In All-New X-Men Special #1, the X-Men from the past teamed-up with the Superior Spider-Man against Doctor Octopus! But…he couldn’t be the real Doc Ock because Doctor Octopus is currently in Spider-Man’s body. This Ock was looking for a scientist named Dr. Jude, who the X-Men happened to be visiting, (Beast was flirting with his pupil.) The X-Men and Spider-Man easily defeated Ock and brought him to Dr. Jude’s lab. They found that he was extremely irradiated and decided to bring in an expert on radiation… Bruce Banner, the Indestructible Hulk!
Our story starts with the Indestructible Hulk strolling in the desert after a mission for S.H.I.E.L.D. To calm him down, a group of agents drop a metal box from a S.HI.E.L.D. helicopter. When the Hulk approaches it, a door opens and a bunch of puppies scuttle out. The green giant begins to laugh at the sight and calms down, turning into Bruce Banner. Apparently, this was a test experiment Banner tried out and all of the puppies belong to the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. The agents take Banner into the helicopter and hurry him to Empire State University.
Inside ESU, Spider-Man and Dr. Jude greet Banner. Bobby notices that Jude is sweating while talking to Banner, but Scott assumes it’s because Banner “changes into an unstoppable green monster when he gets angry.” The X-Men introduce themselves to Banner and explain their situation with the Doc Ock impersonator. He asks why they don’t use S.H.I.E.L.D. supplies to “crack this mystery”, but the X-Men don’t want to be discovered and Spidey doesn’t want to deal with “bureaucratic interference.”
Shortly, Banner, Spidey, Beast and Jude begin their scientific investigation. Through much research, they come to the conclusion that this Ock impersonator could be an A.I. of some sort. The whole time, the other X-Men are all bored out of their wits. Banner, after working with Jude, wonders what happened to him since he used to be a “towering figure in gamma research” but now he’s been relegated to a shabby lab.
Soon, Spider-Man is forcing the Ock imposter to swallow a pill in his cell. Outside, the girl Beast has a crush, Molly, on notes that Spidey seems offended by the imposter. Beast is fascinated by her iPod and begins an awkward discussion with the girl. Luckily for Beast, the exchange is interrupted by a roar outside. The heroes all rush up to find the Abomination attacking the ESU campus. But, as Banner reveals, the Abomination is supposedly dead.
Bruce Banner instructs Spidey to get the X-Men out of the area while he takes off his coat and walks towards the Abomination. He tells Bobby to inform Jean to make him think of puppies if he’s not calming down. Then, he turns into the Hulk and begins clashing with the Abomination. The vibrations from their forceful blows break all of the glass on ESU. Spidey guides the X-Men from the battle to make sure “nothing else comes through.”
When the Hulk is smashed into the ground in front of the escaping heroes, Molly falls into a deep crevice. Beast jumps after her while the others journey to the S.H.I.E.L.D. helicopter. Spidey brings Ock and his robotic arms aboard, planning to send him back in time. Bobby is hesitant about sending Ock back with his arms, but Spidey declares that if they are sending him back, they are sending all of him back.
On the ESU football field, the Abomination and Hulk’s battle continues. The Abomination picks up a goalpost and pins the Hulk down to the bleachers with it. Then, he starts repeatedly punching him in the face, laughing.
Meanwhile, Beast lands in the crevice which Molly fell into. He starts looking for her and hears her call, “Come down here quick! This looks bad!” Beast sprints as fast as he can to towards her voice and finds that she simply turned her ankle from the fall. (How?! She fell down a deep hole! She should be dead.) No, what she said looks bad is an underground laboratory.
On the football field, Hulk releases himself from the Abomination’s grip. They charge at each other from different ends of the field and Hulk rips off him competitor’s head. The Abomination was just a robot! Hulk is obviously unsatisfied. Underground in the lab, Beast and Molly find a Starktech automated milling machine, which she wrote a grant for earlier. They find the plans for a Doc Ock robot, which Molly recognizes as Dr. Jude’s handwriting.
In the meantime, Spidey is flying the S.H.I.E.L.D. helicopter above forest-like terrain with the X-Men and Dr. Jude in the back seats. He receives a call from Beast about the lab and looks at Dr. Jude urgently. Jude recognizes that they know about his conspiracy, so his eyes burst with energy and the helicopter explodes!
So… the Abomination and Doc Ock are robots? (Or at least the Abomination is one. I’m not sure out Ock.) How boring. How utterly disappointing. Does Mike Costa know how clichéd and dull robots are in comic books? After their abuse in the 90’s, mechanical villains in comics have become nothing more than plot devices in comics; mainly used as minions for other villains. The entire mystery of this comic was revolving around the fact that the villains are simply robots. I could come up with something more imaginative in five minutes.
The reveal that Dr. Jude has been behind all of this was also disappointing. I was really expecting an interesting villain to be behind the robots. I know very little about Dr. Jude and he seems like a typical throw-away scientist and lacks a villainous edge. All I know about him at this point is that he can explode and has typical energy powers. The cliffhanger was also pretty stupid. So what Jude blows up the helicopter? We all know that the heroes are going to be fine next issue. This type of cliffhanger where the heroes explode is always used by writers and its grown old. Why does every S.H.I.E.L.D. aircraft have to blow up?
Well, let’s look at the positives of this issue. The dialogue and banter is engaging. The characters all have a few lines to say and everybody gets equal time in the spotlight. Well, Bruce Banner is featured a bit more prominently, but this is the special to his book. I enjoyed the two-page spread where the Beast, Spidey, Banner, and Jude are all talking about science while the X-Men are puzzled. Luckily, the scientific dialogue is surprisingly easy to follow and comprehend.
I also like Costa’s take on Bruce Banner, mainly because he doesn’t give in to the typical depiction of the character. Ever since the Avengers movie, it seems like every writer who has handled his character writes him exactly like Joss Wheadon’s scripting for him. It’s not that I don’t like Banner in the Avengers movie; I just don’t appreciate how it has to be carried on to every comic book featuring him. Costa’s Banner is intelligent and witty, in oppose to a nervous time-bomb from the movie. Also, the part with the puppies was clever.
The art, sadly, isn’t consistent. The first half of the book looks elegant, but in the second half, it falls apart. During the first half, the characters are full of heart and fun. The one-pager with the puppies is comical and the two-pager where the scientists are talking is incredible. But he clash between Hulk and the Abomination is terrible and rushed; the two-pager where Hulk rips off the Abomination’s head is painful to look at.
I wasn’t really impressed with Wyatt’s depiction of Spidey also. First of all, his eyes are supposed to be a glassy black, but they weren’t. Second, he looked stiff and the size of his eyes varied greatly throughout the book. Third, Spidey lacked any interesting poses, which is a major visual element of his character. So there you have it! The second artist who has completely failed at drawing the Superior Spider-Man since Superior Spider-Man #1. (The first was Valentine De Landro in Morbius the Living Vampire.) Even Greg Land pulled it off in Mighty Avengers!
I give this issue the half-way mark. While it was full of heart and good dialogue, the robotic reveal sucked and the art was inconsistent. Also, the cliffhanger was disappointing.