Spider-Island #1 Review


Secret War’s Spider-Island, written by Christos Gage, with pencils by Paco Diaz and color by Frank D’armata, came as a pleasant surprise. The original Spider-Island event in 2011 remains one of my favorite Spider-Man arcs of all time, if only for the concept of everyone in New York, including already powered heroes and villains, getting a taste of Spider-Man’s abilities.

Battleworld’s Spider-Island continues the story of the original event, if the final act of said event went differently. In 2011, Spider-Man and company launched a final assault on the Spider-Queen (the cause of the spider-plague and leader of the spider-legions), and with a fastball special courtesy of Ms. Marvel, Peter’s clone Kaine was able to pierce through the queen and end the war.

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In Secret War, Spidey’s final attack failed, and the Spider-Queen’s reign continued, with Agent Venom (Flash Thompson) leading a resistance along with Vision and Spider-Woman. The book features a lot of inner monologue from Agent Venom that helps get the reader up to speed, though some prior knowledge of the event helps. The main points get across though: spider-queen, spider-virus, the lack of a spider-cure.

The overall feel and atmosphere of the comic has a tinge of people vs. monster stories (such as Marvel zombies or Walking Dead), and resistance stories (such as Terminator or Half-Life). The plot of Agent Venom and his band of survivors trying to beat the Spider-Queen and her cohort of Spider-Heroes isn’t groundbreaking or new in terms of storytelling, but I’ll tell you this, it’s still awesome.

What made Spider-Island amazing was seeing the many heroes we know and love play around with spider abilities. The first issue doesn’t disappoint, with Agent Venom and company tangling with the Spider-King Captain America, Spider Captain Marvel, and most importantly the six-armed, confused, Spider-Hulk! One thing to note is that there isn’t a lot of action with substance throughout the issue; there’s a few shots of Agent Venom shooting at spider-hordes, but mostly it’s a couple panels of Flash and friends running away or getting knocked around. There’s definitely more room to be explored with the cast they have and the type of action/fight they could portray, but hopefully that’ll be explored in the upcoming issues. /

Even though the plot is predictable, there are some unexpected elements to the story that combine certain avenues of the Marvel Universe. In order to convert their former allies from the spider-virus, Agent Venom uses various other items from the Marvel U to transform them into something else entirely. He gets this idea from Jack Russell, who’s a mindless spider drone by day, and werewolf by night.

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Flash uses the Godstone to turn Captain America into a Man-Wolf, gives the serum that made Morbius into vampire to Captain Marvel, and directs Hulk to drink the Lizard serum, turning them into the respective transformation. It’s ideas like utilizing known items that have transformed other Marvel characters to combat the spider-virus that keeps the comic fresh, and lends new ideas to the Spider-Island concept while sticking with a metamorphic vibe.The issue ends with Spider-Iron Man and Spider-Iron Fist barging through the doors, with the good guys caught between them and their “friends,” and I’m psyched for the battle to come.

I always loved Humberto Ramos’s art in the original event of issues thereafter, but Paco Diaz’s style suits the comic well. His Venom has great proportions and textures (his textures are nicely detailed in general, from Hulk Lizard scales to the spider and wolf-man’s hair) and his spider-takes on the heroes are menacing. Plus, you have to give him props for drawing so many spider-minions and silhouettes. The environment and set pieces have a simple design but practical application, and I’m interested in seeing how he’ll draw the more in-depth fight scenes.

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