Thursday, July 8, 2004

Spectacular Spider-Man #16 - A Review

Written by: Paul Jenkins
Penciled by: Michael Ryan
Inked by: Studio F
Colored by: Studio F
Lettered by: Cory Petit
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Publisher: Marvel Comics

So “Avengers Disassembled” is quickly coming upon us (Indeed, you can sneak a quick look at the first few pages of it Mile High Comics ) and with it have come a number of Disassembled Prologue storylines spread across several books, such as the last issue of Spectacular Spider-Man and this new volume.

The word is that in the wake of the Avengers destruction and inevitable reformation, Spider-Man will play a key role in the events to come. Lord knows what it will be based upon reading this story. Don’t misread me; this is a good comic which concludes a great story. I just don’t see how the events of it connect to The Avengers or the upcoming Avengers Disassembled storyline, aside from the guest-spot by Captain America.

Last issue, a woman calling herself only “The Queen” seized controls of the minds of a number of New Yorker’s and took an entire skyscraper hostage. For some reason, she set off Peter Parker’s Spider-Sense in a bigger way than usual, prompting him to go out and see what great evil nearly made him black out. At the same time, Captain America is put on the warpath after being informed of The Queen being on the loose again. The two heroes meet with Cap telling Spidey to bug off (da-dum-CHING) and Spidey insisting he can help.

Things don’t go well, and this issue opens with Spidey all trussed up, a voice in the back of his head trying to get him to “go with the hive” and The Queen all up in his face about doing the mating dance. Worse still, the good agents of SHIELD are told to stand down by a nameless general who is certain that “Captain America will take care of the situation”… even as we see that Cap is upside down, trussed up and surrounded by armed drones.

It is little moments of humor like this that have made Jenkins work on Spider-Man shine. He finds humor outside of the usual wise-cracks as well as the usual wise-cracks.

Captain America: She’s ready to mate? We’ve been worried about something like this…

Spider-Man: Not half as worried as I am, chief.

But Jenkins presses the drama as well, with The Queen killing minions in an effort to coerce Spider-Man to obeying her. And things come full circle in the closing scene, in which Captain America tries to tell off Spider-Man for risking his life against a villainess he had no chance of beating…

Captain America: You couldn’t win and you knew it. She had ever tactical advantage and you still kept pressing. Looks like you still have a lot to learn, son.

Spider-Man: Yeah, well I heard you used to be a lot like me back in the day. I guess you just forgot.

The artwork matches the story note for note, forming quite the beautiful symphony. I can’t remember seeing any of Michael Ryan’s work before, but I hope he’ll get a monthly book to work on sometime soon. It’s a shame that he’ll be off this title after the return of the vastly inferior (though somehow more popular) Humberto Ramos.

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