Let me pose a philosophical question for you: if Spider-Woman #3 was published and no one read it, would it make any difference on the larger narrative for “Spider-Verse?”
Yes boys and girls, cranky Mark is back with another installment of “bemoaning the last three months of my life for investing so much time and money buying, reading and blogging about ‘Spider-Verse.’’ I apparently overstepped my sphere of influence last week when I shared one of my articles with a certain internet community that has a tendency to turn hard and fast on a user if they post something that disagrees with their hive mind. But I know at least in the happy confines of Chasing Amazing, I still have your love and support, even if you think I’m being far too critical on this series.
Anyway, judged solely on its own merits and not in connection to the larger storyline it is allegedly supposed to feed into, there’s nothing all that bad about Spider-Woman #3. Sure it’s got a couple of lowbrow “poop jokes” mixed in, and unless it’s Melissa McCarthy in Bridesmaids, bathroom jokes in general resemble the acts of a desperate writer/comedian. But as I mentioned in my Spider-Woman #2 write-up, there’s still something somewhat charming in the way Dennis Hopeless writes Jessica Drew, and Greg Land’s art continues to be remarkably solid.
Unfortunately, where things go wrong for Spider-Woman #3 is that the entire book’s contents serve as one big $3.99 rehash of events that can be found in other “Spider-Verse” books, most notably Amazing Spider-Man #12-13. I guess if I needed to know exactly HOW Jessica came into possession of those blasted secret scrolls (she fakes diarrhea from Morlun’s shrimp – hence the potty jokes) then Spider-Woman #3 is the “bee’s knees” as Uncle Ben of Earth-whatever would say. But, you know, these days, I expect a little more bang for my buck than recaps.
And yes, I realize that this criticism flies in the face of some of the things I’ve said about other tie-ins and the narrative found in ASM (and let it be said, that once my review of Spider-Verse Team-Up #3 runs later this week, these sentiments will continue). In an effort to clear any potential hypocrisy, let me say that while it’s frustrating that there are some key “Spider-Verse” events transpiring in “B” titles, it’s equally frustrating to read a tie-in comic that introduces absolutely no new information about the characters being featured in the story. No, Jessica’s trip to the bathroom does not qualify as new information.
I still look back at what Marvel accomplished with “Spider Island” and its respective tie-ins in 2011 and don’t understand why it’s so difficult to just follow the same template. The main story was found in Amazing Spider-Man with elements of the plot being augmented via Venom (but not recapped). Meanwhile, the other tie-in books like Spider-Girl and Cloak and Dagger looked at different corners of Marvel’s “street level” universe to get a sense how these characters were dealing with the viral outbreak of “Spider Island.”
The person I feel worst for in all this is a fictitious character. The launch of this new Spider-Woman series and its tie-in to “Spider-Verse” had the potential to connect me to a character (Jessica) that I’ve always been a little cold on. But going back to the very first issue, Hopeless and Land just never delivered that rock solid reintroduction to a character, thereby giving me no reason to truly care about her (if you want to know what I’m talking about in terms of a great No. 1 issue, just read Nick Spencer’s Ant-Man #1).
Judging from the fact that she’s getting a costume change, perhaps that reintroduction is going to run after “Spider-Verse” comes to its conclusion, but to be honest, it might be too late to get me on the Jessica Drew train. A funny and somewhat charming book is all well and good, but at the end of the day, Spider-Woman is a superhero book about a heroine doing awesome things with awesome powers. Watching Jessica fake a bowel movement around an unkillable vampire doesn’t really clue me in on what’s so awesome about the character.
The same opinion can be applied to Silk – who has an even steeper hill to climb in terms of fan engagement since the character was seemingly created only to serve as a plot device for “Spider-Verse.” I still maintain it’s a tad brazen for Marvel to launch Silk in her very own solo series despite the fact there’s been very few people clamoring to get more Silk. But at the very least, her co-starring role in Spider-Woman could have served as a bit of a pilot for the series. Instead, Hopeless and Land deliver a character that likes to talk to cockroaches and seemingly annoy everyone she’s around. These are not reasons to go out and buy this character’s solo series next month.
And again, what’s sad about this is there might actually be an interesting story to tell with Silk, but none of her “success” has come organically. What was it like for her to be stuck in isolation for so long? How does she have such a discernable sense of humor despite being an outcast for so long? Why was Peter so attracted to her? These are questions I’d rather have answered over the course of building the character up before just pulling the trigger on her own solo series. But Marvel has been insistent that Silk was its next “it girl” so we get what we get. Just don’t expect me to read that new series – a sentiment that could have been reversed if these three issues of Spider-Woman were anything more than just fodder for another bloated event.