Written by Dan Slott
Penciled by Humberto Ramos
Start Webbing The News! New York City’s Infestation is complete and eight million people are plagued! As someone near to Peter Parker’s life reveals their spider-abilities, the brilliantly fearsome Jackal rises from the past and begins organizing an army of Spider-powered soldiers. Spider-Man isn’t the only hero affected as the threat goon grows bigger than any one Fantastically Friendly Neighborhood Avenger can handle. Best-selling Spidey creators Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos spin a Spider-epic that turns Peter Parker’s BIG TIME into a BIG MESS. Bad romance, death-defying violence and one man facing his FINAL fearsome destiny… this one’s got it all!
Spider-Island: the Spider-Man story so big that they stuck their own Twitter hashtag for it on the covers. But so what? What’s really important here is reading the rest of my thing after the jump, because I, one man, am far more relevant to your life than Twitter. Blah blah the review’s after the link.
It’s a good idea, you know. The whole thing with Spider-Man is that he’s special; he alone carries the burden of great power and great responsibility, and no one else could ever possibly understand how he feels. In the Marvel Universe, of course, he’s not that special, but he’s still the perfect stand-in for the self-involved teenager, perpetually caught between carving out their own idea of self and rejecting the ideas of others. So you’re figuring it out, you know what sets you apart, you embrace it and nurture it and keep it a secret because secrets are no good if they’re known. And then one day everyone else is into it too. Anyone who’s ever liked a band “before they got all famous” knows the feeling. Well, here we go, the ultimate faux-teenage terrordrome: Spider-Everyone.
Because of the Jackal, everyone in Manhattan now has Spider-Man’s powers. That’s the lead-in, pure and simple. Peter Parker, who is notoriously bad at coping with things — his grieving process for his Uncle Ben has, for something like 15-20 in-character years, involved dressing like a sex maniac and hitting people who disagree with him — is now stuck with a world where he’s just another guy. The problem is that, he’s still special, because he alone knows that with great power and so on. Everyone else? Time of their lives. Seriously, if you got spider-powers, what would you do? This isn’t the “World War III” climax of JLA; there’s no threat that all of these super-citizens must rally against. They’re out for kicks in a world not built to support more than a handful of Spider-people at a time.
The star of things here isn’t Dan Slott for writing the idea; it’s Humberto Ramos for realizing it in pencil. There are few people who make motion and activity look as exuberant as Ramos does. When Ramos draws Carlie Cooper strutting around on the ceiling or casually hoisting Peter above her head, he doesn’t make it look daunting or terrifying or even dramatic, really. He makes it look like it’s fun. As people swing through the city, garbing themselves in Spider-Man’s countless ensembles as if climbing a wall wasn’t enough of a declaration, it looks like the most high-energy party Marvel’s ever seen. Likewise, when things go wrong, Ramos’s spindly, sharpened bodies look particularly broken and abused on the ground. His Jackal is fuzzy but fearsome. Ramos is the right man for the job, a hundred times over.
The Jackal’s scheme will no doubt unfold over a whole array of crossovers and tie-ins and aftermaths and epilogues, but Amazing Spider-Man succeeds admirably in making Spider-Island feel like an event, rather than just some stuff happening this week. If this had happened in the JMS years, we’d have tightened in on Peter, Mary Jane, and Aunt May, and barely paid any mind to anything that might conceivably happen outside of their personal sphere. Under Slott, we see a whole Marvel City in chaos, with heroes banding together from all corners, forming a de facto supporting cast, a readymade narrative ecosystem dropped over Spidey like a dome. Most of this will bleed out into the tie-ins and other little bits, and hopefully focus will stay tight on Spidey while Cloak and Dagger and whoever else are out in their own things. Still, as far as setting the tone goes, message received: this is big.Continued below
If this thing stays on-track, “Spider-Island” will give us Spider-Man confronted with an unbelievably unsolvable problem that can get cracked only when he refuses to give up, no matter how tempting oblivion seems. That’s how all great Spider-Man stories go, more or less. If it caves to its worst possibilities, we’re looking at a couple months of retro pseudo-Clone-Saga shenanigans and pretend-important vacuum-souled characters like, say, Spidercide. But I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. I mean, if everyone in the story is having fun, why shouldn’t I roll with it too for a bit?
Final Verdict: 7.5 / More like Spider-BUY-land, HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA