Jul 28, 2011

Spider-Mannotations: Amazing Spider-Man #666

So, as a Spider-Man fan, I'm pretty jazzed for Spider-Island.  For the uninitiated, it's the first Spider-Man-centric crossover since...well, ever, really.  There have been a ton of crossovers within the Spider-Man books themselves, but never has a Spider-Man storyline bled over into other ongoings (okay, Maximum Clonage crossed over into New Warriors for one issue).  Comics fans love the crossovers, despite claiming they don't, so this'll probably pick up a lot of readers, many of whom haven't been following the book in years, if ever.  But Dan Slott is a continuity maniac (and I mean that in the best possible sense), and he loves to toss in obscure references.  So, as a certified Spider-Manologist (with a minor in Venomonomy), it is my duty to give you the Annotated Spider-Island!

You maniacs!  You...painted it...
(Amazing Spider-Man #666, art by Stefano Caselli)

What has gone before: Spider-Man's enemy the Jackal has infested Manhattan with mutated bedbugs, which cause the people they bite to manifest spider-like powers.

Page 5: J. Jonah Jameson, longtime thorn in Spider-Man's side, was elected Mayor of New York City in Amazing Spider-Man #591.  Why isn't he running the Daily Bugle anymore?  Well, after he had a heart attack in ASM #546, his wife Marla sold his interest in the Bugle to unscrupulous businessman Dexter Bennett. The Bugle building was then destroyed by Electro in ASM #614, after which Jameson acquired the rights to the Bugle name and sold them to Robbie Robertson, who has renamed upstart paper Front Line the Daily Bugle.

Don't blame me, I voted for Perry White.
(Amazing Spider-Man #592, written by Dan Slott, art by Barry Kitson)
Page 6: Yes, that's Morrie Bench, aka Hydro-Man, a super-criminal who can convert his body into water.  (As a side note, I have never liked Hydro-Man.  He's a cool visual and all, but he's Sandman without any of the character development Sandman's ever had, which means he's just some doofus who robs banks.  Oddly, his most memorable appearance was in the often-not-very-good '90s Spider-Man cartoon, where he was given some additional backstory as Mary Jane's creepy, stalkery ex-boyfriend, and was given some nicely unhinged vocal characterization by Rob Paulsen).

He's fighting what's left of the Young Allies, a teen super-team that had a regrettably short-lived series last year.  Gravity is Greg Willis, a Wisconsonian college student who can control gravity, Firestar is Angelica Jones, a microwave-generating ex-New Warrior. Spider-Girl is Anya Corazon, who is a little more complicated; she was chosen by the ancient Spider-Society to fight injustice, and was given cool spider-powers to do so as Araña.  She eventually lost those powers, and operated as a vigilante for a while using just her own natural athleticism and a grappling hook, first as Araña and then, after Julia Carpenter (about whom I'll talk later) gave Anya her Arachne costume, as Spider-Girl. She also had her own recently cancelled series; in the final issue of it, she mysteriously got her spider-powers back, and then some.

Come on, everyone knows that doesn't happen to girls.  Total myth.
(Spider-Girl #8, written by Paul Tobin, art by Clayton Henry and Sergio Cariello)
They used to have a couple other members, but as seen in the recent Onslaught Unleashed miniseries, "girl without a world" Nomad sacrificed herself to trap Onslaught in the Negative Zone, and raging man-bull Toro left for South America.

Page 8: Peter Parker, after losing his photography job after being caught faking some photos, is now working as a scientist for Horizon Labs. His co-workers here are the disheveled Grady Scraps, the kinda-goofy Bella Fishbach, and the boss-man Max Modell.

Page 10: And hey, he's also got a girlfriend now: this is Carly Cooper, NYPD forensic scientist.

Page 11: There's a handy editorial note here telling us that Spider-Man lost his spider-sense in ASM #654, where Peter built a device to knock out the artificial sixth sense that deranged roboticist Alistaire Smythe gave his cyborg minions; unfortunately, Peter didn't get far enough away from it when it went off, and his spider-sense was knocked out - seemingly for good.

Now how will I cheat at Clue?
(ASM #654, written by Dan Slott and Fred Van Lente, art by Stefano Caselli)
Peter runs into Norah Roberts and Phil Urich here; Norah is a reporter at the new Daily Bugle who's currently dating Joe Robertson's son Randy, and Phil is...complicated.  Back in the '90s, he was the heroic Green Goblin (foe of the Steel Slammer!), but after a Sentinel wrecked his gear, he retired...until ASM #649, when he found a cache of Hobgoblin weaponry, killed its owner (Roderick Kingsley, the original Hobgoblin), and became the Kingpin's chief assassin as the new Hobgoblin.  He's currently acting as a Bizarro Peter Parker, committing crimes as the Hobgoblin and passing on exclusive videos of them to Norah, who he has the hots for.

Page 12: Screwball, mentioned here as a possible Spider-Man impersonator, is a thrill-seeking supervillain who commits crimes largely to get YouTube hits (she live-streams them from her helmet-cam).  She impersonated Spider-Man in ASM #562 and was pretty convincing, considering she's a woman and all.

Seriously, that is not an easy costume to hide your gender in.
(ASM #562, written by Bob Gale, art by Mike McKone and Andy Lanning)
Page 13: As of late, Aunt May's been volunteering at the FEAST Project, a homeless shelter run by philantropist Martin Li. In ASM #664, however, May and the rest of the world found out that Li is secretly Chinatown crimelord Mr. Negative, which is presumably why they're shutting it down.  May is also married to J. Jonah "Jay" Jameson Sr, the long-lost biological father of J. Jonah Jameson.  Last issue, May decided to move to Boston, to get away from New York's constant supervillain attacks.

Page 15: Hey, it's the Jackal!  Miles Warren was an ESU biology professor who fell in love with his student Gwen Stacy, went nuts when she died, and went even more nuts when he found out his student Peter Parker was Spider-Man; thus, he became the Jackal, an evil mastermind in a goofy green animal costume who cloned both Gwen and Peter.  He seemed to die in ASM #149, but came back in 1995's ASM #399, having genetically-altered himself into an actual jackal-man.  After masterminding the infamous Clone Saga, he died again in 1995's Maximum Clonage Omega.  So is this the original Jackal, or another clone?

Hell!  Damn!  Ass!
(ASM #129, written by Gerry Conway, art by Ross Andru, Frank Giacoia, and Dave Ross)
The man-spider in the blue hoodie with him?  Well, we'll soon find out...

Page 17: After the death of the Human Torch, Spider-Man replaced him in the Fantastic Four - or rather, the Future Foundation, which is what it became.  Leaving the Baxter Building with Sue Richards and her kids Franklin and Valeria are Dragon Man (a long-time android foe of the FF who they've reprogrammed to be a superintelligent pacifist), Leech and Artie (two mutant kids who first debuted in X-Factor in the '80s), some Moloid kids from Mole Man's realm, some fish kids from Old Atlantis (a sunken city of fish people), and Bentley (a boy clone of FF nemesis the Wizard).

Page 18: Mary Jane is, of course, not married to Peter anymore, but they're still friends.  She's also one of the few people who know he's Spider-Man. Flash Thompson lost his legs in Iraq in ASM #574; the Army gave him the Venom symbiote (which they took from Mac Gargan) in ASM #654, and he's been doing the super-symbiote-soldier thing in his own eponymous series. He's currently dating Betty Brant (the two have had an on-and-off relationship since Betty was still married to Ned Leeds), but she doesn't know about the whole Venom thing yet.

(ASM #654, written by Dan Slott, art by Paulo Siquiera)
Page 19: Betty was mugged and beaten in ASM #665.  She's still in the hospital.

Page 20: The floating super-hero poker game's been a Marvel tradition since 1979's Marvel Two-In-One #51.  Slott's evidently fond of it, as he devoted an entire issue of his late, lamented Thing series to it.

Spider-Woman fought Spider-Man in this year's Amazing Spider-Man Free Comic Book Day issue, while she was under the control of mind-controlling man-monkey the Mandrill.

Page 21: Madame Web...whoo.  This is complicated.  Julia Carpenter was the second Spider-Woman, and after the first one, Jessica Drew (who we saw on the last page) became active again, Julia started going by Arachne.  During last year's Grim Hunt storyline, Arachne, Araña, and the original Madame Web (Cassandra Webb, a clairvoyant ally of Spider-Man) were imprisoned by the deranged Kravinoff family as part of their plot against Spider-Man. Kravinoff matriarch Sasha stabbed Madame Web, so, dying, she passed her powers on to Arachne, who then became the new Madame Web.  She's turned up a couple times since, being super-cryptic.

"After I finish making these pretty patterns."
(ASM #637, written by Joe Kelly, art by Michael Lark)
Page 23: Spider-Man has killed people before, but always under...mitigating circumstances.  He's killed things that were human at one point, he's killed demons, and once he scared a guy so bad he died of a heart attack.  The closest he's ever come is when he killed Charlemagne, a mercenary friend of Wolverine's; trying to avoid a slow, painful death at the hands of her enemies, she slipped into a fight between Spider-Man and Wolverine.  Spider-Man hit her with a punch meant for Wolverine, which was hard enough that it killed her almost instantly, just as she wanted.  As we saw in Slott's own ASM #655, Spider-Man is still haunted by it.

Page 27: Who is the Jackal's mysterious benefactor?  She's female and she's psychic...that doesn't really describe many Spider-Man characters, except for a certain Ms. Carpenter.

And who is the man in the tube?  The Jackal calls him the "prime specimen", but we know he isn't Peter Parker.  Could he be Ben Reilly?  Spidercide?  There's one guy we know he isn't, though, and that's...

Page 28: ...Kaine!  Kaine, introduced in 1994's Web of Spider-Man 119, is the Jackal's first Peter Parker clone.  He didn't quite turn out right, and eventually became badly deformed.  He spent several years alternating between being Spider-Man's friend and his enemy before dying at the hands of the Kravinoffs during the aforementioned Grim Hunt. On the last page of that crossover, though, he was reborn as the monstrous Tarantula, and he's apparently mutated even more since.

Get this man some Oxy, stat.
(ASM #637, written by Joe Kelly, art by Michael Lark)
And that's the issue!  Join us next week for Amazing Spider-Man #667!


  1. Did... did you just annotate an editor's footnote? That's kind of meta, man.

  2. I think the shadowy figure is probably "The Queen". (The character who gave Spider-Man organic webbing in Spider-Man Disassembled.) That's the only Spider-Man character I can think of who fits.

  3. Heh. Well, given the presence of the Jackal, Slott clearly has no qualms about using characters from stories that are...not terribly popular...