"Spider-Man: The Other--Evolve or Die Part Four: Bargaining"
Writer: Reginald Hudlin
Artists: Mike Wieringo (p), Karl Kesel (i)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Well, I wasn't expecting much, as I've heard nothing but bad things about Hudlin's Marvel work so far, but this isn't awful, which is a step up for this moribund crossover. There are a couple of really clunky moments in the script, such as a clumsy revival of the utterly wrong-headed "Is-MJ-having-an-affair-with-Iron-Man" plot and a faintly baffling sequence involving a truncated visit to a temple devoted to a spider-god, but on the whole this is a solid and readable little tour of Marvelís Earth as Peter searches for a cure to his condition. I'm also pleasantly surprised at the pacing; given Marvel's tendencies of late, I'd have expected this quest for the cure to go on for a good three or four issues, but it's all done in one here, and while such story pacing is a bit disconcerting due to its relative novelty nowadays, the comic never actually feels rushed. Hudlin also does a good job of characterising the various experts Spidey visits, although his Black Panther sounds just off as he did in his own series.
So far, so good, except the storyline as a whole is still moving at a sub-glacial pace. This is the fourth chapter now, and we now know that Spidey has an incurable illness. Which we also knew in the last chapter. So all we've got this issue is an in-story confirmation as opposed to plot details being given away in the "Previously..." blurb, and a Jeph Loeb-esque tour of some notable Marvel personalities. Oh, and Morlun pops up again to be all vague and mysterious but not actually contribute anything to the plot. All in all, the general feeling is that the storyline is falling behind itself.
Wieringo and Kesel do their usual fine art job, but my gosh, I'm going to need emergency retinal surgery as a result of Paul Mounts' insane colouring. I don't know if it's just my copy, but everything is so bright and garish that my eyes actually started to shut down from visual overload at certain points. I mean, the Hulk isn't supposed to burn with the fury of a thousand (green) supernovas, is he? Perhaps I picked up a glow-in-the-dark-and-gives-you-cancer-if-you-hold-it-too-long variant.
This isn't a bad issue in itself, but it does very little to drive forward an already-floundering storyline, and we're still no clearer as to what this big event is actually about. Hudlin deserves praise for delivering an entertaining issue against all expectations, while his bosses deserve to be taken out back and beaten with sticks for forcing this nonsensical crossover on us.
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