Bullet Points was a mini-series recently completed in May 2007. I filled in for issue #1 of the series that seemed so long ago. Fast-forward a few months, and I'm given the assignment to finish what I started. I apologize for any of you guys out there waiting with baited breath for reviews of this series to roll in.
So let us recount what happened in issue #1. JMS gives us the theory that one bullet can change the course of history. Dr. Emil Erskine, creator of the super-soldier serum, is killed before being able to administer it to Steve Rogers. Instead, being a dutiful patriot, Rogers volunteers to be the test subject of an "Iron Man" armor. Meanwhile, Peter Parker's rebellious ways lead him to the middle of a gamma bomb test site.
A bullet changes history. In this instance, Peter Parker's destiny is changed irrevocably by the trajectory of a bullet. Without the guiding influence of Uncle Ben, he has become a rebellious teenager in the mold of James Dean. Miraculously, he wakes up in a hospital after the gamma bomb rays engulf his body. Peter seems indifferent to the doctors who saved his life. Aunt May enters his room. The memory of Uncle Ben weighs heavily on her mind. May struggles with the reality that she is now the single provider for Peter. The head doctor tries to reassure May as the gamma radiation infuses Peter's veins.
An indeterminate time later, a TV broadcasts the information that Steve Rogers is being given the Medal of Freedom for his actions in WWII and assistance in trying to duplicate the Iron Man armor for mass production. Two bullies trip up Peter as he walks by the TV. A green glint comes across Peter's glasses. Shockingly, Peter turns into a green monstrosity. He proceeds to go on a nearly mindless rampage. Peter's "hulked-out" visage proclaims its hatred for the human race. The police vainly try to stop Peter's rampage. However, Peter stops in his tracks when he sees his Aunt May walking back from the grocery store. She vaguely recognizes that Peter is trapped inside the body of the monster. Peter escapes the growing police presence by taking several large leaps.
Meanwhile, Reed Richards meets with Steve Rogers about the Iron Man armor. Richards warns Steve of the dangers of continuing to put on the armor. The strain on Steve's heart will eventually be too much to overcome. Steve responds by arguing that every instance he puts on the armor it helps the military in their research efforts to mass produce the armor without any fatal risks to the wearer's body. Yet, Steve doesn't want to delay the personal plans of the suit's monitor, Richards. He knows Reed wants to go up in space in an experimental rocket. Reed tentatively gives his permission for Steve to continue to use the armor.
We the cut back to Peter's rampage in New York City. After smashing a few cars, Peter reverts back to his original human state. He laments at his new status quo. It is revealed that due to the shock of Peter's rampage that May has been admitted to medical care. Two men question her as to how Peter could do this and why he rampaged in the city. The idea that no one can change the past seems to be the only consensus. The military believes that May is the key to apprehending Peter. He has a soft spot for his surrogate mother and will come back to her eventually. The military's motivations for capturing Peter are not solely for national security. One of the men refers to Peter's eventual capture as "enlightened self-interest."
The final scene depicts Reed and his crew going up into the rocket. He talks to the love of his life, Sue Storm. He is worried that his trip to discover cosmic rays will cause unwanted attention from hostile nations. Reed remains proud of the accomplishments he has made with his crew in undertaking the voyage into space. However, unknown to anyone, a saboteur arms the rocket with explosives...
Horrid...I am sorry to report. The only thing remotely interesting in this issue was Peter "hulking out" and smashing everything. But we can always get that in the genuine Incredible Hulk title or even with the Thing over in Fantastic Four. Do I really care that Peter has become the Hulk and not Spider-Man? Nope. We are expected to believe that Peter is so sullen because Uncle Ben died. So then how did the 616 Spidey we all know and love become such a responsible and mature adult worth rooting for? JMS seems to not care for the core principles that define Peter Parker in favor of creating "cool" moments. Characterization is not one of JMS's stronger points and it painfully shows here.
In fact, nothing really happens in this issue. Peter becomes the Hulk....and umm...ok that's all that happened. I hate to rain on a successful writer's reign but this mini-series is not even remotely close to becoming an interesting or even cohesive topic to explore. I can just visualize the editorial meeting Marvel had with JMS..."wouldn't it be cool to have Peter become the Hulk?" JMS's postulating about a bullet that can change history is a weak plot thread to organize an entire series around let alone a little unrealistic. Sure, bullet's are destructive. His example of the Vietnam War should not be disputed. But ultimately life goes on. We humans have remarkable ability to recover from momentous events in history. Look, a lot of things evolve but one single bullet does not change everything. Let's take WWI as an example. Archduke Ferdinand's assassination may have triggered hostilities but there's a myriad amount of factors that contributed immensely to get up to that point.
I don't really care about any of these characters. I probably feel more sympathy for the dead ones. At least, their direct involvement in the series is over so they don't have to suffer anymore. The art by Tommy Edwards remains competent and even starkly beautiful in spots. But a good comic book requires a solid interaction between the words and images. Bullet Points fails horribly to do this. In particular, the hospital scene with Aunt May seems horribly disjointed and out of sequence with the images provided by Edwards.
At least I did not give it the ubiquitous half web rating. Unfortunately, this mini-series is taking itself seriously even though it has become a laughable train-wreck.