Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Marvel Adventures Spider-Man - Awesome, Fun, and with Extra Berserker Rage

One of the knocks comics routinely gets these days is that they're for kids. It's like somehow if you reach an age where you're old enough to drive and convince the guy at the liquor store you're 21, some magic gland in your brain activates and that makes you completely disinterested in comics. I think medical science has long since disproved this bullshit theory and Marvel has routinely proved with it's Marvel Adventure series that even a comic directed towards kids can still be pretty awesome.

Until they fix that seizure inducing art on Ultimate Spider-Man, Marvel Adventures will be my soul source for Spider-Man awesome for the foreseeable future. I know the landmark One Moment In Time came out this past week, but I couldn't make it through that book without wanting to shit bowling balls through my mouth (spoilers: it sucks rhino jizz). But Marvel Adventures has no such taint. Paul Tobin has kept Spider-Man in his element and it's made for some wonderful stories with some intriguing twists. Those stories continue here in Spider-Man #3 while throwing in a few guest stars to share in the awesome of this series.

It starts out with Spider-Man and his girlfriend, Chat, paying a visit to the Blond Phantom Detective Agency that's run by Chat's gal pal, Emma Frost. Apparently, she's been hired by some fancy cosmetics company wants to make a gel inspired by Wolverine's badass persona and they're paying the agency big bucks to spy on him and make sure that using his likeness won't turn into another Tiger Woods style debacle. Granted, this sounds like a major WTF moment where I would make a drug reference to the writer, but in the context of this series it actually works pretty damn well and you don't need some extra potent weed to wrap your head around it. Far as I'm concerned, it's a success!

So Spider-Man and Chat have their jobs, but before they can begin they have to make it through that other great obstacle in Peter Parker's life...High School. Here another plot that began a few issues ago is brewing. Carter Tornio, who has ties to the Tornio crime family, is looking to start a Spider-Man appreciation society. This certainly puts Peter in an awkward position because he's been looking to bring down this kid's family. Yet for some reason, Carter has this 'hero worship' thing going on as he describes it. Either he's got some serious parenting issues or he's scheming on behalf of his old man. That's not clear, but what is clear is that Peter is about as comfortable as a horse in a glue factory. Not only is this kid sending him mixed messages about his intentions, he's also showing a lot of interest in Gwen Stacy. That adds to what is already a growing level of tension that captures the classic high school drama that readers know, love, and still have nightmares about.

But enough of the high school shit. The bulk of this comic is spent with Spidy seeking out Wolverine and that's where the true awesome resides. He gets some added help from Chat and her army of willing animals as he scours the city after school, looking for Wolverine and making sure that it's okay for some soulless cosmetics company to make billions off using his name. It may very well be the least heroic act anyone has ever done in the history of a comic book.

From here, the action is purely observational. He finds Wolverine casually walking the streets of New York in his leather jacket and overall badass persona. As Peter starts watching him, he sees a few guest stars pop into the picture. Wolverine meets up with Storm and Shadowcat briefly and apparently in this universe he's not too familiar with the X-men because he has to pick his jaw up off the ground when he sees them use their powers. It seems a bit unnecessary for a guy that can stick to walls, but Tobin makes it work.

But Wolvie isn't just out to mingle with friends. It doesn't take long for him to flash his badassery. When he parks his motorcycle right in front of this very nice car that happens to be owned by a very mean-looking thug, fists start flying. It's not much of a fight for Wolverine because he ends it quickly by just shedding his claws and shredding the douche-bag's precious car. For anyone who has ever had to park around some super expensive car that's taking up more than one space, this should bring a smile to your face.

That fight ends quickly and Wolverine goes back to mingling with his X-buddies. Peter and Chat continue to follow him and wouldn't you know it, Jean Grey makes an appearance. Considering her status in the comics is always in question and any medium she does appear in tends to fuck her up beyond recognition (looking at you Forever and post-Ultimatum Ultimate) this is a refreshing sight. The presence of Jean in the Marvel Adventures universe is a welcome addition and it showcases the friendship between Logan and Jean that has so often been overshadowed by a certain fiery parrot. Hopefully, this isn't the last time she shows up in the Marvel Adventures universe.

While the presence of other X-characters is nice, this less-than-destructive plot can't go on forever. Somebody has to screw up and a fight has to break out. That happens pretty quickly because Spider-Man soon finds out that while Wolverine is pretty friendly with the X-ladies, he doesn't take kindly to being followed around by a kid in a suit. In his typical Wolverine brand of overreacting, he confronted Spider-Man in a way only he can. And by confront I mean with claws and several levels of pissed off.

So Spidy has some 'splaining to do. He manages to say just enough to spare him a healthy dose of Wolvie berserker rage. But before all is said and done, another string of guest stars enter. This time, it isn't the X-men. It's actually the same douche-bag thugs that Wolverine screwed over last time. Apparently, they were late for their latte and still steaming about their car being shredded. So when they see Spidy and Wolverine, they're understandably stoked as douche-bags so often are about getting a little payback.

What follows next is a classic Spider-Man/Wolverine team up. Just the mere mention of those words should stimulate the enlarged awesomeness gland hard wired into every fanboy's brain. Take a wise-cracking high school kid and team him up with a razor clawed badass and you've got a perfect mixture of awesome. This time the thugs don't just go away either. They came prepared to fight with chains, brass knuckles, and what not. Anyone without powers would have soiled their underwear from such a sight, but Spidy and Wolverine make it awesome and fun. In many ways it's a perfect statement of why the Marvel Adventure universe is so great and certain elements of the 616 continuity suck harder than Paris Hilton at an NBA all-star game.

The fight is nicely played out over the next few pages. While Wolverine holds his own, Spider-Man ends up getting a little overwhelmed. Some Spidy fans may cry foul when seeing their favorite web-head get beat down by a bunch of powerless thugs, but it's important to remember that in Marvel Adventures Spidy is still just a teenager. He's still refining his superhero act. That means along the way he's going to have some growing pains and sometimes those pains come in the form of being overwhelmed, knocked to the ground, and stomped on by a bunch of self-indulgent thugs. In this case that's not an exaggeration. That's what actually happened.

Now you would expect at one point that Logan comes over and helps the kid out. But since he's too busy enjoying the beatdown, another familiar Marvel face comes in and helps Spider-Man out. Again, it's not an X-man. It's actually not even a hero this time. It's a guy who's been popping up in the last few issues of this series. He wasn't in costume before. Now he is. That's right, it's Bullseye and just when it looks like Spidy is going to require a trip to the emergency room, Bullseye shows off his skills by hitting each thug with a perfect suprisingly non-lethal strike (it's a kids comic, did you really expect there to be blood?).

Spider-Man is understandably confused, but he can't be too upset since Bullseye spared him from a world of pain. He doesn't get much a chance to thank him either. Bullseye doesn't stick around. He picks up and leaves the scene, but not before he makes the standard bad guy ominous threat that he'll be back and next time he won't be so kid friendly. It helps set the stage for the next story and sets up Bullseye to be Spidy's next foe. If this doesn't hook you on this series, then you need to more crack in your diet.

So the fight is won and the bad guys are gone. Spider-Man is still woozy, but manages to catch up with Chat and Wolverine. The Blond Phantom is even nice enough to join as well. Everything seems to have worked out. Wolverine finds out about this whole hair gel plot and offers to go along with it, but not without taking advantage of it as he's so prone to do. He manages to talk Emma into buying him dinner, which by default asks her out on a date. She accepts and Peter along with the rest of every man in comic fandom is left fuming with envy. How a guy like Wolverine gets all the hot poon in Marvel is beyond unfair, but it's perfectly in line with who he is and you can't ask for much more than that when it comes to ending this comic.

I know I already said it earlier, but it's worth saying again. Marvel Adventures is an awesome series and Paul Tobin does a bang-up job writing these stories. This comic brought together all the elements of what makes this series great. Not only did it tell a novel and compelling story, moved the overall plot with Peter and his life as Spider-Man along within the context of this unique continuity. It gives readers plenty of incentive to pick up the next issue and appeals to those classic Marvel lovers who cherish every Spider-Man/Wolverine team up. It's certainly an improvement over the last issue and offers a complete package demonstrating just how great this series can be.

Even though this is marketed as a kids comic, it has all the elements that make other comics like Blackest Night and X-Force so awesome. Because of this I cannot give it anything less than a perfect 5 out of 5. I truly couldn't find many flaws in it. Everything is put together perfectly. It actually makes the reader wish Tobin would add in more books to the Marvel Adventures series. If this is the only series where we can have no One More Day style retcons, a live Jean Grey, and a world that isn't utterly destroyed for shock value (glares at Ultimatum) then there's no reason not to pick it up and celebrate it! Marvel Adventures Spider-Man is awesome and deserves all the respect the mature comics garner. Fuck One More Day. Fuck One Moment in Time. Fuck Ultimatum. Nuff said.

1 comment:

  1. Crap, I just read this review NOW after how many months this issue has been out. I was always wondering if Jean would ever show up in this particular Spider-Man title. Now that I know she's popped up without any heavy baggage, I might have to go to the comic book store and pick up this issue (if it's available.) And speaking of this title, these stories always seem so fun and while it has its moments of action and adventure, it's not so deep to where it'll leave you wanting to slice your wrists or angst over your favorite character dying.