Dan Slott’s ‘Ends of the Earth’ storyline was his first damp squib in a run which has been successfully been one-upping itself ever since the ‘Big Time’ period of Peter Parker’s life began. The very last attack from Doc Octopus didn’t end with his much-teased death - instead he was carted off, catatonic, to limbo-military hospital and likely will return alive at some point in a few years time. Meanwhile, Slott actually ended the story by killing off Rhino and Silver Sable through drowning. Although there are no bodies.
That anticlimax led into this week’s ‘epilogue’ issue of Avenging Spider-Man, a book which is used as a Spider-Man Team-Up style title, with new writers and artists and guests stars every couple of issues. This issue is written by Ty Templeton and drawn by Matt Clark, and is a flashback story which has Sable and Spidey team up in the past. This is recounted by a grieving Spider-Man, who looks back with findness on the story.
And it’s a fun story, with Spider-Man and Sable working together to stop Dr Doom from marrying a girl he wants to turn into magic and use to destroy the world -- or whatever. Sable gets a good moment, and Dr Strange shows up to be sarcastic. The story’s fine -- the one problem is a technical nit-pick which makes things more confusing than it should be. We have a framing sequence where Spider-Man looks for the two apparently drowned bodies, and then flash to the story. But there’s no caption telling us that this has happened, leaving us to think for a few pages that Sable is still alive.
The flashback story begins with her contacting Spider-Man via a billboard, which asks him to meet her at a place only the two of them know about. Now this is meant to be set in the past, as she is contacting him to ask him to join her for a job. But it comes across like the obviously-not-dead-they-re-never-dead-without-a-body Sable reassuring current Spidey that she’s still alive. That the flashback story will show us the story which reveals how he knows where to find her in the present. Not the case! It’s a technical issue, but one which threw me off, and surely many other readers. At least to start with.
For the most part, the rest of the story is fine. But it’s interesting to note how something so simple can make things so tricky when readers pick up an issue.