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Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #3

Posted: Friday, December 9, 2005
By: Kelvin Green



“Spider-Man: The Other--Evolve or Die Part Seven: Bowing to the Inevitable"

Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Artists: Mike Wieringo (p), Karl Kesel (i)

Publisher: Marvel Comics


As I expected, with Straczynski’s arrival, “the Other” starts to improve significantly. Granted, there’s still a very long way to go until this moribund storyline could be considered good, but JMS does manage to drag the flaccid story up to the dizzy heights of “readable.”

Just about, anyway. Morlun gets written out (again), and we’re left with no explanation behind his involvement in the story, beyond a role as a walking plot device, and even then, there’s no reason why any other villain couldn’t have done the job. We also get one of Marvel’s increasingly common non-cliffhangers; Straczynski tries his very best to make this issue’s events seem like they matter, and he more or less succeeds, apart from that niggling certainty that nothing that happens here will stick. Not to mention that the momentous events all have too much familiarity to them to stand out as the creators obviously want them to. Morlun’s hanging around, this episode has Spidey mutating into a monster form, and upcoming issues apparently feature Spider-Man entering some sort of egg-pod and emerging rejuvenated and re-energised; that last one happened not much more than a year ago and the general impression, fortified by last episode’s “remix” of an issue from 2001, is that the Spider-office aren’t even reading their own books anymore.

Wieringo and Kesel turn in some great art, and even though the general style is still that cartoony Don Bluth-esque look, the art never clashes with the darker tone of the plot. It would be a stretch to say that Wieringo’s art is actually suited to the body horror and extreme violence we get here, but it’s not woefully inappropriate, and given that the same commissioning editors are behind this and Pat “Is That Suppose To Be A Person?” Lee, that’s something of a surprise. The art team also do a great job with the Not Avengers, yet again showing up David Finch’s work on the main title. If Marvel are going to continue to keep John Romita Jr. away from Spider-Man, Wieringo and Kesel are an acceptable replacement.

This really isn’t a bad issue at all, not least because something actually happens, but it should have been Part Three of this ridiculously overextended story, not Part Seven. Finally the plot gets into gear, and I’m now actually interested in the next issue, rather than being deathly afraid of how inept it’ll be, but it's too little too late to save the crossover as a whole, which has been ill-conceived and badly constructed. Yeah, this is probably the best issue of “The Other” so far, but the story as a whole is still an awful mess, and I’d not recommend it to anyone.



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