Comics : Web Warriors #5

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This story is part of an Arc: "Electroverse"
     Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4 / Part 5

This review was first published on: Apr 2016.

Background...

During the events of Spider-Verse, Morlun and his family (The Inheritors) sought to rid the Multiverse of Spider-People. Because of this imminent threat, a group of Spider-Men and Women from across the various universes worked together to defeat Morlun and his fellow vampires. Many Spider-People died because of The Inheritors and now a small group of heroes has formed to protect the worlds of the fallen Spider-Men...they are the Web Warriors!

There are six members of the Web Warriors: Spider-Gwen, Spider-UK, Spider-Ham, Spider-Man: India, Spider-Man Noir and Spider-Girl (Arana Corazon). Together they work to protect the Multiverse...

The Web Warriors aren't alone with their universe-traversing skills, an evil Electro (as if there's any other kind) calling himself The Battery, has been traveling across the multiverse amassing an army of Electros with the hope of ruling all worlds.

At the conclusion of the last issue, Billy Braddock (aka Spider-UK) sends a message across the entire multiverse to the Electro army telling them the Web Warriors location...the trap has been set!

In Detail...

"Electroverse part 5: Insulation"
Web Warriors #5
May 2016 : SM Spin-Off
Arc: Part 5 of "Electroverse"
Writer:  Mike Costa
Pencils:  David Baldeon
Inker:  Roberto Poggi, Walden Wong
Cover Art:  Julian Totino Tedesco
Lettering:  VC's Joe Caramagna
Colorist:  Jason Keith
Executive Editor:  Nick Lowe
Editor In Chief:  Axel Alonso
Editor:  Devin Lewis
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Review

On Earth-803, home of the steampunk Lady-Spider Ms. Reilly, Billy Braddock explains his plan for snaring the Electro army. Using a mega-sized Faraday Cage constructed from special webbing designed by Pavitr, Braddock plans to trap the Electros using the cage's inherit ability to insulate electricity. The team then heads to Battery Park to await the Electros...who arrive in short order.

Elsewhere, Spider-Gwen, Spider-Ben and the newest Web Warriors ally Octavia Otto prepare to attack the leader of the Electro army (aka The Battery). Their strategy revolves around the use of the teleconsciousness helmet, an apparatus with the ability to swap peoples' minds. However, Octavia recognized that the helmet could also be used to simply wipe a person's mind, which is what they plan to do The Battery. The only caveat is that the Octavia needs to be there in order to sync the helmet to The Battery's brainwaves, which will put the lady-octopus into a precarious situation. But Octavia is beyond brave enough for that challenge, so she prepares to go along with Spider-Ben & Gwen.

Soon after, the trio head to The Battery's moon base on Earth-449 and they quickly confront the evil leader. Unfortunately the team's plan is thwarted almost immediately by Electro Prime (Remember him? He was Spider-Gwen's punching bag a few issues back) who electrocutes Octavia. The Battery then leaves the group and joins his Electro army that is currently attacking the rest of the Web Warriors.

With the brouhaha in full swing on Earth-803, Braddock is faced with a tough decision as Karn, the Web's master weaver, is growing weak from a lack of feeding and being away from Loomworld. Braddock pulls Karn to a safe location and tells him to feed on him so that Karn can make his way off of Earth-803. Karn is the key to the Electros harnessing the full power of the Web, so getting him to safety is priority-one. Karn complies and Braddock is weakened from his 'donation.'

The tension builds as the Web Warriors giant Faraday Cage (which is basically a giant web-dome) is almost completely sealed yet Braddock's depleted strength prevents him from escaping the structure. At this point, all of the other Web Warriors had made their way out of the cage. Anya attempts to go back in to get him but Mayday stops her citing that she (Anya) is the second-in-command and must remain with the team. Instead, Mayday dives face-first into the cage.

The Electro army soon sniffs out the trap and they begin to make their way through the unsealed top portion of the cage. Anya makes the extraordinarily difficult executive decision to seal the cage leaving Mayday and Braddock behind. Spider-Gwen confronts Anya for her decision claiming that Anya left them in there to die and Anya responds that "they didn't die in vain" (since the Electros were defeated).

Eventually the team regroups back at their base on Earth-001 and Karn presents some potentially good news. It appears that an electrical surge consistent with Braddock's transporter was activated just before the cage closed, so Braddock and Mayday may have escaped. The story ends with the team vowing to find their lost comrades.

In General...

In the last issue I criticized the ping-pong-style back and forth jumping between the two sub-plots. So to start there, I can say with confidence that this story did not have that flaw...but it certainly had others.

The main plot devices used in this story were Karn's need to feed (which was critical since he was the bait), the use of a Faraday Cage to trap the villains and the confrontation between Spider-Gwen and The Battery. Each of these devices were poorly constructed and upon closer inspection (or any inspection) they had more holes than swiss cheese.

Let's start with Karn's need to feed, specifically his need to feed on a totem. Karn's incapacitation has been mentioned in each of the prior three issues. In other words, the team was well aware of his plight. So why wait until you're smack-dab in the middle of a massive brawl to recharge Karn?? Why not 'feed' him during one of the many team-regrouping sessions they've had in the last few issues...namely, the one they just had at the beginning of this story? This lack of foresight dampens Braddock's actions (to let Karn feed on him) at the end of the story. Yeah it was a brave thing to do but it was also remarkably foolish to wait until that moment to do so.

The Faraday Cage fight scene at the end was also a little silly. Think about it, when all the Web Warriors were out of the cage (standing on top of it actually) who were the Electros fighting inside the cage? Why didn't they follow the Web Warriors out whilst fighting them? The scene prior to the escape was a splash page where the good guys (and gals) were engaged in a massive brawl against the bad guys (and gals), then suddenly the Web Warriors are gone but the Electros are still in there fighting no one. How could the good guys get out without drawing any attention? In other words, how could that trap have actually worked without the Electros being the stupidest beings in the cosmos? There was a throw-away line from The Battery that suggested the Electros were trying to blast holes in the cage, but still you could see the Web Warriors looking down on them from atop the cage...through a hole!

My take-home message from the point above is that although I thought the idea of using a Faraday Cage is actually fairly clever (and right up the alley of something you would expect from a Spider-person), there really was no feasible way to make that trap work after first engaging in hand-to-hand combat. Now, had the Web Warriors simply lured them into a Faraday Cage-web (much like a real spider would catch a fly)...that would've worked great. Unfortunately you would not have gotten a giant splash page with everyone fighting each other.

The last example, in which The Battery has the trio dead to rights but decides to let them leave because "[they'll] be finding the [Spider-heroes] again soon" was so absurd I almost gave up on the story. What kind of evil being doesn't kill them when he has the chance (obvious plot device)...that was such stereotypical bad-guy decision making that it almost came off satirical.

At the end of the day, this book is not devoid of interesting characters. And the fact that Spider-Gwen seems to be upset with Anya's decision to leave Braddock/Mayday behind could lead to tension between the two Spider-women (although that beef seemed be squashed by the end of the story). Moreover, Spider-Ben correcting Spider-Gwen's decision to let Electro-Prime die...a scene that juxtaposes maturity and immaturity between Spider-heroes, would be a great starting point for a student/teacher relationship between Ben and Gwen. However, Spider-Ben decides to leave the group at the story's conclusion. This results in us losing a potential mentoring relationship between the two.

The problem is that the book is not focusing on the dynamics between the characters but rather thinly-held-together plot devices that lead to over-the-top action sequences. I just feel like this book is currently underachieving given its potential.

Overall Rating...

There's some team intrigue now present (namely between Anya and Spider-Gwen) that could lead to interesting stories and compelling drama. Unfortunately this story is fraught with too many plot holes/ridiculous plot devices that make giving this book higher than a 3 virtually impossible.