Writer: Kevin Smith
Artists: Terry Dodson (p), Rachel Dodson (i)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
The book opens with Spider-Man and the Black Cat tormenting the imprisoned Scorpia, and they manage to annoy her into giving up the name of the person who hired her to try & kill Garrison Klum. We then look in on the man who Scorpia named, as we see Garrison Klum pays the man a visit, and he is somehow able to cause everyone but a little infant to overdose. He then has his man grab him a cleaver from the kitchen so he can keep what killed these people from raising suspicion. As Spider-Man and the Black Cat arrives at this horrific crime scene, we see the two quickly come to an impasse, as the Black Cat is all for heading to Garrison Klum to lay down a beating, while Spider-Man is opting for a more cautious approach, as they have very little evidence that Garrison Klum is the evil monster they believe him to be. As Black Cat takes down Spider-Man and ties him up using his own webbing, we see her head off alone to face Garrison Klum. However, after she arrives she finds the man is waiting for her, and he doesn't hide the fat that he deals in drugs. Garrison Klum also reveals that he has himself a mutant gift, that allows him to teleport small amounts of liquids, and the Black Cat finds a paralyzing dose of heroin teleported into her body. Then the situation becomes even worse as Garrison Klum reveals another nasty side of his personality.
My reaction to the final page of this issue is entirely dependent on the opening pages of the next issue, where we'll see how far Kevin Smith allows this decidedly horrific scene to play out. Now I'll admit that this scene has my utmost attention, and it does a great job of developing the book's main villain into a truly evil creation that one is eager to see be put down. On the other hand it is hard to ignore the awkwardness of how this scene was set up, as in order to place the Black Cat in such a dire situation, Kevin Smith has her taking some rather silly actions. I mean it's one thing to be angry that Spider-Man isn't going to charge the castle gates with her, but having her catch Spider-Man off guard & able to ensnare him in his own webbing so he can't stop her was downright goofy, not to mention rather implausible. There's also the simple fact that while Spider-Man might not be able to break has own webbing, he can certainly rip it free from the material it's anchored to, and the shot of the trapped Spider-Man shows us he looks to have enough mobility to pull himself loose. I just worry that Kevin Smith may overplay his hand, with a scenario that feels a little too manufactured.
I will give Kevin Smith credit for coming up with a fairly clever ability for a villain to have, as we discover how Mr. Brownstone is able to induce drug overdoses in people. Now there's still have some questions about how this power works, as the explanation isn't quite clear about his range of his power, or if he needs to see and/or know the location of where he's going to teleport his overdoses. However, Kevin Smith has created a pretty formidable threat, as conceivably this villain could kill most heroes in the Marvel Universe, though characters with healing factors, or non-human entities would call for a different approach than the one he seems to prefer at the moment. Now I'm not sure how many people would trust Mr. Brownstone to perform his little service for them, given he does seem to be quite trigger-happy with the overdoses, but Kevin Smith does deserve credit for coming up with a innovative use of a power that on the surface seems a bit inconsequential. In any event the final scene of this issue nicely plays up how truly dangerous this character can be, as not only do we get a chilling demonstration of his ability, but we also get a good look at how evil this man really is.
The art of Terry & Rachel Dodson is certainly one of the highlights of this miniseries, as while the art does engage in hard to ignore cheesecake posing, it also proves it can deliver some outright disturbing scenes with the best of them. I mean the scene where Mr. Brownstone takes down the Ortega cartel is a wonderfully disturbing scene, with the final shot of the crying infant being a truly effective visual. There's also a nice little scene where Spider-Man & the Black Cat do their best Batman impression, as they appear & disappear in between two lightening flashes. The closing sequence in this issue is also a nice display of the art's ability to create a sense of impending danger, as we open with a great silent scene where the Black Cat arrives in the bedroom of Mr. Brownstone. There's also the nice buildup toward that final page, as we begin to wonder why Mr. Brownstone is dealing with the Black Cat in such a casual fashion, as he doesn't exactly hide the fact that he's dealing in drugs. The last page easily rates as one of the more disturbing scenes I'm seen captured by an artist, as Mr. Brownstone suddenly becomes decidedly more creepy than the average super-villain.
I'd be lying if I said that the final page of this issue didn't leave me feeling a bit unsettled, as Kevin Smith has come dangerously close to crossing a line that frankly I'm not sure I want to see crossed in the pages of a mainstream comic. I'm also a bit concerned by the rather sloppy way Kevin Smith set up this situation, as with his enhanced strength, reflexes & spider-sense, the remarkably easy takedown simply felt contrived so that Spider-Man wouldn't be on hand when the Black Cat got herself into her terrible situation. However I won't deny that it's that final page that will have me counting the days until the next issue, as it's easily one of the most intense cliffhangers I've come across, and if nothing else this has the potential to forever change the Black Cat as a character. The power that Kevin Smith has given his villain is also pretty clever, though the glowing eyes when he's doing something evil is a bit much.
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