Who had ever thought you´d see the day where I recommend a Spider - Man comic ? And not an old one but a new one. Well, a rather new one.
After Marvel successfully crashed and burned the old webheads magazine - first with BRAND NEW DAY and then with SUPERIOR SPIDER - MAN - I wanted to stay away as far as possible from the franchise. But I still read the occasional german translation because of the art - which means mainly Stefano Caselli´s art.
And really it´s the fault of fellow blogger Bob Mitchell ( you can find his fine blog BOB MITCHELL IN THE 21ST CENTURY on the blogroll ) who posted this cover which is a reprint of AMAZING SPIDER - MAN 151.
this cover brings back a lot of memories because it was the second
issue of DIE SPINNE way back in the 80s when Condor started printing
Spider – Man comics again in Germany. You can see that it was really long ago by the fact that we had real money, the good old Deutschmark back then.
I was really excited when you could finally read Marvel
comics again in Germany after going years without it. I was a bit confused because they started right
after the first CLONE SAGA which wasn´t published in Germany for many years ( that particular gap was filled decades later with the famous Spider - Man Schuber ) but it was all good. It was still a long time before the first Condor pocketbook reared its ugly head.
Back then reading Spider - Man was a big thrill and even if I was slowly becoming interested in certain artists the main reason to get those comics were the heroes. I know that because I bought tons of comics which make my eyes hurt when I look at them now. I ask myself how I ever could spend some money on them but then there´s this voice in my head that says : " But that´s the issue where Spider - Man and Mr. Fantastic team up against Every - Man who shoots his special stupid gun on Reed so he´s only as intelligent as a normal person and Spidey has to help him to figure out his own gizmos and it´s just so freaking weird and hilarious. How can you not love this comic ? "
Yes, there really was a stupid gun in this comic. If you don´t believe me here is the full story of Marvel Team Up 132 " The common denominator ".
That´s just how it works. Anyway, the cover of DIE SPINNE 2 reminded me of how much fun it was to read Spider - Man and that there was ONE recent story I read that was actually a lot of fun to read and which I wanted to write about but still haven´t gotten around to do because of all the problems I had with the computer.
IT`S THE ENDS OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT AND I FEEL FINE
So Today´s topic is the SPIDER - MAN : ENDS OF THE WORLD hardcover ( 197 pages ) that collects Amazing Spider - Man 682 to 687 written by Dan Slott and illustrated by Stefano Caselli and Humberto Ramos. Included are also Amazing Spider - Man : Ends of the Earth 1 written by Rob Williams and Brian Clevinger and drawn by Thony Silas and Avenging Spider - Man 8 written by Dan Slott and Ty Tempelton with art by Matthew Clark. But before we go any further I have to give the usual spoiler warning. From now on I will talk about story and art of the hardcover and while I try to avoid too many spoilers there will some - I just can´t help it.
If you don´t want to get spoilered you should skip the next part. Consider yourself warned !
I have to say I was a regular reader of the german issues of Spider - Man until last year when the art was just too all over the place for my tastes. So normally I get the impulse to buy one of these collectinos when I see the german monster editions at the newsstand. In this case I hadn´t bought any of the issues in question previously and while I was a bit disappointed that not all the art was done by Stefano Caselli most of the other issues where drawn by Humberto Ramos.
You can´t go wrong there. And judging from the reviews most readers fall into on camp or the other with not much middle ground between them.
Now there are some readers who personally like Humberto Ramos´ art more and others who prefer Stefano Caselli so it seems the decision by Marvel to put both artists on the story was a solid one because it manages to make both camps of readers happy. Also you have to keep in mind that it´s a monthly book and you just have to give artists like Stefano Caselli some space and time to come up with his stunning visuals - so this was probably the best decision they could make.
Let´s say right here and right now that I´m a huge fan of Stefano and that I really liked most of the art in this one. Caselli is of course tops in my book and the fact that he gets to draw so many heroes and villains and a big brawl between the new Sinister Six and the Avengers as well as a new Spider armor ( yes, another one ) makes me almost flip out. And the women, he draws the women so well that I´m a bit sad there are not more of them in this story. Okay, we get Spiderwoman, Black Cat and Silver Sable but would it have hurt to throw in a scene with She Hulk and the Valkyrie at Avengers Mansion ?
With major hotties Black Widow and Silver Sable we´re off to a good start but where´s the follow up ? It´s not like there aren´t any sexy women in the Avengers.
What about the rest of the art ? Humberto Ramos WAS one of the artists I followed until that strange X - MEN story where I really liked the art but had no freaking idea what the f - word was going on. Since then I have decided to only buy comics with Humberto on art where I´m interested in the story and have at least some idea what has been going on in that book for the last few years. Otherwise it just gets too frustrating because the guy is on too many books. With Humberto he has his good days and his bad days artwise and while I´m not going so far to call his art on the issues " phoned in " I would say this was one of his regular days. Nothing too ghastly in here but also nothing really amazing ( pun intended ).
Now I have never heard of Thony Silas who does the art on the Ends of the Earth Special but I like it. There are some very good pages in it and a good buttshot really goes a long way to sell comics to a male audience.
Gogo Tomago from Japan´s premiere superhero team Big Hero 6
The art in Avenging Spider - Man 8 on the other hand is just awful, as awful as the whole series. I understand that it was supposed to be an epilogue on the whole story but it just so horribly fails in any kind of way.
For a special issue that is supposed to spotlight Silver Sable ( who is number 3 on my list of COMICBABE BATTLE : SPIDERBABES ) not only does it fail to convey to the reader what´s so special about her you also have to wonder why of all the tales Spidey picked this one. There is nothing noteworthy happening in the events that are told and from the top of my hat I can think of 10 stories that would easily make the TOP TEN LIST OF SILVER SABLE F- WORD YEAH ! MOMENTS and Avenging Spider - Man 8 is not anywhere near that list. But what else would you expect from a series that has been inventing new lows of storytelling with each passing issue being worse than the one before ?
But I´m not writing about how bad that series is. If you have read an issue you already know that and if you haven´t you don´t want to find out. Seriously, dude, you DON`T.
Okay, let´s talk about the story. I really enjoyed reading this which was something I wasn´t expecting. I bought FALLEN ANGELS and this at the same time and I thought I would love FALLEN ANGELS but ENDS OF THE WORLD not so much. Artwise it would probably be a win / win situation with Caselli and
Ramos on one book but I totally believed I would like FALLEN ANGELS
Well, the exact opposite happened. I bought FALLEN ANGELS because its an 80s comic that I missed back in the day with art by Kerry Gamill who sadly doesn´t do much comics anymore. And I hate to say you can see that it´s an 80s book even without knowing anything about it. The story seems a bit dragged out and there´s really not so much happening that expedites a miniseries apart from NEW MUTANTS.
Was this supposed to be a spin - off ? A new group ? I have no idea but it´s just kind of bland and Kerry Gamill didn´t do the art on all issues which was a huge letdown. But that´s just how it was in the 80s, there were so many miniseries and limited series that there were three or four artists on them to finish them monthly. So that wasn´t too exciting.
With END OF THE WORLD it was the other way around and I guess a big part of why the story gelled with me as much as it did was that I had no expectations going in. I didn´t know that Marvel built this story up as the last big battle between Doctor Octopus and Spider - Man, the battle to end all battles, the final saga, the big epic. I mean Dan Slott can do epic. He has proven that quite a few times but if you expect the ultimate brouhaha you might feel let down in a few instances in the story. If on the other hand you go in without any expectations this is just full of clever ideas, unexpected plot twists, intelligent use of continuity and even small quiet character moments for most of the players involved in this little drama. And it´s really a drama in the greek sense.
It´s Verdi, Puccini. It´s the big, sad and wonderful italian opera, the part where the fat lady sings respectively.
I haven´t read SPIDER ISLAND ( aside from one issue with art by Stefano Caselli ) so I don´t know how it compares to that story that has gotten accolates from critics as well as readers. To me the whole idea of all people in New York having the same powers as Spider - Man doesn´t sound too interesting. It´s the same with Superman when he´s in Kandor. There everybody has the same powers as him so he´s just a regular Joe Schmoe. He has no superpowers there which makes the story boring. And the same applies for when everybody has spiderpowers. On top of that Peter would have to come up with an explanation why he´s so much better at using spiderpowers than everybody else. So - unless I have missed one of the big spidersagas - I´m probably not going to read it.
Back to ENDS OF THE WORLD ( and here´s where the spoilers really do come in ) : the gist of it is Doc Ock is dying and he plans to go out big. He supposedly found this out in issue 600 of Amazing Spider - Man and apparently Dan Slott has built up this story for quite some time. Now that he knows he´s dying Otto Octavius has made his own bucket list :
a. ) save earth from global warming and be remembered as a benefactor
b. ) get amnesty for himself and the new Sinister Six in turn and
c. ) a deposit of two billion dollars in their personal bank accounts
d. ) the construction of the Otto Octavius Academy
or maybe, what Spider - Man really suspects :
e. ) just accomplish the utter and final destruction of Spider - Man
How about all of the above ?
Doc Ock and the Sinister Six just want a hug. And the cash up front.
While the world at large may believe that Doc Ock has the best intentions ( since he really has the scientific genius to work out a way to reverse global warming ) there are of course more layers to his plan and what begins now is a high octane chess game between Spidey and Steelarms McGruff during which Doctor Octopus manages to outsmart Spidey, the Avengers and even political world leaders.
Not that all of them are that easy to fool mind you, not if you include Angela Merkel ( yes, that´s the name of the german cancelor who got the famous back rub from George Bush ) . And you have probably seen this image on the interwebs and wondered what´s up with that.
Yes, that´s really Spider - Man in his new armor. Looks kind of weird but not too bad when Stefano Caselli draws it.
Oh, that bloke who Spidey smacks right in the kisser ? No idea who that is. Some dude called Gorey Al or something. Who cares ? But that new mecha suit is just sweeet. I guess that´s a nod to all the manga readers out there.
Now all kidding aside what´s really great in this story is how Slott includes the Avengers and in a way that benefits the story. Spider - Man has been an Avenger for a very long time now and I always cringed when he was doing solo stuff that would normally be an Avengers priority alert. Maybe that´s just me because I´m not so self centered like Peter who blames himself for everything and who always has to deal with everything alone. I would totally bug my heropals all the time and they would be almost sick about it.
" Yo, Thor, Iron Man, dudes, you gotta back me up. This villain is kind of insanely strong and I think I strained my ankle or something. " Something like that.
So the Avengers - like the rest of earth´s population - discuss if they should believe Doctor Octopus until Spidey steps in and takes charge. Which makes sense since it´s one of his rogues and they should trust him on this. I have to say, during the discussion the best quote comes from Red Hulk, a.k.a. El Toro Rojo in this blog : " Only thing that should come outta Ock´s mouth is teeth ! " and it is true that there are several ex - villains in the ranks of the Avengers present.
Which doesn´t mean that Doc Ock´s switched to the side of the angels. I have to say a lot of the aspects of the story - like the techno menace by Doc Ock or the way Spider - Man takes charge - remind me of DOCTOR WHO and it wouldn´t surprise me at all if Dan Slott had a little Doctor Who marathon right before writing the plot for ENDS OF THE EARTH.
And while Spidey is positive that he is ready for " whatever Ock throws at me. " he most definitely isn´t. A lot of people say that superheroes who always go up against the same supervillains are repetitive and boring. Villain escapes from prison, has new gadget / new power to defeat hero, when all seems lost hero comes up with great idea, villain gets defeated and ends up in prison only to plan his next big thing. Rinse, repeat. Well, what those people don´t get is that if a hero only ever fights once against a villain you can´t build up the kind of relationship as between Spider - Man and Doctor Octopus. They have fought against each other for years and Spider - Man has always defeated Doc Ock.
Dan Slott uses this yearlong feud - or better decades long - to great effect playing to the intelligence of both contrahents. Of course Peter has come up with new ways to take out each member of the Sinister Six.
And Doc Ock not only knows that but also anticipates how Peter will most likely do that and comes up with a way to counter that. He even uses Peter´s biggest inventions that he created at Horizon Labs against him. And if Spidey thinks he´s bringing the cavalary in form of the Avengers Otto just lets his Sinister Six take them down ( in very clever and intelligent ways ) only to later turn them against Spider - Man and his allies.
And speaking of the Sinister Six, I have always liked the idea of Spideys villains banding together against our hero and I think with the exception of the Flash´s rogues most villains don´t play well with each other.
It´s one of the oldest comic tropes that lets the heroes win whenever supervillains band together. It doesn´t matter if it´s Doctor Doom and Namor, Lex Luthor and his Secret Society of Supervillains or any other collection of neverdowells. In the end they always turn on each other. Not so much with the Sinister Six who for the greatest part managed to band together because they had something in common : their hatred for a certain webslinger. And while it was difficult enough to beat the toughest villains his rogue gallery has to offer singularly it was almost impossible to go up against all of them at the same time. At least without getting the stuffing beat out of him.
Whenever the Sinister Six appear it´s bad news for Peter and the fact that they manage to defeat the Avengers shows them as a power to be reckoned with. If you´re with the Sinister Six you´re in the majors, like Mysterio tells the Chameleon when he discovers a spidertracer on him.
Now there are some minor quibbles I have with the comic. For one, while it may be great to have lots of Avengers in the book Thor´s new clothes still look like s - word. Definitely not good.
Thor´s actions rule, his outfit not so much.
Second if you have somebody like Sandman who used to be a hero for some time go up against his former boss Silver Sable and his former colleagues, the Avengers, you should work that into the story. I mean he probably knows best how their security works, their teamwork and what their most likely strategies will be when attacking the Sinister Six. I find it hard to swallow that Doctor Octopus, who never was an Avenger nor went up against them that many times should be better qualified to come up with strategies against them. In this instance Slott fumbles the ball by deciding that Doc Ock should be the main mastermind and ignoring the contribution Sandman could make to the team. I understand that Octavius is the main character here but I would have like the Sandman to take a bit more centerstage here. It´s not
like he hasn´t been one of the longest members of the Sinister Six.
Who Dan Slott really writes the hell out otherwise. It´s difficult to give everybody their 5 minutes of fame in such a big ensemble but here everybody has his moments and you have to give Dan credit for not giving them new costumes and sticking with the classic costumes instead, including fishbowls and striped shirts. Especially Mysterio has some unexpected moments of greatness in here. Or is that selfishness ? I never could tell one from the other.
Another thing for me was that when Peter has to assume the leadership role he´s uncertain and doesn´t trust his capabilities even if he has been around the block for quite some time.
That´s something I always found stupid as well as this other writers crutch of why Spider - Man hasn´t been an Avenger before. Like he´s only good with street crime and small villains but he´s in over his head when it comes to cosmic villains and the end of the world. People who believe that have not been reading Spider - Man for a very long time. Peter has gone up against everybody and anybody, from neighborhoo thugs to universal enslavers to demigods. He has been on the moon, in the Negative Zone, yes, probably everywhere in the Marvel universe. He has teamed up with everybody and his mother and if it´s out there he has seen it. So every time a writer plays Peter like a newbie I get a headache. But I guess that´s something you just have to deal with in this post BRAND NEW DAY spiderverse where he´s a rookie all over again.
Also, it might just be me and I don´t know how it was in the single issues but I have this crazy idea that these two pages were supposed to be a doublepage spread and that somebody just got it wrong. If that is right then this is a major snafu that could have been corrected by putting one of the many variant covers Dell Otto did for the series differently and which are all included in the bonus section somewhere else.
You be the judge. Is this a doublepage spread or not ?
And last but not least for the final battle of Spider - Man between Doc Ock this story ends with a bang and with a wimper at the same time. I´m not sure how I should feel about that because on one hand this may be the realistic part about the story. On the other hand you probably have to read the stories before and after this event to really see the bigger picture and I´m not sure if I really want to do that. Reading the story I had the impression this might be the last good Spidey story in some time to come so that´s why I wanted to do a post about it.
But before we come to the final verdict here are some reviews on which I just have to elaborate . Some guys are much more qualified to analyze this story and much more eloquent so I´m giving the spotlight over to them. As all reviews that follow there are spoilers so don´t read them if you want to be surprised by the story.
First up is ShatleyQ at Pop Matters who bring ups some really interesting aspects in his article Global Powers 1 : The Elon Musk of " Amazing Spider - Man #683 and while I´m not sure that " Dan ( Slott ) finds the emotional core of the character, one we seemed to have lost decades ago, without even noticing it. " he makes some valid points.
" With Spider - Man event stories over the last few years it seems that
Peter Parker and his alter ego have really come through
slaughter. We’ve seen Spidey unmask, revealing his secret identity to
the public. We’ve seen a switch to a red - and - gold techno - armor, replete
with six artificial limbs. And, after the events of ONE MORE DAY and BRAND NEW DAY, we’ve seen a Spider - Man ready to face the world with a
mystically renewed secret identity.
But what of the Spidey from back when Spidey stories were simply
“ Amazing ”? Remember the “ Amazing Spider - Man ” ? Stories from when
Spider - Man captured the imagination of a generation ? What of the Spidey
who tilted at the world and found his adolescent life complicated rather
than simplified by his recently - acquired superpowers ?
Did the character really go through ultimate turmoil over these last
few years? Or were the events of ONE MORE DAY and BRAND NEW DAY a
necessary way to reset the clock on a kind of aestivation the character
had entered into since his marriage to Mary Jane Watson ? Was Spidey
broken, for longer than we realized?
Dan Slott’s really effected a renaissance for Spidey. Not just
cosmetic shifts and artificial dramas for the character, but Dan’s
really effected a fundamental reorientation of the character, bringing
Spidey closer to an adult version of Peter Parker. "
You should really read his piece where he has more nice things to say about the story that are too many to quote them all here and without spoiling too much about the story.
Now this review of issue 685 from SPIDERFAN.ORG on the other hand has lots of spoilers but it poses the question why Marvel - and with Marvel I mean Joe Quesada - went to all that trouble of making Peter Parker single if they write him like he was still married. I mean when Peter was with MJ it made sense that he would give them a negative answer when Black Widow or Silver Sable were hitting on him.
But when he wasn´t together with MJ he wasn´t just involved with the Black Cat on a professionel level. So why is Peter now living like a monk ?
It takes the throwback to 20 or more awful years of Peter dating ad absurdum and makes me question if Marvel just wants change for changes sake. Or maybe they just don´t know why their books are selling and who buys them. In the review of issue 687 from Spider - Man Crawlspace Steve Wacker quotes the old saying " Never give the reader what they think they want. " but he forgets that there is a second part to that. " Give them what they really want but didn´t know instead. " which is the more important thing. Because without it not giving the readers what they want is just what Marvel is doing for years, pissing off more and more readers. When I read statements from Marvel CEOs about " not wanting to recruit certain writers from the independent scene because all they write would be fan service for thousand of fanboys " I really don´t think they have any idea about the comic business or business in general.
I don´t know if there´s any other industry where the companies insult their customer base and do everything in their power to drive them away. " Fan service for fanboys " really is Marvel´s derogative way of saying " supplying our clients with a product that sells " isn´t it ? And not a product that doesn´t sell as good as it could but readers are still buying it because there´s no alternative. Yes, those fanboys who Marvel would love to get rid of have kept the Spider - titles going all this time but that´s not good enough. Heck, in an economy where every other industry is lowering prices and giving their customers huge incentives ( just look at the automobile industry ) prices for comics have gone up.
It´s almost as if Marvel doesn´t want to sell comics. Or rather Disney since they haven´t lowered prices which they easily could, being a gazillion Dollar company and all.
The only good thing about this is that with the inflated prices independent comic companies are now on an even level with the big two since they sell at the same price, offering better content in most cases. What I find a bit disappointing is that so far no company has used that advantage. I´m still waiting to see a " Now for less that your average Marvel comic " blurb on an issue of SAVAGE DRAGON. Which is the truth since your average Marvel comic costs 3.99 now while SAVAGE DRAGON and a lot of other independent titles are at 3.95. Now that´s not such a huge difference but when you add the higher quality of the content the argument is made.
Okay, back to the book in question. Is ENDS OF THE WORLD perfect ? No. Are there things that could be improved ? Yes. Does that diminish your enjoyment of the story ? Absolutely not. I mean there are hundred things that you could nitpick from " Why doesn´t Stefano Caselli draw the whole book ? " to " Why isn´t the other artist Frank Cho or Carlos Pacheco or at least Art Adams ? " to " If it´s so epic why isn´t this 12 issues long ? " to " It´s not Bendis. " but you could say that about any comic. The gist of it all is that this is a fun read with the highest stakes possible ( in a Doctor Who episode this would be " bad wolf " time ), lots of guest stars, some really hot superheroines and quiet character moments as well as big brawls. Here clever strategies go hand in hand with opening a can of whup - ass and the needle gets used as often as the crowbar.
Spider - Man gives a mindcontrolled Spiderwoman a taste of his own brand of escrima : Spider - Fu !
For an event comic - and let´s face it, Marvel seems to be doing nothing else in the last few years - this is one that surprisingly was done almost exclusively in the pages of the regular series. The only exceptions are the Ends of the Earth special that has some really cool guest stars like Union Jack ( he really makes british superheroes look cool ) and issue 8 of Avenging Spider - Man which I would have left out. I know what purpose it was supposed to serve but since it failed miserably in that aspect including it here does more harm than good as it drags down an otherwise quite enjoyable read at the last moment.
So if you want to read a story where Spidey steps up to the plate and uses his brains as well as his brawn in a no - holds - barred battle against one of his oldest foes this is the story for you. The art is really above and beyond in most issues and Dan Slott thankfully works really well with the continuity the higher ups at Marvel let Spider - Man keep.
Here is the usual list of links without which I couldn´t have done this post. First here are some previews for more stunning art. I wanted to include more pictures but then this post would have been too long. Nevertheless I wanted to include them if you want to see more before deciding if you want to buy this.
preview issue 682 / issue 683 / issue 684 / issue 685 / issue 686 / preview Spider - Man : Ends of the Earth 1
And here are the reviews that I couldn´t include in the text. The list was much longer but I have deleted the ones that didn´t add anything to the post except spoilers. Naturally the remaining ones are also FULL OF SPOILERS so don´t read them if you don´t want to learn major plot points before reading the comic.
review of issue 682 from SPIDERFAN.ORG / from Chasing Amazing
issue 682 from So Entertain Me / from Comic Book Revolution
issue 682 from Weekly Comic Book Review
issue 683 from SPIDERFAN.ORG / from Crave Online
issue 684 from SPIDERFAN.ORG / from Inside Pulse / from Population Go
issue 684 from IGN / from Weekly Comic Book Review
issue 686 from Crave Online / issue 687 from Crave Online
issue 687 from Multiversity Comics / issue 687 from Population Go
Once again I want to thank everybody who worked on these posts even if they are not included higher in this post. Your dedication and hard work is greatly appreciated. And for those who have been out of the loop concerning Spider - Man here is a little link that catches you up to speed from everything that happened before this storyline to the end of issue 700 of AMAZING SPIDER - MAN.
The events that lead up to Superior Spider - Man explained
Well, this was kind of a long post ( especially considering that Today was one of my days off and all I wanted to do was lie in bed and recuperate from Yestedays superlong internet session ) but I wanted to do the story justice. Plus I can´t expect my readers to shell out their hard earned money for this book without providing all the tools so they can come to a qualified decision.
Now, after mentioning Doctor Who twice in this post you probably expected another 50th anniversary video but I just have to post something else before that.
This video is Conan O´Brien doing his CLUELESS GAMER bit with the latest Laura Croft videogame. His comments are 100 percent spot on and his reaction when Laura dies is just hilarious. And really, it´s Laura not Lara. Isn´t it ?
New to the blog ? Everything you need to know about TALES FROM THE KRYPTONIAN : top ten posts / more posts of interest