Zeb Wells has been hitting home runs on this title but he didn’t write this issue. Strike one.
I don’t like crossovers. This issue is part one of something called “The Omega Effect” which continues into Daredevil and Punisher, two titles I am not currently reading. Strike two.
Here’s the windup and the pitch…
Okay, so apparently Daredevil came upon something called “The Omega Drive” (with a capital “T” in the “The”) “which is full of information about A.I.M., Hydra, Black Spectre, Agence Byzantine (whatever that is), and the Secret Empire. Now everyone wants it, including the Punisher.” I’m just taking the recap page’s word for this because I didn’t read any of those issues.This issue begins with Spidey fighting ninjas from The Hand. Why? Well, it seems that Daredevil came to Reed Richards with The Omega Drive, which is “built from the unstable molecules of an old Fantastic Four costume torn in battle.” DD asks Reed to pull the Black Spectre info off the drive for him, then disappears before Reed can ask for the drive back. Rather than follow DD, Reed apparently summons Spider-Man. How did DD manage to evade Reed? “He took advantage of the fact that I can’t abandon this experiment without destroying a neighboring universe,” Reed says. I say, “Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow!” Are we still using the “I can’t leave my experiment” excuse for Reed after all of these decades? It’s become so hackneyed that it’s used as a joke in the “Private War of Dr. Doom” episode in the new season of the cartoon show Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. And we’re supposed to take it seriously here? If Reed can’t turn around to stop DD, how did he manage the time to get the info off the drive to begin with? And how did he manage the time to contact Spidey? And if he had the drive in hand in order to pull the Black Spectre info off of it and wanted to keep the drive, then why did he hand the drive back?
So, Spidey heads to Matt Murdock’s office, which is where he comes upon the ninjas. They are “scoping out Daredevil’s office” because DD “has the worst-kept secret identity since Hanna Montana.” (I have no clue what this means.) While Spidey fights ninjas outside, Frank Castle, the Punisher, confronts Matt Murdock inside. The Punisher has bandages around his head and covering his left eye but I have no idea why since I don’t read the Punisher’s comic. He is also accompanied by a woman who is a complete stranger to me. Frank tries to talk Matt into giving up the drive, which everyone seems to know he has. But this is a bluff to keep Matt occupied while the Punisher’s partner sets off a bomb in the room above, then points a gun in Matt’s face. Spidey crashes through the window with a couple of ninjas, breaking this confrontation up. When the group sees how many ninjas are on the scene, they team up.
After they defeat the ninjas, Daredevil reveals that “the only reason I’ve been able to keep The Omega Drive from Hydra and the other megacrime cartels this long is because one of them has to figure out how to take it without starting a global gang war with the others. And I got tired of waiting, so I brought down Black Spectre right in front of them all and confessed that I was getting an itchy trigger-finger.” (This all happened in Daredevil presumably.) During this discussion, Spidey figures out that Punny’s partner is Marine Sgt. Rachel Cole-Alves whose husband was murdered on their wedding day. (This all happened in Punisher presumably.) Spidey also comes up with the plan. “DD gives Death Wish 1-Through-400 here the intel, you two lead us straight into the lions’ den…While Reed’s gizmos prep for download, we can keep megacrime too busy to strike at Daredevil by running the noisiest three-men-and-one-woman blitz of all time.” Uhhhh……what??????
DD and Spidey try again two panels later: “One night of chaos, draw all of megacrime into the open…and then very showily and very definitively destroy The Omega Drive before their very eyes,” which I can follow, at least, but it’s too late since I’ve pretty much ceased to care. There’s not much more to it anyway. Continued in Punisher (Vol. 9) #10 and Daredevil (Vol. 3) #11.
What is the point of this story, which is apparently nothing but set-up for a story that doesn’t even continue in this title? It’s either designed to get Avenging fans to read Punisher and Daredevil, Punisher fans to read Avenging and Daredevil or Daredevil fans to read Avenging and Punisher. And, by the time it is done, it may well work. But speaking as the Avenging Spider-Man fan, the title would have been better served by not interrupting Zeb’s run. In fact, it’s sort of insulting to be served up this pot of goo after the last two excellent issues. Considering Spidey’s greater drawing power, I suspect it is we Spidey fans who are being seduced here, not the Punny or DD fans. In that case, Greg and Mark may have wanted to make us feel a little more wanted. All of these games revolving around DD and Reed, DD and Black Spectre, the Punisher’s eyepatch and the Punisher’s partner are probably designed to make me want to search out earlier Pun and DD issues to get acclimated. But all it did was annoy me that I was being left out of the loop while reading a series I have followed from the beginning. If I can’t rely on being kept in the know in a series to which I’m faithful, why should that series continue to earn my devotion?
That point aside, the issue is just not very good. It’s pretty much a big “superhero versus ninja” mash-up with not much in the way of anything else. The dialogue is filled with strained explanations as to why the plot has to go just the way it does, like shaving a square peg’s corners to fit it in a round hole. Nobody is very likable. Spidey is just annoying and so cutting-edge hip as to be occasionally incomprehensible to me. (At what point did Spidey become an annoying dickhead, anyway? It used to be that he acted brash and reckless while fighting to unnerve his opponents and to revel in the release from the heartache and loneliness of his Peter Parker existence. Now he doesn’t have much heartache anymore and he acts like a jerk all the time in his Spidey outfit, even when he’s hanging out with his super-hero friends. So, is Spidey just a jerk now or is this a case of the point getting lost in the swirl of 50 years of stories? And if he is just a jerk, why in the world should I care about him?)
Here’s another way to approach this story: Take a look at the “Previously” section of the recap page again, that “which is full of information about A.I.M….” stuff that I reproduced in the first paragraph of the “In Detail” section. What more do we learn in this entire issue besides that? Well, the heroes team up for “one night of chaos.” That’s about it. That’s all you get from this story. It cost you $3.99 to get that.
But then there’s this: Marco Checchetto’s artwork is first-class. Check out his perspectives in the first few pages. Spidey leaping down on ninjas, Reed Richards in the foreground with Spidey in the distance, Spidey and ninjas falling with Manhattan buildings below, Spidey in the foreground with Reed Richards behind. Back and forth, back and forth. Depth, altered perspective, detailed buildings, accurate anatomy. Check the skewed shot of ninjas climbing up Matt’s building on page 12 opposed by the Punisher and Rachel leaping down on page 13 with Spidey in the distance and a huge full moon in the background. And all done with this nice hyper-realistic Paul Gulacy feel. Great stuff. Too bad this art isn’t in service to a better story.
Two webs, mostly for the artwork. I’ll read and review the rest of this story and hope it gets better but, at this point, I recommend “Avenging” readers skip from #5 to #7 and avoid The Omega Effect altogether. Strike three and out.