Review: Spider-Man Spider Island Wrap-Up Books

This week, Marvel's ongoing "Spider Island" event wrapped up (save for the ASM #673 epilogue due next month) with five books. And while there's no doubt in my mind that the main "Amazing Spider-Man" book was the best of the set, I figured I'd run down all five of them.

Spider Island: Deadly Hands of Kung Fu #3

This was probably my least favorite of the multi-issue Spider Island minis, but that doesn't mean I didn't like it. It was an enjoyable read, and the artwork really stood out. I think the only thing that bothered me about this issue is that Shang-Chi was somehow able to "will" himself to a cure, rather than having to wait for the cure Peter provided in ASM 672. I know he's a master of kung fu but that was a little much.

Spider Island: Spider-Girl #3

I keep going back and forth on whether I like this character, but I think most of my animosity toward her is really redirected from my anger at Marvel for canceling the previous Amazing Spider-Girl series. Anya Corozon's adventures with Hobgoblin and Kingpin wrapped up neatly here. I didn't feel like this series tied into the main series as well as some of the others (even Deadly Hands of Kung Fu lead directly into the climax of ASM 672), but the interplay with Anya and Kingpin was good enough that it didn't matter. Things were left open ended enough at the end of the issue to continue into an ongoing should Marvel decide to bring it back (Spider-Girl's series was already canceled after running just 8 issues). If they don't, it serves as a solid conclusion to the character's arc.

Spider Island: Cloak & Dagger #3

I really can't say enough good things about this series, which really had very little to do with Spider Island, but in the big picture that doesn't matter. The art was brilliant, the story was engaging, and the series ended with a wonderful twist that makes me hope to God that Marvel creates a Cloak & Dagger ongoing. In the previous issue, Mr. Negative had used his powers to basically reverse Dagger's "polarity" (for lack of a better term) and in this one, Cloak had to save her to prevent her from using her new power to destroy everything (it works much better on the page than how I've just described it). In the end, Cloak and Dagger end up sharing a kiss that Cloak uses to reverse the sources of their powers. Cloak, who'd previously been based in the darkness, now comes from the light, while Dagger is darkness-based -- complete with the weight that places on her soul. It's a sweet character twist with beautiful costume changes (I demand to see someone do Dark Dagger cosplay immediately) and really demands more story. Make it happen, Marvel.

Venom #8

Unlike Cloak & Dagger, Venom tied directly into the main plot of Spider Island, with this week's issue ending on a cliffhanger that was resolved in ASM #672. But as much as this was about Spider Island, it was even more about Flash Thompson, and his journey as a character. The letter from his father, which was read over the panels as Flash was fighting the Spider Queen (first alone, then alongside Captain America) was heartbreaking, and makes me want to root for Flash to not be overtaken by the Venom symbiote. I wasn't reading this series before Spider Island, but I might start now.

Amazing Spider-Man #672

OK, now we get to the crème de la crème of this week's Spider Island influx: Amazing Spider-Man #672. Dan Slott's run on this series has restored my faith in the flagship Spider-Man title, and Spider-Island has probably been his best set of issues to date. I've particularly loved how he brought Mary Jane Watson back into the title without having to make her Peter's girlfriend, and in the last two issues, she's really had a chance to shine. In 672, she's the one who helps motivate Peter to find a solution to the Spider Island problem, and the solution is inspired (I'm not going to spoil it for those who haven't read it). Slott has done a great job re-emphasizing Peter's science roots, and they come into play in a big way here, as they should. On top of all that, the artwork in this issue is amazing (no pun intended).

Still, I think my favorite thing about ASM #672, and Slott's ASM run in general, is that even as all these epic stories are taking place, it's still a very fun -- and funny -- read. There had to be at least five times I laughed out loud while reading ASM 672, including when Reed explained to MJ exactly why her Spider infection was progressing slower than everyone else's. Peter's quips when he's fighting are back to the level they were at during the comedic heydey of the series.

Obviously the ending of the series begs the questions of what exactly will be the roles of MJ and Peter-clone Kaine going forward, but those lingering threads don't dominate the conclusion, which is all about the strength of Peter Parker as Spider-Man. I'm definitely looking forward to the epilogue, as well as the rest of Slott's run on the series.