Hey everyone! Sorry about falling off the Earth last week, I’ve been chipping away at The Secret World as best I can and lost track of time. Such is life.
Anyway! This week I’ll be reviewing Spider-men #3, and let me say that this week things get interesting! If you happened to wander into this blog having not read my review of issues #1 and #2, be sure to check them out. With last issue leaving us hanging on the edge of our seat wondering what was going to happen in a battle between Mysterio and both Spider-men, this issue doesn’t let us down as it jumps right into the action. Plus! Bendis finally starts bringing things home as the story moves towards the emotionally charged tale I was hoping it would become…
Issue #3 starts with a bang! With the battle between Mysterio, Miles and Peter quickly becoming a bit more than either Spider-man was hoping for. Using some rather serious chemicals, Mysterio summons up a bunch of enemies from both Spider-men’s pasts. This is a particularly fun fight because for people like me, who only follow the Ultimate Universe, we get to see just how different some of the mainstream Spider-man’s villains truly are compared to their Ultimate counter-parts. The Green Goblin is perhaps the most obvious, what with him being a raging, fireball-throwing Hulk-like creature in the Ultimate Universe as opposed to the standard “guy with mask on a glider” that he has been for ages in the 616 Universe. But even such classic foes as Doctor Octopus (who has actually been killed in the Ultimate Universe) have apparently seen better days in the 616 Universe, as apparently he has had to construct a suit to keep himself alive.
It was also nice to see that, despite his “newness” to crime fighting, Miles Morales still had some villains to contribute to this mash-up. With the Ultimate versions of The Shocker, The Prowler, and The Scorpion making an appearance in the crowd of super villains. After all, one of the biggest concerns readers like me had about Miles taking over as Spider-man would be how/whether his rogues gallery would ever be able to match that of Peter Parker’s. After all, pretty much all the major players have already made their appearance as enemies of Peter, and more than a few of them have died and can no longer plague the life of this new Spider-man. So it was refreshing to see the writers/artists make nods to the fact that Miles is, in fact, slowly building up his own rogues gallery. And while Mysterio may in fact be from the 616 Universe, I think we can officially add him to that list as well.
As you’d expect, Peter and Miles fight the good fight and eventually break the hold Mysterio has over their minds. Mysterio doesn’t take it too well though, and proceeds to just say “F- this” and take apart his equipment; stating that attacking them was too “pedestrian” and that stranding Spider-man in a world that thinks he’s dead is, in fact, the perfect plan. Frankly I can’t argue with the guy. It’d be one thing to trap a hero in an alternate reality with no way of escape, but to do so in a world where they’ll be effectively haunted by the tragedy of their own death is a whole other level of low. And I love how Mysterio is constantly being portrayed as a bitter, hateful villain who has probably seen far too many defeats in his lifetime. His desire to take over a world with no real challenge and his quickness to just fall back on Plan Z (aka turn everything off and win by default) reek of desperation. It’s a characterization that I happen to like, and is something I hope we get to see more of (although I doubt we will).
After the dust settles though, Miles wakes up to find the Ultimates staring down at him and a very busy Nick Fury trying to work out exactly who this Mysterio guy is and where he came from. Peter though, still not quite sure exactly what was going on, decided to take his leave and try to wrap his head around whether any of what was happening was real or just another of Mysterio’s tricks. This leads us head first right into the beginning of what I expect to be the emotional core I had been hoping for in this arch; as Peter comes to accept the fact that a younger version of him has died in this universe, and that his legacy still lives on without his presence.
I especially like the small conversation he has with the teller at the store he bursts in to, as he points to a Spider-man necklace she has around her neck and asks her what it’s about. Her answer? “Respecting the little dude.” You see, this isn’t a world where Spider-man or the Fantastic Four or the Avengers run around saving the world every other day or so, this is a world that has seen great tragedy and come to respect and appreciate the few heroes who have given their lives to help protect them and ensure a greater tomorrow. To the people of New York Spider-man is a symbol that anyone, even a High School Student, can make all the difference in the world. In a way, Uncle Ben’s words of power and responsibility have been passed on to the world at large. In the Ultimate Universe, Peter Parker was the symbol of all the good that a hero could be; all the good a hero should be. And now without him the people of the Ultimate Universe (hero and citizen alike) are left wondering if such a person can ever rise again…
This is the kind of story I’ve been waiting for, an existential Spider-man story where Peter Parker comes face-to-face with a world both similar and different from his own. And with this issue leaving off the way it does, with a full-grown Peter Parker coming face to face with an Aunt May and Gwen Stacy who have already accepted his death, I can only imagine how gut-wrenching the next issue is going to be.
With legitimate action and the first real signs of this story’s emotional core, this issue earns itself a solid 4.5 out of 5. It isn’t perfect, but it was darn close; and I expect next issue to be the real pay out for this story line. I may even shed a tear. Who knows? All you need to know is that this was a solid issue, and well worth a read. Especially if the next issue plays out like I think it will.
Be sure to check out my review of issue #4!