Comics : Astonishing Spider-Man & Wolverine #5

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This story is part of an Arc: "Another Fine Mess"
     Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4 / Part 5 / Part 6

This review was first published on: Apr 2011.

Background...

Wolverine & Spidey are about to find out who's been pulling the strings behind their time-spanning adventure: the murderous, TV-obsessed alien Mojo!

In Detail...

Astonishing Spider-Man & Wolverine #5
Apr 2011 : SM Title
Summary: Mojo appears
Arc: Part 5 of "Another Fine Mess"
Editor In Chief:  Axel Alonso
Editor:  Nick Lowe
Writer:  Jason Aaron, Justin Posner
Artist:  Adam Kubert
Inker:  Mark Roslan
Lettering:  Rob Steen
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Review

The story opens with a plot recap in the form of a madcap reality show starring the heroes, being watched by Mojo, who berates his underlings for the show's lack of 'sexiness'. One of Mojo's crew reminds him of "the girl", the one they've been making Spider-man dream about (and the one who Spidey made wood carvings of in the far-flung past in the opening issue). Mojo's crew was hoping to set her up as a potential love interest down the road. "Spider-man in a long and lasting relationship? Now THERE'S something we haven't seen before!" Mojo tells his crew the idea is brilliant and to make it happen.

A film crew is introduced, who are tasked with the job of shooting behind the scenes footage of Mojo working on his show. He explains that he's found a way to travel and span time, and can film on location anywhere, anytime in history. He's interrupted by Czar--who along with his partner, Big Murder, has come to talk to Mojo. Czar says Mojo isn't giving him the credit for bringing Mojo the timestick and diamonds. Mojo says he's paid Czar off well enough, and has bought the right to tell his version of events his own way. Mojo asks why Czar isn't out giving Spidey and Wolverine grief. Czar says there's a problem, that the two heroes got one of his time-shifting diamonds, and that they're travelling time on their own. Czar says the diamonds are unpredictable and the two could be lost in time forever, or--at that moment, Spidey and Wolvie materialize in the intergalactic space studio, and the two begin to mix it up with Czar and Big Murder.

Spidey falls on the girl, who explains in a one-on-one interview with the film crew that one day she was working in a bank, and the next, bouncing around through time. Spidey extends a hand to help her up, but all are frozen in place by Czar. He gets a diamond to place on Wolverine, to get rid of him through time again. Before he can, Wolverine ignites into flames.

Able to move again, Wolverine extends his claws and prepares to attack Czar. Wolverine tells him if he's so smart Czar would come back in time to warn himself about all the things Wolverine is about to do to him. Right at that moment, a wizened, elderly version of Czar with a robotic hand appears, telling his past self to kill WOlverine or Czar is dead, and that "the whole damn world (is) at risk". Future Czar says to get out of the way, that he'll kill Wolverine himself. Modern-time Czar tells him not to be "coming in here, stepping on my plans and $#@!", that he won't be disrespected, not even by himself. As they squabble, Wolverine slices off Czar's hand off-panel, and comes back holding the diamond-encrusted baseball bat with Czar's hand still gripping it, which makes Spidey squirm. Modern-time Czar screams at his elderly future self, asking why didn't he tell him that was about to happen? Cue another future version of Czar, with an afro and a metallic stump where his hand was, who pops out of a portal from the future trying to warn himself but coming in too late.

Spidey and Wolverine have time-jumped yet again, using the bat. Wolverine says the stick has taken them to the diamonds source. They are in a forest with diamond-bearing trees. Wolverine, his eyes glowing with flame, explains that they're on a planet that'll never survive long enough to be named, as it's core is unstable. It'll soon explode, scattering the diamonds throughout the cosmos, which will hit Earth sometime around the cretaceous period. Wolverine starts putting the diamonds on his claws, telling Spidey to grab all he can, and that they're going back in time to finish things.

Back in Mojo's studio, the old, modern, and new Czar are arguing amongst themselves. Modern Czar pulls out a gun and shoots his future self. Afro Czar says he just shot himself. Czar says if he turns out to be such a pathetic old man, he'd want someone to shoot him. Afro Czar says "I hear that. Damn, you cold." A portal begins to open, and Afro Czar says to his past self, "I forgot to tell you, this doesn't end well at all." Spidey and Wolverine appear, covered in the diamonds. Spidey kicks Afro Czar, saying "check it out--diamonds on the soles of my shoes. Get it? Tell me somebody gets it?" and then mumbles to himself that nobody appreciates the classics anymore. Spidey hits Big Murder once, turning him into a baby with the diamonds. Wolvie battles with Czar, and the strange flame begins to overttake him again. Spidey narrates that you can't fool around with time as much as he and Logan have without repercussions--the last page shows Wolverine being engulfed by the Dark Phoenix force.

In General...

This is one mini-series that I'm truly going to miss when it ends. The blend of offbeat and fantastical here is perfect. Thinking about the mechanics of the plot too much doesn't help things, however (Czar has the time-shifting diamonds, making him a master of time and space-- he can take anything he wants from any time period, the least of which being money--so why even throw in with Mojo?).

Minor nitpicking aside, there's much to like here, from the colorful villains Czar and Big Murder (I found Czar fighting with his two future selves to be comedy gold), to Mojo's over-the-top demands and ironic dialogue. I liked Spidey's fairly lame Paul Simon reference too. Next issue shows the Dark Phoenix force taking over Wolverine, which I'm surprised no one at Marvel has attempted to do before.

Overall Rating...

Very funny, and an extremely fun read. Jason Aaron's story-juggling is coming together very well in this penultimate issue. The backgrounds of many of the panels are a litle empty for my liking, but Adam Kubert's art here stuns, as usual. The man is delivering some of his career-best artwork on this book. Makes waiting on this bi-monthly (at best) limited series all the more worth it.

Favorite line of this issue: as Czar and Big Murder are being interviewed by the film crew, Czar says "Kang The Conqueror? Kang the Ain't-Never- Conquered-$#*@ is more like it", to which Big Murder affirms with a simple "Word".

Footnote...

The title "Another Fine Mess" appears no where in this issue, but as all the other issues were titled that, I thought I would follow suit here.