I apologize for this being late (by two days any way), but, as always, here are my impressions and thoughts on Amazing Spider-Man #645, part 4 of â€œOrigin of the Species.â€
For this issue, Matthew Southworth joins Paul Azaceta on the art chores and the issue is actually better for it. Partly because Azaceta is relegated to the last few pages, but also Southworthâ€™s style, while certainly a bit stiffer, fitâ€™s the darker, grittier mood this particular chapter takes, with itâ€˜s usage of solid colors and blacks. The result is a style that is more reminiscent of the older-style of comic book art in which you have a lot of things going on in the panels at once. Still, itâ€™s another instance of having to use a fill-in artist to finish a story, and considering thereâ€™s going to be a change in format next month, hopefully will see this happen less often.
Yes, this issue is darker than the other parts of â€œOrigin of the Species,â€ as Mark Waid switches gears from what was, thus far, a chase-sequence to a â€œbeware the rage of a desperate man,â€ as Spidey, furious over his belief that Norman and Lilyâ€™s baby has died, goes on a rampage against the super-villain community to find Doc Ock. Some might think this is a bit too soon in the light of the Grim Hunt (not to mention one has to wonder why did the Chameleon think that tricking Spidey into thinking the baby was dead was a good idea?), but Waid handles this with great effectiveness. By having Spidey be stone-cold silent throughout almost the entire issue, showing him perched in predatory positions, and not even showing him manhandling the villains and yet seeing just how terrified they are (including some nice cameos by the Hypno-Hustler and the Looter), the reader truly gets the sense of just how frightening and dangerous Spidey can be when pushed--and that just within the first few pages. So, when the scene occurs where Spidey literally destroys a dock-side warehouse where the Enforcers, Sandman, and the Shocker are hiding, as well as how ruthless he can be without even resorting to physical blows, itâ€™s very satisfying and chilling.
However, there are two developments that occur in this issue which really soured me on this issue. The first is the continuation of the Carlie Cooper/Mary Jane getting Lily to safety subplot, which has not only been the weakest aspect of this story because it just feels like pointless filler, the inconsistencies and plot holes are now numerous and deep. Leaving aside the whole question of why did Doc Ock ever let MJ, Harry, Carlie, and Lily go in issue #643 when he could have used them as hostages to force Spidey to give the baby back, the idea of Tombstone going after Lily because he think she knows the whereabouts of her baby is ridiculous when you consider the two previous issue stressed how virtually every camera and news broadcast was showing Spidey swinging around the city with the baby in his arms. Also, how did Carlie even know where to find MJ and Lily, and before you say â€œWell Carlie said she heard MJ say where they were going last issue,â€ MJ only said they were going someplace â€œclose byâ€ and not anyplace specific.
Oh, and if you folks think Marvel hasnâ€™t rammed down readerâ€™s throats the notion that Carlie is the â€œidealâ€ and â€œperfectâ€ girlfriend for Peter before, itâ€™s nothing compared to what happens here. Because not only does MJ (the former â€œMrs. Peter Parker) thank Carlie for how â€œbad-assâ€ it was of her to stand up to Tombstone (never mind that Carlie was the one who lead him right to their hiding place, that her bullets didnâ€™t do squat, and that it was Lily summoning her â€œMenace gliderâ€ which actually took him out), she also adds that itâ€™s â€œnice to know Parkerâ€™s finally figured out how to pick â€™em.â€ If Marvel really believes they can convince readers to embrace a Peter and Carlie pairing with such unsubtle approach such as this, especially on the heels of One Moment in Time, then they are grossly mistaken.
The second development occurs towards the end in which we get the twist that not only does Spidey learn that the baby is still alive, but that Doc Ock doesnâ€™t have the baby. Who does? Why, The Lizard forâ€¦some reason or other. So after building up a possible confrontation between Spidey and Doc Ock that has risen to very personal levels, along with the possibility of Harry Osborn becoming the Green Goblin again and getting into the mix, AND Lily also joining in the fray, what reason is there for the Lizard--who has had no connection whatsoever to this story beforehand--to even get involved? Especially since we already have clear, well-established motives for Spidey, Doc Ock, Harry, and Lily for wanting the baby. It already makes what was a possibly crowded slugfest unnecessarily more so. Not to mention it only makes having the baby fall into the hands of yet another villain feel repetitive and pad the story out even more than it already was.
Still, at least this part offers a change of pace from the previous two issues of chase-sequences, and although the set-up for Spideyâ€™s rage was weak, the cliffhanger at the end is ridiculous, and the scenes with MJ, Carlie, and Lily out of place, itâ€™s good to see Spidey taking it to the bad guys and scare the crap out of them once in awhile. I just kind of wish the overall story was more than just adequate and didnâ€˜t feel so padded.