Story: Mark Waid

Art: Paul Azaceta

Review: Master Filmmaker Mark Mackner

Hola, Arachno-philes!  Tis I, your favorite Amazing Spider-Fan and local indie horror icon MASTER FILMMAKER MARK MACKNER, with another installment of the Weekly Web-Up!  Today, we’ll be taking a look at Part 2 of Mark Waid’s ORIGIN OF THE SPECIES.

OK, so since I KNOW all of you read Chapter One (A result of my enthusiastic recommendation and powers of hypnotic suggestion), I won’t worry about spoiling it here.  The mystery villain in the beginning turned out to be none other than DOCTOR OCTOPUS.  The thing he’s after is NORMAN OSBORN and Lily Hollister’s newborn baby, as it represents the first pure specimen of Goblin DNA.  You see, Daddy Norman and Mommy Menace were both jacked up on Goblin Serum when they did the deed, and Octavius believes the baby’s blood could be used to stave off his cancer somehow.

Last ish, Ock delivered the baby and dangled him upside-down rather carelessly from his mechanical clutches.  This time, Spidey escapes with the baby, with Ock and his army of highly paid villains in pursuit.  Ock wants this baby so bad, he’s assembled an all-star team of rogues, and they’ll stop at nothing to get that baby.  Problem is, Norman’s got people after it, too.  And Spider-Man’s rescue efforts have been misconstrued as kidnapping!  Just the opportunity Mayor Jameson has been looking for!  Now HE’s got his entire resources focused on taking down Spidey and retrieving the baby, as it’s now a national news item.

Another thing that’s developed in this issue is that CARLIE COOPER may soon catch on that Peter is Spider-Man.  After the fight with Doc Ock, SHOCKER, and TOMBSTONE tore through the Coffee Bean last ish, Carlie has been worried that Pete was hurt or killed in the ensuing chaos.  MJ and Harry whisk Lily to the hospital, but Carlie sticks around to search through the debris for Peter.  Carlie’s a smart gal.  Will it be very long before she realizes that Peter vanished the very moment that Spider-Man appeared on the scene?

The rest of the issue focuses on Spidey’s efforts to get the baby to the hospital.  He dodges ELECTRO, only to run into a fleet of police helicopters demanding that he surrender the baby.  And that’s when SANDMAN attacks!    

Yeah, it’s totally a Macguffin story, with Spidey in possession of something that multiple forces are after, all for their own personal agendas.  Ock, for research to beat his cancer.  Norman, ‘cause it’s his baby.  And, most likely, for future research (Once he gets outta The Raft).  JJJ, ‘cause he hates Spidey, and the national media jumps on the story, so he’s got his own reputation involved.  All the other villains, for money (Most), new gadgets (Mysterio), purging of criminal records (Mr. Negative), treatment for weird medical conditions (Electro, Morbius).  But Waid’s a gifted writer, and deftly uses the plot device as a springboard for some really fast-paced Spidey fun.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 42 issues since Spidey last clashed with Dr. Octopus.  Man, how the time flies by!  I totally dig this new direction for Otto; it’s original and rife with dramatic possibilities.  His body is frail and withered, but his mechanical arms still elevate him to super-villain status.  He’s a mad genius, frantically searching for a way to escape death at the hands of his cancer.  This desperation makes him more determined, and deadlier than ever.  He’s not just knocking over banks to fund some weird science experiments.  He’s literally fighting for his life now.  I love that kind of characterization!

I really dig the action in this issue.  The part where Electro and Sandman team up against Spidey is exactly like something you’d see in a Spidey cartoon, and that gets mad points from me.  I eat that shit up.  CLASSIC!!!!

Aaaaaand, here’s the wrap-up!

STORY: A. Again, nothing trailblazing here in terms of storytelling, but it’s FUN, and I like my comics fun.  ASM is my comfort food.  It’s something I look forward to every week, and I’m happier when it’s a good time, rather than a depressing slog.  Waid’s using characters I love, and I love him for it.

ART: A.  Azaceta draws a fine Spider-Man, and I really love his interpretations of the villains.  And another stellar cover this week, too.    

And THAT is THE WORD, so sayeth THE MASTER!!!!

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