Waiting for the Trade = Spider-man

Waiting for the Trade

Amazing Spider-man: Trouble on the Horizon

written by Dan Slott
& Chris Yost,

 art by Humberto Ramos, Giuseppe Camuncoli
& Matthew Clark

collects Amazing
Spider-man 678-681 (including 679.1)


Why I Bought This: The
time travel story herein was universally acclaimed and I’ve been enjoying
Slott’s Spidey run anyway so my picking this up was just a matter of waiting
for the price to drop on Amazon.


The Plot: Spider-man
travels one day into the future to discover NYC has been destroyed. Now he has
one day to figure out how to prevent it. There are also unrelated stories
involving Morbius and the Human Torch in here too.

 (spoilers below)

Chapter 1 – Peter wakes up feeling good and walks to work at
Horizon. He is assigned to check the math of fellow scientist Grady. Grady says
he has invented a time doorway that goes one day into the future and grabs a
copy of tomorrow’s newspaper from the Horizon break-room to prove it. Pete
steps through the doorway and finds all of NYC reduced to a smoking crater.
Peter finds a broken watch stopped at 3:11 so he assumes this is when the
disaster will occur. He returns to the present and Grady realizes that when
someone steps through his time-door they disappear from reality for 24 hours
thus Peter is supposed to do something today that will prevent the disaster.
Peter makes up the ‘I’m friends with Spider-man’ excuse and takes off. Pete’s
first instinct is to call in the Avengers and FF to help but Madame Web v2.0
(Julia Carpenter) uses her fortune-telling powers to inform Peter has to do
this on his own. Spidey keeps in contact with Grady, who has both the
good-future newspaper so he can tell Spidey what he is/was supposed to do today
and the door open to the bad-future so they can see if/when it changes back.
This leads to a montage of Spidey doing everything in the paper from stopping
purse-snatchers, to delivering a baby to defeating the super-villain FAÇADE.
And yet the time keeps clicking to 3:10 without a change as we cut to parade
being held for Silver Sable that Flag Smasher (an 80s Gru Captain America
villain) intends to blow up.

Chapter 2 – 3:11 p.m. passes and no boom thus we know the
incident occurs at 3:11 a.m. Spidey has no more clues in the paper and goes on
patrol. He ends up at the parade where he and Sable end up thwarting Flag
Smasher’s plot and disabling the nuke he brought to the city. And yet at
Horizon the bad future remains. We get another montage of Spidey in action to
no avail until a call comes in from MJ. Pete is tempted to ignore it but Grady
points out that an incoming call would always have occurred whether they had
seen the future or not. MJ wants to meet at a diner and during the meal she
makes Pete realize the missing “this” was something Peter was supposed to do
and not Spidey—namely check Grady’s math. Pete races to Horizon where they shut
down the time doorway with 45-seconds to spare before the time machine would overheat
and blow up the city. And then we end on a cute bit the next morning with
past-Grady taking the newspaper out of the Horizon break room that reads
“continued last issue.”

Chapter 3 – So this chapter answers the question of who is
the mysterious scientist in Horizon Lab #6, which had been a subplot since
Peter got the job there, and the answer ends up being Morbius. Uatu (not the
Watcher, but a teen genius who works at Horizon) is investigating the mystery
and drags Pete into it. This leads to Pete changing into Spidey and overseeing
Max working with Morbius. Max tries to cure Morbius of his vampirism by
injecting him with Spider-Island cure but it causes Morbius to lose control of
his bloodlust. The obligatory fight breaks out. Uatu is psyched to see a
vampire as he has a full set of monster fighting gear developed and ready to
use and together he and Spidey defeat Morbius. Max kicks Spidey out of the
building and is going to let Morbius stay as apparently the two are old college
friends, which is not so far-fetched Morbius’ back story is he was a Nobel-prize
winning scientist before he became a vampire. In the epilogue Morbius sneaks
into the sewers and meets up with the Lizard (setting up “The No Turning Back”
trade I reviewed a few months ago). 

Chapter 4 – John Jameson is on the Horizon space station
while Jonah is at Horizon Labs telescreen calling him when suddenly the transmission
goes out and a bunch of alarms on the station begin to sound. Peter changes to
Spidey and heads over to FF headquarters since they have best space travel
equipment. Only Torch is home. He and Spidey catch up for the first time since
Johnny’s return from the dead. Jonah blames Max for his son being in danger. On
the space station Spidey & Torch find it is overrun with octobots. Torch
can’t use his flame because the station is low on oxygen. It looks bleak for
the heroes until John makes the save with a laser gun. John then reveals that
the rest of the station personnel have been possessed by octobots.

Chapter 5 – The heroes retreat and attempt to get off the
station but Ock blows up both the Pogo Plane and Space Shuttle on board the
station from his remote undersea base. Spidey then uses Torch’s cell phone
(designed by Reed to work in space) to call Max and have him turn off the
oxygen in the station. This KOs the Octobot-possessed
staff, allowing Spidey to web them up. Ock sets off another explosion to knock
the station from orbit. Torch is able to absorb the reentry heat while Spidey
makes a web parachute so the station lands safely off the coast of Florida.


Critical Thoughts:
The time travel story is as excellent as everyone says it is. I enjoyed it
thoroughly. It contains an abundance of clever writing. I like the villains
that show up. I like the roles the supporting cast play in it, particularly MJ.
I really like how the ending resolution is that it was Peter who was
indispensable to averting the bad future and not Spider-man. Overall, just an
all-around excellent stand alone story that you could pick up even if you never
read Spider-man before and enjoy thoroughly.

Alas the other stories collected here are not nearly as
good. The Morbius story is average at best, although the reveal of him as the
mystery scientist was spoiled for me since I had read the later trade before I
read this. The Uatu thing is weird, in that he has monster-hunting gear sitting
in his closet and he’s been waiting and itching to fight the supernatural. I
mean its comics so if they wanted to spin him off into his own book there are
worse ideas for a title than ‘teen genius uses super technology to fight the
undead,’ but for a one-off moment is Spider-man title it seems out of place and
to my knowledge there’s been no follow up on this. Plus he doesn’t seem to have
much motivation for this, like if his mom was killed by a werewolf I could see
it, but he just seems like a dude who has a job in a sci-fi level science lab
and instead of inventing stuff the company he works for can sell he’s making
monster weapons, which even in the Marvel Universe is a pretty obscure
sub-genre to concentrate on stopping.

I did not enjoy the Spidey-Torch team-up at all. The banter
felt really off for me. I would say in this story Slott did not capture the
Torch’s voice or the dynamic between the two at all. It was too much joking around
without ever being serious. And while there are plenty of fine comedic
Spidey-Torch team-up stories (Defalco has a classic in Spider-man Unlimited #5 and Busiek wrote a really good one in Untold Tales of Spider-man with the
Wizard) the difference between those tales and this one is this wasn’t a
comedic threat the heroes were up against. There have been a lot more serious
Spidey-Torch team-ups than comedic ones and we’ve seen in those while the
heroes banter they know when it is time to treat the threats seriously. The
dissonance between the heroes and the tone is made weirder for me because Slott
first wrote Spidey in a Spidey-Torch mini-series that was quite good. Had I not
read that trade previously I’d say Slott just doesn’t get Torch and move on,
but that other trade shows he does. I guess we just chalk this up to an
off-month for him, especially since he was preparing to write a major story arc
with “Ends of the Earth” showing up right after this.


Grade: The time
travel story is an easy A. Since that is what I bought the trade for I’m happy
with the purchase and would recommend this trade. That said if we are grading
all of it I’d give the Morbius story a C+ and the Torch story a D at best. That
would give the trade as a whole an average of a B-.