Hank McCoy (Before the Fur)

I’ve been very intrigued by this whole Spider Island thing. Like I’ve said so many times before: I’m a complete sucker for revamps. And this is strange but Spider Island has just a little bit of revamp going on I think. How so?

Well, see, with so many Spider-man comics getting cranked out every year, there’s bound to be a few plotlines that are just…let’s say poorly received. The infamous Ben Reiley clone saga comes to mind. Ooouuucchhh. Did people hate that one.

The thing is (and I’ve said this before, I know), in theory it wasn’t bad intentioned. At its heart, I think the Clone Saga was an attempt to make Peter Parker and Mary Jane happy. It was a sort of compromise. Peter and Mary Jane could go on and have a family together and live happily ever after and you could still have Spider-man.

Otherwise we end up here, a few years down the road. Peter and Mary Jane’s marriage and memory have been destroyed by some bizarre mystic-whatever. Regardless the Clone Saga is an extremely odd and disliked little piece of the Spider-verse that we typically turn a blind eye too and don’t acknowledge ever happened. But there are some other threads like this in the pages of Spider-man that we aren’t always sure what to do with. Things like:

1. There’s a clone of Gwen Stacey. She ISN’T Gwen Stacey and in some ways has grown to have her own distinct personality separate from Gwen; less serene, more conflicted. But yeah. She pops up from time to time and causes no end of weirdness.

2. Mary Jane and Peter may have had a kid. People seem to forget that this happened, but at the climax of the Clone Saga, Mary Jane had a baby on the way. The story culminates with Ben’s death and Mary Jane losing the child…or did she? The medical staff around Mary Jane seem sketchy, with some funny dialogue. Did Osborn have Spidey’s daughter packaged up and shipped off before mom and dad ever laid eyes on her? It’s possible…

3. You spend so much time hearing about Aunt May and Uncle Ben, but what the hell ever happened to Peter’s parents anyway!? Well, here’s one most people didn’t see coming: Richard and Mary Parker were undercover C.I.A. agents with connections to Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. Believe it or not the two got in over their heads with the Red Skull and were never heard from again. It’s an interesting and sometimes neglected plot point.

Peter may seem sheepish and awkward as a kid: but he’s got a family legacy of keeping secret identities and doing heroic work. It’s sort of like it’s in his blood. Not to mention that somewhere out there, this gives Peter and Fury history together of a kind.

So yeah, Spider-Island. Why is it a revamp? Because I think it’s playing around with this KIND of stuff. With the pieces of the Spider-man universe that are sometimes left tucked away and neglected because we aren’t totally sure what to do with it. The Jackal’s presence heralds this kind of thing.

Spidey hardly lacks for mad scientist-types, but for some reason, Jackal is ALWAYS the guy involved with the WEIRDEST Spider-man stories of all time. It’s left me a little obsessed with him, actually. He’s the herald of all things forgotten and obscure in Spider-man comics. His appearance in Spider Island invokes the presence of this kind of forlorn Spider-man lore. But it’s all being handled in a way that’s a little more polished than what we’ve seen before.

Better written, more suspenseful and interesting. Rumors are flying around that Gwendolyn (Gwen’s clone) might make an appearance before this is all over too. Makes sense, if Jackal’s around…

Of course, I’m not even touching on the whole The Other stuff, which I’ve kind of grown to love actually. Putting a new twist on the whole Spider-man mythology, everything that’s happened recently in the comic has put Peter Parker’s powers in a more mystic, animal totem kind of scheme than a crazy genetic fluke one. It really puts the focus on the ‘spider’ part of Spider-man, which is easy to forget about, actually, because he’s got so much going on in his personal life.

And maybe, that’s what this is going to boil down to. Jackal’s entrance in to the story conjures images of old plot lines that involved genetic engineering and science. It clashes with some of the new more modern stories that have had this whole mystical slant on them. What’s that mean? What’s that tell us about Spidey and his powers (and everybody in New York HAVING his powers)? Hard to say…