One of the big problems with crossover events is that they often forget to deliver an actual story. Sure, there’s a plot, and on a good day it might even make sense, but many of them lack a heart.
That’s why it’s encouraging to see that in the first issue of Spider-Island (it may say “prelude” on the front, but this is effectively the beginning), Dan Slott goes to great lengths to remind us what the story is actually going to be about. Yes, it’s about the Jackal giving spider-powers to the citizens of New York, but it’s also about Peter Parker, about how he thinks he’s hit his stride as Spider-Man, and about how he’s going to react when it turns out he no longer has “great power” — just the same as everyone else.
The bulk of the issue follows Spider-Man through his various responsibilities — family, friends, work, super-teams (and so on) — in a way that makes his packed schedule seem almost plausible. We touch on various plot threads, most prominently the loss of Peter’s Spider-Sense and the martial arts training he’s using to compensate, and all the while, strange things are happening to the citizens of New York, including Peter’s girlfriend, Carlie. This book makes the most of its 30 pages.
As well as throwing in a lot of character-focused moments and advancing the book’s ongoing threads, Slott begins to weave out the crossover’s central plot. It’s telling that Peter fails to notice it happening, because he’s constantly on the move. One can’t help wondering whether this’ll affect his lifestyle coming out of the crossover.
Fans of the clone saga will be especially interested in some of this issue’s developments and implications. Indeed, some of the hints at what’s going on seem so blatant that it seems like it might actually be misdirection. Even if that’s the case, it’s misdirection that should get readers excited to read the next issue. It was inevitable that the name “Ben Reilly” wouldn’t be far away from The Jackal, and although this issue doesn’t say it, we’re clearly supposed to be thinking in that direction.
Art-wise, this issue plays to Caselli’s strengths, giving him a wide range of characters to draw and lots of action scenes. Caselli’s choice of wild camera angles and excellent comic timing make him a natural fit for Spider-Man, and although he’s maybe a little similar to Ramos (if we’re going to have two regular artists, variation would be nice!) the book does looks great.
It’s been quite some time since Spider-Man had his own crossover like this, and the shift in gears is giving the book a palpable sense of excitement – and to think, this is just the prelude!