Spider City

The Amazing Spider-Man #666

Six! Six Six! The Number of the Beast! Hell! And fire! Were spawned to be released!

Oh, wait, comic books. Okay, so it’s the long-promised beginning — or according to this issue, only the prelude — to the “Spider Island” storyarc, with vast numbers of people all over New York City suddenly getting Spider-Man’s powers. A lot of this story is background — and re-introducing Peter Parker and his supporting cast to new readers. The contagious spider-powers, by the way, come from genetically-modified bedbugs created by the Jackal. We get to see Spidey stopping bank robbers, foiling Hydro-Man with a little super-science, enraging current NYC mayor J. Jonah Jameson, working at his real job as a scientist, getting martial arts training from Shiang-Chi and Madame Web, hanging out with the Future Foundation and the Avengers, and just generally being vastly overworked.

Verdict: Thumbs up. I initially wasn’t real fond of it, ’cause I wanted to get into the “Spider Island” story, but I came around pretty quickly on how important it was to show off Spidey’s current supporting cast and personal problems. I try to stay up on comic book stuff, but wasn’t aware of most of the stuff happening in the Wall-Crawler’s comics. So instead of throwing us into a new story with a bunch of people we don’t know, we get an extra issue to get acquainted with who’s who and what’s what. Besides that, it’s well-written by Dan Slott and very entertainingly illustrated by Stefano Caselli.

Detective Comics #880

The Joker has broken out of Arkham Asylum, and Commissioner Jim Gordon desperately calls his ex-wife Barbara (not Oracle/Batgirl — Babs Gordon is, um, dangit, is Batgirl the daughter, niece, or adopted daughter of the Gordons? SO CONFUSING) because he’s concerned that the Joker may target her the way he’s so often targeted Gordon’s family members. Sure enough, his ex is ambushed, slashed, and dosed with Joker venom. While she recovers, Dick Grayson goes from investigating the crime in the lab to looking for the Joker as Batman, tracking him to Gotham City’s sewers. The Joker is able to tell that Dick isn’t “his” Batman, but reveals that he didn’t attack Barbara Gordon. So who did?

Verdict: Thumbs up. More wonderful, creepy Bat-storytelling from Scott Snyder and rough-edged, dirty, awesome artwork from Jock. Last issue didn’t feature Batman at all, with all the focus on Commissioner Gordon, but this one included more of a mix in emphasis between Gordon and the Dark Knight. I think it worked well.

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