Spider-Man Unlimited #5
“Claws On Counter-Earth”
WRITER: Eric Stephenson
PENCILER: Andy Kuhn
INKER: Harry Candelario
COLORIST: Mark Bernardo
LETTERING: Sharpefont & PT
EDITOR: Ralph Macchio
A bank robber manages to elude Spider-Man, but it’s not his biggest concern right now. While he was in Harmony, a murder starting stealing the ID Chips from his victims. Spidey goes to investigate and comes across a Counter-Earth counterpart to Wolverine, who appears to be the killer. However Spidey is soon convinced that someone else is responsible and comes across a shapeshifting chameleon Beastial called…The Chameleon. Together, Spidey and Counter-Wolverine defeat Counter-Chameleon (which sounds like a Culture Club song parody), and CW gives Spider-Man a Medal Of Honor he won when he was still human, and one resembling the one Naoko’s missing husband was wearing in a photo (except the show confirmed that Green Goblin was actually Naoko’s husband, also one of Sir Ram’s “experiments”).
What they got right: The art’s really good, especially for the 90s. Peter and Shayne have a nice bonding moment.
What they got wrong: Everything else. How did Spider-Man know Counter-Wolverine was from Harmony? We can guess Stephenson wanted to make him Naoko’s husband, a victim of experiments, but the show already had the same plans with Counter-Green Goblin. WHY was Counter-Chameleon coming and going with the ID chips and why rob the bank with a gang earlier. What was his motive? What was his end game? What was the point?
And then you have the problem I’ve been complaining about since issue #3. Yes, there was a Counter-Earth counterpart to Green Goblin and later Electro (and maybe the Rhino, but only as a nod to the audience since he’s an actual rhino attacking with an octopus man) but that wasn’t the only thing that happened in those produced 13 episodes. There are no tales featuring the Knights Of Wundagore, the dark experiments of Sir Ram (used here only to create a Counter-Earth counterpart of superheroes and villains from Spidey’s normal life), or the war with the High Evolutionary. Instead, Stephenson seems to be doing a weird sci-fi ripoff of the Heroes Reborn or Ultimate Universes, alternate takes on Marvel characters, even making a Gwen lookalike named Astrid. What results is something that feel nothing like the show and more like Stephenson doing some alternate universe story, ignoring the focus of the TV show. And frankly, none of the stories he’s done past the adaptations have been all that interesting.
Recommendation: I think I’m going to go back and pull these from my library. To be honest it doesn’t capture what I enjoyed about the show and it’s not that fantastic on its own. It’s not bad but not that great either. I recommend skipping it and tracking down the show online (since I don’t think it has a home video release in the US…UK maybe).