Today we’re reviewing the Amazing Spider-Man story arc: Spider Island!
How does Peter Parker and every Marvel superhero in New York deal with every person on the island of Manhattan getting spider-powers? And just who is behind this crazy plot?
It’s a pretty cool idea. Everyone on Manhattan suddenly getting spider-powers? I’ve been wanting to read this for a while now, but had been holding off until it came into trade because I don’t keep up with regular Spider-Man comics. And reading it, I’m suddenly reminded why. Boy oh BOY am I out of the loop with Spider-Man. I consider myself a pretty big Spider-Man fan, but I haven’t picked up anything Spider-Man related since Brand New Day or American Son. So I was incredibly taken aback by all the changes made and all the spider-man comics I apparently have to go back and read. Spider-Man lost his spider-sense? When did that happen? And who is this Carly he’s dating? And he has a job as a super-scientist and he’s actually happy? That’s cool. That should have happened sooner. There’s so much I haven’t caught up on. There are so many layers and stories in Spider-Man, it feels intimidatingly impenetrable when you try to get into it now.
And hey, when did Spider-Man get an actual fury to fight with the White Rabbit? That’s a thing now?
But anyway, getting back to the actual story arc, it is pretty fun. Peter Parker gets to see that it’s not his spider-powers that make him special, but him as a person. The more you know!
Eddie Brock as Anti-Venom (you know, the antithesis of Venom, who is himself the antithesis of Spider-Man?) acting like an actual savior and healing people like Jesus is pretty incredible. I’ve loved religious Eddie Brock since he gave up the symbiote in Down Among the Dead Men when he watched passion of the Christ, so that’s a fun progression of events. Ugh. Listen to me. I sound like an old person complaining about the state of comics these days. AND ANOTHER THING! In my day we only had ONE venom and we were GLAD!
But it does have a number of things I DO like, such as Mayor J. Jonah Jamerson (hey, who do we have to bribe/blackmail to get J.K. Simmons to play Mayor JJ in a Spider-Man movie?) getting bit and swinging around with Spidey powers. Seriously. Also, they have Flash Thompson Venom making a Lionel Richie joke, so that’s something I didn’t realize I needed in my life. Going on another tangent, I rather enjoy Flash Thompson Venom. It’s a really interesting dichotomy of Peter’s once-aggressor, now-sort-of-friend inhabiting the persona of his exact arch-nemesis and trying to help people.
And hey, the Jackal is back! I’ve never read any of the original stories with Jackal (or any of the clone saga) but I rather like Jackal. He’s like a more fun version of Norman Osborn. I enjoy any villain who has fun being the villain AND makes a ton of meta jokes.
This story arc sprawls through a number of different books and has a number of different artists, and the art is all very pretty. My favorite, though, comes from the pages of Amazing Spider-Man penciled by Humberto Ramos. I love his cartoony, exaggerated style. It lends itself masterfully to Spidey’s elongated and usually entangling form, and I love how well he shows characters emoting in exaggerated ways. I’m definitely more of a cartoony person, and Ramos is one of the artists that can have that cartoony feel while still managing to show a great deal of detail.
Like I said before, it’s an interesting story that takes some nice twists and turns. There’s lots of cool stuff to marvel at (Ha! See what I did there?) like giant spider creatures or famous villains getting spider-powers and turning into spider-monsters. There’s tons of hero battles too, including the Avengers beating up an army of bad guys who all wear some resemblance of any of the Spider-Man outfits. And it has Madame Web, leading to some fun “seeing into the future” humor. But more importantly, it’s one of those stories about how Peter Parker’s a great guy and loves being Spider-Man. It’s nice to see that guy catch a break once in a while. Not too much, mind you, but just enough.
So yeah, Spider-Island. If you get the hardcover, it is A LOT of story. It’ll take you awhile. But it’s a good story with a lot of good art and variety. I’m not sure if it’s the perfect story to start with if you haven’t picked up a Spider-Man story in years or are new to the Marvel superhero universe, as there’s a ton of stuff going on, but it’s a fun book nonetheless.
THE GOOD: Great art, lots of story, pretty good twists and turns, Jackal is a fun villain, Mayor JJ, Peter has some good stuff happen to him, great idea of people getting spider powers, Eddie Brock Venom, lots of cameos, fun book overall.
THE BAD: Might be hard to keep up if you haven’t been keeping up with regular Spider-Man continuity, LONG book.
THE VERDICT: 3.5/5 It’s a pretty fun book if you’re a Spider-Man fan. Though if you’re not a HUGE Spider-Man fan, there may be some books you’ll need to catch up on.
BOOKS LIKE IT: Spider-Man: Down Among the Dead Men, Spider-Man: American Son, Venom: Savage Six, Spider-Man: The Clone Saga
ONE-PAGE METAPHOR: Peter Parker reveals online that he too was bitten and now has spider-powers AND HE DEFINITELY DIDN’T HAVE THEM BEFORE NOPE and gives a rousing speech to all New Yorkers to take back their city! Haha Peter Parker has spider-powers that’s ridiculous how could he ever-