Monday, November 21, 2011

Amazing Spider-Man #669: "Spider-Island" Part 3

***** (five of five stars)

Favorite Quote:  "Nice gihrrl."  "Puh-lease.  I'd recast.  She's no Gwen Stacy.  Seriously, you couldn't pay me to clone her."  -- Tarantula, refering to Carlie, and the Jackal, voicing the thoughts of fanboys and fangirls worldwide

Spidey (um, I mean, Pete) and Carlie are jumped by Chance, Scorcher, and the White Rabbit, who are guarding the former Jackal HQ from intruders.  When the White Rabbit takes out Carlie, Pete breaks out the Spider-Fu, disabling the three super-villains (and raising Carlie's suspicions over how he's "half-spider, half-Jackie Chan").  Carlie tells Pete to meet her at the police station -- with Spidey -- so that the three of them can discuss the Jackal's involvement in the plot.  Meanwhile, the Jackal watches the fight from his new HQ and then calms the mysterious benefactor's concerns over Carlie and Pete figuring out his connection to the plot, noting that phase two is on schedule.  Elsewhere, almost everyone in New York (except MJ) has developed Spider-Powers, and the Avengers do their best to enforce the quarantine, keeping out people seeking to get powers and keeping in people wanting to go home.  At Horizon Labs, some of Pete's colleagues use his technology to develop huge Spider-Sense Jammers and Mr. Fantastic reveals that he's discovered the source of the infection.  Reed informs JJJ, Jr. (who's on site pressing Horizon to resolve the situation) that powered individuals are immune to the virus and proposes giving everyone without a power a benign one ("compass power," the ability to tell which way North is) to make them immune.  JJJ, Jr. asks for the vaccine, but a bio-scan reveals that he's infected.  Meanwhile, Anti-Venom is swarmed by an angry mob as he continues taking away people's powers and Madame Web is incapacitated by the shock of the number of spiders added to the Web of Life.  Carlie meets Spidey, who's having lunch on the roof of the police station.  He informs her that Pete just left.  Carlie asks him what would happen if she compared the bite marks on Pete's sandwich with the bite marks on his, but their conversation gets interrupted when Spidey hears via his police scanner that the Shocker is attacking a bank.  At the scene of the crime, Spidey discovers the Shocker has developed six arms and is stealing money to pay the Mad Thinker to cure him.  At the same time, Carlie mutates into a Kaine-like tarantula, "phase two" of the Jackal's disease.  The Jackal's mysterious benefactor is revealed to be the Queen, who seems to be able to exert control over the mutated tarantulas.

The Review
OMG, again!  Slott gives us another issue that kept me on the edge of my seat.  Moreover, I was totally impressed by the way he deftly changed the tone of the story.  For the first few issues of this arc, Slott has played up the laughs, giving us some really funny moments.  Even tie-in issues like "Spider-Island:  Avengers" have used the humor inherent in the plot to great effect.  For most of this issue, Slott focuses on the tension (still in a fun way) between Carlie and Pete as Carlie starts putting two and two together and Peter finds it hard to keep his identity secret from her.  By the time you get to the end of the issue, you think Slott is setting up Pete revealing his identity to Carlie.  Instead, Slott adds a dangerous twist, with the affected citizens suddenly turning into mutated tarantulas, as poor Patrick did in "Spider-Island:  Cloak & Dagger" #2.  It's an awesome step that kicks the story up a notch.  Everyone has had his fun.  But, as we all knew would happen, the true peril of the situation has become clear.  I can't wait!

The Good
1) Again, I have to compliment the coordination of the tie-in issues with the central plot.  We get a glimpse of the events of "Venom" #6 and it becomes clear now why, as I mentioned above, Patrick suddenly became a tarantula in "Spider-Island:  Cloak & Dagger" #2.  Everyone is really at the top of their game here.

2) I loved the Jackal and Tarantula watching Peter as he reacted to Carlie's demand to see him and Spider-Man in the same place.  I think I previously mentioned that I've never actually really read an arc with the Jackal before.  I've found it a little hard to believe that a science professor, even a crazy science professor, could be so, I don't know, loopy.  It's actually annoyed me the last few issues.  But, with this scene, I've decided I don't care.  Slott just makes the Jackal such a fun character to read that I'm willing to buy his schtick, regardless of whether I believe he would really act that way or not.

3) I like that Slott realistically portrays how I think people would react to the reveal that they, too, could have Spider-Powers.  I imagine people really would be storming the gates to get their chance.  It makes the later reveal -- that the infected persons are going to become mutated tarantulas -- all the more profound, since it shows the consequences of this "gift."  It underlines the whole premise of Spider-Man, that with great power comes great responsibility.  Slott has been setting up that realization on the part of the public for a while, and I'm interested to see where he continues to take it.

4) JJJ, Jr. with Spider-Powers!

5) I always like when Spidey's shows his understanding for his opponent's motivations.  I thought the scene with the Shocker was really well done, particularly because it's the moment when we realize that everything isn't as fun as it has been.

6) I never read the Queen storyline, because I had stopped reading comics during the time period it was published.  As such, the reveal wasn't all that shocking to me.  But, I have to say, even without knowing her deal, the idea that she manufactured this event to build herself a colony seems like the sort of thing a diabolical super-villian would do.  Good stuff.

The Unknown
1) It's not clear to me why the Jackal stationed Chance, Scorcher, and White Rabbit to guard his former HQ.  Pete and Carlie didn't seem to find anything in it, so what exactly were they guarding?  A plot device?

2) How exactly did Reed discover that bed bugs were spreading the infection?  I think we're just supposed to assume it's because he's brilliant, so he'd eventually find the answer.

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