If you’ve read Gabbing Geek for any more than 8 minutes you probably know that I am a big Spider-Man fan. Like, super big. Like, ridiculous levels. So it’s actually somewhat surprising it’s taken me fourteen Secret Wars posts to dedicate one to my favorite hyphen-ed hero.
After the break I’ll look at Spider-Island #1, Spider Verse #2, Spider-Verse #3 and Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #2. (And yes, I’m aware of the irony that Spider-Man barely appears or doesn’t appear at all or is dead in 3/4 of those books.)
Also, if you are like me and haven’t read all of Johnathon Hickman’s Avengers run leading up to Secret Wars, be sure to take Tom’s Road To Secret Wars course at gabbinggeekuniversity.com. The reading materials are online here: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, Part Six and Part Seven.
And that course is a prerequisite to the other parts of this series: Part One, Part Two, Part Three,Part Four, Part Five, Part Six, Part Seven, Part Eight, Part Nine, Part Ten, Part Eleven, Part Twelve, Part Thirteen
Spider-Island was an excellent Spidey-centric event that took place in 2011. It had its share of tie-ins but kept mostly to the Spider-Man related books. The basics of the story are that the Spider-Queen has unleashed a virus spread by spiders and bed bugs and anything else crawling around that you don’t want to think about. A bite will initially give you Spider-Man-like powers, but subsequent mutations will turn you into a mindless spider-drone. With the help of some of his amazing friends, Spider-Man eventually saves the day.
The domain of Spider-Island on Battleworld gives us some revisionist history and the answer to what would have happened if Spider-Man had failed to stop the Spider-Queen? Long story short, while a rebellion rages on, Manhattan has been completely overrun by hive-mind controlled spider-people, including the likes of Captain Marvel and the Hulk. (Seriously, how many Manhattans exist on Battleworld?)
The rebellion is led by Agent Venom (for those unaware, this is long time Spider-Man fan club president Flash Thompson wearing the Venom symbiote, but using it for good), Vision (hard to infect an android with a spider-virus) and Spider-Woman (there’s no reason in particular explained how she’s made it so far…though she does use her phermones on the Spider-Hulk to turn him into a lovesick pussy cat instead of an arachnid smashing machine).
They also receive help in the evenings from Jack Russell, the Werewolf By Night. He’s not much help in the daytime as he has been infected, but when he turns by the light of the moon, his mind is clear. His memories of his daytime self are fuzzy but he informs Agent Venom that he remembers hearing something about a cure being safeguarded at Horizon Labs.
Agent Venom decides to make a play for the cure, but is well aware it is probably a trap. Which it is. But he has gotten an idea from his werewolf friend. When he transforms, his DNA is rewritten, and the virus subsides. If he could do the same with other spider-virus victims somehow, he may not cure them, but at least free them from the Spider-Queen’s hive mind and hopefully bring them onside.
So after the gig is up on the Horizon Labs raid, Agent Venom puts his plan in motion. He uses the stone that turned John Jameson into the Man-Wolf, to turn Captain America into a werewolf. (Hmmm, where have I seen that before?) Next he uses the serum created by Michael Morbius to turn Captain Marvel into a vampire. And finally, Dr. Curt Conners Lizard serum which they use to turn the Spider-Hulk into a giant Lizard-Hulk.
And in two weeks we’ll find out if any of this worked and the three new monsters help them against an infected Iron Man and Iron Fist, or if they’ve just created a set of different problems.
This issue also has a bit of an odd back up story. It features May “Mayday” Parker, the MC2 universe version of Spider-Girl. Sorry, Spider-Woman as she rechristened herself after Spider-Verse. I won’t get into the specifics of the story since they seem to be irrelevant to Secret Wars, but just what I found odd.
This story is obviously pre-Secret Wars. I suppose it could be post Secret Wars depending on the state of the Marvel multiverse when all is said and done. In either case I’ve seen no mention of anything MC2 related on Battleworld, so why is this story in a Secret Wars tie-in? The story is continued, so I suppose it could end up being a Last Days story, but I have my doubts.
So I’m Marvel and I’ve got this Spider-Girl story kicking around and nowhere really currently to publish it, so I’ll stick it in one of the Spider-Man related Secret Wars books as a bonus. Ok, cool, that’s fine Marvel…but why put it in Spider-Island? The story takes place after and is an epilogue of sorts to Spider-Verse, why not put it in that book? Heck, you could even have Mayday in the main story of that book for that matter. But I digress.
I’m just geeking out on this now and no one will care about this besides me and Tom Kelly will tell me not to think about it. All fair, and the story itself is just fine, I just found it’s placement a little strange.
Spider Verse #2
We pick up where last issue left off, with Norman Osborn having the drop on Spider-Gwen and Spider-Ham waking from a coma. Gwen has a choice to make: kidnap Norman and attempt to get some answers out of him or save Peter Porker. Like most of us would, she saves the bacon.
When the two stop at a safe place to chat they are surprised by Spider-UK, Spider-Man India, and Spider-Girl Anya Corazon. Spider-Man India explains his theory about all of them being from somewhere’s else, which Gwen finds pretty obvious since the Gwen Stacy of this domain is known to be dead and well, there aren’t any other talking pigs swinging around. They all have the same dim memories of a shared life they never led (i.e. the Spider-Verse event and everything before it). A life shared with another, whose signal just showed up on Spider-Man India’s web tracking software.
The team head to intercept the last of their collective, when they find Carnage and Tombstone about to torture some poor souls. The mysterious other is not surprisingly Spider-Man Noir. He’s actually hanging back, waiting for Tombstone and Carnage to do their thing so that he can get information about the new crew pushing it’s way in from the East Side. But the other Spider’s don’t play like that and dramatic entrance their way through a skylight to prevent it.
They seem to incapacitate Tombstone (though he just disappears for the last five pages for no reason), but Carnage is a bit more trouble. Except for Spider-Man Noir who has done his homework and knows of the Symbiotes weakness to sound and takes him out with a “sound gun”.
While this is the first that the other Spider’s have seen of Noir, he says that he’s been watching all of them for awhile. But before the team can get any real answers from him, they are interrupted by the appearance of a slightly different looking Sinister Six.
It’s the well oiled machine that is the Sinister Six versus the not even really a team, only known each other an hour Spider-Verse Six. Needless to say, the Six with the Sinister in front mops the floor with them and brings them back to their boss, Norman Osborn.
It seems Norman ain’t such a bad guy (will we ever believe that?). He’s been working with Spider-Ham to build a fifth dimensional modal of all of their morphogenetic fields. It seems that all of their fields are unique and synced together, forming a…Great Web. (This all sounds very familiar if you’ve read the Spider-Verse event.) Norman’s model is showing that the web has been destroyed and is in tatters, but our friendly neighborhood Spider-Folks are still a part of it.
While the others decide to help Norman get to the bottom of things, Gwen is out. She doesn’t trust Norman. She suspects he was the Green Goblin and responsible for the death of the Gwen Stacy in the domain that they are currently in. She leaves and with nowhere to go, ends up at her “home”. The only place that brings her peace, the grave site of he deceased doppelganger.
But she is not alone, and is approached by a former Spider-Man, one Peter Benjamin Parker.
Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #2
Following last issues Man of Steel moment, Peter is still being haunted by dreams of letting Venom die by dropping a building on him. (Would this really kill him? Anyway…) And it’s not just Peter, his and MJ’s daughter Annie is also terrified and imagines seeing “that shadow-thing” under her bed. And it seems she has inherited her fathers spider-powers and uses them to sleep safely on the ceiling. This is a big worry to the Parker’s as any use of powers could have her hunted down by Regent. They get her again to promise to never use her powers.
(Geez Marvel, you could even have put that Mayday back up story in this book. At least it has some ties as it features a daughter of Spider-Man. I know it is a different daughter and all but…Editors’ note: “Jimmy, let it go.” …)
With almost all heroes gone, and Peter retired from Spider-Man-ing, work is hard to come by for a freelance photographer. On this day he gets lucky and snaps some pics of D-Man behing apprehended by Boomerang, Rhino and Shocker. (You don’t want to know what happens to him once they succeed and he is brought to Regent.) In the shadows we see that there is a resistance brewing against Regent. Mockingbird and Prowler are contemplating saving D-Man, but are told by their SHIELD leader (Nick Fury?) to forget it. D-Man is not worth risking getting them exposed over.
Shortly after when Peter is selling his pics to the Bugle, a news report comes in that Regents goons are on their way to follow up on some super human activity at an elementary school. Annie’s elementary school. With no time to spare, Peter pulls his hoody up over his face to protect his identity and enters full Spidey mode to get across town and to the school as fast as possible.
When he gets there he learns that it wasn’t Annie after all, but the kids of Power Pack that were also students there. They are in the middle of a fight with Rhino, Boomerang and the female version of the Beetle. Spidey takes the three of them out, allowing the Pack to escape. This does not please Regent. So he brings in the big guns to find Spider-Man, the Sinister Six. (These guys get around.)
Back at the Parker’s apartment, Peter realizes that he’s now going to have to become Spider-Man again and take down Regent. Actually, he wants to run away, but MJ slaps some sense into him. And she reveals that she has kept a Spider-Man suit packed away for a “rainy day”. And since he will need to be smart and stick to the shadows, it is the black version of the suit. You know, the one that looks just like Venom? The creature that haunts your child’s dreams and just the sight of the suit would scare the beejuzus out of her? Yeah, that one. Nicely done Parker’s. Nicely done.