Goblin Knight that the attacker is not alone.
Spidey tells the attacker that he can protect him. “I’ve taken down every crime boss in the city,” he says. The attacker tells him, “You have no idea what you’ve done! You practically helped him to…” but he stops talking when the Punisher shoots his thumb off, preventing him from pressing the detonation button. The attacker throws a smoke bomb, then a flash bomb. Blinded by the flash, Frank locates the attacker by the sound of his voice and throws a knife that strikes him in the chest. Spidey grabs the attacker and asks, “What did you mean, ‘I helped’?” “You’re the blindest one here, Spider-Man,” the attacker says, “You’ve been working so hard to clean up this city and all for what? So he can come and take it all away from you…You have no idea how deep this goes. And I’m gonna be the guy who delivers the first blow.” “You and what army?” asks Otto. “Your own,” is the reply. Spidey, DD, and the Punisher find themselves surrounded by the Spider-Island henchmen using goblin gliders, Doc Ock arms, Vulture wings, and Jack O’Lantern saucers.
New writer Kevin Shinick previously gave us a hit-and-miss team-up between Spidey and Deadpool in Avenging Spider-Man #12 and Avenging Spider-Man #13. When I reviewed those issues, I lamented that Shinick and artist Aaron Kuder were not the new team on the book. Well, here is Kevin Shinick as the new regular writer on this book, teamed with reliable Marco Checchetto on the art. The question is, how much longer will the series last?
For however long we have, I think the series is in good hands. Kevin tries a bit too hard at times, forcing Otto’s stuffiness for laughs such as when he refers to “the bullet that killed someone name ‘Two Packs’ that apparently kicked off some bi-coastal wrapping war.” (Otto may be oblivious enough to Tupac but even Otto must know what rap is.) But this is a minor complaint. For the most part, Kevin has a decent handle on the Superior Spider-Man’s personality. He does well with Daredevil and Punisher too, showing DD’s patience and confident use of his hypersenses and showing Castle’s short fuse and tendency to violence. (Such as when Frank shoots the thumb off the attacker. “Stop wasting our time,” he says.) The story is a real team-up, unlike some of the issues in this series, and the plot slots nicely into the Goblin story in Superior with a nice, surprising cliffhanger. Looks like another aspect of SpOck reverting to Otto’s super-villain tendencies…in this case having henchmen…has come back to bite him.
Marco’s art is strong here, with a dark and moody tone. I love panels with interesting perspectives and there are plenty of them here.
And so on. I particularly want to mention the newspaper at the Goblin’s feet on page 14 panels 1 and 2. It is the same as the “Daily Bugle” recap page. Very clever.
Rachel Rosenberg’s colors lend a vibrancy to the moodiness. The lights shining through the windows of Manhattan buildings, the paths of the Punisher’s bullets, that full moon behind Daredevil, the glow from the mouths of the pumpkin bombs all cast a macabre glow over the story. The Punisher costume, the walls of the Goblin’s hideout, the blackness of the empty weapons room all contribute to the shadows.
Paolo Rivera contributes another fine cover. No, it doesn’t actually take place in the story but who cares? It shows the three stars standing around a table filled with fragments of Spider villain costumes and weaponry. The Rhino’s horn is there. So are the Shocker’s vibro-shock unit, the Scorpion’s tail, the Goblin’s pumpkin bombs, Kraven’s lion chest plate, a Vulture feather, a piece of Electro’s lightning bolt mask, and a Doc Ock tentacle. SpOck is examining that tentacle very carefully, of course.
A good story with a good cliffhanger. Can’t wait to see what happens next. Four webs.