Free Comic Book Day 2011 (Spider-Man)
Marvel Comics (2011)
“The Way Of The Spider”
WRITER: Dan Slott
PENCILER: Humberto Ramos
INKERS: Carlos Cuevas & Victor Olazaba
COLORIST: Edgar Delgado
LETTERER: Joe Caramagna
ASSISTANT EDITOR: Ellie Pyle
EDITOR: Stephen Wacker
Mandrill has Spider-Woman under his control and Spider-Man (who at this point in the Marvel universe has lost his “spider-sense” to warn him of danger) is not having an easy go of it. Madame Web brings Shang-Chi to watch but will not allow him to help. With a little imagination Spider-Man finds a way to breaks Spider-Woman out of her mind-control and together they take Mandrill down. After Spider-Woman leaves and Mandrill is taken away Shang-Chi meets with Spidey, who asks for the master of kung-fu to give him a bit of training since he’s not used to fighting without his spider-sense. This is what Madame Web (Julia Carpenter at the time) wanted, because he had to ask as part of reconnecting to the web of life, just as people around New York are getting spider-powers. It’s a preview to the “Spider-Island” storyline.
What they got right: Conceptually it works. Spider-Man losing one of his most often used powers has potential. Being taught martial arts by Shang-Chi has potential. Even Spidey fighting a mind-controlled Spider-Woman has potential. On their own the three plots come together quite well, which is a nice change of pace. Maybe because he doesn’t go back and forth between multiple plots like a soap opera. One blends into the next.
What they got wrong: It’s the specifics that take me out of the story. As I’ve been going through old comics, specifically some of the Justice League Adventures/Unlimited comics, I’ve seen that Slott can or at least could tell a good story. The ideas are there, but he’s another one of those writers who don’t understand why Peter uses his quips and acts like it’s the only way he talks. It’s as distracting for the reader as it is the baddies. This one starts with Peter breaking the fourth wall to tell us the situation (using that really uncomfortable-looking pose from the cover), which starts with Peter calling the Free Comic Book Day readers “cheapskates” while forwarding the bill for damages and a hot dog to Tony Stark just because he’s an Avenger (and argument that gets him out of trouble with the police as well because surely a guy who hangs out with Captain America isn’t a vigilante or some nonsense). Spider-Man really comes off as a jerk too often.
Recommendation: The ideas are good but the hero comes off as a jerk. That makes it hard for me recommend it, especially as a hard to find Free Comic Book Day story. Maybe if you find it on comiXology or Marvel Unlimited or something for free.