Current Reviews


Spectacular Spider-Man #20

Posted: Friday, October 29, 2004
By: Jason Cornwell

"Changes, Part 4"

Writer: Paul Jenkins
Artists: Paco Medina (p), Juan Vlasco (i)

Publisher: Marvel

With Spider-Man fully transformed into a giant spider, we soon learn Peter's situation is even worse as we learn he's a pregnant giant spider. As the rest of the Marvel Universe engage in a frantic search for the Queen's bomb, we see Peter, the giant spider dies, and Peter the slightly altered human emerges from the husk that is left. We than see Peter quickly defeats the Queen, defuses the bomb, and discovers he has some new powers.

There comes a time when a story gets so bad that any attempt at criticizing the material feels like it's utterly pointless, as if any Spider-Man fan can read this story and not recognize it's garbage than it's a truly sad day for the character. Now I like Paul Jenkins, and during his time on Spider-Man he's delivered several stories that I would consider worthy additions to a Best of Spider-Man volume. However, this latest arc has gone from a bad idea, into outright camp, and by the end I was desperately looking for some sign that Paul Jenkins realized how badly this story had gone off the rails. In any event, it is worth noting that Paul Jenkins didn't put much thought into the big finish, as the means that is used to change Peter back into a human is delivered in such an offhanded manner that one almost has to feel sorry for the readers who were emotionally invested in the whole transformation plot. Now chances are this issue is going to become a sought after collector's item, as the final pages do offer up a pretty major change in Peter's world, and while I'm not going to spoil the surprise, I will say that these changes are likely to divide fans, and that I'll reserve my judgement until I get a better look at how these changes impact Peter's life. If nothing else it should be interesting watching him adjust to these changes. I'll also confess I did enjoy the scene where Captain America praises Spider-Man, as it's not often that the character gets a pat on the back for his efforts.

To tell the truth my enjoyment of the art swings up and down far more than it should. Now there are moments when the art manages to do a wonderful job capturing the visual excitement of the key developments, from the death of the giant spider, to the scene where our heroes finds themselves surrounded by an army of drones. However, there are also numerous scene where the art adopts stylistic choices that serve to bring a sense of visual confusion to the book, and the expressions of the various characters are so wildly over the top, that it's difficult to take the material seriously. Than again given the silly plot the art is being called upon to deliver, my inability to take the material seriously might not be the fault of the art. Still, one does have to wonder if the story might've played better if the art had been able to project a more horrific vibe.

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