Marvel’s new Spider-Man event, Spider Island, began a few weeks ago with its July kick-off titles including SI: Daily Bugle Free Preview and Amazing Spider-man #666 – Prelude. At this point releases also include ASM #667, SI: Cloak and Dagger #1 and SI: Deadly Foes #1.
My interest was first peaked over the Spider- Island event while listening to the Marvel panel at Comic-con. The crew was so excited over this slew of titles under the Spider Island umbrella, that it was a little contagious. The premise seemed unique and interesting – the Jackal is back. As obsessed as ever with Spidey’s exceptional and exclusive genetic make-up, he has engineered bedbugs who have a contagious bite that spreads Spider-man’s powers. Now Manhattan is overrun with spider-powered amateurs and not all of them have Peter Parker’s spot-on sense of right and wrong. Chaos is breaking out everywhere as people begin to enjoy and take advantage of their new-found powers. Included in this list of spider-people are Peter’s relatively new girlfriend, Carlie, and Spider-man title regular, Randy Robertson.
I did a bit of Spider-Island catch-up, reading the five available titles. So far the story has been succinctly enjoyable with a good flow from issue to issue and title to title. The prelude to Spider-Island began in Amazing Spider-man (ASM) #666. This premier issue did a great job of hinting to the upcoming events without burping clues all over the reader. It sets up Peter Parker/Spider-man in a way that we get to know him all over again. Since Brand New Day, Spiderman has been through a lot. This issue is able to gather the results of all his recent personal growth and sum it into a conclusion: Spider-man has become an obsessive workaholic running in a thousand different directions and rather neglecting his girlfriend. (Ok, so maybe he’s not THAT different these days.) But some things have definitely changed in this new, more adult version of Peter Parker. He has a steady job working for Horizon Labs where he can finally put that ridiculously smart brain of his to good use. Aunt May is moving away from New York with her new husband, Jay Jameson. Peter’s new girlfriend is actually pretty cool, even though she’s not MJ or Gwen Stacy.
Of course all this new-found “put-togetherness” doesn’t mean squat when the city goes nuts with spider-powered civilians. The Jackal is, with his constant humor, bringing back old mistakes in order to better achieve his new goals – and the results ain’t pretty. We explore his motives, background, and future plans in more depth in Spider-Island: Deadly Foes. This one-shot was actually rather pertinent to the main plots of Spider-Island. I would really recommend buying it if you are going to follow this event.
The other new release of the week in this series was Cloak and Dagger’s Spider-Island series #1 of 3. Consider how the Cloak and Dagger duo have floundered for good storytelling of their own, this issue was at surprising level of quality. These two characters have consistently been shoved to the background for the majority of their career, which is a shame because they have the potential to be quite interesting. Writer Nick Spencer and artist Emma Rios begin to tap this potential as they run with Cloak and Dagger’s general awareness that they are under-used as superheroes. I was particularly impressed with the art (as the Marvel panel at Comic-con said that I would be). It is sketchy and gritty and of a style that usually turns me off at first glance – but this time it was absolutely an enhancement to the story.
As much as I liked this story, I have to admit that it is completely forego-able in the general scope of Spider-Island.
Considering how Marvel was making nice speeches alongside DC that they would be controlling their prices, these titles are a bit on the expensive side. Deadly Foes was $4.99, which quickly adds into the $3.99 you’ll be spending for the regular ASM issues. Cloak and Dagger was more reasonably set at $2.99, though considering they are less main-streamed characters, a higher price would hardly have been a profitable idea. Though you’ll be shelling out the cash for this event if you want to follow it in its entirety, at least the books are worth their weight. Deadly Foes was rather hefty one-shot with minimum commercial interruption. It was a dense read that took some time to truly appreciate (as opposed to the comics you pick up, fly through, and five minutes later are looking for something else to read).
Honestly, I would absolutely recommend this Spider-man event for people who aren’t cohesively familiar with the character, yet have some interest due to exposure from the movies or his constant appearances in other titles. The writers, all of them, have done a really good job of making introductions and dropping non-blatant explanations into the story as it progresses. Spider Island would be a great place to begin to dig into what Peter Parker has been up to lately. This is not the same Spider-man that was bit by that spider so many years ago.