Aug 15, 2016

[Comics] The Amazing Spider-Man: Ends of the Earth

Dan Slott managed to do some pretty interesting things since he took over the writing for the various Spider-Man titles. He took the risk of shaking up various elements of what has been traditionally been Spider-Mans primary character arc by taking him away from the Daily Bugle and gave him an actual career as a scientist / inventor over at Horizon Labs. Thus Spider-Man's story started to sound a lot like Iron Man's tale in terms of new technology but with the addition of his spider powers yet none of the insane amount of wealth. You can't get everything.

Ends of the Earth is a particular storyline that ran in The Amazing Spider-Man that was also part of the celebration of Spider-Man's 50th anniversary. And suitably enough, the story featured The Sinister Six, a group of Spider-Man's oldest foes, especially Doctor Octopus.

The looming death of Doctor Octopus was a key event that led to other big changes for the Spider-Man comics. Thankfully things weren't as messy as other arcs such as the infamous Clone Saga that had me quit reading Spider-Man comics to begin with.

Synopsis: Ends of the Earth is 6-issue story arc within The Amazing Spider-Man comics written by Dan Slott. Pencils were by Stefano Caselli.

A dying Doctor Octopus activates the Octahedral with links to secret satellites in orbit to activate something he calls the Octavian Lens. The network of satellites manages to enhance the Greenhouse Effect in the area where the satellites have coverage, thus raising Earth's temperature. But then he turns things around and reveals to the world that his Octavian Lens can also be used to reverse the Greenhouse Effect, thus ending global warming. But to do this, he needs help getting 200 of his secret satellites into orbit to complete global coverage of the Earth. Spider-Man doesn't believe him of course and dons a special set of armor that he had developed specifically to face the Sinister Six and take them down once and for all. But with many of the governments of various nations wanting to throw their support behind Doctor Octopus, things aren't looking good for Spider-Man.

What I Liked: Science Spider-Man is a lot of fun and his plan of attack in this book was pretty awesome as he had all these very science-y strategies for dealing with each of the Sinister Six. Of course things don't always go well since we need that sort of thing for there to be conflict, but there are key moments when he really shines. And I particularly liked some of the revelations about the power sets of the likes of Sandman to cite a good example.

But man, Doctor Octopus is crazy brilliant here and you really get the sense that he's a desperate scientist now cornered by death with nothing to lose. And this really helps present him as a truly formidable villain and not just a chubby guy with mechanical arms. The rest of the Sinister  Six all get some great spotlight moments and I'll take a moment  to commend Mysterio for some really great tricks and even wittier dialog.

What Could Have Been Better: I don't know if we needed the Avengers to get involved here, although it was nice to see a team like that respond to what would normally be "just" a Spider-Man threat despite its global impact. Him ending up with Black Widow and Silver Sable for most of the book felt like an odd trio, but at least Silver Sable really had long history with Spider-Man. It was just a little odd to see her alone despite how she usually appears with Wild Pack and such. But then again the Slott clearly had his reasons given how things end.

The overall plan was a little convoluted at times, but else could you expect from a Spider-Man story event, right?

TL;DR: Ends of the Earth highlights some of the best aspects of Dan Slott Spider-Man along with a nice nod to the long history of the character by using the Sinister Six as a focus. It also sets Spider-Man with more things to worry about given his technology and the events at the end of the book, but then that's just another day in the life of Peter Parker I suppose. Thus the story gets a well-deserved 4 Sinister Six schemes out of a possible 5.

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