Comics : Astonishing Spider-Man & Wolverine #6

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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: Jun 2011.

Background...

Spider-man and Wolverine have discovered their time displacement is from being caught in a cosmic reality show propagated by none other than Mojo.

In Detail...

Astonishing Spider-Man & Wolverine #6
Jun 2011 : SM Title
Summary: Dark Phoenix Wolverine
Arc: Part 6 of "Another Fine Mess"
Editor In Chief:  Axel Alonso
Editor:  Nick Lowe
Writer:  Jason Aaron
Artist:  Adam Kubert
Inker:  Mark Roslan
Lettering:  Rob Steen
Colorist:  Justin Ponsor
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Spider-man recaps the general story as Wolverine floats above, glowing and fiery, possessed by the Dark Phoenix force. "So here's the end of the world--yet again" intones Spidey.

Flash forward (backward) to the distant past, this time, the old West; Peter has dozed off during a picnic and is awakened by the woman from the bank, who is identified by Peter as Sara Bailey. She says they should get back as they have an appointment with a certain someone who doesn't like when they're late. Peter says time is one thing he's learned not to care about, with a close up of a large tree with Pete and Sara's initials carved on.

Peter reflects that they've been in the 19th century for some 3 and a quarter years, that he's stopped being Spider-man, is now an "occasional outlaw rustler" with "the world's first solar-powered log cabin, a pair of six-shooters that spray webbing, two mules named Ben and May", and his new love, Sara.

They go to meet Logan, who's decked out in full Indian Chief regalia. He tells Peter and Sara they're late, and why shouldn't he have them scalped? Later, the gang is all around a campfire with Chief Logan's tribe; Peter is telling the story of Wolverine destroying Planet Doom and how the Phoenix Force then got in him, and what happened on Mojoworld. Logan takes over and says Spider-man does what he does best: he simply talked him down from his destructive urge to destroy the whole world as Dark Phoenix Wolverine.

Logan says he's not good with words, but extending a lone claw, he slices his own palm and does the same to Peter (says Pete: "Umm, a thank you card would've been fine, really..oww!!). Logan says they'll always be opposites and drive eachother crazy, but from here on out, they'll be something else, and grasp bloody palms over the campfire.

Later, Logan and Peter are reflecting on things they miss, how there are no more glowing, time-shifting diamonds to be found, and that the single diamond Peter has left doesn't glow anymore (juxtaposed with panels flashing back to Mojoworld, showing The Orb, Czar and baby Big Murder, and Mojo himself being pulled into portals by the mysterious Minutemen). Peter says he intends to ask Sara to marry him, and has the last time-diamond on a ring to offer her.

Peter says everything they've been through has been worth it because it led him to Sara, that they were destined to find eachother. Pete drones on, not noticing that the engagemnent diamond begins to glow green. Suddenly, the sleeping Sara is being pulled into a time portal by Minutemen, and Peter and Logan are to slow to stop them.

One of the Minutemen (explained in a caption as "a police force for the time stream") claim they are apprehending Peter and Logan for "charges of temporal larceny, reckless chronological endangerment and wanton disregard for continuity!". Pete and Logan try to fight, but they are pulled through time portals themselves.

They appear back in the bank heist of the first issue. Sara is there, but doesn't recognize Peter as Spider-man, her memory wiped by the time reordering. Spider-man asks why wasn't his memory also reset?

Over a series of panels, Spider-man reflect on how there always has to be a point, a reason why things happen the way they do: Wolverine drinking alone in a bar; one of the Orb's thugs who escaped the bank heist with a sack of the diamonds. He offers them to Czar, who says "I'm a drug dealer, fool--what the hell the Czar want with diamonds?" Wolverine's father or brother in the past, finds the diamond stash in the mine, and time travels. In modern time, the X-Men's Beast says he is "struck by vague intuition (to) build something--called a phoenix gun". A panel of Dr. Doom observing Ego the Living Planet on a monitor screen, thinking "hmm..". A panel of Czar admiring the diamonds and telling Big Murder to fetch his bat. A few panels of modern-day Sara Bailey walking down the street, oblivious past handbills on a wall advertising the "Lost Statues Of The Mesozoic" at a museum, wood carvings of her done by Peter in the far past.

Spider-man sits in costume under a large, leafless tree in an empty lot in the city, the one with Peter and Sara's initials carved into it. Wolverine still sits in full costume in the bar surrounded by empty beer mugs. He examines his palm--there is a slice in his glove from when he and Peter became blood brothers, but no cut on his hand is to be found.

Epilogue: Dog materializes in a modern-day alley. He says he's not sure what just happened, but that he "damn sure know(s) what's happening next!".

In General...

Once again, when stories flashback to a tense event, and have the characters telling how they escaped near-calamity, it robs the event of some of its impact. This is what we get here when Peter relates, after the fact, how he talked down Dark Phoenix Wolvie. As this issue serves as a kind of summation as well as a resolution to the many story threads, I'm sure Aaron crafted the story this way for a reason, but it diluted the impact just the same.

And that is about the only thing I can find to really nitpick about this otherwise excellent issue, where many of the events of the minseries come full circle.

Other things that puzzle me are why Spider-man and Wolverine (and The Orb) are the only ones with memory of all the things that happened to them, but not Sara Bailey (is it from her lack of exposure to the time diamonds? Seems like a reasonable explanation where none is explicitly given). The Minutemen also remain a mystery, likewise why they chose that exact moment to reset Spidey and Wolvie in the timestream.

In a nice form of cosmic irony, it is Peter himself wondering why he wasn't mind-wiped like modern-day Sara to forget her in this story, in a funny inversion of the One Moment In Time plot point (Mary Jane wondering why Peter couldn't have let her forget his secret identity as well).

This is definitely a story I would like to see revisited by Jason Aaron and Adam Kubert someday. It'd be great to see Aaron write Spider-man again in general too.

Overall Rating...

4.5 webs, and 5 webs for the miniseries overall. It's a truly epic, instant classic and one of the most inventive Spider-man / Wolverine team ups of all time, as well as a great reminder of why I still read comics.