Over the past few weeks Miles Warren/The Jackal has returned and set loose a swarm of genetically enhanced bedbugs on New York. They have infected hundreds of normal humans, giving them all spider-powers. The Jackal organises the spider-powered criminals to riot but the heroes of New York fight back and work to quarantine the entire Manhattan Island!
Avengers Hawkeye, Ms Marvel and Jessica Jones are involved in the clean up but they are about to find Spider-Island more annoying and dangerous than ever!
Infestation Day One: Flag-Smasher, who recently had his arm bitten off by Venom/Flash Thompson (in Amazing Spider-Man #654.1), prepares to lead ULTIMATUM against their next political target. Some of his soldiers start to develop spider-powers!
Infestation Day Two: The heroes fight to quell the Spider-Men Riot (Amazing Spider-Man #668)! Avengers Hawkeye, Ms Marvel and Jessica Jones-Cage assess the situation with Hawkeye deciding that Spider-Man simply sucks! He feels this because he can’t control the spider-powers he’s ended up with and keeps sticking to things accidentally! He is interrupted by a nearby explosion!
At the United Nations, spider-powered ULTIMATUM attack! The Avengers arrive and Jessica decides she needs to call Squirrel Girl to tell her that they’ll be late!
Safely inside Avengers Mansion, Squirrel Girl (the nanny to Jessica’s daughter, Dani) puts down the phone. She goes to check on Dani but finds a bunch of webbing across the nursery and an empty cot! She doesn’t spot Dani crawling on the ceiling!
As he passes the UN, Eugene Patillo sees ULTIMATUM attacking and realises he has to help. This looks like a job for… Frog-Man!
As Ms Marvel says that ULTIMATUM will never hurt them, one of the soldiers fires a RPG right at her chest and she is blown a block away, smacking into the pavement! She recovers to find Frog-Man (literally, a man dressed in a frog costume) offering to help. Explaining that he was on the Initiative team in Kentucky, she agrees!
Inside the UN, Flag-Smasher (wearing a new bionic arm) and some ULTIMATUM soldiers capture Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and plan to kill everyone!
Jessica and Hawkeye are joined by Ms Marvel and Frog-Man who takes down a whole load of soldiers!
Meanwhile, Squirrel Girl runs from the nursery screaming! She phones Jessica but has to leave a message about them coming home as soon as possible! Dani suddenly jumps on her from above!
The Avengers make it inside to find Flag-Smasher atop a giant bomb! Frog-Man saves lives, dodges bullets and all with no powers and just some springs in his boots! He starts to feel a little queasy though, wondering what he’s eaten! Flag-Smasher succeeds in breaking Ms Marvel’s nose and slashing Jessica across the face with his new claws! With seconds to spare, Hawkeye manages to web and sling the bomb from the building! It explodes harmlessly outside! Flag-Smasher is furious and launches towards Hawkeye with his mace! Just as he is about to strike, Frog-Man is sick into Flag-Smasher’s face, distracting him long enough for Ms Marvel to knock him out properly! The Avengers thank Frog-Man for saving their lives!
Seventeen Minutes later, Hawkeye, Ms Marvel and Jessica arrive back to Avengers Mansion where they find Dani sleeping soundly. Squirrel Girl is unseen, muffling above them, cocooned in webbing and stuck to the ceiling!
The tone and timing of this issue, following the stunning collaboration between these creators on the dark Fear Itself: Spider-Man #1-3, doesn’t quite sit right. Christopher Yost purposefully goes for a comic comic, focussing on the banter side of Spider-Man’s relationship with The Avengers. There’s not enough of this, although he gets close with Ms Marvel and Hawkeye at times, and there are some elements of humour I find to be completely immature. Frog-Man is ok. Hawkeye dealing with webbing badly is something I’ve read done before (in an old Spider-Man Unlimited I think) but ok. Even the ridiculous and predictable Flag-Smasher and ULTIMATUM are ok. A baby with spider-powers outwitting Squirrel Girl is borderline. Vomiting… not ok. In fact it ruins the final sequence inside the UN and leaves a sour taste in my mouth.
Ultimately Yost’s comedy isn’t that funny but, surprisingly, his storytelling is only marginally better. He does well to re-introduce Flag-Smasher, ULTIMATUM and elements of The Avengers without needing Spider-Man and ties these elements of continuity and character together nicely but the praise falls short there. The use of cheesy omnipotent narrator when the bomb is going off is far too old fashioned to entertain and the breaking of Ms Marvel’s nose (and therefore funny? voice) and Frog-Man’s obsession with her are simply shrugged off as stupid. A more farcical approach would have achieved a better effect, that or gallons of dry humour instead of this childish tone.
The comic’s comic timing is not helped by Mike McKone. His panels are great and there’s no complaint over detail. When they’re knitted together though, they just don’t fit. The timing of the action, the funny moments and the vomit are staccato, leaving the reader question not what happened but how we got there. Give McKone something heavy and, clearly from Fear Itself: Spider-Man, he’ll deliver. His realistic style, designed to capture moments rather than deliver on impact, speed and movement, really isn’t right for comedy.
This is disappointing. Amidst childish humour and badly-timed panels there are moments of continuity and action that are fun but it isn't enough to combat the amount of problems this one-shot suffers from.