Some crossovers – the likes of “Civil War,” “Secret Invasion,” “Siege” – require that the readers to take them very seriously in order for the story to work. Others – the currently ongoing Spider-Island, for example – are somehow inherently less sensible. And that’s why a comic like “Spider-Island: Avengers” can get away with being as funny as it can.
Leaving aside the “one arm” joke on the first page, which justifies the cover price alone, “Spider-Island: Avengers” reminds us that just because you’ve got spider powers and you’re a superhero, it doesn’t mean that you’re going to be good at both together. Much to Hawkeye’s chagrin.
In an era where comics are often accused of being too realistic and too sober, it’s nice to find a book that’s aiming squarely for comedy over drama. Ms. Marvel, the military woman, makes for a great straight man in the book’s routine, while Hawkeye is the butt of the jokes, and Frog-Man, the jester. You couldn’t get away with this level of comedy week after week, but right now it’s a welcome change of tone, especially considering the rather somber approach the same creative team delivered on “Fear Itself: Spider-Man” so recently.
Admittedly, it only works because Yost is well aware of the boundaries that must be adhered to, and makes sure to keep the characters from straying beyond their own instincts. It’s a comedy book, but no-one’s acting out of character, and the story it tells is still firmly in-continuity. Maybe it’s not crucial to the crossover in terms of plot, but in terms of giving Spider-Man’s colleagues a taste of the “Parker luck,” it’s more than true to the themes of Spider-Island, and it’s a safe bet that if you like what’s happening in “Amazing Spider-Man” right now, this’ll be right up your street.
Art duties are performed by Mike McKone, whose traditionally superheroic art style gives the comedy a deadpan delivery that makes it work. McKone is good with the timing, but he resists overselling the jokes, and that’s what makes them work so well. You can imagine the same script would read very differently if illustrated by Humberto Ramos, for example, and that’s a sign of just how integral McKone is to the execution of this story.
It has to be said, then, that if you only buy one Spider-Island spin-off, this is probably the one to go for. It feels like the Avengers have been dropped into a Spider-Man story, and they’re not quite sure how to deal with it as a result. It won’t radically alter the outcome of the crossover, but it’s good for a few laughs. Why deny yourself that?