So, Avenging Spider-Man is now Superior Spider-Man Team-Up. No more of that frequently-violated pretense of Spidey teaming up with an Avengers member each time. Now the title says it all. It’s Superior Spider-Man. It’s a team-up. Sounds good to me. But is it?
Five masked hoods carrying knives and wearing jackets with big dollar signs on them corner a couple in an alley after midnight in New York City. The couple naturally assumes that the thugs want money (since they are, after all, wearing jackets with big dollar signs on them). But, no. The thugs have money (thus the dollar signs). They just want to hurt people and thereby let them know that “this is our city.” But before they can prove anything, Cloak and Dagger arrive. Now, it’s been a while since I’ve read Cloak and Dagger, but it looks like Cloak now has the Dagger powers and Dagger has the Cloak powers. Who knew? Before C&D can act, the Superior Spider-Man leaps in…and socks Dagger right in the jaw. (And that’s the end of the “dollar sign” gang in this story. Are we going to see them again? After all, they are claiming NYC as their city.)
A few hours later, in Hell’s Kitchen, Spidey attacks Daredevil. A fishmonger videos it on his phone. By morning, Spidey’s attacks on other super-heroes are all over the news, which Steve Rogers watches at Avengers Tower. “We put Spider-Man on probation with the Avengers after some recent behavior,” he tells Jarvis, “It looks like we didn’t go far enough.” So, it’s “Avengers Assemble” time.
Meanwhile, through the morning, SpOck takes on Gravity, Power Man, Iron Fist, Sun Girl (whoever that is), Moon Knight, Doctor Strange, and the Future Foundation including Medusa, She-Hulk, Miss Thing, and Ant-Man, who seems disoriented. Tossing Ant-Man aside, Spidey runs out to the roof where he routes “all Spider-bot cameras into the lenses!” He is clearly looking for something but is interrupted by the Avengers’ arrival. These Avengers consist of Thor, Hulk, Black Widow, Captain America, Hawkeye Iron Man (in other words, all the movie guys), Captain Marvel, and Hyperion. (Hyperion is in the Avengers?)
The Avengers attack and swiftly subdue the web-slinger, who tells Iron Man that his armor should “keep the virus out. It’ll want to target you…Whatever you do, don’t open your faceplate.” But Iron Man does so, revealing that he is guiding the armor remotely, since Tony Stark is in space. Spidey scans the other Avengers wondering whom the virus will infect. All come up “Clean” until he arrives at Hyperion. For a second, Hyperion seems to have Carrion’s face and then he attacks the group.
As Thor and Captain Marvel fight back, SpOck confronts Cap in his own inimitable style. “I had this handled!” he shouts, “And then you interfered! To think that you put me on probation.” He then explains that Hyperion “has been possessed by a sentient virus…the Carrion virus. It’s been hopping from super hero to super hero all day…I’ve designed a weapon that can destroy the virus and Carrion knows it.” Hawkeye and Cap promise SpOck time to retrieve his weapon, taken away earlier by Captain Marvel. They can’t do much against Hyperion but the Hulk, Thor, and Captain Marvel finally topple him. Spidey retrieves his gun. “Give my regards to Hell, Carrion,” he says. But Carrion claims that killing him will also kill Hyperion and Cap stops Spidey from firing. “He’s lying,” says Otto to Cap, “You know me, Cap. Trust me now.” Cap does and Spidey fires, even as he thinks, “Captain America doesn’t know me at all.” It works, apparently killing off the virus and leaving Hyperion alive. Spidey then admits, “I built this machine to destroy the Carrion virus this morning, in about seventeen minutes. The survival of the host was a secondary consideration. It just so happens I’m that good.” Spidey then tells Cap that the virus was created by “an old enemy. One that I’ll deal with.” (“Well, punch him for me, because this sucked,” says Hawkeye.) Cap apologizes, saying, “I shouldn’t have doubted you.” When he brings up the probation, Spidey cuts him off. “Oh, were you serious about that?” he says, “Adorable.” Then, he web-swings away, saying, “If you need me to save you all again, call me.”
Back at his hideout, Otto reflects on recent events and decides that he’s now won the trust of the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, and the X-Men. He also has “seen the value in being part of a team. Just not that team. I require my own team. A Superior team.” And he stands amidst the tubes in his lab holding Mysterio, Vulture, Chameleon, Electro, and Sandman. The Sinister Six.
But wait! There’s an epilogue. The Carrion virus re-forms and returns to the Jackal’s hideout. (It looks like a Professor Warren clone is there as well and lots of babies in utero-tanks.) The Jackal announces, “It’s time to kill Spider-Man!” That’s coming up next.
I listed this issue as “Superior Spider-Man & the Avengers” in the Summary for brevity. Actually, Chris pulls out the stops for this first issue and teams SpOck with pretty near everybody (well, not really, but you know what I mean), some of whom are labeled within the story for your convenience. Let’s total them up. Cloak and Dagger. Daredevil. Jarvis. Wolverine and Spider-Woman (both only in flashback). Gravity. Power Man and Iron Fist. Sun Girl. Moon Knight. Dr. Strange. Medusa, She-Hulk, Miss Thing. Ant-Man. The Future Foundation kids. Human Torch. Thor. Hulk. Cap. Hawkeye. Black Widow. Iron Man. Hyperion. Captain Marvel. That’s twenty-six guest-stars (not counting the Falcon on the cover) and you have to be impressed with an issue #1 team-up story that fits in so many heroes and doesn’t make it feel crowded. The trouble with this, though, is that the issue is mainly action. There’s not enough of Otto being Otto (though I do like choice lines like, “Adorable”) and not enough meat behind the fight scenes. Really? The Carrion virus is now an actual sentient virus infecting super heroes? And Otto discovered this…how? And he creates a cure for it in seventeen minutes? Please. So, I love the ambition of putting in so many heroes but I’m not so hot on the execution.
David Lopez’ artwork is nice enough here but doesn’t stand out from the pack. You know me. I like interesting angles, imaginative layouts and storytelling, detailed facial expressions. The only panel that really fits the bill is the third one on page two: Spidey punching Dagger with his fist appearing to come right off the page. Cloak’s stunned expression is priceless and the blood coming from Dagger’s mouth really emphasizes the sudden violence. Otherwise, it’s standard work for a standard story. I know from Avenging Spider-Man #22 that David is capable of much more so I'm looking forward to his next issue.
I am thrilled to see the Jackal back, though, and can’t wait to review the next issue! What’s that? Oh, that’s right! Michael Miller, our intrepid Scarlet Spider reviewer is going to review the next issue since the story crosses over from here to there. Let’s give Michael a big welcome!
Okay, I get it. It’s a team-up book, it’s rebooted. Why not stick as many super heroes in it as you can? It’s not bad but it could be better. Let’s get back to the really good stuff next time. This one gets three webs.