Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artists: Kyle Hotz (p), Eric Powell (i)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
The book opens with Parker's friend John laying out how Parker is going to lay his hands on a shipment of diamonds, but these two have no idea that these diamonds belongs to a crime boss named the Golem, and that a trio of costumed villains (Jack O'Lantern, the Shocker & the Constrictor) have been hired to protect this shipment. As Parker pays a visit to his girlfriend before heading off on this job, we see he has to lie through his teeth to keep her from leaving him, as she's starting to rightly suspect he's keeping secrets from her. We then follow Parker on the job, as we see him use his flying boots & invisibility cloak to sneak aboard a cargo ship & almost get away unseen with a bag full of diamonds. However Madam Rapier, the Golem's chief operative, is able to briefly spot Parker making off with the diamonds, and she sets loose the three super-villains. However, Parker manages to have a spot of luck and he's able to emerge out of this battle alive & seemingly victorious. While he's busy celebrating his success however he accidentally does something that makes him into a wanted fugitive, and his friend John ends up in the hands of the police.
This issue isn't as much fun as the previous issue, as most of the focus is centered upon the action elements of the material, and as such the interaction between Parker & his friend John is largely limited to plot exposition. Now I'll admit I'm a slugfest happy reader, and the battle we get in this issue is a pretty entertaining affair, as Parker manages to luck his way through an encounter with three fairly formidable baddies. This battle is also quite engaging thanks to the rather amusing banter among the three villains, as they almost offer up a running commentary of how the battle is playing out (e.g. Jack O'Lantern's comment after the Shocker blasts his own man). The encounter also leads to a fairly unexpected turn of events, as we see Parker accidentally does something that instantly makes him a marked man, and earns him the notice of the two FBI agents looking for a costumed criminal that they can take down. In fact this issue does a pretty nice job developing a number of reasons why Parker is going to have a rough go of it, as you just know Madam Rapier is going to be paying him a visit before this miniseries ends.
The other thing that Brian K. Vaughan has managed to do is develop a character who is quite easy to relate to in spite of the fact that he's an amoral creep. I mean there's a scene in the early part of this book where Parker is lying through is teeth to his pregnant girlfriend, and I actually found myself wanting to see her accept his lies, as in spite of all the evidence to the contrary, Parker does seem to love this woman. It's a tough balancing act that Brian K. Vaughan is attempting here, as he's offering us a character who's selfish, contemptible, and has been shown an almost eagerness to commit acts of brutal violent, but on the other hand he's also has a nice charming rogue quality to him, and there are moments where the character is genuinely sympathetic. This issue offers up a perfect example of this balance, as the three page scene where Parker deals with his upset girlfriend manages to present both sides of the character, and it also ends with the classic situation where Parker is forced to lie to protect his secret, and we just know this "promise" is going to blow up in his face before it's over.
Kyle Hotz is turning in some great looking work on this project, and I'd even go as far to say that his art is what has convinced me that this is the best miniseries to come out of Marvel in years (at least out of the ones that I've read). The art is a perfect companion to the writing, as the characters have a nice freakish look to them, which is nicely in keeping with their rather questionable behavior. The art also does a great job on the action sequences, as Parker's powers are used to good effect, as he pop in & out of view during the fight, while the more visual attacks to the three villains are on full display. Now I must confess I was rather looking forward to the scene where the Shocker cuts loose at full power, but even though this scene doesn't make an appearance we do get a fairly impressive shot of Parker emptying his guns into the backs of his attackers. The scene where Parker gets himself planted on the FBI's most wanted list was also well handled, as the panel where we discover what he's done is a nice visual shocker. I also continue to love the covers the miniseries is sporting as they are eye-catching, and visually engaging from a design sense.
A fairly solid entry into what is turning out to be one of the more engaging miniseries I'm come across in a good long while, as Brian K. Vaughan has developed a interesting lead character, and what's more he's come up with a fairly engaging plot for this character to be immerse in the middle of. In fact, this miniseries is playing out like a good film noir style story, as we see a flawed character becoming more & more tangled up in a situation that is growing increasingly complex & dangerous. Now this issue isn't quite as strong as the previous issue, as the humorous dialogue that made last issue so much fun is overshadowed by the more action-orientated plot. However, Parker's battle with the three super-villains was easily the highlight of this issue, so the trade isn't too hard to take. This issue also manages to tie all the threads together quite nicely, as by issue's end everyone has a reason to be setting their sights on Parker, who is clearly in way over his head.
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