Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Earth's Busiest Heroes

You'd think that with a cover like this, the story can't miss, right?


This king-size Amazing Spider-Man Annual #3 was the famous issue where the idea was first floated of Spider-Man becoming an Avenger--which, at the end of the issue, just didn't work out. You could say that for the issue itself, which threw together so many oddities to make the story happen that I'm surprised the Avengers were able to exist at all without coming apart at the seams.

Funny enough, when Spider-Man finally did join the Avengers at a later date, it really wasn't so complicated to make happen, was it?

In the annual, it was again Captain America who proposed Spider-Man for membership. But with the exception of himself and, initially, Hawkeye, no one was sure that he belonged on the team, mostly because no one really knew anything about him--even though the same could have been said about Hawkeye, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, when they petitioned for membership. Stranger still, the Wasp opposes Spider-Man's membership because of her "natural wasp's aversion to spiders," though she apparently doesn't have a problem with guys who hang with ants or yellowjackets. The decision isn't really made until Daredevil vouches for him--even though the Avengers probably know as little about Daredevil as they do about Spider-Man.

So already, this story is a mess. As for Spider-Man, he's afraid that the increased exposure he'll have as an Avenger might put his secret identity at greater risk of being discovered by his frail Aunt May, fearing that the shock might kill her. Though he doesn't consider that it's one thing to find out your nephew is the mysterious, dangerous-looking Spider-Man, and quite another when your nephew tells you he's been asked to become one of the world-famous Avengers. I don't know why Peter is always thinking of her discovery of his identity in terms of having his mask yanked off in front of her shocked eyes. Sitting her down and having a heart-to-heart with her about it, particularly when he brings his motivations regarding his Uncle Ben into the conversation, would solve this issue once and for all.

At any rate, Peter decides to go ahead with the meeting with the Avengers. And things get out of hand, for no real reason. Goliath is adamant about testing Spider-Man before accepting him as an Avenger, yet none of the members have even come to agreement on the details before Spider-Man's arrival. Then, Iron Man all but picks a fight with him when he bluntly (and rudely) tells Spider-Man to step out of the room while they discuss it. It's Spider-Man who then flies off the handle, thinking that it's the Avengers' goal to make him mad in order to test him. I don't know what it is about Avengers Mansion--one step inside and you become irrational.

Things go quickly downhill from there:

Once everyone blows off steam, the Avengers decide on a test for Spider-Man: he's to find the Hulk, who's loose in the city, and bring him to the Avengers.


Sigh. All right, let's start with why the Avengers didn't bolt after the Hulk themselves when he was sighted: "We've all been too busy to go after the Hulk ourselves!" explains Captain America. At least now we know how the Avengers prioritize. Because while the Hulk is roaming around New York--the Hulk, mind you--these busy Avengers have the time to conduct a lengthy meeting (including a slide-show!) on whether or not to make Spider-Man an Avenger; track down Daredevil; split up into individual searches to scour the city and locate Spider-Man; give him a full day to make up his mind on whether or not to meet with them; and then hold an interview with him. Thank goodness the Hulk wasn't crushing buildings or ripping up streets--that would have really thrown a wrench into their day.

So Spider-Man, dropping by the Daily Bugle, finds out from a frenzied reporter that the Hulk has been sighted at the "Gamma Ray Research Center." Reporters and Avengers certainly function on different wavelengths, don't they? Because it doesn't occur to one Avenger that the Hulk's alter ego, Bruce Banner, might have made the Gamma Ray Research Center his first stop. And it's not like the place would have been hard for them to find, given that it has a big--and, you guessed it, green--sign plastered on it:

Naturally, it's here that Spider-Man and the Hulk tangle. With no one else around. No panicking people--and ridiculously enough, no law enforcement, even though a reporter has had time to race back to his newspaper with the story of the Hulk being sighted there. Maybe the NYPD should have a direct line to the Bugle.

To make a long story short, Spider-Man's fight with the Hulk accidentally exposes the Hulk to gamma rays (come on, this is the Gamma Ray Research Center--things happen), which turn him back into Bruce Banner. Spidey takes pity on Banner's circumstances--and when Banner changes back to the Hulk and harmlessly wanders off, Spider-Man decides to let him go and call off the test, thinking that the Hulk doesn't deserve whatever fate the Avengers have in store for him.

And speaking of our busy Avengers, let's check in with them:

Don't you just want to shout "WHAT did you say??" to Captain America right about now?

Spider-Man then shows up and reports that he wasn't able to find the Hulk (which the Avengers have the nerve to be shocked at), and swings off without explanation. Though the twist of the story is that Spider-Man was unaware that the Avengers wanted to help the Hulk, not imprison or punish him. Unfortunately, given their organized, prepared, all-on-the-same-page "interview" with Spider-Man, I frankly wouldn't have expected things to go any better with their handling of the Hulk, would you?


dbutler16 said...

This issue sounds kinda bonkers. Typical Marvel superheroes acting like idiots.

Iain said...

A later Avengers issue would put Spidey on probation to join but the government nixes the idea because they know nothing about him, but Starfox a alien they accept no problems. Parker bad luck at the fore again I guess. ^^