Marvel unveiled a bunch of details last week about their next mega-event “Spider Island.” The storyline – which focuses on an infestation in New York City where everybody is given spider-powers – looks to be massive, with a number of new titles and existing ones reportedly tying into Amazing Spider-Man, dizzying both the collector side and the reader side of me.
It’s not that I begrudge Marvel for doing this. As I was reading news release after news release last week about all of the tie-ins, it got me thinking that this was probably the biggest Spider-Man event since 1993’s Maximum Carnage. Surely, it was impossible that Marvel had gone nearly 18-years between mega-crossovers with their most famous character, but then a recent interview with Marvel senior vice president of publishing Tom Brevoort confirmed my suspicions about the gap.
By my count, if you’re looking to read all of the Spider Island material when it launches in August, in addition to Amazing Spider-Man, there are four new miniseries: Spider Island: Cloak and Dagger, Spider Island: Deadly Foes, Spider Island: The Amazing Spider-Girl and Spider Island: Deadly Hands of Kung Fu, as well as a tie-in with one of Marvel’s newest title’s, Venom. Not to mention series where Spidey is already very active, like the Fantastic Four, aka, FF, and the Avengers, where I’m sure there will be some kind of a tie-in.
These mega-events/crossovers have always given me some pause as a collector – that’s part of the reason why I settled on just sticking with Amazing Spider-Man. If I bought and saved every issue that was relevant to the Spider-Man universe, I’d go broke and need to rent a separate house to hold all of the short-boxes. That’s why when people ask me about my quest, and want to know if I also collect other Spider-Man series, I tell them no. Of course, I have SOME of these comics – just speaking as a reader, why wouldn’t I want to own other series that tied into major events in Spider-Man’s life? For example, Maximum Carnage was a huge deal when it first came out because in addition to involving two Spider-Man villains who were huge with my classmates – Venom and Carnage – the series also pulled in other major Marvel characters like Captain America, Morbius, Iron Fist, Cloak and Dagger and others. I had to buy all of the tie-ins, because missing out on that felt like I was missing out on some kind of milestone event.
Of course Maximum Carnage ended up being a letdown. The abridged version: at 14 parts, Carnage just seemed exhaustive, with guest appearances that felt forced or unnecessary. Carnage is/was a one-dimensional character as is – a serial killer who bonds with parts of the alien symbiote that’s been torturing Spider-Man all the way back to Amazing Spider-Man 252. It’s hard to stretch so much content out of a villain who just kills for the sake of killing and while the storyline touched upon the whole “Will Spider-Man betray his values and actually ‘kill’ Carnage,” concept, I never remember feeling that engaged to Peter/Spidey’s ethical struggle.
I’m going into Spider Island with higher expectations, only because current head Amazing Spider-Man writer Dan Slott has recently taken the character in a different direction. Some changes have been more subtle than others. Taking away his Spidey sense powers – a move I still take umbrage with but will be interested to see how it ties into Spider Island – is obviously a bigger change for the character. But I also appreciate how Slott is also focusing on the Peter Parker character, giving him a real job and a new girlfriend. While the fact that Peter is a bit of a “loser” has always been a major component of the Spider-Man character, it was getting pretty pathetic before Slott took over as sole-writer, as it seemed like Spidey was just never able to catch a break in his personal life.
And like with Maximum Carnage, I don’t want to be left out of what Spider Island is going to offer this summer. We’ll see how much some of the more distantly-related miniseries like Cloak and Dagger and Deadly Hands of Kung Fu hold my attention, but I want to be open-minded here. And of course if there’s anything in any of these crossovers that ties into my passion/understanding of the Spider-Man character and universe, I’ll jot down a rambling passage like this one for all of you to enjoy.
I just can’t believe that it’s really been this long since the last major Spider-Man Marvel event. My collection was only in its infancy when Maximum Carnage launched – I probably didn’t own an issue that predated the late 1980s at that point. Is it just a coincidence that as I get into the home-stretch of my amazing quest that Spider Island is on the horizon? The big overarching theme I hope you get out of this site is that the notion of collecting Spider-Man comics is as much about a connection to my childhood as it is a hobby and an investment. Even though Maximum Carnage left me flat after the fact, the excitement I experienced around each subsequent issue – who was going to show up next? How was Spider-Man going to stop this guy – is still a very fond memory of mine. My anticipation for Spider Island is bringing me back to that place.