No more Clone Conspiracy! Yay (I recommend, perhaps, playing this as you read. Be warned, it is one infectious tune…)! As good as the event probably was (I wouldn’t know, I didn’t follow it. With hindsight, I probably should have but never mind) I’m glad to see what I would deem a return to normality, or the good stuff, after a tide of seemingly never-ending tie-in issues. Better yet, we get a bumper issue with a 40 page main story plus bonus content. Despite this, I feel a little saddened.
First, the main story:
- Peter is in hot pursuit on a lead about the whereabouts of Norman Osborn, Mockingbird, Tarantula and Devil Spider lending a hand in the search.
- Norman Osborn is believed to have adopted the guise of Warthog. However, this quickly falls apart when it’s revealed that the Warthog Spidey has confronted isn’t Osborn. Parker is not best pleased and unleashes his fury on a table.
- Away from all the superheroics, things are going okay at home. Aunt May is coping well after the loss of her husband Jay. After a bit of catch up, Parker and Morse (Mockingbird, for those who aren’t aware, is also Bobbi Morse) head to Hong Kong.
- Peter’s proposal of moving their relationship forward romantically is interupted by Aunt May (Brilliantly awkward, I assure you), who is attending the Uncle Ben Foundation Gala.
- The pair manage to track the location of Osborn but, unfortunately, it poses a direct threat to May, as he is at the gala! They zip across town but not until they apprehend an assassin who is in fact the believed dead Silver Sable, on a mission to kill none other than Norman Osborn (But who was actually aiming at Harry so not so bad that she was stopped)!
Dan Slott is a writer whom I have great respect for. His work on this title and the fantastic Silver Surfer series (Again, weird arrangment with that one) have made him a favourite of mine. This issue, I don’t know. I optimistically believed we would be seeing a return to the fun, energetic and happy Spider-man title I fell in love all that time ago but I now appreciate this is the side of Spider-man I have yet to really experience: beaten and slightly broken, trying to get his life back together. I fear this is only going to get worse… That aside, other than a somewhat rushed opening with a whole lot of set-up cramming, this return to normality was pretty solid.
With this issue we have seen a change in hands in terms of the art and I went into this issue with high expectations. Stuart Immnonen has replaced the much beloved Giuseppe Camuncoli but I must say Mr Immnonen has delivered something truly exceptional. It has such a wonderful detail to it that I can’t help but be enchanted by his work. The reviews are true, he is one heck of an artist. That being said, I still hold the equally brilliant work of Camuncoli close to my heart, he has provided fab illustrations since #1 and isn’t quite finished yet…
- Story: 8.0
- Art: 10
- Accessibility: Friendly – With Clone Conspiracy over, this issue marks a relatively okay jumping on point to the series. Noted, past stuff is referenced a lot but I think one could just about get away without knowing a great deal. Some research could help to fill in the gaps, that’s for sure.
- Overall: 9.0
Alongside this story, we got a whole bunch of bonus, mini-issues which were all, in my opinion, fab extras. I will now provide a brief summary for all but one (The really juicy one):
- Police & Thieves – Gage and Naucky team up to deliver a tale of Spider-man attempting to apprehend a rather out of control Clash only to discover that Clash is only robbing banks to help rescue animals from lab experiments.
- Spider-man Tsum-up – Chabot and Height pair up to recount the tale of Spider-Tsum who goes to the aid of Spider-man, helping him to defeat White Rabbit. Not too fond of Tsum-Tsum comics but hey, it wasn’t too bad.
- Shanghai Shenanigans (I had to make that one up) – Asmus and Ford double up and detail an attack on the Parker Industries office in Shanghai by Aftershock and Ember. Spider-man is able to apprehend them but not after a hefty amount of damage is done.
- Mutts Ado About Nothing – Blumenreich debuts with an adorable tale of Peter Parker’s brief adoption of a dog. They click from the offset but Aunt May isn’t keen on the dog. The Dog is taken away but Aunt May gifts Peter with a fish instead.
- The A-May-zing Spider-aunt – Atkinson two page spread provides great comic relief, Aunt May being the hero we all know her to be on numerous occasions.
The last two were my personal favourites, providing a great deal of soft chuckling (Anything louder would awake my family. The problems of reading comics past 10 o’clock at night…). I was a little concerned with the Spider-aunt teaser but the revelation of what that actually meant was absolutely brilliant (I’m rather fond of Atkinson’s mini comics, they’ve feature a few times now). Now to the really, really juicy bonus one.
Did a thought cross your mind concerning the whereabouts of the newly resurrected Doc Ock? Well Marvel have an answer and boy, oh, boy is a fantastic.
- Otto Octavius is enjoying life with a perfect body. With this new found power at his finger-tips, he goes to one of his old bases on the west coast to see what’s been going on.
- When he arrives at his base, however, he discovers that he is not alone. A whole lot of Hydra agents are waiting for him but they pose no challenge to the new and improved Otto Octavius.
- After besting all the agents, one Arnim Zola approaches the Doctor with a business proposition: an alliance with Hydra to take down Parker Industries once and for all. Otto agrees, realising the increased strength teaming with Hydra would provide.
- He designs a new suit, assuming his new role as: THE SUPERIOR OCTOPUS!
Slott and Camuncoli have really pulled off a show-stopper. Not only is Doctor Octopus back in full strength but he is working with Hydra! The implications this is going to have are too good to think about! Secret Empire! Secret Empire! Secret Empire! (If it wasn’t clear, I’m a little bit excited for Secret Empire…(Just to clarify, I’m excited at the prospect of seeing beloved heroes cope with this new world order, not that a Neo-Nazi organisation has taken over America (Though without it, we wouldn’t get to see what appears to be some good old fashioned rebellion))).
In reflection, this was a pretty darn exceptional return to form for Mr Parker and I am more than excited for what is coming (Though I do feel sorry for Peter, he has been through some serious shizzle lately and it doesn’t seem to be concluding any time soon).
All in all, a 10 out 10 from me.