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Amazing Spider-Man Annual, The #38: Review

Jun 2011
John Layman, Lee Garbett

Story Name:

Identity Wars, Part 1

Review & Comments

4.5 stars

Amazing Spider-Man Annual, The #38 Review by (February 19, 2019)

Review: Alternate universe stories are generally based on an obvious gimmick that is easy to describe in one sentence e.g. What if the radioactive spider bit Gwen Stacy? or What if Superman grew up in Soviet Russia? Identity Wars is a bit different in that it focuses on the characters meeting their counterparts in an alternate universe where things are not quite so obvious. Here Spider-Man learns that his opposite number is a much more powerful and feared hero, a grim avenger of the night (think Batman) with a dark and sinister secret. Deadpool, who can be quite overbearing at times, hits some kind of happy medium, being funny without making me want to throw the comic across the room in irritation (nice trick with a digital copy). Hulk's story is a bit less creative: we've already been told that in this world Bruce Banner has forsaken science for magic and is the Sorcerer Supreme so there aren't as many crazy new details or surprises so half a star off for that. Anyway, the plotting is exceptionally clever for this sort of thing and most of the dialogue sparkles, with a couple of slow spots. The absurdist Deadpool chapter gives us a nice break between the increasingly dark Spidey chapter and the Hulk chapter where all Hell breaks loose (literally). Very nice and a lot of fun.

Comments: Alternate universe versions appear of J. Jonah Jameson, Robbie Robertson, Dr Octopus, the Rhino, Tony Stark (an overweight playboy), Reed Richards, Aunt May, Uncle Ben, and Doctor Doom. Amazing Spider has trophies of his victories over Annihilus, Electro and Mysterio (his bubble helmet is now a fish bowl). The covers of the three annuals form an interlocking cover.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Amazing Spider-Man Annual, The #38 Synopsis by Peter Silvestro

Peter Parker is delighted to have a new job at Horizon Labs even working in the middle of the night. Elsewhere in the building, a gang of bad guys working with Deadpool breaks in, intending to use a prototype device that can open portals to parallels Earths, powered by the human mind. Problem is, so far the feedback is fatal—and that's why these crooks have Deadpool along, to send them to a world with easy money. One of the gang catches someone snooping around: it is Dr Bruce Banner; the boss orders him killed—and that's when things really get out of hand. Spider-Man arrives to find Hulk tearing the place apart while Deadpool's brain is frying. A power overload hurls Spidey, 'Pool, and Banner through to another lab, this time called Parker Technologies. Deadpool has a green-clad counterpart and Spidey meets his opposite number, a hero called the Amazing Spider who is seriously injured. Spidey takes Spider in his “Spider-Car” back to his cave lair where the wounded hero asks Spidey to take his place while he recuperates. What he finds is that in this world, the Amazing Spider is a more powerful and feared superhero than he is in 616. He easily overcomes Dr Octopus and J. Jonah Jameson again sings his praises; the Rhino surrenders rather than be beaten up by the Amazing Spider (and can't understand why the usually grim Spider is making jokes). Pete learns that the Spider has defeated Thanos, Annihilus, and Galactus so there are no other superheroes, none seems necessary.

As Spider is still out of action, Pete also has to run Parker Technologies while arranging dates with Mary Jane Watson and Gwen Stacy. He also discovers that the Spider was already aware of the parallel worlds—and that in this dimension, Uncle Ben is still alive....

Peter rushes over for a visit and Uncle Ben fills him in on how he survived being shot by the burglar and here he has trained the Amazing Spider, after all, “with great power comes a responsibility to stay powerful.” And that this Aunt May is afraid of Peter's spider-powers. And then the drugged tea takes effect....

Peter finds himself hooked up to the machine that the Amazing Spider has been using to drain the life forces of the Spideys of parallel worlds to make himself ever more powerful. Pete tries to escape and in a scuffle, Uncle Ben accidentally electrocutes the Amazing Spider. Our Spidey calmly walks away and carries on as CEO of Parker Technologies, locating his Bruce Banner to help get the portal open again, though Bruce confesses he loves this world where he is not the Hulk (and Deadpool seems to be having fun with his alter ego). So by night, Pete continues as the Amazing Spider but he wants to go home....

Continued in DEADPOOL ANNUAL #1.

Lee Garbett
Mark Pennington
Fabio d'Auria
Steve McNiven (Cover Penciler)
Mark Morales (Cover Inker)
Marte Gracia (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Clayton Cowles.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Bruce Banner
Bruce Banner

(Robert Bruce Banner)

(Bruce Banner)

(Peter Parker)

> Amazing Spider-Man Annual, The: Book info and issue index

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