Current Reviews


Spider-Man Unlimited #2

Posted: Wednesday, March 10, 2004
By: Jason Cornwell

Writers: Adam Higgs and J.T. Krul
Artists: Rick Mays and Paul Azaceta (p), Rick Mays and Scott Koblish (i)

Publisher: Marvel Comics

The Plot:
In the opening story we see Spider-Man efforts to grade the papers of his students while in costume are made difficult when he has to rescue yet another window washer who has tumbled off the side of a building. The second story looks in on Mary Jane who has come to the realization that she is being praised for doing very little, while her husband is actively ridiculed and hated for his continued efforts to better society. However, Peter is able to convince her that she does play a very important role.

The Good:
Not a bad second issue to what it turning out to be a somewhat engaging environment for Marvel to let untested writers to show what they can do with one of the company's flagship characters. Now the nature of this book's format means that the writers aren't really allowed to make any lasting changes to the character, and having two stories in every issue the writers aren't allowed all that much room to tell their stories. Still both writers manage to deliver engaging stories that I rather enjoyed, and I have to say both stories do a better job playing with the supporting elements of the Spider-Man books than the regular titles. I mean Mary Jane has been little more that a occasional background element in the main titles (not including Ultimate Spider-Man), and as such it was nice to get a better look at what she's been up to since her return. The opening story manages to give us a look at how Peter manages to balance the demands of his day job as a teacher with his rather hectic lifestyle. In fact if nothing else it's nice to see a story acknowledge that being a teacher requires more than the occasional appearance in a classroom setting. Now neither story manages to really break out and convince me that these writers are going the be future stars, but than again I'm sure if I was to track down the first efforts of Marvel's current heavy-hitters, I'd have this same feeling. The story are entertaining enough that I'll stick with title for however long it lasts, and I'm not simply saying this because I've an obsessive completist when it comes to Spider-Man.

The art of Rick Mays on the opening story was a welcome sight as his art has a nice animated quality to it that works exceptionally well in Spider-Man's corner of the Marvel Universe. In fact his work on the story's brief bit of action left me a bit disappointed that there really much action for him to deliver, as the art did a wonderful job capturing the character's fluid motion as he jumps through the traffic snatching up the dropped test papers. As for the work of Paul Azaceta on the second story I found myself rather impressed by the down-to-earth quality that the art managed to give the character of Mary Jane without losing sight of the idea that the character is supposed to be a super model. I mean there's some nice work on the scene where she being interviewed about her new movie, and the art manages to clearly convey the idea that in spite of the rather silly nature of the movie's plot, Mary Jane's answers are heartfelt. the art also manages to sell the character's growing sense of concern as she realizes what she does isn't all that important in the larger picture, and one has to love the sad quality of that shot of her sitting by herself in the back of the limo.

The Bad:
I'm not a city planner, and I've never been to the city of New York, but simple logic would seem to make the presence of the city dump in the downtown core a true oddity. I mean I'm sure there some health issues at play, but one wound think the civic planners would be reluctant to place such an unpleasant reminder of city living in such a highly trafficked area. I realize that it was a throwaway scene that led to the final page line, but in order for a joke like this to work there has to be a degree of plausibility to it, and frankly the joke wasn't funny enough that I'm willing to look the other way. The story also suffers from the simple fact that the big threat Spider-Man encounters is quite conventional, as Spider-Man must have save literally dozens of falling window washers, and as such this scenario has long since lost its ability to convince me that the guy is going to hit the pavement before Spider-Man can rescue him. As for the second story, I found the final speech Peter delivers to address Mary Jane's doubts felt a bit too much like a speech that the writer had come up with than something one would expect from Peter. In fact one of the more endearing qualities about the character of Peter Parker is that he's always been a bit awkward with his personal relationships, and this is nicely contrasted by his behavior as Spider-Man, where one is left with the impression that he's super-confident. I guess what I'm trying to say here is that Peter simply isn't the type of character who is this effective at quelling a loved one's concerns.

To Sir, With Love:
A enjoyable enough exercise that I'm convinced Marvel should keep this book around if the sales numbers aren't all that bad, as so far the new writers have managed to offer up stories that I found quite entertaining. This issue manages to play with elements in Peter's world that haven't been given all that much attention in the main titles, as the opening story offers up a look at how Peter's duties as a teacher mesh with his role as a costumed crime fighter, while the second offers up a solid character study as we see Mary Jane is confronted by the knowledge that her job makes a minimal impact on the world, but she's subjected to the adoration of the public while her husband is subjected to their collective scorn, in spite of his continued efforts at making the world a better place. Now the first story tries a little too hard when it comes to it's humor, as a result there's a couple groans, while the second story suffers from a final speech that feel a little too well spoken for the character of Peter Parker, but for the most part their efforts are solid enough that I encourage Marvel to give them both another kick at the can.

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