Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Spider-Man: Big Time

Hey everybody. I was going to take this time to write a review of the rest of the Origin of the Species storyline that was driving me crazy a while ago, because it made no sense. But, really, you saw all you needed to see from the first two issues. It's Spider-Man, carrying around a baby, he thinks it died so he goes all broody and beats people up, then we get some Doctor Octopus and Lizard action, and in a move I still don't understand, Spider-Man finds out that the baby is actually Harry's. So that's two illegitimate children under his belt. Man, he's good at that.

Point is, that's over now, and I am so glad for it. Remember the post from San Diego Comic Con, about Spider-Man: Big Time? I was a bit wary then, mostly because I had no reason to trust the people in charge of Spider-Man. Especially after American Son. But, ladies and gentlemen, I no longer have any reason to fear.

Comic Review: Amazing Spider-Man #648

Our comic begins with a full page shot of Spider-Man with the Avengers, while he shouts their catchphrase, "Avengers Assemble!" Doc Ock, apparently deciding stealing babies was beneath him, has sent out giant Octobots to rampage through NYC. Being that Octopus is Spidey's main villain, the Avengers defer to him on the battleplan.

As he takes down an Octobot with the ol' AT-AT strategy, he comes upon a familiar character, someone I like to refer to as, "Can't Move Out of the Way Guy."

Speaking of the mayor, we cut to Jameson, surprizingly not looking like Hitler, being evacuated for his safety. He's watched by a mysterious armored guy.

In the limo, his wife, Marla, mentions she has a list of things to do for couples' therapy, considering the troubles they've been having. With giant octopuses attacking the city, she's decided to go through all of them now. We then cut to John Jameson, JJ's son, at an Air Force base, about to go to NYC to fight some giant robots. Captain America shows up, with something suspicious about him.

Back with Spidey, he takes down an Octobot, and stops by the Fantastic 4, who seem to be doing well on their own. After dodging what seems like a self-destructing Octobot, Spider-Man runs into another of his old friends.

Fleeing for his monogamous life, Spider-Man desperately tries to think of his girlfriend, Carlie Cooper, as he runs into a broadcast by Doc Ock on the screen of an Octobot. And he gives the usual "Now You Will Pay For What You've Done" speech. At that Air Force base, we then see Electro, actually looking pretty cool again, come in through a light bulb.

He then meets up with Captain America, who was actually Chameleon. Big suprise. They're working together, along with Sandman, Rhino and Mysterio, because they got the ol' gang back together, and made a new Sinister Six! Yes! I love the Sinister Six! They let out some mini-octobots, and report back to base. Doc Ock orders the giant-Octobots to be put on standby, because they were really just a diversion. Then he presses a button to initiate the self destruct sequence.

Wait, Doc Ock actually thinks Spider-Man is intelligent? Was he even paying attention when Spider-Man was webslinging around with a newborn last week? Back with the Avengers, Mr. Fantastic and Iron Man try to defuse the Octo-bombs, finding out that they're all connected to a network, so if one can be disarmed, they'll all deactivate. Johnny Storm, the Human Torch, asks if Spider-Man could help, since Spider-Man's smart too. Spider-Man attests that he's not "In their league." After looking over to a clock though, he gets inspiration. He begins syncing the timer to the internal clock of the Octobot. Why you ask? Well, it's the first Sunday in November.

Actually quite clever. Anyway, after the Octobots explode safely offshore, Peter has to tackle the most dangerous task of all... WORKING.

We see our good friend Norah Winters, who before used her seducing skills to get the dirt on Norman Osborn in the American Son five-parter. She's been continuing this line of investigation, and found Green Goblin tattoos on convicts and other ruffians. Suddenly, Jameson comes in, with the deed to the Daily Bugle. Apparently Marla told him to buy it back from Dexter Bennet's shareholders, so he could give it to Robbie Robertson.

Peter escapes from work, back to his apartment, to tell Michele that he'll soon have last month's rent. Unfortunately, he finds all of his stuff outside of the apartment. With her brother finally out of jail, she doesn't need to be in New York anymore, and is moving back to Chicago. I'm a little sad to see her go, because she was an interesting character, and he doesn't really have that kind of antagonistic-yet-they-banged relationship with anyone else. So with this, Peter has to find a new apartment. He first goes to Randy Robertson, who immediately refuses. Next he tries asking Carlie, who also refuses, because you don't move in with your boyfriend that early.

We then join Aunt May and her husband Jay Jameson, with their visitors, Marla and John Jameson. As John and Jay catch up on old times, May and Marla talk about Peter's current state of unemployment, with Marla wishing to help.

We cut back to Peter, as he continues to have bad luck. But mostly cock-blocking Flash Thompson.

He shows up at Mary Jane's door, and they both burst out into laughter at the very suggestion of moving back in together. It makes sense, but it’s a bit sad, since it really squelches any real chance that they’ll get back together. One Moment In Time really confirmed that, but I’m still a staunch Mary Jane supporter. As a last resort, Peter finds himself at Aunt May's door, with a very, well, depressing monologue. But a really well written one.

Luckily, he doesn't have to knock on that door, because Marla Jameson opens it up before he can. She's got someplace to take him, to Horizon Labs, workplace of apparently famous scientist Max Modell. Outside, Marla reveals that she knows Modell because she's a scientist, and used to built Spider-Slayers. Which, uh, makes her a good match for Jameson then. Peter's Spider-sense tingles, but doesn't see the creepy armored guy from before.

He decides he needs some help to get Jameson, because security is too tight. He then remembers Mac Gargan, the current Venom. So we cut to Venom, getting the symbiote removed from him.

Well, I mean, they didn't remove the Symbiote before because it was supposed to be bonded to his DNA, as much as that doesn't make sense. If it were truly removed, it was supposed to kill him, But I guess they thought more interesting storylines would come from it being separate, so they quietly reconned that aspect.

Back at the lab Peter geeks out about everything. As part of the tour, they bring him up to a machine that will test an artificial version of Vibranium, an alien metal usually used as a technobabble solution, called Reverbium. Just as she's about to throw the switch and test the Reverbium, Peter's Spider-sense tingles, but it's too late. The experiment goes horribly wrong.

Rather than be the origin story for a new superhero, which, honestly, I thought happened every time anyone ran any kind of experiment, Peter does some science-math and fixes it. I was really happy to see this, because people tend to forget that along with the superpowers, Peter's really really smart. I mean, he invented the webshooters in high school! But then he goes around webslinging with a baby, so, I guess I can understand that. Peter gets his first paycheck along with a shitload of scientific journals to read over the next week. Peter, satisfied with his life, but without an apartment, opts for the cheap web-hammock.

Everything seems so nice. What could possibly go wro--

Uh oh.

That's Big Time. And I have to say, it was awesome. The writing's finally good again, and they brought back the artist that used to draw Spectacular Spider-Man before One More Day went down. Of course, I get the feeling that I only love this so much because I'm directly comparing it to the baby-stealing comics directly preceeding it. It may have been their plan, now that I think about it. How do you make your new thing seem really good? Put something terrible right before it! By comparison, it will seem like the Second Coming! Disregarding the fact that I may be biased in that way, I still really liked the issue. I hope the next issue's just as good, and Marvel learns this time not to mess with success. I'm glad Hobgoblin's back in the picture, he's a good villain we haven't seen in a while. We'll see how the next issue turns out, and if it deserves a review. See you next time on the W Defender!

PS: Oh, when buying this comic, as with others, I got the variant cover, because those are fancy. Unfortunately for me and this review, that cover looks like this:

So I then bought a second copy, with the normal cover. That's right, I bought two copies of the same comic just for this review! You should all feel so proud.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Spider-Man: Origin of the Species Part 1 and 2

Now that I have a job again, I have money, and with that money I am buying comics. One of these comics I got at Comic-Con, but is by no means one of superior quality. Mostly because it's Spider-Man. Yep, just when you (mostly I) thought it couldn't get any worse, it really does. Let's delve into the horror of:

Comic Review: Amazing Spider-Man 642 & 643

Now, the Grim Hunt wasn't bad, and from what I read One Moment In Time was a pretty reasonable flashback explaining One More Day. Of course, I still didn't like it because it was in support of One More Day, but as far as that goes it was acceptable. This storyline... man... it's a doozy.

Remember American Son? That storyline where I posted a three part review wherein Norman Osborn impregnated Lily Hollister, Harry's former girlfriend. Yeah, I guess in-story it's 9 months later.

First we have some mostly inconsequential Peter-is-a-loser stuff, and we see him fail on a date with Carlie. Behind the scenes some mysterious figure sent a lot of villains to get some mysterious object. BUT WE PROBABLY WON'T FIGURE OUT WHAT THAT IS. It all goes real south with this happens.

Yeah, so Lily, being pregnant as she is, saw fit to smash into a coffee shop rather than go to, I dunno, a hospital. We find out why when our next guests arrive.

Yep, Tombstone and Shocker have gotten their orders from our one and only Doctor Octopus, recent paralysis victim. Doc gets there just in time to deliver the baby, while the writer tries desperately to make him sound intelligent.

As our next comic begins, Doc Ock is examining the recently born baby. The really badly drawn recently born baby. He apparently thinks it can help cure his paralysis because it's a baby from two people who had taken the Goblin Serum. It doesn't really make sense, but I'll get to that later.
After breaking free from Doc's grasp, Spider-Man takes back the baby, and proceeds to go out the window with it. Webslinging. With a newborn. Oooh boy.

Jameson then appears on the news talking about how Spider-Man is being completely irresponsible with a newborn, Because he is. He demands Spider-Man be arrested, because, well, they have a footage of him putting a baby in serious danger. Can't really fault him there. Meanwhile Spider-Man is way higher than he should be, bringing the baby to a hospital.

Back at the coffee shop, Harry and MJ try to help Lily, who is pretty much freaking out at this point. Carlie, who is not yet used to Peter suddenly disappearing whenever villains attack, goes looking for him in the rubble, but only hears a ringing cell phone. Back with Spider-Man and the surely dead baby, he's almost got to the hospital, when Electro attacks, the next member of the Doc Ock Baby Stealin' Squad.

He wants the baby too, apparently. Spider-Man swings away from Electro and runs straight into the police. Who, obviously, want him to hand over the baby. And he doesn't, because... uh, because... He's keeping the baby safe? At any rate, the police are scared away by the next baby-stealing villain, Sandman. Why?! Why would Doc Ock want this baby that never should have been?!

Is this supposed to be some sorry excuse for a new Sinister Six? I mean, that's half so far. If so, damn, have they come to a new low. First their plans were to destroy Spider-Man, then they were for some vague stereotypical plan to conquer the world, and now, they're trying to steal a baby. Why doesn't Ock just start a meth lab? Really not that much farther to fall.

So Spider-Man uses science-think to beat both Electro and Sandman at once, at which point he is confronted with a familiar problem.

He smashes through a wall. Not just into, through. And we check back in on Carlie, who apparently has been looking for the ringing cell phone this whole time. When she finds it, she deduces that it is not, in fact, Peter's. Tombstone, apparently having just regained consciousness, looms ominously behind her.

We join Spider-Man and his almost certainly dead at this point baby, in the office he smashed into. Police have shown up, with a bunch of cars and a reporter outside. Rather than, you know, give the baby to the police who might be able to bring it to a hospital or something, Spider-Man just swings away again.

We cut forebodingly to Doctor Octopus, in his secret TV lab, claiming he can see Spider-Man because he watches a lot of daytime television.

So one question is: What did I think of this issue? Do you really need to ask? I don't even know how this got through. You'd think the this team would've gotten fired forever after they made the Electro part of the Gauntlet storyline. I mean, the art is terrible, the baby looks like some little abomination, Carlie, who is actually supposed to be rather attractive, looks like a man, all facial expressions are grimaces, and everything just looks... dirty. For some reason, this artist only draws stuff that's supposed to take place during a hot day. I guess that makes sense, if that's how the characters are supposed to look while I'm having a heat stroke.

Well... Next issue, what happens is what I really expected to happen. Find out next time, on The W Defender!