After the extended bout of zeros in part one, part two is a welcome break with only three books from Marvel comics. Includes THE DEFENDERS #10, THE PUNISHER #15, and AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #693.
Really anything after Frankenstein Hitler would only be a step down, but THE DEFENDERS #10 gives an admirable shot at it. After fighting in an alternate universe patterned around 60s style spy fiction, the group pops back to their universe (taking that universes Bond-esque Nick Fury for some reason; not that I’m complaining) only to find themselves shrunk to the scale of ants. It’s here they meet Ant Man (one of them at least), who says a death celestial has been destroying the world.
Everyone you love dies, indeed.
Except when it comes to Silver Surfer, who somehow missed his bus across dimensions and instead tried to outrun the white light through space. He ends up failing, but finds himself in a white zone with a bunch of guys who all look alike, he call themselves gods, and the place they’re in as heaven. And it’s in a condescending manner, as if just saying they’re just as good as deities is a good enough explanation for what they really are. Are you aliens or extra-dimensional beings? Then just say that! Silver Surfer more than anyone should be able to believe whatever you tell him.
Again, decent issue. Not as good as Frankenstein Hitler.
So in THE PUNISHER #15, Sergeant Cole-Alves got half of her revenge against the Exchange sons-a-bitches that killed her family. But one Exchange executive, Christian Poulson, is loose in the building. And he’s none too happy about the two Punishers killing his boss/woman he loves. There can be only one rational response to such a tragedy: go on a killing spree and try to pin the blame on the Punishers. Of course.
And I mean a lot of killing. Since the Exchange was small time enough to only rent part of an office building, there’s plenty of people to gun down on the way out. Meaning what could have just been a regular Punisher job of kill all sons-a-bitches turns into a full-blown call-the-SWAT-team incident. I was getting worried about this series getting so dull that I drop it, but this at least tied me over for a while longer. It doesn’t change the fact that too much Punisher leads to satiation and boredom, but I’m nothing if not stubborn.
I mean, I kept with Red Lanterns for nine issues, and that was crap.
Lastly we have AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #693, and the continuing adventures of Alpha and his sidekick Spiderman.
I had to do it, okay? Wait, no I didn’t. Because that joke wasn’t funny the first time the book made it!
The story here continues under the correct assumption that this little twerp is a wannabe and a liability to everyone, though it stops to have an actual plot. That plot involves the Jackal, classic Spidey villain and a guy I didn’t know was still alive. Seriously, didn’t he die at the end of the Clone Saga? Apparently he came back at some point I’m not aware of, and he’s out to – you guessed it – take over the world with clones.
Because absolutely every plot involving this guy must involve cloning in some capacity. It’s in his contract.
And despite him being an annoying bastard in the nineties, I really liked the Jackal here. Why? Because he’s in on the joke. The whole Alpha business is very heavy with its looming calamity and parallels to Peter’s backstory; the Jackal broke the seriousness over his knee at every opportunity, and I loved it. Not to mention his incompetence as a villain is something he takes in stride, like it isn’t a big deal. What is a big deal is how far out pintsized, responsibility-challenged newbie goes down the rabbit hole of being a selfish prick. I suspect this is the sort of thing Psycho-man should have been, had the writer 1) had any idea what he wanted to do with the concept of a realistic depiction of a kid getting super powers, and 2) had that same writer lived long enough to do more than a script for the first issue.
Now I kind of feel bad for making fun of a comic written by a dead guy. But Psycho-man sucked the root, so I’m over it.
So if you ever wanted to read the nineties clone saga but didn’t want to actually read anything from the actual nineties clone saga, here’s the best elements of it written by a creative team that presumably knows how to resolve what they’re doing. It even comes complete with a reference to Kaine from Scarlet Spider, because he also played a role in those events.
Those two years of events. That wasn’t a fun time in comics. Between the clone saga and the gritty excesses, the early nineties weren’t fun at all.