Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Comic Review -- Amazing Spider-Man #682: The Ends of the Earth, part 1: My World on Fire / Dan Slott, Stefano Caselli, and Frank Martin, Jr.

I think this cover is pretty clever, with Doc Ock's arms lashing Spidey over a planet-shaped globe.  It certainly sets up the premise of the story, involving Dr. Octopus's apparent desire to save the planet vs. Spider-Man's steadfast distrust of him and anything he's involved in.  Very dramatic, and a delight to behold.

This story starts off with Peter talking about how many gadgets he's been making for himself as Spider-Man, while he takes out Equinox.  He comes to realize that a significant number of his inventions have been applied by the world at large into beneficial technologies that have had some practical applications.  He's happy about this, until he sees J. Jonah Jameson trying to shut down Peter's place of employment, Horizon Labs, on a number of trumped up charges, the most personal one being that his son was nearly killed recently because of them.

Octavius, meanwhile implements his master plan, using a lens to augment the effects of global warming and starting to fry half of the planet.  He takes the lens offline, and sends his plans for a solution to global warming to the most brilliant minds on the planet, stating that he only wishes to be remembered as the man who preserved the earth for all time.  Spider-Man, upset at Ock's move, listens bewildered as a majority of people seem to agree with what he's done.  He takes some of the equipment he's been working on at Horizon off site, and goes to Avengers Mansion in a new costume to rally the divided Avengers to help him take on Ock and the Sinister Six.

I've kept myself mostly in the dark about this story, and if it truly is Octavius's last hurrah, I find the setup in this issue to be fascinating.  While I'm sure he's committed a crime--I mean, starting to flash-fry half the planet has got to be illegal somewhere--it's arguable that he's doing it for a greater good, and actually does have noble intentions for the world before he dies.  And it looks like he's nailed the solution, as well as swayed popular opinion in his favor: the scientists at Horizon think he's on to something, as does Tony Stark.  People are convinced of global warming's existence now due to his demonstration, and believe Octavius wants to stop it.

Of course, this could all be a ruse--as Spider-Man steadfastly believes.  Even as Captain America starts to make the argument that impending death can bring a person's life into focus, Spider-Man simply does not want to hear it.  If Doc Ock is behind it, it can't possibly be for the greater good--except Ock's own greater good--and it is not to be tolerated.  I'll be keenly interested to see who's right and who's wrong on this question, as this story could actually reverse Spider-Man into the role of the villain if it turns out Ock's intentions truly are on the level.

Artistically, I have to say I'm impressed with Caselli's work. It's very slightly cartoony but with plenty of depth and expression that allows for plenty of versatility.  The scenes of the earth in turmoil due to Octavius's lens were particularly striking, as was the scene of a self-righteous Jonah trying to shut down Horizon Labs.  I'm not too keen on Spidey's new look, but that could just be me wanting to stick to the old staples.  I'm willing to give it some time.

Overall, this is an interesting beginning to this storyline, and I'm eager to see how it unfolds.  There are many directions this one could go, and a lot of possibilities for both the hero and the villain here.  The artwork is excellent, the writing is good, and it's been billed as the Doc Ock story you've been waiting to hear for 50 years.  We shall see.  Highly recommended.

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