by Brian Michael Bendis and David Marquez
If Norman Osborne’s intentions, and failed experiments, were always an attempt at recreating the anomaly that is Steve Rodgers, then it is only logical that someone else would eventually try the same experimentation. The recent storyline in Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man is touching on just that subject. The Roxxon Corporation has found some test subjects and is continuing to play with human beings to see what they can create. Recently the cast has expanded to include the duo of Cloak and Dagger as well as Bombshell. Bendis’ last two issues were enjoyable but lacked the spark that much of this run has had. In this chapter, that spark returns, though not until its conclusion.
Running with the structure of a ‘how did we get here?’ story, Bendis opens with an explosion before flashing back to explain how that event came to be. Taskmaster has lucked into capturing not just Bombshell but both Spider-Man and Spider-Woman. In a great bit of panel work, Marquez provides a very impressive fight sequence between the four characters. Giving each individual enough interaction without it feeling like a calculated plan is difficult, but Marquez manages the balance organically here.
Cloak and Dagger make their way to the fight and the story brings the different factions of individuals and misunderstandings together in a great panel that should have been its own spread. Bendis’ writing in the issue fluctuates from classic to grating. There are moments of solid humor, finding space for Miles to make light of something without it interrupting the flow. In other moments, however, characters seem to say too much or speak too complexly for being in the midst of a life-threatening battle. Additionally, Miles too often reflects on the benefits or disadvantages of being a superhero as it relates to his recent time away from the world. Some of these work, but the number of occurrences during the same confrontation borders on annoyance.
As the issue comes to a close, the story reaches its real moment of revitalization. Taskmaster appears to be just another foe to defeat, and the issue is nearly forgettable when this crew comes together and makes a plan for the future. These misfits have been left to the own devices and have no one to turn to. S.H.I.E.L.D. may be involved with Roxxon in some way, and there is no telling who can be trusted. Suddenly Bendis has created something that is reminiscent of Brian K. Vaughan’s Runaways and though it may be short-lived, it provides for a great moment and a resurgence of energy for the title.