Secret Invasion: The Amazing Spider-Man #1

Background

Jackpot is an inexperienced government sanctioned superhero, who just happens to bear an uncanny resemblance to Mary Jane Watson. She and Spidey teamed up to try and take down the grey goblin, Menace. But Jackpot's inexperience resulted in the death of Councilwoman Palfrey (whom she was trying to protect). Jackpot told Spidey that her secret identity was Sara Ehret. However, when Spidey confronted Sara she claimed to know nothing about a dual identity. However, Sara herself was revealed to be quite a fan of soap-star Mary Jane Watson. Now, there's a lot going on in Spidey's life so he can be forgiven for not chasing up this mystery. However, while the webbed wonder is in the Savage Land fighting the Skrulls, our scene shifts to Jackpot herself. Is it time for some answers?

Story Details

  Secret Invasion: The Amazing Spider-Man #1
Summary: Jackpot battles Skrull Spider-Man
Arc: Part 1 of 'Brand New Secret Invasion' (1-2-3)
Editor: Stephen Wacker
Writer: Brian Reed
Pencils: Marc Santucci
Inker: Mark Pennington

Our story opens with a splash page. Jackpot is standing atop a speeding car, locked in mortal combat with a super-skrull who appears to have all the powers of the Sinister Six. In the car is Dexter Bennett, Betty Brant, Vin Gonzales and Joe Robertson. How did these events come to pass? Let's turn the clock back twenty-four hours.

Jackpot is in a seedy warehouse taking photos of seedier goons, who are unloading a number of suspicious crates. She's trying to find evidence that Walter Declun is up to no good. Walter Declun (for those not in the know) is the CEO of Damage Control and we faithful Marvelites know that he is up to no good. He practically caused the Civil War, you know. Well, you may not if you don't read Wolverine, but take my word for it. Anyway - believing that she has finally found some evidence of Declun's dirty dealings, Jackpot jumps into fray and lays out about a dozen of Declun's employees. It's only then she discovers that those suspicious crates actually contained a number of not-at- all-suspicious DVD players. Uh-oh.

The following day, Vin Gonzales tries to raise some rent-money from his room mater, Peter Parker. Pete's not there. Vin thinks this is suspicious - he's not to know that Pete is in the Savage Land fighting for the future of humanity - so he heads over to the Coffee Bean to see if he can find him. He speaks to Carlie, Lily and Harry, but no-one has heard from Peter, although Carlie doesn't think Pete would try to avoid paying Vin the money he owes.

This morning's edition of the DB! has a compelling headline: "Jackpot or Crackpot?! So-Called Superhero Raids Legit Warehouse. Beats Up Innocent Workers." You can imagine that Jackpot is not thrilled by this, and storms to the offices of the paper to demand a retraction. She is aided in this mission by Helen Rogers, her union rep. What's that? You didn't know that superheroes had a union? Well, they do since the Superhuman Registration was passed! Ms Rogers is rather gung-ho, and Jackpot fears she may be more of a liability than an asset when it comes to confronting Dexter Bennett.

Up in the newsroom Jackpot feels the need to apologise to Betty Brant (who wrote the story) in the face of the union rep's enthusiasm. The scene is interrupted by the arrival of Dexter Bennett and Joe 'Robbie' Robertson. Robbie doesn't work for the DB! any more, he's just in the office to get Bennett to remove his name from the paper. The disagreement turns in to a screaming act. Helen Rogers gets onto a table and says how she'll ruin Bennett for his flagrant campaign of hatred. Bennett calls the police. Jackpot is having a really bad day.

But it's going to get a lot worse. A massive Skrull spacecraft has parked over New York. It's seen by Harry and Lily in Soho; by Vin and his partner O'Neil (who are coincidentally heading to the DB! to check out a disorderly person); and by every staring out of the window in the DB! offices. Then the attack begins. A huge skrull sporting a flaming whip appears before Harry and Lily. The newsroom of the DB! is devastated by massive impact. Jackpot staggers to her feet and turns around to see the Amazing Spider-Man crouching in front of a massive hole in the side of the building.

But this is not the Amazing Spider-Man. No, this is a skrull warrior who has come for Spider-Man! Cue dramatic fight scene. Jackpot calls on the staff to evacuate the building while she tackles the enemy. Although it seems she may be well out of her league here. Meanwhile, Harry and Lily find themselves in exactly the same predicament. Only they are trapped between two skrull warriors, both of whom mean business.

Jackpot is pummelled and thrown across the newsroom where she lands at the feet of Robbie, Bennett and Betty. The Spider-Skrull morphs into the same super-skrull from the splash page who demands that the assembled give or Spider-Man, or face death at its hands one by one. To be continued!

General Comments

Jackpot debuted in Free Comic Book Day 2007 (Spider-Man which predated the publication of One More Day. Her appearance generated a flurry of speculation at the time, concerning how the story fitted in with Spidey's continuity, and whether this gymnastic red-head was really Mary Jane in spandex. Given the high-profile launch of Jackpot it seems odd that we haven't seen very much of her in Amazing Spider-man. She was a good foil for the webslinger when she did appear, and there is obviously more afoot to her character than readily apparent. Yet she's not shown her head in the book since Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #551.

However, this issue more than makes up for all that. This is a great little comic. Jackpot makes for a good protagonist: so good that Spider-Man is hardly missed. Of course, Brian Reed has been doing great things on Ms Marvel (Vol. 2). He knows how to write a powerful heroine. Rather more surprising is the way he has also managed to capture the voices of Spidey's supporting cast; and do it at least as well as the writers of ASM. Frankly, if Brian Reed is using this mini-series to angle for a job as a regular writer on Amazing Spider-Man then he's succeeded hands down.

It's so refreshing to find a tie-in series that not only manages to place itself in the context of a line-wide crossover - that not only manages remain true to continuity of its parent book - but also manages to tell its own story in an entertaining, and unambiguous manner. Okay, the plot is not something stolen from Shakespeare's waster-paper bin. The Skrulls arrive, Jackpot fights them and the rest of the Brand New Day cast scurry around New York like headless chickens. But it's all the little details that Reed throws into the mix that makes this work; and it works extremely well.

Overall Rating

It's not essential reading for either Amazing Spider-Man or the Secret Invasion, but it is a very entertaining romp that shines a welcome spotlight on Jackpot. I really liked this. Four webs.

Footnote

This limited series (and Secret Invasion itself) probably takes place between Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #577 and Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #578. That places it after Spidey's team up with the Punisher, but before the subway accident where he first meets Jonah's father. This seems to be the most logical place for it. Don't trust the chronology presented in Spider-Man: Brand New Day Yearbook.

Even thought this has nothing to do with the review, I'd like to draw your attention to the fact that Jackpot found a warehouse full of DVD players in the opening scenes of the issue. That's the sort of thing that's really going to date. When my son is reading Spider-Man comics to his son thirty years from now, he's going to have to stop and explain what DVDs were. It's a bit like me trying to explain the Coffee Bean jukebox to my son now. You have to love the march of history.